Whether it is flora or fauna, and be it furry, feathery or fishery, the Yankari Game Reserve will keep you entranced with sights and a feeling of nature at its most raw and base form winning the moniker, Nigeria’s Garden of Eden.
Located in Bauchi State, the reserve is arguably West Africa’s most popular wildlife area and its prominence as a wildlife destination of choice dates back to the 60’s, since then Yankari has gained global recognition as a great destination for classic West African wildlife.
Yankari covers an area of about 2,244 km² (870 mi²) and is home to several natural warm water springs, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Amongst the more prominent wildlife species found at the reserve include buffalo, elephant, lion, baboon, hippo, Nile crocodile, spotted hyena, striped hyena, martial eagle, secretary bird, and a plethora of others.
In addition to the wildlife, there are several crystal-clear and infection-free natural warm springs at Yankari, most prominent of which is the Wikki Warm springs. The Wikki Warm Spring is very popular amongst visitors, and is a good place to relax after a long safari. The Wiki warm spring which is cool in the day and warm at night has a constant temperature of 31 degrees all year round and is in fact the reason why most people go to Yankari.
The spring gushes water out from underneath a limestone escapement surrounded by vegetation that boosts the ecology of the warm spring.
Now although the insurgency in the North east has also affected the perception and reduced patronage immensely, Yankari in its entirety is a beautiful place to be.
The open country and villages that surround Yankari National Park are populated by farmers and herders, but there has been no human settlement in the park for over a century. There is, however, evidence of earlier human habitation in the park, including old iron smelting sites and caves.
In 1934, the Northern Regional Committee made a recommendation to the Executive Council to establish a pilot game reserve in the Bauchi Emirate. This was supported by Alhaji Muhammadu Ngeleruma, a minister in the former northern Nigeria Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Around this time, he had been impressed by a visit to a Sudanese game reserve while on a trip to East Africa. On returning, he encouraged the moves to establish something similar in Nigeria.
In 1956, the Northern Nigeria Government approved the plans for the creation of a Game Preservation area. Yankari was identified as a region in the south of what was then Bauchi Province where large numbers of wild animals existed naturally and could be protected. In 1957 a Game Preservation area was carved out and the area was constituted as a Bauchi Native Authority Forest Reserve.
Yankari was first opened to the public as a premier game reserve on 1 December 1962. Since then, the Northern Eastern State Government and then the Bauchi State Government both managed the Yankari Game Reserve. The park is now managed by the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Park Service.
In 1991 it officially became a National Park by decree 36 of the National Government.
Ecotourism or ecological tourism is now favoured by many global environmental organizations and aid agencies as a vehicle to sustainable development. It promotes conservation of biological diversity by protecting ecosystems and has the local culture, flora and fauna as the main attractions. Yankari National Park fulfills these criteria.
According to Wikipedia, in 2000, Yankari National Park hosted over 20,000 tourists from over 100 countries. This makes it the most popular tourist destination in Nigeria and, if properly managed, it could become a significant part in the development and promotion of tourism throughout Nigeria. It is one of a few remaining areas left in West Africa where wild animals are protected in their natural habitat.
The Yankari Game Reserve is located in the Bauchi State in Nigeria. You can take a charter direct to the Bauchi Airport commissioned in 2014 and make your way to the reserve by road in under 1hour 57 minutes, this is the nearest airport to the Yankari Game Reserve or you can get to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport; once you are here, you can reach the game reserve by road. You can also get to Lagos and travel by road to Abuja. From Abuja, you will have to continue on to Jos, and finally, to the Yankari Game Reserve. The whole road journey will take you at least 2 days. As long as you have a good vehicle, you should have a comfortable journey.
Alongside the Wiki Springs is the Wiki Camp. The Wiki Camp is located in the Yankari Game Reserve, roughly 42 kilometers from the main entrance. The camp provides accommodation to suit the budgets of all kinds of travelers. From luxury hotels to youth hostels and furnished cottages, the Wiki Camp is a great place to stay when you are visiting the Reserve. The camp also has an all-day swimming pool for the guests. The accommodation around the Yankari ranges from N2, 500 students’ bed space to N45, 500 and the standard of the Reserve is being upgraded to world-class status.
Things to Do
The most popular attraction here is the safari. You can set out from Wiki Camp on a wildlife safari like none other. The Safari timings are arranged according to the visitors’ schedules, but as a rule, the safari departs twice from the camp. You will be able to view the wildlife up close and personal here. African elephants, different kinds of monkeys, lions, hippopotamus, and many other animals are native here. There is an animal museum not far away from the camp. You can explore the exhibits like tusks, stuffed game, bones and skins in the museum.
The Wiki Camp area in the Yankari Game Reserve has several dining options. The camp provides various restaurants that serve authentic African dishes. The restaurants also cater to the international palate by providing a variety of dishes like pastas, rice and curry, steaks, fried chicken and burgers. The Wiki Camp also has several clubs and pubs, so guests can enjoy the night time in the Yankari Game Reserve.
The Best Time to Visit the Yankari Game Reserve
If you are planning an excursion to the Yankari Game Reserve, when to go is what you will need to carefully decide. This national park is situated in the northeastern portion of Nigeria in the Bauchi State. The Yankari game reserve boasts of numerous warm water springs and diverse flora and fauna, some of which are native to Nigeria only. Here are a few things to help you decide when to go to the Yankari Game Reserve
i. Dry Season
The Yankari Game Reserve is blessed with a Sudan Savannah landscape, where savannah grasslands and patches of trees in between the grassland are seen. It is notable that in the Sudan Savannah, the trees and grasses have a significant feature compared to other savannahs in that it has a shorter frame of trees and grasses. In terms of climate, the best time to visit the game park is during the dry season, from November to May.
ii. Easier to See the Animals
The dry season is the time when the grassland withers and die, leaving behind a vast, dry and plain wasteland with patches of trees in between. It is the best time to visit because you will be able to see the animals clearly. Since it is the dry season, most of these animals will congregate under patches of trees to graze or protect themselves from the glaring sun. Furthermore, animals will also congregate around the river, thus making it the best time of the year for tourists to visit.
Yankari Game Reserve Sights provide natural entertainment and enjoyment to tourists since it is comprised of different resorts, parks, springs and mountains that possess lots of natural beauty, wild life, and recreational opportunities like fishing and bathing. These sights and reserves are situated in Nigeria and are well-known worldwide due their attractive sights and marvelous wild life.