Moncton, New Brunswick
October 29, 2000
There are road tolls to leave Niamey and get back in -- there are fees for enter the giraffe area, to hire a guide (mandatory), and to use a camera in the park -- and don't forget to tip your guide!!
The best times to see the giraffes are early in the morning, or just before sunset (we were told) - we arrived close to 4:30pm, hired a guide, and started driving through the fields. Every once in a while, the guide would say something in Hausa to our driver, who would stop and allow the guide to climb a tree or tower to try to find the giraffes.
We drove in search of the giraffes for 50 minutes and were just about to give up, when our guide saw someone in the field, herding his cattle home for the night. Apparently, giraffes had been seen in the not too far off.
We drive in the direction suggested until we see another herder, who points us back in the direction we came from -- we drove right by the spotted wonders!!
We were very sceptical by the time we got our first glimpse of these wonderful creatures!! It was heart-stopping. 5 giraffe in a field, eating papaya from the ground, just minding their own business!!
Since we were in Niger to film a documentary, the cameraman needed to be looked after before we could stand in awe and stare at them. Luckily, they were not spooked by us and stuck around for about 1/2 hour.
We slowly walked up to the herd. I focussed on one giraffe, who I fondly refer to as Millie (it could have been a Milton, for all I know). Millie would watch me watching her. She would fake going down for another papaya, only to stop half way to the ground and look at me - she was trying to figure out if I was going to do something she didn't want to be part of.
Anyway, I stood and looked at Millie, inching along every few minutes, taking photos, and not believing I could be so lucky to see what I was seeing -- the last herd of this breed of giraffe in the world.
When dark came, we were forced to leave, as there are no street lights, or marked roads in the bush.
This is a once in a lifetime experience that should not be missed.
Prices in October 2000:
Road Tolls from Niamey: 3000cfa (each direction)
Guide Fee for Park: 9000cfa for a car with 5 occupants
Still Camera fee: 1000cfa per camera
Professional Camera fee: $150US - we did not have to pay this, but just so you know, they really tried to charge this
T-Shirts that fall apart after 1 washing: 2500cfa (don't bother with these)
From journal A Trip to Another World