Saturday, December 29, 2012

Park W

I thought it would be fun to take my visitors to the less explored Park W during their visit this holiday season.  It turned out to be an interesting choice.

Day 1:  We set out from Kandi for the park at 6am.  6:30 am our car breaks down on the side of the road.  We wait an hour for the mechanic to come and another 30 minutes to get things fixed.  Off again.    7:30 we enter the park.  No one even checks our tickets.  We then commence on a 5 hour drive through the bush where we see one babboon.  Literally, that was it.  To get to our lunch spot/hotel we have to cross the river on foot because there is no bridge.  After 3 hours of nap time, our guide then takes us out for some kind of "nature hike" where I'm mostly hoping that we don't see any animals because we have no way to protect ourselves.  Bedtime.

Day 2:  We get started an hour late because we've crossed the border to Burkina which is in a different time zone.  Funny how that doesn't change the time the sun rises.  Now the road starts getting really bad.  There isn't any discernable path, so we rely completely on the memory and experience of our guide to carry us through 6 hours of bumpy, unmarked, uncleared bush.  We see some antelope, warthogs, birds, and lots of huge Baobab trees.  But mostly dry landscape.  Our tent hotel across the Niger border awaits us with ice cold beers, however, which does a lot to lift our spirits.  We take a relaxing boat cruise along the Niger River.  We might not have seen any hippos, alligators, or other animals along the water, but at least it was a smooth ride laying on mattresses in the boat.  We headed to a lookout spot to search for some evening wildlife and saw so much elephant dung--but no luck.

Day 3:  Woke up after not really sleeping because of the freezing cold.  Well, freezing to me.  But we finally got the early morning start we'd been trying for.  Saw a higher frequency of what we'd been seeing (different kinds of antelope, warthogs, babboons, crocodiles in lakes, big birds), as well as a group of water buffalo.  We retraced our steps through the 6 hours of horrible roads, forging the river, and then 5 hours of OK roads.  Most notable sighting: vultures circling above a recently dead elephant.  The smell was so strong and our guides guessed that he had been taken down by poachers.  They hacked off his tusks to 'give to the local authorities' and keep them from the poachers... so I hope that this is where they actually ended up.  Although I'm not sure I have much faith in the local authorities.

So that was our experience in a nutshell.  Perhaps a month farther into tourist season things would be different, but for us the park seemed desolate, of both people and animals, and like a perfect spot for poachers.

video
The video attempts to capture pretty much how we spent our three days: bumping around in the backseat of a toyota SUV.

Looking for things.  Did a lot of that.

The only elephant we got to see :(  sorry, dumbo

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