The fauna species inventory of the park is very rich, with many of them endemic to the area. There are 23 species of primates in Nigeria, 18 of which are found here. Two of them very important hominoids: the Cross River gorilla, (gorilla gorilla deihli) and the chimpanzee (pantroglodytes).
The Cross River gorilla is significant, as the only colony of gorilla in sub-saharan Africa. In Nigeria, gorilla tracking is best done here; it is an all year round activity. The Nigerian government, in collaboration with Cameroonian counterpart, is assiduously working towards ensuring its protection and survival of this critically endangered gorilla species. Two new species of butterfly have also been discovered in the park – tetrahanis okwangwo and Thermoniphas barahingam. Chevrotain, giant pangolin, the golden potto or calabar angwantibo and preuss’ guenon are also some of the mammalian species endemic to the park. Also important is the once considered extinct but now resurfaced bird, the bare-headed foul rock fowl picarthates oreas these “ecostars” are ‘a must – see’, that warrant a visit to the park!
Cross River National Park is thus important as a home to 199 mammal, 63 frog and toad, 20 reptile, 380 bird 48 fish and 950 butterfly species. Complimenting this is the park’s community of 105 support zone villages- the people who traditionally live on the forest. However, animal sighting in high rainforest parks such as the Cross River National Park is rare due to low visibility of the rainforest vegetation. Visitors are therefore advised to spend more time in the field.
VISITOR FACILITIES Butatong Base camp in Okwangwo Division is furnished with an arboretum, picnic garden lodges and network of nature trails. A visitor can patiently take a walk into the rainforest, spend time appreciating the arboretum, relax in the garden or enjoy the tranquil environment of our eco-lodges.
Akamkpa: A modesty furnished 4- bedroom Guest House complete with electricity and water supplies as well as TV facilities. Also available is a 20-bedspace hostel for students and other low budget travelers.
KANYANG TOURIST VILLAGE The ultimate viability of ecotourism in this park and indeed Cross River state lies in the development of the kanyang tourist village. This will enhance the exploitation of the unlimited ecotourism resources of the Mbe Gorilla mountains, the Afik mountain wildlife sanctuary, the pandrilus primates conservation project, buanchor and the Obudu mountain resort with its captivating all-year- round temperate climate, cable car, water park and panoramic rolling hills. The great compliment to the Calabar Free Trade Zone and the famous Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort. It is therefore an untapped goldmine awaiting interested private investors.
TINAPA Tinapa is Africa’s premier Business and Leisure Resort. It is the first of its kind in Nigeria, and indeed Africa and modeled after similar centres in Hong kong, Singapore, Dubai, Bombay, Taiwan and Bangkok. It is a useful place to visit while on tour to Cross River National Ppark.
VISITATION PERIOD The best time to visit the park is November to May. Due to its highly forested nature and criss-crossing streams, recreational pursuits are done mostly on foot with patient endurance. Armed rangers and park interpreters are available to guide visitors while on tour of the park.
CULTURAL FEATURES Cross-River state has rich and diverse cultural heritage given its linguistical plurality, which is a great compliment to the existence of the Cross river National Park. Activities like the annual boat regatta, New yam festival, the famous Christmas carnival and menus such as the popular “edikangikong “ cuisine add colour to the natural endowments of the state.
ACCESSIBILITY AND /ROAD LINKS: Visitors from the north can access the park either through makurdi- ikom highway or yola-katsina Ala-ikom highway. From Ikom, visitors can proceed either to Butatong or Akpamkpa depending on their interests.
Visitors from the south-west and south east can also reach the park by either Aba-Calabar highway, or Port Harcourt- Ikot Abasi Uyo-Calabar highway. At Odukpani junction, visitors are to turn left and make a 20-minute drive to the park Head Office at Akamkpa town where able staff will receive and guide them accordingly. Butatong and Erokut are the main entrances to the park.
Cross River National park is the only National park within the vicinity of a seaport. Sailports and passengers wishing to visit the park may berth at the calabar international free trade zone seaport. Once through with the seaport familiarities, visitors may either go straight to Akpamkpa or visit the park’s contact office at the federal secretariat complex, M/M Highway, Calabar, for further enquiries.
AIR LINK The closest airport is the Margaret Ekpo International Airport calabar. Visitors can hire a vehicle from either the airport or the park’s management for onward transit to the park. Those wishing to visit the Okwangwo sector by air may do so using the Bebi airstrip.