There are several national parks of Nigeria. The Nigeria National Park Service (NNPS) is responsible for preserving, enhancing, protecting and managing vegetation and wild animals in the national parks of Nigeria. The NNPS is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of the Environment, and is headed by a Conservator General. It works closely with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation.
The first national park was Kainji lake, established by the military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979. The National Parks Governing Board and five new National Parks were set up in 1991. Yankari Game Reserve was upgraded to a national park in 1992, although it was later handed over to the Bauchi State government in June 2006.
The parks cover a total land area of approximately 20,156 km2, or about 3% of Nigeria’s total land area.
- Gashaka-Gumti National Park Taraba State and Adamawa State
Located close to the border with Cameroon in north-east Nigeria, Gashaka-Gumti National Park is the largest national park in Nigeria. The sheer expanse of the forest covering 6,402 kilometer square is breath-taking. Gashaka-Gumti is famous for having a diverse ecosystem and very scenic. The northern sector of the park features more of grassland while the southern sector is mountainous. Visitors will get to see a variety of fauna and flora.
This is the perfect destination for tourists who want to see the wildlife in Nigeria, sightseeing animals such as wild dogs, lions, golden cats, elephants and the rare Adamawa Mountain Reedbuck. From watching the primates to the bird life, there is so much of the natural environment to take in at Gashaka-Gumti National Park.The park houses Chappal Waddi, a 2,419 meters mountain which is the highest point in Nigeria. Tourists can take part in mountaineering, wilderness trekking and fishing at the Mayo Kam.
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- Okomu National Park Edo State Situated to the north west of the ancient city of Benin, Okomu National Park is a fascinating rainforest in Ovia South-West, Edo state. The park is a blissful forest where you experience the beauty of a rainforest full of huge forest trees, several species of plants and animals. Although the forest reserve continues to shrink due to encroachment, it still holds some endangered wildlife such as the rare white-throated monkey. There are two tree houses in the park for bird watching – with about 150 bird species confirmed to be at the park. The tree houses are also useful for sightseeing the entire park. Tourists can walk the forest navigating the natural trails that facilitates easy viewing. Many visitors also take a boat cruise on the Okomu River that is within the park.
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- Cross River State National Park
At the mention of Cross River, the Obudu Cattle Ranch and Calabar festival are what comes to mind for most travellers but there is more to explore in this beautiful state. Right at the foot of Obudu plateau is the Cross River National Park which stretches on to Kanyan. It was created from Oban and Bash-Okwango forest reserves.
The park is mostly untouched and unreachable in some regions and serves as sanctuary for many endangered species. It is one of the richest tropical rainforest in West Africa. The Oban Hills region of the Cross River National Park shares border with Korup National Park in Cameroon.
In the national park is Agbokim Falls, the amazing seven channel stream cascade that forms what has been described as the seven faced wonder of nature. The mini zoological garden and Kwa Falls are some of the places in the park to visit.If you are in for a blend of wildlife, Gorilla tracking and mountaineering then you should be making a reservation for an exciting vacation.
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- Old Oyo National Park Oyo state
Located in Oyo town in south western Nigeria, Old Oyo National Park covers an expanse of 2,528 sq.km land area is rich in flora and fauna. The Oyo-Ile and Upper Ogun forest reserves were combined to form a game reserve which was later converted to the national park. It is about 51 km from the acclaimed brown roof city of ibadan. Visitors can enjoy game viewing while riding through the park in the morning. As you take a ride on the Ogun River, you might be lucky to see a few animals drinking at the river side. Being the site of the old Oyo Empire, there are cultural and historical artefacts all around the park such as earthen pots, grinding stones and snail shells that tells the story of the ancient era. Part of the highlights of visiting Old Oyo National Park is the tales surrounding the Oke Agbele rock formations believed to be a woman and her baby who turned to stone for stealing cassava flour. Just as Olumo Rock was the refuge for the Egba people, Agbaku cave was the hid-out for the people of Oyo during inter-tribal wars in the olden days. A visit to the park is one you are sure to enjoy.
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- Kamuku National Park Kaduna State
As you on a venture to the northern part of Nigeria, a trip to Kaduna state should include a visit to the Kamuku National Park located in Birnin Gwari. The terrain of the park beautifully slopes upward to the Birnin Gwari Ridge and features delightful array of natural attractions. Just adjacent to the park is Kwiambana Game Reserve, which you could visit too. Tourists will have a fun time exploring the scenic hill, topography and the variety of plants and animals available in the park. A visit to the park might just spike your interest in bird watching. It is one place you will find bird species such as the Secretary Bird, Abyssinian Ground-hornbill and Denham’s Bustard. Visiting Kamuku National Park is also an opportunity for you to familiarise yourself with the history of the Gwari and Kamuku people who are traditional farmers and master craftsmen. The ancient Parnono Shrine located in the park is a sacred place for the people.
Visitors can stay at the Kamuku National Park Motel in the park.
- Yankari National Park Bauchi State
Yankari National Park is the country’s richest wildlife oasis. It contains the largest surviving elephant population in Nigeria, and one of the largest remaining in West Africa. Estimated at 350 individuals, this population of elephants is perhaps the only viable population remaining in Nigeria. Despite heavy poaching the populations of some species have thrived here especially ‘The African Bush Elephant’. There is plenty of other wildlife to see including a huge bird population, buffalo, hippopotamuses, Lions and baboons. One of the greatest attractions in Yankari is the Wikki Warm Springs. Here you can swim 24 hours a day in the clear natural spring water which stays at a delightful 31°C all year round.
The tourist centre here also provides a great base camp from which to explore the area, with 110 furnished chalets and twice daily tours with seasoned guides to ensure the best possibility of witnessing the wildlife. When visiting, the best time to catch a glimpse of the animal populations is in the peak season, from late December to late April The reserve covers a total area of 2,244 km² and is covered mainly by Sudan savanna vegetation. Originally created as a game reserve in 1956, Yankari was upgraded to a national park in 1991 and managed by the National Parks Service until 2006 when responsibility for the management of the reserve was handed back to Bauchi State Government. Yankari is the most popular destination for tourists in Nigeria and, as such, plays a crucial role in the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is also one of the most popular eco-destinations in West Africa.
Visitors can stay at yankari part motel in the park.