Safari in Pendjari National Park

Safari in Pendjari National Park, Benin

Pendjari National Park and safari were the true highlights of my trip to Benin. Park is beautiful. Peaceful and green. The Biosphere Reserve lies in the north-western part of the country on the border with Burkina Faso. Where it adjoins Arli National Park.

The park is a part of WAP (W-Arli-Pendjari). A very important region in West Africa that has been created to protect some of the last populations of big game. Like elephants, buffalo, hippopotamuses and West African lions. Other tenants of the park are cheetahs, crocodiles, various antelopes and many different birds.

When I mentioned at the hotel that I would like to visit for safari they all told me not to do it. The rainy season was approaching. The grass was high and it would be very difficult to spot an animal. Plus, it was far away. About 800 km from Cotonou, and most probably the park would be closed at that time of the year anyway. But I didn’t give up. I called the park. Found out everything, and told them to expect me for a safari.

You can use public transport to go almost all the way up to the park. But I hired a private driver for three days. I was a bit afraid to rely on public transport. Flights to Europe from Cotonou are not as frequent as one would like to think. And I was really looking forward to joining my friends in Mallorca for some jet-set activities.

I decided to stay in the Pendjari Lodge. Set up in the heart of the park. About 100 km from its border. The hills and cliffs of the Atakora Range create scenic backgrounds. The view which starts to please your eyes from the first moment you wake up accompanies you during breakfast and ends the day is simply breathtaking. It is an amazing. Eco-friendly place run by a family from France. There is only solar energy and no network. An ideal place to relax and stop for a moment to immerse oneself in the surroundings.

Safari Scenario

The safari was what I had on my mind when coming here. But I had a special interest in seeing my beloved elephants. Pendjari is known for having a relatively large population of them. All together there are 3,800 elephants in the WAP area. I was hoping to spot one or two.

When I told that to the French lady from the Pendjari Lodge she told me it would be close to impossible! I really didn’t understand why everybody was so pessimistic! I knew it was gonna be great safari. Ok, I hoped.

Anyway it was my first safari ever so I had nothing to compare it with. And I was going be happy to even see the antelopes and birds.

But we all know that I’m the most lucky person ever when it comes to travelling and experiences on the road. So, naturally, I had a spectacular safari even though the weather was so-so.

I was really surprised with the variety of flora in the park. Large parts of the park are made up of savannah, savannah grassland and woodlands, a gallery forest, an open forest.

Apparently the Sudanese biome is very characteristic of this region. I always say you learn all your life. Now I know the difference between shrub-lands and arborous savannah and can explain to you where you can find a gallery forest. But when it comes to plants I’m into tress. And Africa is all about the trees. From baobabs and acacias to beautiful palm trees like the Ronier Palm.

I had a great guide who was very knowledgeable about the park and animals. He had a great eye. He was able to spot animals from very far away. And that is an important skill in Pendjari, as following animals is strictly forbidden.

I didn’t see any cats. They could have been a few meters away from me but were impossible to spot in two-meter-high grass. So no cheetah, leopards or lion. But many birds, monkey vervets and baboons. Thousands of antelopes, Kobs, Impalas and Waterbruck. Always cool buffalos and my lovely elephants.

Four different times and locations. Not too many. Only six in total. More than enough for me! Especially that we spotted the first one in the first five minutes of the safari and from then on it only got better. My guide said that elephants are lucky animals and that I must be a very lucky person. I know!

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39 thoughts on “Safari in Pendjari National Park

  1. Justin

    I love snakes and would’ve gone out there just to look for those! Africa seems like such a cool place, I’ll go one day.

  2. Marie

    Love this post. I had my first experience with Africa back in June and I’m already planning another trip back. I fell in love with it. It left me with such a sense of love for the people, animals, and culture. I did a safari every day for a week and never tired of it. It was even better because it was on a protected private preserve!

    Great post!

  3. Selvi

    Whaaaaa! I am so exited to read about your stay in Benin! I spend a year in togo and a couple of weeks in Benin, and also visited the park. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We saw elephants en masse (it was march) and slept right a waterhole, where hippos were sleeping and lions were roaring on the other side. Just amazing! How cool to read about another persons experience!

