Finding a way to rest and relax here in Niamey is extremely difficult. Just try to imagine a city without lovely parks or quiet places to take long walks. Imagine a sprawling, dusty city without coffee shops where it is comfortable to simply relax and read a book or have a date. We live in a rather noisy, dirty city where you are always being watched (because you are white), and entertainment options are little to none.
But we realize that we still need to rest and be refreshed. The work we do here is difficult and stressful, so our bodies and spirits need respite. This is a snapshot about how we found a way to do this!
About two hours outside of the capital city of Niamey (where we live), there is a large recreational park, called “Parc W”. It borders the Niger River and boasts the only “safari-like” experience of this country.
With our Christmas break being so long, we decided to venture away from the city for a few days for refreshment. A group of missionary friends came too – we were quite the international group! There were Americans (us), 2 Australian families, 1 Norwegian family, and 1 Korean family!
Our entourage: Americans, Koreans, Norwegians and Australians!
If you have heard about African safaris, Parc W is nothing like that. Niger’s landscape and animals are quite different. (I’m including lots of pictures so you can get the idea.) Though this place is nothing that National Geographic will boast about, we found it beautiful, tranquil, and a true respite for our bodies and souls.
Sunset on the Niger River
Were were required by law to hire two guides as we drove through through the Parc. They would help us see wildlife, if there was any.
This is where we stopped for a picnic.
Ruth and Youna
“Really mom, you want a picture right now?”
A boat was needed to cross to the island where we were going to stay.
We all fit! Amazing!
Our guide was bailing water the entire time, though – a bit unsettling considering there are hippos everywhere!
Did I say hippos? Well, we immediately met this group of hippos as we were on our way to the island!
Arriving at the island, you can see a lovely patio, welcoming us to relax and enjoy ourselves.
The eco-lodges, like this one, were interspersed throughout the island. They have two beds per unit, an eco-toilet and even a little shower! It certainly isn’t rugged camping…I think we can safely call it “glamping”. (fancy camping)
This is the iconic Baobob tree – plentiful on this island.
Exploring was fun for all of the kids!
Serious climbers there 🙂
Playing games for those who didn’t go on the hike that day.
Our hostess, a woman from France, had this “Christmas tree” set up since we were there just days before Christmas.
Morning coffee and a delicious breakfast.
Andy and I took a private boat ride for two hours one afternoon – just to enjoy the tranquility of the river and hopefully to see some animals.
We didn’t actually see many animals, but we witnessed the quiet village life along the river.
A lovely woman, taking care of her daily work.
I managed to capture a shot of this little monkey!
Here are the ladies, enjoying some conversation.
Each night, we experienced a bonfire like no other! Our friend, Minsung, made it his goal to “wow” us with his fire-building skills!
And finally, a family picture before we left the island.
We are so thankful for this getaway! We were blessed with the cool weather, great time with friends, and the peace of God in a truly dry and desolate country.