Arli – or Arly – National Park is one of the oldest natural reserves in Burkina Faso. It was established in 1954. A large wild land of 760 sq km stretching to the border with Benin on one side and with Singou Reserve on the other. The latter is a sort of completion of the first. In fact, united to the over 1000 sq km of Singou, Arli National Park becomes a unique and very particular ecosystem. This environment is maybe the last real wild savannah existing in western Africa! The whole area is ruled by both Burkina Faso’s government and private boards that use modern environmental policy in order to save the animal species.
About Arli National Park
The territory of Arli National Park includes several different environments, from gallery forests to rocky deserts, plus woodland and savannahs. Over these wild areas live 200 elephants, 200 hippopotami, lions, buffalos and antelopes. You will find monkeys, too, especially red monkeys and baboons. Bushbucks, duikers and waterbucks are also part of the local fauna.
Lakes and ponds are spread all over the Park, filled up by small rivers and creeks. Here live different species of water birds and of course a very interesting group of hippos. You can visit the Park by car, and follow the guides if you want to explore some parts on foot. It is possible, though now rare in this area, to spot the West African Wild Dogs.
Arli and Singou
Sigou Reserve was established one year after Arli. Today it is a completion of the main Park and they are often referred to as one, as Arly-Singou or Arli-Singou. Taken together, the Arli-Singou areas host the largest number of antelopes in West Africa, and one of the largest population of elephants. Also at Singou you can find lions, buffalos and monkeys, plus Patas Monkey, kobs and oribis.
What to do
Game trips, safaris, excursions on foot are the main activities you can do at Arli National Park and Singou. Tour operators organize such trips mainly in the capital city of Burkina Faso but also in Benin. The Park in fact borders Pendjari National Park of that state and some safari can take you beyond the Benin‘s border. In some parts of the Arli-Singou reserves you can have a boat safari on the ponds.
Useful information about Arli-Singou
The best time to visit the Arli-Singou reserves is during the dry season of Burkina Faso – that is October to April – because it is also the period when animals gather around the lakes and ponds of the Park.
You get to the Park via N19 Highway from Ougadougou to the reference towns of Pama or Diapanga. It takes 6 hours by car, a lot more by local bus or trains. A shorter trip can be done by airplane. Small and old airplanes sometimes fly from Ougadougou Airport to Arly Airstrip, but the airfield is not always in good conditions.
If you like adventure, this part of Burkina Faso is the best place to visit and if you decide to go with local tours you shall feel the emotion of a real African safari through a hard but magic territory.