Because of the escalated security situation I have mentioned in my previous posts, I have been away from site for most of the past month, with a ten day stint in Ouaga almost immediately followed by a two week stay in Pama, a provincial capital in the south-eastern part of the country. And while being away from home for that long has generally been a downer, Pama turned out to be perfectly located for taking a Burkina safari. Burkina Faso, generally not associated with tourism, does in fact have some great wildlife in the south-eastern part of the country, where Parks Arly and W are located. Luckily for me, Pama is home to a few small private game parks just outside the city and I was easily able to arrange a day trip with a few other volunteers.
I had low expectations going into the safari, this is West Africa after all, but was blown away with the quantity and quality of animal sightings during the (long) day. We saw lions, elephants, water buffalo, warthogs, baboons, crocodiles, some sort of ibex-like animal, and a number of smaller mammals that resembled small gazelles.
We left our hotel in the dark at 5am and drove out to Yeryanga Safari. We then drove in the safari vehicle for the better part of the next seven hours, though we did take an hour-long excursion on foot to several watering holes to break things up mid-morning. We saw lions within the first 10 minutes, though sadly didn’t get a great look and were never able to track them down again. At midday we headed back to the safari’s hotel, which had excellent food and a wonderful swimming pool. I ate the warthog meatball curry, and it was one of the best meals I’ve had since coming to Burkina, though it’s probably not fair to compare a $12 meal to my usual sub $1 dishes.
After relaxing for a bit, we then headed out for two more hours in the early evening, and were able to end the day with two separate and equally amazing elephant sightings. Both times huge families of elephants were extremely close and I was able to snap away freely with my camera, contrary to many other animal sightings where I’d have to have a quick trigger finger and sometimes squint to make out the animal(s) through the foliage.
Perhaps one reason we were so lucky with our animal sightings is because of the time of year. We took the safari during the end of April, right at the apex of hot season, and a time where most of the watering holes have dried up, thus condensing the animal population to smaller more predictable areas. Other friends have taken safaris in roughly the same area a few times over the December-March period and have not seen nearly has much as we were able to see in April.
Did I mention that the safari cost just $40 for the day? Now there’s a reason to come visit!
Check out my photo gallery from the day below: