After heading northeast to Zaria, the main highway across Nigeria headed southeast to Jos and the Jos Plateau. The Jos Plateau rises above the surrounding region and is littered and stacked with huge boulders. The highway immediately heads north to traverse around a boulder strewn plateau, then goes almost due east as it follows a slightly circuitous path through the rocky landscape. Some of the rocks are massive in a convention of boulders gathered around even larger hills.
I had great views of this fantasy landscape as I swung back and forth in the back of the large truck which gave me a ride all the way to Bauchi. There I continued east with a ride to Dindima where I had to change directions to head south to Mainamaji. From there it was a short hike to my destination – the Yankari Game Reserve and its spectacular Wiki Warm Spring.
The Wiki Warm Spring is an oasis of serenity in the midst of the dense jungle of the Game Reserve. As I entered the park, I was quick to notice that I seemed to be the only visitor that day. That was the story of my entire trip – taking the road less travelled to gain real experiences, not just post card opportunities where everyone else had gone.
The ranger at the Game Reserve entrance was good enough to point me in the direction of the spring.
As I approached the spring, I could see what appeared to be a small opening in the forest. As I walked toward it, I found a cut stone paved path leading me to a large sign that greeted me with: DO NOT FEED the BABOONS
As the jungle opened, to my right, there was a bare stone cliff reaching up … heavily forested to the edge. The path led down on a gentle slope with some switchbacks to a pool of still water which ended abruptly at the base of the cliff. It stretched out about 20 meters to the opposite side away from me, and to the left about 40 or 50 meters until it narrowed and fed a small stream which was its outlet.
As I reached the end of the paved path there was a terrace on the edge of the pool for about 15 meters on this side. There wasn’t a sound, other than a faint gurgle of slowly flowing water. I was alone in a spectacular sylvan glade with light rippling and beaming through the trees, flickering as the wind moved the leaves.
I changed into my bathing suit. laid my pack along a low wall by the opening to the path and dove into the pool. It was beyond glorious… as I swam around the pool, exploring it. I swam up to the cliff, where a fresh spring was bubbling up from deep below refilling the pool. I took a deep breath, and dove straight down perhaps 20 or 25 feet, then the force of the water coming up helped return me to the surface. I felt renewed, cleansed by this spiritual immersion.
I stayed for several hours, enjoying the peace and solitude – interrupted only a few times by the baboons barking in the distance, although I never saw any and certainly didn’t feed them.
Nigeria is a very populous country, yet I had this glorious pond all to myself. It is so invigorating to find these places of quiet amidst the chaos we experience every day. Sometimes, in my mind, I return to this spring fed pool in the middle of the Nigerian jungle to recharge myself. We all need a place like this.
I took a deep breath and concluded it was best to walk back out of the park and to resume my journey northeast to Maiduguri before sunset.
Often our pools of serenity are surrounded by baboons.
You set me up well for that last line.