Yankari Game Reserve, Nigeria: A Mecca for Nature Lovers

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Yankari Game Reserve, Nigeria: A Mecca for Nature Lovers

In the heart of northeastern Nigeria lies one of the most beautiful spots in Africa, Yankari Game Reserve.

Located in Bauchi State (250km from Nigeria’s capital Abuja) the place has become a mecca of sorts for both indigenous and foreign visitors hoping to unwind in the midst of nature. I went there to speak with some of the visitors and hear about their experiences.

I spoke with a man, named John Peters, who visited the place two months ago and said he can’t wait for another opportunity to visit again considering how enjoyable the experience was for him.

“I have never fallen in love with a place as I did with Yankari, it just had so much to offer, from the most natural spring to wildlife that I only see on TV, already looking forward to going back there.”

For those who have visited Tanzania’s famous Serengeti Park, Yankari will feel a lot similar in terms of game, amazing resorts and other beautiful scenery.

The tour guides are always on hand to take visitors around the place in well-guarded cars, and their warm reception and friendly mode of operations have been commended by many visitors.

For visitors of Yankari, the first point of call is usually the natural spring swimming pool, which has become one of the most told stories among travellers and visitors.

The warmth and colour of the water at times changes to suit the weather and environment, which makes it one of the wonders of the place. When the weather is very cold, the water alternatively becomes warm to soothe the body.


Juliet Frank, another visitor I spoke with, said it was one of her most memorable experiences at the Yankari Game Reserve.

“To be honest, the spring pool is my most memorable experience of the place, I heard a lot about it before I visited and when I did I wasn’t disappointed at all.”

“I feel Yankari should be named one of the wonderful places in Africa because there’s so much to see and do at the place, but like I said I’ll never forget that amazing swimming experience,” Juliet noted.

In the last five years, the Bauchi State government, which owns the place, has invested millions of dollars that has catapulted the site into a force to reckon with in the African tourism sector.

Speaking on that, a government official, Tijjani Shehu, told me that the idea is to invest huge amounts of money on Yankari in order to tap into the huge potential benefits that tourism brings across the world.

He went on to cite examples of how Nigerians and other neighbouring African citizens now preferred Yankari to visiting Dubai, Tanzania or South Africa.


“You know how much our people (Nigerians) love Dubai and have been visiting there for ages, but I assure you many now opt for Yankari because it offers a lot more for less money.”

“You not only get to be in tune with nature, wildlife, we also offer you exciting night life adventures, wonderful resorts and other relaxation activities,” he said.

Another interesting aspect of a trip to Yankari is the chance to interact with neighbouring village communities, which is the highlight for most visitors (especially foreigners).

The villagers are always happy to receive Yankari visitors to their homes showing them some traditional African lifestyles and tools, and also sharing some ‘Fura da Nono’ (a popular food in the region) with them.

For Ghanaian Appiah Saley, a visit to one of the nearby communities was something he will always remember as it gave him the chance to learn how other Africans live and what they eat.

“I enjoyed a visit to one of the villages near Yankari, we chatted for long (with the help of an interpreter) and also had a taste of Fura, it was exciting for me and I still think about those people I met that day,” he said.

Such trips are well organized and guarded by the Reserve’s management in order to get the best out of the experience and to forestall unfortunate incidents.

In terms of wildlife, as everyone knows, the African continent has one of the most diverse and Yankari seem to have a bit of everything. From African lions, the continent’s bush elephants to different species of monkeys and gorillas.

To prove how enjoyable the experience was, some people who visited with the intention of spending a week, ended up adding a few days to their original plan.

One of such people is Phil Yacks, he said his plan was to spend only five days at the place, but he added another two days because it seemed such a ‘paradise on earth.”

For more on Nigeria, also check out Lagos and Okene.

Mansur Abubakar

Mansur Abubakar

Mansur is a journalist with Nigeria's most respected newspaper, Daily Trust, and also contributes for UK based True Africa.co. He loves travelling and meeting new people.