Hey Shining Stars,
So, I spent last weekend at the Yankari Games Reserve and to say it was fun would be an understatement. I had an epic and magical time and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
NB: This might be a long read for you so if you’ve come here to find general info about Yankari please scroll down to the last paragraph of this post for the highlights.
First off… Yakari has been on my Nigerian Wanderlust list for a while now so when I got the opportunity to visit it, I didn’t hesitate to travel 7 hours to Bauchi State for a weekend getaway.
My friends and I hired a Sienna and left Abuja on 14th October 2016 at about 8am and arrived 3/4ish, (though we stopped at Jos to pick someone up). The journey was smooth and relatively event-free, our driver turned out to be an ex-police so that saved us from spending too much time at the numerous security checkpoints in the area. Besides, I wasn’t too worried about safety as I have friends who had gone to Yankari in recent times and they assured me it was relatively safe from Boko Harram.
We got there knackered but immediately after checking in, dropping our bags and ordering for our dinner, we headed to the Wiki Warm Spring (WWS) for an evening swim. The WWS is the clearest and bluest natural water I have seen in my life. I am totally in love with it! It has shallow and deep ends but, as I small reach, I was still able to stand in the deepest end so you don’t have to worry about drowning. As the name suggests, the water is warm and the locals swear it has magical healing powers. It was incredible to swim in the bluest, clearest waters alongside nature but it was even more incredible when I asked one of my fellow swimmers for his goggles and was able to see underwater while swimming. I can’t even begin describe how beautiful the underwater sight of Wiki Warm Spring is, it was like something out of an animated movie and I wish I had gone with a go pro or Samsung s7 so I could take underwater pictures for you. You’ll have to go and see it for yourself. When you go, go with goggles and an underwater camera.
After that we showered and had dinner and then walked around the resort and got acquainted with the animals – who, by the way, are wild and can roam freely throughout the resort – luckily it was the Warthogs, Waterbuck and red bottom baboons (aka area boys) that we bumped into.
The next day, 15th October 2016, we were woken up by the area boys (the baboons) and warthogs that came by our window to make noise… we took a morning stroll and bonded with the other guests at the resort
After breakfast, we spent about 30 minutes looking through the mini museum and then headed out on a 4hour safari looking for elephants, praying not to get too close to lions, and visiting some other natural land marks that they have in the jungle (like the Dukke wells which were dug thousands of years ago by early settlers). We ended up seeing Antelopes, Waterbucks, a Giant lizard, Hippos and Elephant poops (but sadly not the elephants themselves). It was quite an adventure riding through the jungle and, apart from the roads being bumpy, tse-tse flies were having a feast on us and everybody had to cover up and rub insect repellent to stop from being bitten.
We got back from the safari, had lunch and went back to the Wiki Warm Spring… this time we stayed till it got dark and you could feel the water getting warmer because the environment was getting colder. The night swim was a lot more epic for me… I think it’s because the spring was less crowded and there was a full moon and stars in the sky. After that we had dinner, and partied with one of our chalet neighbors who had come there for his birthday. It was definitely a great way to end the night
The next morning 16th we went for an early morning swim in the spring again… (when you swim in it you’ll get why we kept going back) before we got dressed, had breakfast and headed back to Abuja.
Being a nature girl, this was such a magical and relaxing experience for me and a place to escape the hustle of town to… I would definitely go back any chance i get
The Reserve is nicely designed with modern infrastructures and the fact that herbivorous animals move around the estate freely gives it a little more umph!
Accommodation in the Reserve starts from 2500 per night for hostels to 250,000 per night for the Presidential villa. We stayed at the Studio apartments which is N9000 per night, (there is a promo going on now even 2 nights for the price of 1 check their website www.yankarigamesreserve.com.ng for more info)
The rooms were neat and cozy though running water was epileptic. When you go, make sure you keep your doors and windows closed and bolted down to prevent baboons (yes the baboons know how to open door) and mosquitoes from coming in.
The only networks that work there at this moment are Airtel and MTN, so I didn’t have service because I use Etisalat. This turned out to be great for me as it allowed me just get out of life and social media for a bit.
The diner is clean and the food they served us at the dinner was usually nice and tasty… but make sure the person that takes your order writes it down because they got our meals confused so many times that it stopped being funny.
The warm spring is well maintained by nature and humans. They added pool ladders to get into the spring for people like who are too chicken to jump in.
They have several Safari cars that are built for the kind of jungle that is out there and the one we booked did a really good job in getting us around the thick forests of Yankari. Seeing major animals in the wild though is totally up to chance and, according to our guide, you have a better chance of seeing animals during the dry season when the grasses are lower.
I found all the staff we met to be really nice and friendly and accommodating
1) Yankari is a large wild life park located in Bauchi State and yes it is relatively safe from Boko Haram. Aside from the numerous police checkpoints and presence around the state, I had several friends who had traveled there in recent times and reported that it was safe to go – which is why I had liver to go.
2) A drive to Yankari from Abuja is about 6-7hours. You can drive down, hire a car to drive you down, take public transport to Jos – then Bauchi – then Yankari, or you can fly to Gombe and drive down from there
3) Rooms and apartments there start from N2500 a night for hostels – N250,000 a night for the Presidential Villa (which is pretty much like a mansion)
4) You need a N1500 ticket to get into the reserve, N8000 to rent a safari car, N500 to swim in the Warm spring.
5) The only networks that work there at this moment are Airtel and MTN
6) Keep your doors and windows shut and bolted to keep baboons and mosquitoes out
7) Go with your swim suit and goggles so you can swim in the Wiki Warm Spring and see the underwater (thank me later)
8) Seeing major wild animals on the Safari is totally up to chance but chances are better during the dry seasons
9) Wear cover-up clothes when going for the safari because… tse tse flies (you were warned).
Hope this inspires you to go there… and if you go do let me know
Dont forget that life is short. take time out to enjoy it once in a while