The Yankari National Park is the premier game reserve in Nigeria. Yankari Park and Wikki Warm Springs are located around the Gagi River, approximately 1 1/2 hours by road, southeast of Bauchi Town. The beauty and size of The Yankari Game Reserve make 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 savanna woodland and is well-stocked with elephants, baboons, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi, crocodile, hippopotamus, roan antelope, buffalo and various types of monkeys. 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 Wikki Warm Springs is one of the best features of the game reserves. 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.
Other facilities include: Tennis courts, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area plus gas stations with convenience stores at Wikki Camp and Bauchi.
Reservations: 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.
Route: 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.
Hotels: 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.