Exploring Nigeria’s Most Diverse National Parks

Eco-tourism has become more prominent in Nigeria over the past few years, with many visitors arriving to spot the wealth of diverse native species in their natural habitats. According to the Nigerian National Park Service, over 885 species of birds and 1,300 animal species call this country home. You’ll find many national parks to choose from, which can vary in rates, services, and facilities. The following are the best of the bunch, protecting and providing a glimpse into these tight-knit ecosystems.

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Gashaka-Gumti

The largest park in Nigeria is Gashaka-Gumti, which is home to many rare or endangered species along with a natural history museum. You’ll find cheetahs, chimpanzees, and the rare Colobus monkeys in this massive park. It’s divided into five different regions; including two types of savannah, grasslands, montane forests, and lowland rain forests. Park rangers can guide you around the park, and there are camping facilities should you choose to spend the night.

Kamuku

Situated on the banks of the Mariga River, the Kamuku is notable for its wide range of native bird life. According to the Nigeria National Park Service, 177 unique bird species have been spotted here, although the park is also home to baboons and elephants. Kamuku is also easiest to reach from the capital city of Abuja, making it a popular day trip option for travellers. If staying longer than one day in the camping facilities, you’ll want to stock up on supplies there and use Lebara prepaid phones to get in touch with friends and family before you venture into this stretch of wilderness.

Yankari

Many large mammals make their home in Yankari National Park, including buffalo, baboons, and elephants. Large herds of wild animals gather around the Gaji River, which serves as a central watering hole flowing through the park. Peak viewing season for wildlife is between December and April, with daily safaris available. You can also find a bevy of sustainable hotels and campsites to choose from.

Chad Basin

Bird-watching enthusiasts will flock to Chad Basin National Park, in the country’s north-eastern corner. It features several distinct ecosystems, including a desert and a lush wetland area. Take a camel trek through the desert or visit the wetlands to spot colourful birds.

Cross River

Although you might visit the well-tended Cross River National Park for its botanic gardens, fishing excursions, or boat cruises, the biggest draw for many visitors is the extremely rare Cross River gorilla, which only resides within this park. You may be lucky enough to spot one in the distance if you go hiking in the local Mbe mountain range.

Before Visiting

These amazing national parks are designed to protect and serve the wildlife living within them. All visitors must register with the Park authorities before entering, whether it’s for research or just recreation. Most have daily use fees to comply with, and visitors are required to follow all regulations for their safety. Mobile phone service can be spotty in these remote regions, but you can place free international calls with Lebara in Nigeria’s more populated areas before you enter the park. If you’re planning a visit to any of Nigeria’s national parks, it’s best to book your tour in advance. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can enjoy some of Nigeria’s most stunning natural landscapes and get up close and personal with its wildlife.