Are you longing for a novel experience in the warm hands of nature? Marvel at the splendor of the great African wildlife at Yankari Game Reserve. Being in the heart of West Africa, it is the most revered wildlife reserve in Nigeria for game viewing. Comprising woodland savanna and rolling hills, it delights visitors with a chance to see exotic creatures in their natural habitats. A lot of endangered species, which are scarcely found anywhere else in the country, roam freely in Yankari.
The region was originally formed as a game reserve in 1956, and it was open to public in 1962. Later, it was designated as a national park in 1991.
Things to Do in Yankari Game Reserve
Game Viewing – The park has daily safari trips which depart early morning around 7.30 AM and in afternoon around 3.30 PM. Each safari lasts for about two hours. The biggest draw is the 500 African bush elephants. Animals like lions, leopards, buffaloes, water bucks, bush bucks, hyenas, and baboons can be spotted easily near waterholes. Given the density and diversity of bird population, birdwatching is another popular activity here.
Wikki Spring – Let off some steam in this natural hot spring with incredibly picturesque surroundings. This famous spring forms a 200-m-long and 10-m-wide lake ideal for swimming. Due to underground geothermal activity, the crystal-clear mineral water remains constant at 31°C throughout the year. Its name ‘Wikki’ means “where are you?” in the Duguri language. Take a dip in other hot springs – Dimmil, Nawulgo, and Gwan – in the park. Tungan Naliki is a spring that sprouts cool water.
Other Sites – Discovered in 1980, there are rock painting and engraving in Marshall Caves. Moreover, 139 wells, named as Dukkey Wells, with interconnecting shafts form an elaborate water storage system and also provide an evidence of early human settlements in Yankari.
Jos Museum – Founded in 1952 by archaeologist Bernard Fagg, this national museum houses great specimens of the Nok culture. It exhibits collections of Nok terracotta heads, sculptures, artifacts, and pottery dating from 500 BC to AD 200. Jos Wildlife Park, a zoo located near the museum, is home to a wide array of animals including birds, pygmy hippopotami, hyenas, ostriches, and reptiles.
Gashaka Gumti National Park, Cross River National Park, Bauchi, Gaji River, and Kamuku National Park.
Covered mostly by Sudan Savanna grassland, it is located in south-central region of Bauchi State in Nigeria. It is roughly 140 miles from Jos and 310 miles from Abuja.
Yankari Game Reserve Location Map
How to Reach?
By Air – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), serving the Nigerian capital Abuja, is the intercontinental gateway to the national park. You can take a domestic flight to airports in Bauchi and Gombe. Furthermore, Arik Air operates direct flight between Jos and Lagos.
By Road – It takes about 90 minutes via minibuses to reach the park entrance at Mainamaji from Bauchi. From the main gate, cabs are available to take you to the Wikki camp in the park.
The Wikki Camp has furnished chalets, ranging from executive rooms to a budget hostel, for rent at affordable rates with an unrivaled view over the hot springs. In Jos, you can find mid-range accommodations at Hill Station Hotel, Moi Hotel, La Monde Hotel, and Plateau Hotel.
Exotic continental and traditional African dishes like Nkwobi, Isi ewu, Miyan kuka, and Eba are served at the camp which also has a bar. For fine dining experience, restaurants like Biriyani Lounge, Bevelyns Restaurant, Colonel’s Garden & Restaurant, and The Net Cafe are recommended.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Yankari Game Reserve is in the dry season from November to late April.
Facts about Yankari Game Reserve
- It covers an area of 2,244 square kilometers (870 square miles).
- It is home to over 50 species of mammals and 350 species of birds.
- At 640 meters, Kariyo Hill is the highest point in the region.
Things to Remember
- It is permitted to drive your own vehicle if you take a licensed guide.
- Dress modestly and bring your swimming gear, hat, and sunscreen.