Nigeria Stories and Tips

Water in the Desert

Bargaining Photo, Nigeria, Africa

About 200km northeast of Kano (good roads and a 2- to 3-hour drive), close to the border of Niger, you will find the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands. When you drive along the road from Hadejia to Nguru, you suddenly find yourself driving through marshes, reed, and pools. On both sides of the roads you can see fishermen in their boats. At some places, the road is flooded and diversions are made. Given the fact that minutes before you were crossing a desert-like landscape, it is a remarkable sight indeed.

Groundwater comes to the surface in this area, which is officially protected. An English NGO works on conservation issues in this area. They have a small information centre in Nguru. It is closed in the weekends (we visited it on a Saturday). They should be able to help in renting a canoe. We drove 5 to 10km on the Hadejia road and asked around in a little fishermen village just beside the Kano-Nguru railway line (There was a weekly train service from Kano to Nguru on Fridays and back on Saturdays). From two fishermen we rented two canoes for 4 hours for 1500 maria. Make sure you negotiate the price and the terms of agreement clearly before you set off.

Once in the boat, you find yourself in an amazing place, with quiet waters, an occasional fisher passing by, water lilies, and lots of birds. In fact, the area is major bird sanctuary where migrating birds circumvent the European winter. Our fishermen spoke only limited English, and we only limited Hausa. It might be a good idea to come with a good "bilingual" guide. The fishermen had a lot of knowledge on local plants and their food use, but unfortunately, we did not understand everything. Unfortunately, their bird knowledge was limited. From the boat, the region seemed endless, which was confirmed by the map of Nigeria we brought. It can be an excellent weekend trip from Kano.

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