[dropcap custom_class=”normal”] Situated at the geographical North-Eastern part of Nigeria, Bauchi State remains the best tourism haven with a warm and hospitable weather as well as over 15 different destinations that rightly earned it the slogan as ‘The Pearl of Africa’s Tourism’. [/dropcap]
Its natural endowments raw, yet strikingly beautiful with spectacular sights and awe-inspiring beauty that offer a wealth of destinations for tourism and leisurely activities.
From the medieval, to the natural or invented, visitors will seek the end to the suspense in discovering this Pearl of Tourism known as Bauchi State.
This land remains a secret that is rich in abundant historical heritage buried in the likes of the ancient Babban Gwani local structure in Kafi and Madaki, the first mining Beacon in Nigeria located at Tilden Fulani, the Panshanu stone hips in Toro, the Geji rock paintings in Shira as well as the Shadawanka rock paintings and the tomb of Nigeria’s first and only Prime Minister in Bauchi.
Festivals such as the Kyaro war dance performed by Warji ethnic groups, the Afizere dance of the Jarawa people, the Takai dance popular among Fulani as well as the Ngat-zal bajar dance peculiar to the people of Dass, the Lawurba dance popular to the people of Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro, made Bauchi State a melting point for traditional and cultural tourism.
The outstanding cultural festivals include the Durbar, which has been embraced by the people of the State as core aspect of an annual tradition.
Aside these festivals, the State also holds the annual Bauchi State Festival of Arts and Culture, BAFEST which features display of various traditions in the field of dancing, music, arts, crafts, fashion design as well as production of metal works, pottery, mat weaving and leather works. Inventions and innovations just as it is also known for its arts and crafts which include beautiful embroidered caps and gowns, fibre craft and decorated calabashes.
However, Africa’s biggest and premiere game reserve, Yankari, strategically placed Bauchi State at the centre of Nigeria’s ambition to build a national tourism industry. Yankari has become the most developed wildlife park in Nigeria with a lot of wide variety of fauna and flora, attracting visitors from within and outside the country.
The park derived its name from the well known Wikki warm spring from the local Duguri language, ‘wikki’, meaning ‘where are you’. Yankari is a large wildlife park located in the south – central part of Bauchi State. It covers an area of about 2,244 kilometre square and is home to several natural warm springs as well as a wide variety of fauna and flora.
Its location in the heartland of West African savannah makes it a unique destination for tourists and holiday makers to watch wildlife in its natural habitat. The reserve habours over 50 wide range of prized indigenous wildlife, including Baboons, Monkeys, Warthogs, Hippopotamuses, Lions, Elephants and Leopards.
Other animals include Buffalo, Gannet, Roan antelope, Bubal Hartebeest and spotted Hyena in addition to African hunting Dogs, Cheetahs, western Kobs, red-fronted Gazelles, Waterbucks, Grimm’s Dockers, Oribi and red-fl anked Dockers. The reserve also hosted more than 350 species of indigenous birds, 26 species of fish, 7 amphibians and 17 species of reptiles.
It is the most popular destination for tourists in Nigeria and as such, plays crucial role in the development and promotion of Eco-tourism in the country.
Currently, the Wikki camp which is the tourist centre of the park was pulled down and about N10 billion was expended towards erecting 110 excursively furnished chalets of varying sizes and qualities were erected. These range from the royal suite, the presidential suite and the executive suites as well as students hostel, staff quarters, police outpost, a communication office, laundry , restaurants, sales shop and a museum that is well stocked with a variety of skins, tusks, bones and fully mounted stuffed game from the park. The museum serves as a conservation and educational center, displaying hunting gears and traps used by poachers.
Also part of the infrastructural development of the camp include a 500 and 200-sitting capacity conference centres equipped with communication facilities, a mosque, a clinic, a conservation management office, a sporting arena for lawn tennis, badminton, squash, table tennis, dart and cart games, a reception area and a booking for daily safari trips into the wild using several available game viewing vehicles.
Due to underground geothermal activity, the Wikki warm spring gushes out clean and clean warm water of 31.1 degrees Celsius all year round. The spring sprouts out 21,000,000 litres of clear water from a limestone escarpment into the Gaji Rivers. Surrounded by vegetation that boosts the ecology of its environment, the Wikki warm spring is prized for its pleasurable delight to visitors interested in swimming.
