Going on a Safari
Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
178Trip End Ongoing
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Hard to believe it, but we are up and on the road at 6:15 AM. It is dark, but the streets are busy with people walking and traffic buzzing by us. The first stop is at a darkened gas station. It appeared to be closed. No. A man slowly comes from a building behind the station. We fill up with gas and are on the road.
As we leave town we are stopped by the "police". From the conversation we gather that there is a little known law in this community. Our driver, Franck, needed a special license to drive tourists. A conversation develops about the law. Traffic is starting to back up behind us and drivers are getting a little restless. Another uniformed police officer comes from a building across the street and tells the "police" to have us move along. They advice Franck to pick up a license.
About 7:00 AM we arrive at a place called Camp Nino. Since we have never been here before we do not know we are heading down the wrong road. The driveway is bumpy. The path is narrow and ungraded. White painted rocks mark the trail we should take with our vehicle. We arrive at a set of buildings. African men are working around the property. A French speaking man with a white mustache with a unique hat and safari clothing wants to talk us into "camping" at his business. Ten men are ready to help us set up camp. I feel like we are in Jurassic Park. Ten minutes later we are on the road towards Pendjari National Park.
The National Park begins at the edge of an African Village.
We had our guide and we are off into the Parc. The speed limit is 40 km/h. (I don't think you could even go that fast with the number of ruts in the road.) Driving is forbidden in the park during hours of darkness. (Who would want to be out in the dark anyway?) The soil is very red and it is quite dusty in the park. The best time of the day to see animals in the morning is from 6:30 AM until 10:00 AM. We are closing in on 10:00 AM so the animal watching is pretty quiet.
One of the first structures we noticed were the "huge" mud structures all over the park. These condo like -tructures are termite hills.
Back to the car. A sign directs us to our hotel. It must be close. Wrong! Two hours later we are still bumping over the rough roads on the way to the hotel. At 12:30 we finally arrive at our oasis. It is a very attractive area with bungaloo rooms and porch type buildings. There's a swimming pool.
At four o'clock in the afternoon we get together for our evening safari tour of the park.
Time for dinner and off to bed. Tomorrow we want to be up with the jungle animals!