At a Glance
Dates: December 7th - December 21st, 2023
Extension: We do not currently offer any extensions to this itinerary.
Prices: £6,895 pp sharing (with a £550 single supplement), excluding international flights.
In a sentence: Yes, you can still see lions and gorillas in Nigeria - and it's an experience unlike any other!
'Lion' conjures up images of Kenya and Tanzania. 'Gorilla' does the same for Rwanda or Uganda. But, unbeknownst to many, both iconic species are clinging on to survival in the unlikeliest of countries, the economic powerhouse of West Africa, Nigeria. Despite the many, many issues that Nigeria has faced in recent decades, including rampant poverty, habitat destruction, Islamist insurgencies and much more, big game does persist here, although it takes an intrepid traveller to locate it. This bold, adventurous itinerary takes our clients to Niger's last remaining intact savanna wilderness areas, Kainji Lake and Yankari. Here, lion, elephant, buffalo, hippo and much more can still be seen with enough dedication and luck. But it is in the dense and little-explored forests of Cross River that Nigeria's crown finds its jewel. Here, one stands a good chance of spotting the iconic Cross River gorilla, a deeply threatened and geographically isolated subspecies that is the stuff of dreams for many a naturalist. This is, truly, a one-of-a-kind itinerary.
On arrival into Abuja, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris tour leader and transfer to your city centre hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening, with the remainder of your day at leisure..
Kainji Lake NP
This morning we will transfer back to Abuja Airport for our early flight to the city of Ilorin. Arriving by mid-morning, we will immediately transfer by road to Kainji Lake, a journey that will take much of the day. We aim to arrive in time to settle in to our basic campsite in Kainji Lake National Park and then head out on an evening drive. The main sector of the park, Borgu, is currently closed due to insecurity, so we will base ourselves in Zugurma Sector. The park holds Nigeria's largest population of lions, although sightings are very rare, and we will try to locate these beautiful felines this evening. Even if we don't succeed with a sighting, we are likely to encounter several endemic West African species or subspecies on our first drive, which is always a delight. After our drive, we return to camp for dinner and some well-earned rest.
Days Three to Four
Kainji Lake NP
We have two full days to explore Kainji Lake by vehicle and on foot during morning and afternoon activities. Our exact itinerary will be dependent on the latest security situation in and around the park, but rest assured that the lions (and many other wonderful species here) will be a key target for us throughout.
We may need to leave very early this morning, depending on our flight time to Lagos and on to Calabar. We will arrive in Calabar this evening and will overnight in a city hotel.
Cross River NP
This morning we transfer to Cross River National Park, arguably the most exciting wilderness area in Nigeria. We aim to arrive in time for an evening activity near our basic campsite, likely to be focussed on spotlighting for the rare but findable Calabar angwantibo. We will spend the night close to the angwantibo site tonight.
Days Seven to Nine
Cross River NP
Three full days in Cross River lie ahead. Each morning and evening will be spent on foot, usually tracking the gorillas for which this area is famous. Contrary to popular belief, getting a visual of these impressive great apes is not impossible (although it can be tricky!). The key is to move very quietly, which can be challenging when there is dry leaf litter on the ground. With plenty of determination and luck, though, we hope to offer our clients a memorable sightings during our stay here. When not seeking out gorillas, three species of pangolin might be seen here, as well as golden cat, which we will make a special effort to locate.
We return to Calabar today, catching a flight to Gombe via Abuja. We overnight at a city hotel in Gombe.
This morning we transfer by road to Yankari's Wikki Camp. Yankari is the most popular destination for ecotourists in Nigeria, although it is still rarely visited by anyone hailing from outside Nigeria, and there is at least rudimentary tourist infrastructure here. After a chance to settle in, an afternoon drive will focus on locating the very few remaining lions that are sometimes seen here. This population is now too small to be considered viable, but they are still seen more often than the lions in Kainji, and we hope to get lucky with a sighting before dinner, or on our night drive thereafter.
Days Twelve to Fourteen
Our final three full days in Nigeria are spent enjoying what feels like a more 'typical' safari, embarking on morning, afternoon and night drives in search of lion, elephant and buffalo. There is a diverse supporting cast though, including some spectacular birdlife, and Yankari never fails to delight and amaze naturalists. For those who need some R&R during their stay, the hot springs near camp are worth a visit!
Today we transfer back to Gombe for your homeward flights. We can include these flights and an extra night in Abuja at extra cost, on request.
Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may
occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.
Dates and Prices
This tour will run in December 2023, aiming to take advantage of the dry season when wildlife populations congregate around water sources, and when large predators are at their most mobile. The tour will run from December 7th to December 21st.
The cost of this trip is £6,895 per person excl. flights. This includes all meals, accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Drinks are not included. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £550 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £2,800 must be paid.
Flights and Visas
Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. If you wish to spend an additional night in Abuja at the beginning or end of your tour, we can arrange this for you at an extra cost. We strongly recommend booking flights leaving Abuja after 22.00 on your return, if leaving on the same day that we return to Abuja to avoid disruption to your plans.
British nationals do require a visa to enter Nigeria. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check well before travel whether they require an entry visa. Details of the process of obtaining a tourist visa for Nigeria will be provided to you upon booking. The cost of a Nigeria entry visa for UK citizens is $144 - these must be obtained prior to arrival into Tanzania.
Weather and What to Bring
The weather in Nigeria in December is mild and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 15 degrees Celsius.
A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat.
Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.
Safety and Security
The security situation in Nigeria is poor - there is widespread lawlessness, including kidnapping for ransom. We currently deem that the specific areas visited by this tour are safe to visit, but this can change at short notice and travellers must have robust travel insurance in place before embarking on this tour.