The Last Giraffes of West Africa
Me and Travis had heard that the last remaining wild giraffes in West Africa were just outside of the Nigerien capital Niamey, but since Niger is a country that hardly receives tourists at all it was hard to find any information about it online at all. From what we read online people had been paying a hundred dollars for a private driver taking them to and from Kouré village (2 hrs drive from Niamey) plus park fees, but by just asking a bit around we found out that it was possible to get there for only 1800CFA (3€*) in an airconditioned bus with a company called Africa Assalam and it would have been just 1000CFA if we would have gone in a cramped tro tro minivan.
Even park fees where negotiable by explaining that we were students on low budget so we ended up paying the following:
Entry permit for tourists
10 000 4000CFA
Guide per person 2500CFA
Camera fee 500CFA
Motorbike with driver
15 000 10 000CFA
Total per person was negotiated down from 28000CFA to 16500CFA per person. Including transport, we paid just over 20 euros. That is quite a lot less than we initially had thought it would cost!
The experience was definitely well worth it. From Kouré village we climbed on the motorbikes with our guides who took us about 30 kilometers to the nearest village where they had been spotted and then another few kms on loose dirt roads. When we finally saw a couple of giraffe heads peaking up over the trees we slowed down and parked the bikes pretty close to them. We had found a family of eight giraffes nibbling peacefully on the tall trees.
The guides let us walk as close as we wanted until the giraffes started walking away from us. They spoke some English and explained to us that the difference between a male and female is that the male has extra horns. They said there were 452 remaining giraffes in Niger and that the highest was between five and six meters being 25 years old. The whole trip was definitely worthwhile and being east of Niamey it was easily doable on our way to Benin.