The Marshall Caves


8 breathtaking sights of the Yankari Game Reserve that will make you pack your bags and go

By Pelu Awofeso

The Yankari Game Reserve is one of Nigeria’s best known travel destinations. On a recent visit, contributor Pelu Awofeso meets and chats up a group of Nigerians who were treated to a safari

Wildlife inside the Yankari Game Reserve (2)

Anefiok Akpan: I have always wondered what the Yankari Game Reserve looked like, especially considering its reputation as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nigeria. It covers an area of more than 2,000 sq km. The serenity could not be mistaken; neither will tourists fail to appreciate the tranquil ambience of the reserve.

We settled quickly into the business of wandering around. The reserve boasts of one of the most well stocked artifacts museum, well curated and information nicely presented to capture the highs and lows of the game reserve: hoofs of exotic birds, skins of wild animals; tools of poachers who used to trouble the reserve. I was impressed with the guides and staff who showed us around.

And what is a reserve without the wildlife? We drove through the picturesque wild, came across a jubilant tribe of monkeys. On our way to the legendary pre-historic caves, it was a beautifully weird experience, realizing that behind those small holes, a long gone civilization had existed.

Our journey literally came to halt at the Wikki warm spring. I couldn’t help but get a dip, relishing its therapeutic effect.

Wikki Warm spring

Chukwuemeka Ekenaka: The journey from Bauchi State capital to the Yankari Games Reserve is about 1hr30mins, covering a distance of 110km. We visited the museums and saw preserved skins, skulls and skeletal system of animals such as the wolf and cheetah. The reserve has hostel accommodation for researchers and tourists. A truck took us into the reserve (natural habitat), where animals are allowed to reproduce naturally without any human interference or aid. We met a handful of animals—from Impala to Monkeys—who depend on a stream that runs through the reserve.

Our group was taken to the Marshall Caves, named after the person who later proved that humans once lived in the caves. The caves are carved in rocks close to the stream, which served as a source of water for the inhabitants hundreds of years ago. The safari was as scary as it was exciting—unsurprisingly only our guide was relaxed.

The road networks in the reserve are not paved and you could feel the refreshing expanse of nature. Bridges in the reserve are made of woods and stones. Sadly, we didn’t see the ”big five”—Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Giraffes and Elephants. Its either poachers have reduced the animal population in the reserve or they were sleeping/ grazing far away. All in all, it was a trip worth every minute spent there.

 Samuel Igbomiye: I won’t forget the experience of visiting the Yankari Games Reserve in a long time. I felt the natural breath of fresh air for a couple of hours at a stretch. The reserve is one of Africa’s finest tropical forests; within it there is a museum, which consists of preserved remains of wildlife (elephant, leopard, crocodile, lion, tiger to mention but a few); it was the first time I saw some of the wild animals in their natural habitats, roaming freely in search of prey.

Wildlife inside the Yankari Game reserve (3)

There are also shackles used by the colonial masters on our forefathers during the slave trade era. The wiki warm spring was another pleasant experience, because I had never set my eyes on a spring before. It was pure and clean, a fine specimen of the finest of waters. It’s impossible to describe the allure of the reserve to those who have not been there; but I can say that you’ll be thrilled when you visit. Also, visiting the Marshal Caves, where the early men lived was another mind blowing experience on its own. The caves, as small and as deep as they are, were very cold inside-out.

Adeniyi Philip: Going to Yankari Game Reserve was a dream come true. For so many years, I wanted to visit tourist attractions in Nigeria. Apart from seeing these places, It’s an opportunity to identify with the hidden treasures embedded in Nigeria, which have not been tapped into by the various state governments.

The opportunity to see the animals in their natural habitat made me so happy. The Wikki warm spring added flavour to the visit as it was discovered that one could swim in water that is constantly warm anytime of the day. Visiting the museum was also a very memorable experience. Seeing guns and traps seized from poachers was fantastic. If I have an opportunity to visit again, I will lodge in the reserve’s nicely built chalets with my family.

 Abel James: My visit to the reserve will forever remain etched in my mind. The whiff of the dry forest and other natural sights were too good to forget. The pageant of wild animals and nature, especially the bluish warm wiki spring, thrilled me on end: I swam like a toddler.

Miracle Umoh: It was an opportunity for me to go to Yankari Game Reserve and experience what most Nigerians travel outside the country to experience. We can have all the money in the world to throw around, but something is paramount here, which is to visit some extraordinary local places and see wonders of the world and the handiwork of God. YGR is one of those places one needs visit to appreciate God, the creator of the world. Truly, Yankari Game Reserve is a reserved place for all and sundry.

Preserved animal parts in the Yakari Museum

Awofeso is an award-winning travel journalist and blogger. Follow him on twitter @PeluAwofeso


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