posted by Guest blogger - Brendan van Son | 0 Comments
In the first of a series of guest posts from Brendan van Son of Brendansadventures.com, Brendan tells us six places to experience wildlife in West Africa. To keep up to date with Brendan make sure to follow him on Twitter, like his page on Facebook and watch his daily updates on his YouTube channel.
While Southern and Eastern Africa are much more famous for potential wildlife experiences, West Africa is largely overlooked. From primates to crocs, to forest and savannah elephants, there are plenty of animal experiences here in the region. The difference, of course, is that you’ll have to dig a little deeper to get to these spots. But the bright side is there’s a good chance you’ll have them all to yourself.
1. Abuko Nature Reserve, The Gambia
One of the most easily accessible wildlife spots in West Africa, the Abuko Nature Reserve is a slice of protected land about a 30-minute drive from the resorts of the Gambian coast. Within the forests of the park you’re likely to spot both ‘vervet’ and ‘red colobus’ monkeys. You’re also likely to see Nile crocodiles and maybe even a creepy-looking monitor lizard or two. Moreover, the park is home to a number of rescued animals such as hyenas and baboons.
2. Parc National Langue de Barberie, Senegal
Not all wildlife sightings have to be big game. Senegal’s Parc National Langue de Barberie is one of the world’s premier bird-watching regions. ‘Twitchers’ (bird watchers) from around the world come to this sliver of mangrove and beach in the country’s north to watch one of the most diverse ranges of birds migrate through. There are hornbills, flamingos and a wealth of other flying animals at the park.
3. Mole National Park, Ghana
Ghana’s premier wildlife destination is situated on the north near the border of Burkina Faso. The park is home to a number of antelope species, friendly warthogs, baboons and crocodiles. However, the reason most people come here is for an up close and personal encounter with large African savannah elephants. Walking safaris allow guests to find themselves standing a mere 5-10 metres from full grown male elephants. It’s an experience you won’t forget.
4. Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone’s Tiwai Island has one of the highest concentrations of wild primates in the world. The island is home to 11 different species including chimpanzees, sooty mangabees, and Campbell’s monkeys. On a morning hike, it’s not uncommon to spot a majority of the primates and maybe even some land-dwelling creatures like duiker or red river hogs. Moreover, in the dry season when the water levels are low, it’s quite possible to see the pygmy hippos that live around the island as well.
5. Ranch de Nazinga, Burkina Faso
In the south of Burkina Faso, Ranch de Nazinga is perhaps the best place in all of West Africa to see African savannah elephants. Unlike in Mole, where you’ll likely only see a couple solitary male elephants, in Nazinga the chances are you’ll see dozens often roaming in massive herds. In one morning in the park I managed to see 27 different elephants in three separate herds. It’s an incredible place. And, if the elephants aren’t enough, there are also antelope, baboons and crocodiles.
6. Afi Drill Ranch, Nigeria
Afi Drill Ranch is probably the most important spot on this list. Near the border with Cameroon, Afi is home to the greatly endangered drill monkeys. It is estimated that there are only between 3,000 and 5,000 drills left on the planet. The Afi Drill Ranch aims to rehabilitate rescued drills and reintegrate them to the region where small troops of the species roam free. Moreover, although you’re unlikely to see them, there are also gorillas and chimpanzees in the Afi region.
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