"To Niger, To Zinder" Zinder by Bonobo2005

Zinder Travel Guide: 42 reviews and 61 photos

My stay in Togo and Benin lasted only 10 days. The continuous rains and thick dark grey clouds, the landscapes that didn't really change, the language problem. I had had a good time, but now I was suddenly fed up with it. I drastically changed my plans on that rainy Sunday morning and decided: "Today I'll go to Niger!!"

I was so curious how Niger was like. Besides, I had two main goals in Niger.

Firstly I wanted to visit the ancient trading town Agadez and possibly do some excursions in the nearby Air Mountains and Tenere Desert that form the harsh transitional zone between Sahel and Sahara.

The second goal was the Cure Salee Festival; after some enquiries I learned that the date was set on 25th September, that would perfectly fit in my trip.

I still had 18 days before the festival started and since I was tired of settling down in different places so many times, I kept on travelling until I found a place where really I wanted to stay for a week or so. After 32 hours I reached...Zinder!!

About this page:
the tips are based on personal impressions and experiences, and on (sometimes presumably unreliable) information of local people; in many cases I couldn?t find any other source to verify them. Some tips are just translated parts of my diary mixed up with some additional comments (as usual); these are maybe more important for me than for a general reader, although they might give an impression of a traveller?s life in and around Zinder too. Also I realise that writing in English restricts me a lot as I don?t know many words. At the same time I realise that the tips therefore might be also more accessible to readers who read not so fluently in English.

Still I would appreciate it a lot if you report major mistakes in either facts, grammar or style!

The State of Damagaram

Damagaram was a Muslimstate in the Northern regions of Hausaland, a state that was initially controlled by the Kingdom of Bornu (that covered parts of present day Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad). But when Bornu declined from the 17th century, Damagaram became a country with self rule and appointed its first Sultan in 1731, with capital Zinder as its residence.

By the end of the 18th century, Zinder had become very important on the trans Saharan caravan trade route between the Tuareg empires in the North and other Hausa States to the South. Damagaram State was one of the most powerful in Hausaland, but declined from mid 19th century due to internal conflicts. In 1899 the French invaded Damagaram and incorporated it in Niger, while 5 other Hausa States were occupied and colonialised by the British (Northern Nigeria).

By the early 1920's, after surviving some uprisings, the French Colonial Regime had taken full control of Niger and chose Zinder as its capital (until 1926). They replaced the traditional Sultan of Damagaram in 1923 by another that was more in line with the French Rule. The Sultan of Damagaram kept his title, but saw his role restricted to family and religious matters... Since independence however, the Sultan of Damagaram became more influential, not political, but as Religious Leader and President of the Association of Traditional Chiefs he was highly valued on all levels.


Then, in the summer of 2001 the Sultan was suddenly arrested and sentenced 2 years in prison for fraud and plotting a coup (not proved). It seemed that he made huge sums of money from illegal trade with the Arab World and Nigeria, but critics suggested that the Sultan had became just too powerful in the eyes of some Governmental Leaders.

He was controversially replaced by a Government appointed policeman, but this man didn't get the support of the Association of Traditional Chiefs. In the meantime the Palace was looted. I guess that's the reason why the Palace looks quite poor these days.

The ex-Sultan got released in March 2003. It seems quite unlikely though that he can take over his position once again.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Fascinating town with great atmosphere
  • Cons:Quite a long way from any other place
  • In a nutshell:take your time here
  • Last visit to Zinder: Sep 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (42)

Comments (23)

  • fabrice's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2011 at 1:28 AM

    very beautiful but I could not live there

  • LuisGuimaraes's Profile Photo
    Apr 2, 2006 at 4:17 PM

    either Zinder has magical colours or you're a great photographer..(I guess both!) cheers!

  • mafi_moya's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2004 at 1:32 AM

    A fascinating journey in a fascinating place! So much detail, I feel like I've been there now!

  • Aquamantos's Profile Photo
    Aug 14, 2004 at 4:09 AM

    WHAT a wonderful trip, great pics and very accurate info :o)

  • canuckmike's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2004 at 4:58 PM

    Beautiful page. I want to go to Niger but it wasn't near the top of my list but it is a lot higher now. Good work.

  • Alpha_Ghana's Profile Photo
    Jul 8, 2004 at 2:51 AM

    Excellent pages and tips. I like this kind of "off the beaten paths" travel, rather than "this is the Eiffel tower" Congratulations

  • andal13's Profile Photo
    Apr 11, 2004 at 8:31 AM

    Once again, and excellent "travel diary" about a fascinating places... Your chronicles satisfy my adventure wishes!!!! ;-)

  • globerover's Profile Photo
    Mar 22, 2004 at 4:18 PM

    a really great page, so well written up and really excellent pictures; according to your travelogues, Zinder seems to have the most beautiful girls in the area, that's why Mrs. Globerover will never allow me to go there :-))

  • JennJenn's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2004 at 9:33 PM

    Camels are funny looking! ;)

  • lotharlerch's Profile Photo
    Feb 10, 2004 at 8:22 AM

    A really great and very personal page - I wish there were more VT-ers presenting their adventures this way!

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