In Okomu's Safari
Okomu National Park is a rain forest tourism facility
with rare, bountiful flora and fauna, ANDREW IRO
OKUNGBOWA writes that the park refreshes anyone who
dares to visit it
There are only two rainforest parks in the country.
Okomu National Park located in Edo State, western end
of Nigeria is one. The second is the Cross River
National Park in Cross River State.
Okomu is however, a thrill for many reasons. Despite
its small enclosure, 118 sq kilometres, it has
abundant flora and fauna resources with a very rich
ecosystem that is very unique and distinct.
Though it appears hidden away from the eyes of the
world, Okomu is always a source of joy to anyone
visits it. It will envelope such visitor in its hidden
treasure. Indeed, the small enclosure is pregnant with
vast resources. It is perhaps difficult to say which
of the various offerings of the park holds the most
For instance, it has a number of endangered species
within its bowels. There is the buffalo, forest
elephants, crocodiles, warthogs, chimpanzees, red
duikers, red river hogs and mona monkeys.
And of course, there are the white-throated monkeys -
a very rare and most endangered species in the world.
The park has the distinct record of being home to this
precious species, which by nature is endemic to the
park. Even the Cross River National Park with all its
rich and varied fauna species could boast of the
existence of the white throated monkey within its
Another distinctive feature of the park is the Okomu
River that runs through it. In fact, it is from the
river that the park derives its name. Though there are
other rivers and streams, such as Osse River and
Arakhuan stream within its space, the one that appears
most captivating and holds potential for a number of
water leisure activities, is Okomu River.
Now, what a conservationist or even a first time
visitor to the park would not forget in a hurry is the
rich flora and ecosystem of the park. As a rainforest
park, God has endowed the park with very rich and
The beauty of the park is something that beckons at
you the moment you walk into the wild. The air, the
green luscious expanse of wild that stretches ahead of
you is most luxuriating and captivating.
It is no wonder then that the most natural and
instinctive reaction of anyone would be to get lost in
the wild. A picture of Alice in Wonderland easily
flashes through your mind.
Aware of the strong effect that the park is likely to
have on visitors, its management has somewhat made
one's encounter and desire to commune with nature in
an un-obstructive manner quite easy.
For instance, there are trail tracks and these
actually make nature trail or safari at the park, a
dreamed enterprise. You also discover that the park
has also been divided into compartments, which bears
the label of lakes. These also make it easy for you to
cover the expanse of forested land easily.
Perhaps, the place to have a breather while on trail
of nature is the section where you have Okomu River.
It has more than a cooling effect on you. The hues and
colours of the river are sure laced with some
You can possibly go on sport fishing here. Another
thing you could possibly do is cruise on the water.
You could also keep a date with the Iron Bridge that
runs across the river.
The bridge is one of the antiquated features of the
park. It was built in 1912 by the then African Timber
and Plywood (AT and P) Company. Even though it was
recently renovated with a hut for relaxation, built at
one end of it, visible for you to see are some of the
old features of the bridge.
What anyone is likely to see as a most intriguing
feature of the park is the Tree Houses within the
park. They are two; located at Lakes 64 and 52. The
Tree Houses are additional pep to one gaining a
vintage spot from where to relax and savour the
beauties of nature that the park present.
While atop of the platform, you are afforded a
birdeye's view of the park. Perhaps the only
difficulty is climbing atop. It could be quite
exciting climbing atop the 140 feet silk cotton Tree
House of Lake 52. The Tree House has a base with some
measure of space and platform to sit on while
contemplating how to conquer the 140 feet height.
Just in case you are afraid of this adventure, never
mind, sitting around and watching others go through
the exciting rigour of climbing the wooden ladder to
the top of the Tree House also has its own attraction.
And the fresh air, the chirping sound of birds and
occasionally, some fauna species such as antelopes,
duikers and monkeys that run through, that is, if you
are lucky enough to set your eyes on them as they move
in a flash.
At the end of your trail, you are sure relieved and
fulfilled. You are humbled by what you see and would
marvel at the pleasant creation. The impression you
come away with is that Okomu certainly has its bowel
full of exciting and effervescent features that would
sure make the day of any visitor.
Okomu National Park is believed to be surrounded by
about 45 villages and settlements. The most popularly
ones are Udo and Arakhuan villages, which are just by
the fringes of the facility. In fact, Udo village is
the proposed site of the park's administrative
The fact that you interact with some of these
communities on your way to the park and while on trail
tends to add another colour to the park. If any thing,
it helps to humanise the park.
You are not just left with flora and fauna alone but
you get to feel the human elements and also feel the
pulse of the rural people that you come across. The
various communities living within and around the park
somehow depend on the park for their daily existence.
Before attaining the status of a national park in
1999, Okomu was a wildlife sanctuary created within
the Okomu forest in 1987 by the Nigerian Conservation
Foundation (NCF). It was meant to be a project that
would showcase the mutual existence between the people
and the environment, in terms of preserving,
protecting and conserving its resources for
Today, the National Park Services (NPS) run the park
with Mr. Okedeji Agboola Okeyoyin (a.k.a George) as
the officer in charge.
Access to the park, which is in Arakhuan village,
South West of Edo State, is quite easy by road. Coming
from the western part of the country, you could
approach through Okada village. From Okada junction
you make a detour to Udo village, and then Arakhuan
village while from either the eastern or northern part
of the country, you go through Benin city. From Benin
City you make a detour to Siluko village.
Tree Houses: Lakes 52 and 64 - afford you a vintage
position to have a bird eye's view of the park
Okomu and Osse Rivers and Arakhuan stream - for sport
fishing, boat cruise and other water related
Iron Bridge - for picnic
Nature trail (safari)
A.P. Leventis Centre - for artifacts and other basic
materials and information about the park numerous
Udo and Arakhuan villages - for a feel of rural life
At the end of your trail, you are sure relieved and
fulfilled. You are humbled by what you see and marvel
at the infinite creation. The impression you come away
with is that Okomu certainly has its bowl full of
exciting and effervescent features that would sure
make the day of any visitor