Visiting Yankari Game Reserve for me was a dream come true. Personally, I had heard so much about the largest Games Reserve in Nigeria and its warm spring; Wikki Spring. Many times, I had dreamt of visiting there and experiencing its beauty for myself. It was surreal to finally be at the gates, taking pictures and counting down to when Jadesola will come out from the ticketing office with our tickets, so we can finally drive into paradise.
Yankari Game Reserve is about an hour and a half drive from Bauchi the capital city. Google Maps doesn’t exactly lead you to Yankari Game Reserve, so you may have to do some asking along the road. Two things you should note though, the Reserve is off Bauchi-Gombe road, once you leave the aforementioned road, for Yankari Game Reserve, make sure you’re turning into a tarred road. The road leading to Yankari Game Reserve is tarred. If you find yourself on an untarred road, it’s probably time to reassess.
The drive from the Gate of Yankari Game Reserve to the living area/quarters took another 35 minutes (we were driving at 30km/hour so we don’t hit animals crossing the road). We got to the living area around 9:35 am and after confirming that our rooms won’t be available till the current occupants’ checkout by 12 pm, we decided to eat, then go on the Safari.
After having a breakfast of Omelet and boiled yams at the restaurant, we were ready for the Safari. The Safari consisted of a driver and a guide who gave us a rundown of what it entailed. According to the guide, we would be driving through established bush-path routes in the forests within the Games Reserve and be on the lookout for Animals. We can request that they stop whenever we find an animal of interest. What the guide actually meant was that during the Safari, you could be lucky to see many interesting animals and you could be unlucky not to even see a bird, it all boils down to luck because we were in a Wildlife Park, not a Zoo. 30 minutes into the one-hour duration of the Safari, we had only spotted bushbucks and western hartbeests.
This didn’t go down well with me at all. I mean, where were the Elephants, Tigers, Lions and so on? Ok, where were the monkeys, ordinary monkeys? According to the guide, Lions only walked around 4 hours in the night and slept for the other 20 hours of the day, so our chances of coming across a Lion was zero. Heartbreaking news, but also uplifting as that also meant our chances of getting eaten by a lion for lunch were Zero.
We soon made a stop for a fifteen minutes trek into the wild. Our guide showed us these Caves called “Marshall Caves” which were basically the only noteworthy thing we saw during our walk in the wild.
We soon came back to the Safari cruiser which took us back to the living quarters. By this time it was already way past 12 pm and we finally moved into our assigned rooms. There was no power and everywhere was blazing hot. After unloading our bags and changing into more casual outfits, I told Frank, a member of our tour team that a swim would be appropriate. Frank was of the opinion that we first grab some sleep before going for a swim. I couldn’t properly grasp what he was saying. I’ve spent years fantasizing about swimming in the clear waters of Wikki Warm Spring. I’m finally here, just 7 minutes walk away from it and you’re telling me to pick sleep over swimming in it? No dear, that’s not going to happen.
Wikki Warm Spring
Ten minutes later, we were walking the length and breadth of Wikki Warm Spring, taking pictures from all angles, watching people swim and wondering exactly what the length of the Spring was. It didn’t take long for us to join the other groups of people swimming in the Spring. Neither Frank nor I could swim, so we were basically playing in the water. We took loads of amazing pictures, across the length and breadth of the spring. An hour later, Jadesola and Asia; the other half of our tour group also came for a swim. We spent over 3 hours in that spring and with every passing minute, you feel like spending more and more time. Eventually, my phone ran out of battery life and it was the perfect cue to take a short break from swimming, then come back to the spring later in the night.
I ate dinner twice
The time was 6pm already, so I went to the restaurant more out of curiosity than hunger. I wanted to try as much food on their menu as possible before leaving the next morning. So I ordered Tuwo Shinkafa (rice flour made with hot water, Vegetable soup (Spinach) and Chicken. The food was great.
Time flies and before I knew it, it was 9pm already. I took a casual stroll to the restaurant to find out what was on the menu for dinner. They only had Spaghetti and stew, so I ordered it anyway. After eating, I wanted to find out if the Wikki Warm Spring was open 24/7, so I strolled towards the spring, which by the way is just a 2-minute walk from the Restaurant. I realized that people were still in the spring and it indeed was open 24/7. I spent another hour swimming and finally left by 11pm.
Sleep sleep sleep.
It’s time to say goodbye
6 am the next morning, I was woken up by the call of our driver, it was time to go. This was when I remembered that throughout the previous day, it was impossible for me to get a good picture of the Wikki Warm Spring because people were inside the pool throughout. So I decided to give it any try that early in the morning. Upon getting there, the Wikki Warm Spring was totally deserted asides from the cleaners. This afforded me ample opportunity to take really great pictures of the Spring. I even made a couple of videos too. The clear water of Wikki Warm spring is an absolute beauty.
We eventually bade Yankari Games Reserve farewell and left. I totally enjoyed my time here and it was a Journey well worth it.
Also Read: What to expect at Jos Wildlife Park