    • Hey Selvi, it is always to meet someone else who has been in Benin, it doesn’t happen too often! Not many people visit this great country! :) I’m glad to hear you had a great experience as well, the park is amazing and so full of animals, Mother Nature at her pure beauty :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #118My Profile

  4. Taylor

    I love Safari. But unfortunately never got a chance .. :(

  5. We have looked into going to South Africa and when we do go a Safari is a must!!! After reading your post I think we need to plan a bit more time.
    Heather Boothman recently posted…A Tour of the JFK Presidential Library and MuseumMy Profile

    • Oh yes Heather, safaris are amazing! I would love to try them all, the walking one, the hot air ballon one and so on and so on!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #72My Profile

  6. Fantastic, at least you saw some animals. Sure you’d love to see cats but pretty good you saw elephants. I’m planning a trip for next year and can’t wait to go! You have some great pictures as well!
    Marsha recently posted…Speed Demons: Alpine Skiing Sochi 2014My Profile

    • I actually wouldn’t prefer to see cats! I went to this park for elephants and luckily i have managed to :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #65My Profile

  7. […] Safari in Pendjari National Park – […]

  8. Ron

    We’d make a great duo to travel together! Ha ha ha You don’t like to take no for an answer and no matter what anyone says, once you’ve got your mind set on a destination you’re going to get there! lol But it looks like you had a very nice safari. This is the first one I’ve seen where the countryside is actually lush & green, a great change to the dry climate I’ve come accustomed to seeing. I’ll definitely have to check Pendjari National Park out. Do you know the name of the tribe the woman & children came from?
    Ron recently posted…Hiking Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park in Kathmandu, NepalMy Profile

    • I’m sure we would make a great traveling duo, as long as you we would like to go to the same destination, otherwise I’m afraid we would have a problem ha ha ha Yes going on this safari was quiet unique but it was great to see so much green and lush, often people forget that Africa can be green as well :) It is very difficult for me to answer you question about the tribes. People who live in the area of the park are called People of Atacora, but those are different tribes, you know tribe system it is very divers in Africa and especially in Benin….to main tribes close to the park are Waaba and Byalbe, but migrations were and are very big in Benin so you can’t be sure!
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #63My Profile

  9. These are some lovely pictures! You really have some good luck to have so many great pictures of the animals!

  10. I want your luck! That looks like it would have been a worthwhile trip even without the elephants – though of course they didn’t hurt!
    Jess recently posted…How to Find Gold in the Yukon – Claim 33, Dawson CityMy Profile

  11. I’m so glad you were lucky and it all worked out despite everyone trying to dissuade you. Those elephants look magnificent, but it’s the scorpion photo that caught my eye.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Great Wall of China Toboggan RideMy Profile

  12. How wonderful! A Safari is my dream trip – these photos are wonderful, especially those of the elephants!
    Ashley recently posted…Prepping for Long Term Travel : Month SixMy Profile

  13. Caitlyn

    Brilliant, I’d love go on a safari one day :) You definitely gave your camera a workout!
    Caitlyn recently posted…I’m going to Brazil for the World Cup!My Profile

  14. Marysia, you seem to always go your way! And it’s great. Happy for you that you managed to see your lovely elephants regardless of all the pessimism from the people around you :). Awesome photos!
    frankaboutcroatia recently posted…Makarska Riviera Beaches: hidden gems part 1My Profile

    • Thanks! I really do actually always seems to get my way when it comes to travel! As I like to say, I’m super lucky travel wise. Not sure is I’m lucky just like that or simply because I tell that to myself ha ha ha
      Marysia recently posted…Things to Do in Lake Atitlán, GuatemalaMy Profile

  15. SJ

    Horraaay, I am so glad that you got to see your lovely elephants – what a shame that would of been otherwise.
    SJ recently posted…8 Spectacular National Parks in Croatia #SundayTravelerMy Profile

  16. Georgina

    You truly are a wonderful travel writer and the accompanying photos are fantastic! Thank you for stopping by my blog – I intend to stop by yours quite often :)

  17. bj

    Your photos are really nice…and your writing about it all is very good. Thanks for sharing. :)

  18. Tiny Girl with Big Bag

    I really like that you are telling a story. Not many travel bloggers can deliver this quality. Thanks for sharing your adventures and pictures :)
    Tiny Girl with Big Bag recently posted…For one day I became a local in ValparaísoMy Profile

    • I always thought that is a main idea of blogging, to tell the story :) Thanks a lot Girl!

  19. Monika

    Well written and great photos. I’ve never really thought of going on a safari before but this looks awesome!

  20. Walton Loreman

    Amazing pictures and stories! Great post!

  21. Credit Donkey

    I have never been on a Safari before. But it’s definitely on my list of must-do. I get so jealous whenever I read bloggers posts about their safari trips. I will probably go on a safari trip for my birthday next year. Hopefully. By the way, love your pictures! Cheers!

    • Thank you very much Dear, I always wanted to go as well, but I’m sure I will be going soon again! Maybe somewhere in a dry season so I can see different animals :)

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