WAP (W, Arly, Pendjari) consists of
(and many surrounding hunting zones)
in three countries of West Africa:
Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger.
Together they form the largest contiguous protected natural area in western Africa. The huge W Trans-Border Park overlaps parts of all three nations. The complex will soon also be referred to as WAPO, when Oti-Mandouri Park in Togo is added.
Protected areas of the WAP
Zone 1 = Pendjari National Park ; 2,3,4 = W National Parks ; 6 = Arly Reserve
"National park" may bring to mind something like Yellowstone or the British Lake District -- paved roads, developed campgrounds with showers and restaurants, and of course loads of visitors. But the national parks of West Africa are nothing of the sort. Their protected designation mostly means no hunting and no grazing of livestock are allowed. By American standards, facilities are primitive and the roads are worse. But for those who want to get away from the Yellowstones and Windermeres of the world, the WAP parks are a veritable gem.
This site will give you ideas and practical advice on visiting and wildlife watching in W, Arly, and Pendjari. Above all, you will need a guide! This site will introduce you to the Burkinabe ecoguides. (It will not discuss hunting and hunting guides.) The ecoguides in all three countries are accredited by their governments. They know the area, its geography, history, culture, weather, and wildlife. If you ask your guide in advance, he can make travel arrangements for your entire stay in Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger, including hiring a car and driver and making hotel reservations. Remember, however, that although all the guides are fluent in French, only a few speak English.
So browse through the sections listed in the left column. This site is certainly not exhaustive. The author has visited the parks three times. The first visit was arranged by an American Peace Corps volunteer. Although it was a wonderful trip, the lack of advance information could have created major problems. The second visit, arranged by a Burkinabè ecoguide, was free of the mixups experienced on the first trip. The third visit, for an entire winter, allowed time to experience the area as more than a tourist. The goals of this site are
- to introduce you to the ecoguides and their services,
- to provide some of the information you need to visit the parks, or...
- at least to help you know what to ask!
Map of the parks from: Content under licence CC-BY-SA. Source : Article Parc national de la Pendjari de Wikipédia en français (auteurs)