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Maretul Yankari

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The Great YankariThe Yankari National Park is the premier game reserve in Nigeria. Yankari Park and Wikki Warm Springs are located around the Gagi River, approximately 1 ½ hours by road, south east of Bauchi Town. The beauty and size of The Yankari Game Reserve makes it the most pop­ular reserve in Nigeria. Set up in 1956 and opened to the public in 1962, the main game-viewing areas of the reserve are open all year round. Japanese, Western Europeans, Americans and Southeast Asian tourists visit this park in abundance.The reserve covers 2,058 sq. km. of Savannah wood­land. Over 50 species of mammal can be spotted at the reserve including African Elephant, Olive Baboon, Western Hartebeest, Lion, Buffalo, Waterbuck, crocodile, hippopotamus, roan antelope, Warthog, Bushbuck, Patas  and various types of monkeys like the Tantalus Monkey as well as the Hippopotamus. Yankari is home to the largest populations of elephants in West Africa with estimates of around 500. Over 350 species of resident and migratory birds, such as the White-rumped Vulture, Guinea Fowl, Grey Hornbill, Saddle-billed Stork and Cattle Egret, have been recorded. Lions are occasionally spotted as well, despite their natural cam­ouflage. The best time to visit is between November and May, when tourists are likely to see more game since the dense vegetation has dried out and the animals congregate around the rivers. The dense vegetation of the area makes game viewing best between February and April.  Visitors can arrange walking tours or guided tours on specially adapted trucks.The Wikki Warm Springs is one of the best features of the game reserves. Wikki is located near the park lodge and contains magnificent crystal clear spring water at a comfortable 31 degrees Celsius open 24 hours a day. Visitors are often treated to an up-close experience with baboons and elephants that come down to drink at the springs. Flood-lit at night, it is wonderful after a hot day’s game-viewing to relax in the warm water. The spring gushes out from under a cliff, where the water is at least 6 ft. deep, with a bathing area that extends for 600 ft. to an open area. The park is inhabited by a variety of birds, including the huge sad­dle bill stork, Goliath heron, bateleur eagle, vultures, kingfishers, bee-eaters and more. It is excellent for serious bird-watchers.For holiday makers, it is advisable to make reservation during the holidays and weekends with Easter a particularly busy season. Reservations can be made at Durbar Hotel in Kaduna, Bauchi State House in Lagos and at the Zaranda Hotel in Bauchi. Or call Yankari Game Reserve at (069) 43-656.You can travel by road from Lagos to Abuja, where you make an overnight stop, then on to Jos and Bauchi, as it is a 2-day journey by car over well-maintained roads.Other facilities in the reserve include Tennis courts, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area plus gas stations with convenience stores at Wikki Camp and Bauchi. Basic accommodations are available in chalets or rondavels. Also available are suites, double rooms and family chalets that include small kitchens. There are many other National Parks besides Yankari, as illustrated on the map. Notable ones include Mambilla, Gumti National Park, Cross River National Park, and Kainji Lake National Park.Author: Tubonemi – Nigeria 

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