Researchers and explorers in northern Chad

Magical Africa

For over 200 years researchers, but also adventurers alike, have been drawn to this area of modern-day Chad. Many have done pioneering work on, amongst others, the region's geography, geology, ethnology and descriptions of political and societal traits.

Today, german and chadian scientists are working hand in hand to further our knowledge of Chad's complex geology, and to preserve its biospheres.

The beginnings of the scientific endeavours

Gustav Nachtigal

As an envoy for the King of Prussia, the German doctor Gustav Nachtigal of Tripolis journeyed through modern day Chad, discovering the Tebsti region at the same time. Nachtigal described the social, political and geographic circumstances of every area he passed through. His drawings, maps and sketches remain to this day an important source of information about Africa's history.  



Jean Tilho

France was behind military geographic exploration which covered the whole section of northern Chad. The first sketch map of the Lakes of Ounianga appeared in the year 1913.



Sir Ahmed Hassanein Bey

With help from native guides, the diplomat Sir Ahmed Hassanein Bey managed to make it all the way to Mourdi-Senke (southeast of Ounianga).



Prinz Kemal el Din

In the 1920s, Prince Kemal el Din of Egypt abdicated the throne. He was obsessed by the urge to explore. With his caterpillar vehicle he was able to reach the most remote of areas in the northeastern corner of Chad.



Ladislaus Eduard Almásy

Stemming from hungarian nobility, Ladislaus Eduard Almásy, known as "The English patient", crossed the Sahara in Egypt. In the Gilf Massif he discovered a cave. The cave drawings, dating back to prehistoric times, showed someone swimming. At the time, this discovery was a sensation, as we had hardly any knowledge of the earlier climate and living conditions.



Fort Agosa

Fort Agosa – the last of the armed outposts of the French-Equatorial Africa was being set up in northern Ennedi. In 1936 rain destroyed the mud-brick buildings. The French soldiers left again.



French scientists

Scientists like Pierre Vincent, Pierre Quézel und Philippe Bruneau de Miré ventured out with camels on research trips in Tebesti months at a time.



Austrian Sahara-Tibesti-Expeditions

In two separate weeks-long expeditions, the African researcher Ottoman Bieber, geographer Hans Weis and ethnologists Andreas Kronenburg and Peter Fuchs made it all the way into the Tibesti. The goals were to carry out cartographic records, archaeological investigations and ethnological studies. The last of those was for the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna. Much very valuable photo and film material was also collected.



Théodore Monod

The French Théodore Monod tried to reach the deserted region of Erdi Ma (on the border to Sudan). Sadly in vain, as he ran out of water shortly before reaching his goal. He is seen as one of the most significant Sahara researchers of the 20th century.


German research station in Bardai

At the proposal of the Chadian government, a German research station in Bardai/Tibesti was set up. In its almost 10 years in operation it was the field office for international scientists of the Free University of Berlin. Valuable knowledge about the climate, landscape and cultural history of the Tibesti Mountains was gathered. At the start of the 70s it was shut down due to political unrest.


Since 1982

Stefan Kröpelin

Stefan Kröpelin/University of Cologne has been researching the region since 1982. Since 1999, this includes numerous expeditions in northern Chad. He is supported by his chadian colleague Dr. Baba Mallaye.

Objectives of the expeditions include research into climate and environmental changes and the history of human settlement over the last 130,000 years in northern Chad, as well as basic research for nature and cultural conservation projects.