Condé Nast Traveller-Jul 21, 2015

 The UN lists the African nation of Chad as one of the least-visited countries on earth, though it’s safer than ever for tourists. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting this underrated country, filled with welcoming people and ancient landscapes.

With a long history of political unrest, the Darfur conflict in Sudan along the eastern border, and an ongoing threat from the terrorist group, Boko Haram, it’s easy to see why Chad isn’t exactly a tourist hotspot. The U.S. Department of State advises against travelling to the nation’s border regions, especially Lake Chad and the eastern edge, but European companies have been taking tour groups here for decades.

 As from November, California-based adventure company, Mountain Travel Sobek (MTS), will be the first U.S.-based outfitter to lead trips to Chad. We spoke to Justin Huff, MTS’s director of Africa and Middle East programs, to get the inside story on the African nation that is the continent’s fourth largest, but attracted only 100,000 visitors in 2013.

 Part of Chad’s lure is the fact that it’s a land that time forgot. Verdant forest carpets the south, while the Tibesti Mountains, Sahara Desert, and date palms cover the north. Friendly nomadic tribes routinely travel along ancient caravan routes in the latter, and much of the MTS tour follows this trail, with stops in dusty market villages and opportunities to hike among sand dunes. The schedule is flexible enough to provide other opportunities as well. “A wedding could be in progress  and the locals may invite you to participate,” says Huff. The food also reflects a simpler lifestyle: Esh, a local speciality, is essentially a millet porridge in a thick tomato sauce, with chunks of goat meat.   Read More: