Hello fam, Journeyman Rocks is here again and this time I just returned from a fantastic trip to Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State. I have always wanted to go to Yankari for family reasons *inside joke* and when the awesome guys at Sehembz Travels & Corona Concepts Int’l decided to package a tour, I definitely knew this was it! So sit back, grab a smoothie and enjoy Yankari through my eyes.
DAY 1 – TAKE-OFF
The day was 14th April, 2017. The time was 6:00am. The meeting point was a cozy spot in Wuse II. The cool morning breeze hit our still sleepy faces as we prepared for take off. I had braced myself for the 8 hour road trip with a book and some snacks. The trip was smooth (got to say the roads up North are way better than down South) and it was loads of fun as we played games in the bus and everyone got to meet each other. We finally arrived Yankari at about 5:30pm no thanks to the numerous “pee-stops” we had on the road.
We quickly settled in once accommodation had been sorted and dinner followed later in the night. While some tourists headed to bed, myself and a group of friends headed to Wikki Springs (No closing time…hehehe) and we quickly immerseed ourselves in the warm spring…so soothing. We finally dragged ourselves out at about 1am and headed to our rooms for a quick snooze (At this point, we had seen no animals at all save for a few wild pigs that look like Pumba in Lion King).
DAY 2 – MUSEUM, SAFARI, WIKKI SPRINGS & BON FIRE PARTY
Rise & Shine…This was the main day for the tour and I was super excited. Began the day with a quick 2.2km run (always fitfam) coupled with a few push-ups, nfl runs & jumping jacks. That was good to get the adrenalin pumping…then bam! Baboons & Monkeys everywhere…Like literally everywhere. Room instructions had warnings to lock doors & windows (some windows couldn’t lock anymore) at all times. Those who headed the warning avoided the Baboon raids…those who didn’t had Baboons open their doors, walk into their rooms, open their fridge and take their share of chocolate & popcorn.
Breakfast followed shortly and then we headed off to our first stop, the Yankari Musuem where we we given an interesting history about the game reserve by our eloquent guide.
FUN FACT: The Yankari Musuem was declared open by Major General….wait for it…Muhammed Buhari in 1985. Dazall!
Next up was a trip to the explore the Safari and Mr. Haruna was our tour guide. He carefully recited (sounded like nursery rhymes at a point) the history of the game reserve, how many animals they had and so on. Well, I was looking forward to seeing ALL the animals and off we went. At the end of the Safari, we saw a few Waterbucks, some Antelopes, wild Baboons/Monkeys and that was about it. No Elephants! No Lion(s)!
Well, i didn’t let that dampen my spirit tho as we made our way to Marshall Caves. The Caves served as a hideout during war/slave trade for the populace that lived in that area at that time. There was also a treasure hunt with a lucky tourist picking up a nice bracelet after she solved the puzzle and thus ended our safari expedition as we made our way back to Wikki Camp (That is what the residential area of Yankari Game Reserve is called).
Off we went to Wikki Springs (again) and everyone that was at the game reserve that weekend had converged there. An exciting game of water volleyball was played out between Team Nigeria and Team Oyinbo. I won’t say who won…lol.
We also explored the source of the Wikki Springs which is a deep cave underneath the water. As I am not yet an expert swimmer, I respected myself and stayed at the side where my feet could touch the ground (I can’t come and go and tell story). We had so much fun at Wikki Springs and that was my highlight of the trip as we dove under water, did a competition to see who could hold their breath longest under water (i think the record was 1min 30secs) and other water sports.
Night came and it was time to boggie down with DJ Bugz on the wheels of Steel. It was a mix of banging 9ja tunes, exciting dancehall and house music with the bon fire providing warmth for all present. There was also spicy suya on deck to fill the tummy and the party continued to late in the night…and then we went back to Wikki Springs for one last swim and this time we stayed till 2am ish (I think we did like a total of 10 hours alone at Wikki Springs).
We walked down to the most shallow part where you could actually lay down on the white sand and have water just gently flow on your body. It was a mini (w0)man cave cos there were guys & ladies. We finally got done and headed back to our accommodation for our last night in Yankari.
DAY 3 – DEPARTURE
And it was time to go home. How time flies when you are having so much fun. The journey back was a snooze fest as everyone practically slept their way through to Abuja.
You would do well to consider the following when you intend to head down to Yankari:
- Hold cash – You have to pay for everything from the Safari to swimming at Wikki Springs except you are going on a tour where all of that has already been included in the package. There is an ATM at the resturant but you know how these things go.
- Pack your snacks – Food is sold at the resturant but it is absolutely a no-good area. The food is wacky and you are not allowed to bring in your own food so snacks are the way to go.
- Lock your doors & windows at all times – The baboons are really smart and can open door handles which will give them access to your room so always lock your doors when in & out of your room.
- DO NOT walk with food – You will be chased down by Baboons and have the food snatched from you. Bananas are definitely a no-no as you will become a target immediately. You have been warned!
- Be prepared to deal with very unfriendly staff/management officials. I personally believe this is one area the government can improve on (most likely, outsource management to a private tourism company) because it was a struggle to get our allotted rooms even after we booked ahead; not to speak of the conditions of some of the rooms. This was due to over-booking of rooms by the management. Thankfully enough, we got some of the decent rooms where everything worked.
- Book a studio room. Forget the luxury double/VIP room hype. It is a waste of money!
All in all, it was an amazing weekend spent with amazing people at a decent game reserve (lots of areas for improvement) and it is an experience I will certainly want to relive again.
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