About 14 kilometers South- East of the Wikki camp is the Dimmil warm spring named after a small settlement that once lived around the spring.
The warm spring maintains a constant temperature of 35 degrees Celsius with characteristics of mild skin burn due to its high sulphur content.
Apart from being used as a source of water for domestic use, the ancient community that settled around it considered Dimmil warm spring for spiritual bath that cures all skin ailments.
Another warm spring in the park is referred to as ‘Mawulgo’ which gushes out naturally clean and clear water with a constant temperature of 33 degrees Celsius with a high water pressure and low volume. The spring supplied water to the open flood plain that supported several aquatic animals and birds that enjoy the cold environment surrounding the vegetation.
Tungan Maliki is the only cold spring situated deep into the forest of the reserve. It is the smallest of the springs whose temperature is yet to be determined as research continues in order to uncover why the spring is cold unlike all the others within the park.
All these springs present a sight of delight to behold and leave a lingering memory in the minds of visitors on the natural divinity that has kept these springs fl owing throughout the year for long as history can remember.
The endowments within Yankari Resort and Safari are not only painted by nature but also by the human activities of ancient times, renowned among these historical and human adventure at the park is the Marshall caves.
Mallam Ahmadu Makama, a retired chief park ranger first discovered the presence of these caves in the shallow forest of Yankari which were dug in sandstone escarpments located in Borkono gorge some 7 kilometers North-East of Wikki camp. The Marshall cave is home to 59 dwellings marked with clearly defi ned rock paintings and engravements in zigzag and straight forms. Each of the caves has an average measurement of 0.5 meter diameter entrance, 2.5 meter diameter chamber and a roof height of 1.5 diameters. Many of these caves are interconnected.
Although history did not highlight what the caves were used for, many researchers believed that they served as refugee camp used by the ancient people as shelter during the slave trading period of the 19th century while others hypothesized that the Marshall caves were occupied by the early man.
Research is still ongoing aimed at identifying the real people that made and occupied the caves, for what purpose and for what period of time.
Yankari Resort and Safari is also richly endowed with a unique feature of another signifi cant historical monument of Shau-Shau iron smelting works. 45 kilometers deep into the forest of Yankari Resort and Safari is a 250 square meter used by ancient tribe as a local iron smelting industry referred to as the Zamfara Iron Smelting Site, Its history was traced back to the Stone Age when a Belawa tribe occupied the Panguru old settlement where they established a local industry.
It was believed that the inhabitants of that area attached spiritual beliefs to their daily work of smelting the iron rich sandstones. These ancient people hold spiritual sessions climaxed by a party in which they dine and wine before engaging in the work of smelting the iron ore using the over 60 standing shaft furnace.
The Anfara site is believed to be the largest historical industrial complex of its time in the West African sub-region while also of historical importance is the Dukke wells found at a former settlement site located 11 kilometres South- East of the main entrance gate of Yankari at Maina Maji.
There are 139 wells, all of which have interconnecting shafts while the surrounding settlements and the wells were believed to be once used as resting place by the trans- Atlantic slave traders of the early times. The wells were an elaborate water storage system devised by these early settlers.
The popular Kalban hill from the Duguri language, meaning ‘fl at place’ is located North-East of Wikki camp.
It enables tourists to the opportunity to have a bird’s view of the park and its cascading as well as undulating fresh land. The Kanyo hill, located East of Marshall Caves is a beautiful picnic ground that provides good view of the wild life forest while a big cave of 10 meter wide provides a popular camp at the Paliyaram hill.
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa
The tomb of Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the first and only Prime Minister of Nigeria, is located in the city of Bauchi and was declared a national monument on August 29, 1979 by the military administrator of the state at the time, Brigadier Garba Duba. The construction of the tomb and the building enclosing the grave began in 1977 and it was commissioned in July 1979. The tomb also includes a reference library and a mosque.
The Emir’s palace is one of Bauchi’s architectural wonders. It was originally built as a fortress for the Emir and his officials. It has tall defence walls and spacious areas for important activities such as Friday prayers and the Durbar during the colonial days.
When next you’re in Bauchi, be sure to check out the Yankari wild life park.