Trip to: Okomu National Park
Date: December 11-12, 2004
Trip leader: Robert Warren
Trip report: Françoise Maréchal (France)
This trip was planned to let us enjoy the beauty and relaxing environment of Okomu National Park, some 300km from Lagos, close to Benin City. This park preserves what forest is left from the original Okomu Forest Reserve. The secondary forest is home to a large variety of animals, the most accessible of them being butterflies and birds.
However, before enjoying this relaxing environment, we had to get there. This was not the best part. We were eleven of us, leaving Ikoyi at 8 .am., after the usual delay. We took the road along Lekki Peninsula, crossing the Lagoon at Epe, the fisherman village. The road was okay until we arrived at the junction to the Benin Expressway. After that point, there are plenty of big holes, and we saw a lot of previous accidents.
We had a nice escort which proved to be very useful as we had to pass through maybe as many as twenty check-points. We didn’t have to stop at any of them. But yes, we had to stop to repair the flat tire of Jaimie’s car. As a consequence of the poor condition of the road, the tire almost exploded. We were glad of the escort for security purposes during the repair operation
We still had some difficulties, looking for a place to refuel. At the end, we found some at the Mojo Petrol Station, and we were able to continue until we reached the laterite track that leads to Arakhuan, our place of accommodation.
I have to confess that it is my first experience in Africa, and I was absolutely fascinated by the surroundings. We arrived on time to accommodate ourselves in a basic, but clean accomodation. We had time for a quick lunch and went out for our first excursion. Accompanied by Robert and a young ranger, we discovered the real world of butterflies. It was the wrong time of day for good bird watching, but the butterflies were there and we learnt everything we needed on the forest butterflies. I’d never expect to see so many different species.
We learnt that if you want to catch certain butterflies you have first to ferment bananas, which is a delicatessen to them is. You can see below how they get in and never more out.
Back to the camp, we had all the time to learn more about butterflies, how to set them and how to keep them in good condition for further identification. We had time also to freshen up and then to enjoy a very nice candle-lit dinner in good company. No generators at all, just the noise of the forest. The night was surprisingly fresh, without AC.
The second day, we started early for a trip in the rainforest. We left the main path after 1.6 km to follow a very small nature trail until we reached the tree house. We enjoyed a wonderful vegetation with the highest trees I have ever seen in my life, more than 50m high, impossible to see the top. We saw umbrella trees, silk cotton trees, and much more. Some of them look fantastic, as if they had been a produce of art rather than of nature. Below you can see some of them.
Strange forms (Lianas)
After two hours of easy walk, we arrived at the tree house. Almost everybody climbed to the top to reach the platform and enjoy a nice view. I don’t have any photo of this, because I am not brave. We didn’t seen any elephants, but the butterflies accompanied us all the time. After this enjoyable trip we went back to Lagos, with the same terrible road but without any tax collectors, which we were told do not work on Sundays.
Thanks to Robert for this very nice and well organised trip.