W National Park

Elephants taking a bath in W National Park

W National Park is in a trans-border park, with the most important areas in Southwestern Niger.

Understand

The park includes areas of three countries: Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso, and is governed by the three governments. The three national parks operate under the name W Transborder Park.

History

The W National Park of Niger was created by decree on 4 August 1954, and since 1996 has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within Niger, the Park is listed as a National Park, and is part of a larger complex of Reserves and protected areas. These include the adjacent Dallol Bosso Wetlands on the eastern bank of the Niger and the partial overlap of the smaller Parc national du W.

Landscape

Spread over three countries, the park covers some 10,000 kmĀ² and is largely uninhabited by humans, having been until the 1970s a Malarial zone of wetlands formed by the Mekrou River and the Niger. The area is broken by rocky hills. Historically, the area was at one time a major area of human habitation, judged by important archaeological sites (mostly tombs) found in the area.

Flora and fauna

a rough map of the protected areas

The park is known for its large mammals, including baboons, buffalo, caracal, cheetahs, elephants, hippopotamuses, leopards, lions and warthogs. It is home for some of the last African Elephants in West Africa. Sadly, the rare West African Giraffe, restricted to small parts of the Niger, is absent from the park. The area is also known for its bird populations, especially migrants, with over 350 species identified in the park.

Climate

The park is open year-round, but access may be difficult during the rainy season (June to September).

The best time to view the animals is during the dry and hot season that ranges from February to late May. At this time the vegetation is at its most minimal and the wildlife gathers en masse around permanent watering holes. Temperatures can be high at this time, up to 36 Celsius, but it tends to be a dry non-oppressive heat.

Autumn is the most difficult time of the year to see large animals as the grass in lush and dense after the rainy season. This is the time preferred by birdwatchers though due to the large autumn migration through the park.

November through February are the coolest months, with pleasant cool evenings.

Get in

The closest international airport is in Niamey, just two hours away from the main entrance (Tapoa Gate). Several direct flights to Naimey operate weekly from Europe, North Africa and other major African cities.

From Benin, the park entrances are a day's drive north of Benin's largest city and main airport, in Cotonou, near Kandi.

The entrance to the park in Burkina Faso is a five hour drive from the capital Ouagadougou.

Fees/Permits

The Mekrou River

Non-residents pay 10,000 F for a 24 hour pass (adults) and 5,000 F (age 7-16), children under 7 years are free. Residents pay 6,000 F (adults) and 3,000 F (children). Each additional day is half price.

See and Do

The park operates a number of safaris. If you arrive as part of a tour, these will no doubt be included in your package. If you are under your own steam, safaris can be booked at the Tapoa Gate.

Buy

Gazelle on the road

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, May 08, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.