Gashaka-Gumti Park

Gashaka-Gumti Park

Gashaka-Gumti National Park is located in the mountainous region of north-eastern Nigeria adjacent to the international border with Cameroon, and immediately to the north of Mambilla Plateau. The largest and most scenic of all the seven National Parks, this conservation area lies between latitude 60 55’ and 80 05’ north, and longitude 11011’ and 12013’ east and covers a total area of 6,731 sq.km. Located in Adamawa and Taraba States, the Park is contiguous with Faro and Tchabal Mbado National Parks in the Republic of Cameroon.

The Park experiences varying pleasant weather conditions, depending on one’s location within the Park. These range from tropical dry humid, tropical moist humid in the lowlands to sub tropical highland weather on the high plateau around Chappal waddi, Sabere and Fillinga. Infact , the hidden corner of West Africa ,that is Gashaka-Gumti National Park, is surely one of Africa’s best kept secret.

The Park also contains some historic sites one of which is the pre 1918 German fort and garrison top of Gashaka Hill once used as a “ watch tower ” by the German military expedition to that area. Graves of some fallen German soldiers could still be seen dotted around the Fort. Similarly, there is an English fort near Gashaka village built by the British Frontier Force who overthrew the Germans to gain the Mambilla pass(a narrow corridor that gave access into Cameroon through the Mambilla Plateau in those days)

The Park has five distinct ecological zones ranging from Scrub and Guinea Savanna to fringing lowland rainforest, montane forest . The graduation of these ecosystems are based on both the latitudinal and altitudinal gradients of the biogeography of the Park.

The mix of these latitudinal and altitudinal gradients has resulted in the evolution of a staggering variety of habitats and niches which have allowed for a diverse assemblage of biodiversity, some endemic to thrive. Infact, the Park is an intricate mosaic of montane grasslands, savanna grasslands, wood lands, swamps, lakes, rivers, evergreen and luxuriant, montane rainforest, each supporting its unique community of plants and animals.

The fauna species inventory of this Park includes giant forest hog, leopard, yellow-backed duiker, golden cat , and eight of Nigeria’s known 23 Primates including chimpanzees in the forest ecotone .The savannas are home to buffalo, lion, elephant and wild dog , water-buck, roan-antelope, giant-eland, kob and Hartesbeest. Up in the mountains one can encounter the mountain reedbuck, black and white colobus monkey, baboon, warthog, oribi and klipspringer. Whilst the crystal-clear rivers contain hippos, crocodiles, otters, nile perch and a wide variety of other aquatic communities.
An abundance of birdlife, such as pin tailed whydah, variable sunbird, dove, horn bill, grey plantain eater, african pied wagtail, african black sunbird e.t.c. Butterflies and other insect communities, orchids , flowers and woody trees make this a naturalists paradise.

Gashaka- Gumti National Park is also reputed to be a safe haven for highly endangered migratory species of animals such as elephant, wild dog and colobus monkey, red-river hog, yellow-backed duiker, reedbuck, chimpanzee, etc.
It is an important spawning ground for a variety of fish and other aquatic species that complete their life cycle in the Benue River system. These include the Nile Perch , Lates niloticus, Tilapia, Tilapia zilli, Electric fish, etc. Indeed researchers from the UK have discovered the presence of certain species of fish of the genera Bryconaethiops and Gabiocichla hitherto unknown to science.

The Park also serves as an important watershed for Rivers Benue and Taraba.

Gashaka-Gumti has ideal spots for sport-fishing, one of which is at Mayo Kam near the Hippo-pool. In the dry season the water is crystal clear and one can easily see different varieties ranging from Tiger, Cat fish, Nile perch, Tilapia fish gliding in the water.

Gashaka Sector of the Park has rugged undulating mountain terrains, excellent for mountaineering and cave exploration. It contains the highest mountain summit in Nigeria the “Chappal Waddi”, which literally means “ the mountain of death”
standing at an altitude of 2,400 meters’ above sea level. It is located in the Gotel mountain range. It is characterized by steep, forested slopes, deep plunging valleys, precipitous escarpments and swift flowing rivers, streams, hot springs, deep valleys, and waterfalls.

Forests in Chappal Waddi, Chappal Hendu, Chappal Yumti, Chappal sirgu and Kwano forest are good primate strongholds. One is sure to sight chimpanzees here or at least hear their calls or see their nests.

Gashaka-Gumti National Park , wild and scenic areas are accessible only by footpath and only by trekking can one savor
the tranquility through the forest canopy ,rare fauna, crystal clear forest streams, waterfalls and picturesque mountain views.

Gashaka sector of the park can be accessed through Katsina Ala-Takum-Bali-Serti –Bodel Gate and the other from Jalingo- Mutum Biyu-Bali-Serti-Bodel Gate, while the main access to Gumti sector is from Yola-Mayo Belwa-Ganye-Sugu-Toungo. The closest airport is at Yola. However, there is an airstrip for light aircraft in Serti, which could be used by visitors.

At present the Park has limited furnished accommodation facilities in Serti town, Gashaka Base Camp and Toungo. Good
Camping sites also exit within and around the park; Mayo-kam, Mayo-gashaka, Mayo-gamgam and Yakuba for outdoors camping. It has about 500km of road network and several Ranger posts at strategic locations to facilitate effective visitor reception and Park protection.