West Africa 2012 (part I): Pendjari National Park

Cotonou & Pendjari National Park, Benin:

Kob in the Pendjari National Park, Benin

Kob in the Pendjari National Park, Benin

In February 2012, I flew to Cotonou, the capital of Benin, to visit my girlfriend who had spent a couple of months in the country for an internship. Together we travelled north to the famous Pendjari National Park to enjoy its diverse animal life. Afterwards we passed through Burkina Faso and Mali, before reaching Guinea where we wanted to explore the rarely visited Haut Niger National Park as well as the hills of the Fouta Djalon. Originally, our plan was to cross over to Senegal on land, but elections were about to start there and rumours spread on imminent demonstrations and strikes. Consequently, we opted to continue to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and take a flight to Dakar to eventually reach our plane back to Germany. This epic journey using public transportation was one of my greatest adventures ever. I hope you enjoy the following posts!


My plane took off in Nuremberg on a cold winter day. The sky was clear and the landscape was covered by a blanket of snow offering great views of southern Germany! I had a stopover in Paris where the city was foggy with only the tops of the skyscrapers as well as the Eiffel Tower emerging from the low-hanging clouds.

What a different situation awaited me on my arrival in Cotonou: humid, warm weather – I was almost immediately drenched in sweat. On the day following my arrival, we first visited the bustling city with its almost 800,000 inhabitants. However, we did not want to stay at the coast for long, but instead took the bus to Natitingou in northern Benin.

Natitingou is the most important city in northern Benin and the jumping-off point for trips to nearby Pendjari National Park. Of course, it is necessary to organize your own transport inside the reserve and we booked a car with driver for two days. This excursion was among the most expensive things we did on the entire journey, but the abundant wildlife was definitely worth it! I can highly recommend a visit since we saw a large number of animals (some of which were already covered in this blog), including:

Lions (unfortunately no photographs!), African Elephants, Hippos, Western Buffaloes, eight different antelope species (Kob, Defassa Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Roan Antelope, Bohor Reedbuck, Western Hartebeest, Red-flanked Duiker, and Oribi), three species of primates (Olive Baboon, Patas Monkey, and Tantalus Monkey), Warthogs, Nile Crocodiles, and many birds (e.g., Denham’s Bustard, Black Crowned Crane, Abyssinian Roller, Marabou Stork, and African Fish Eagle).

After leaving the park, we continued our journey north into neighbouring Burkina Faso. You can read about it in the following post!

20 responses to “West Africa 2012 (part I): Pendjari National Park

    • We’ve travelled for something between 5 to 6 weeks… but we rushed through most of Burkina Faso and Mali and spent most of our time in Guinea! Mali was becoming more and more unstable back then… I don’t know about the details of the political situation right now…

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