Banco National Park! 🌴
On Friday, K and I went on a short hike in Banco National Park, a huge national park in the middle of Abidjan. After spending our weekends going to other parts of CDI or more social things in Abidjan, visiting a forest was a refreshing experience.
I love national parks and hikes. I may be a city girl but my happy place really lies in the forest. (especially in New England in the fall) And while Abidjan itself isn’t lacking in greenery, I’ve missed endless green spaces.
We didn’t see much fauna, but the flora was everything. I saw some of the tallest trees I’ve ever seen in my life and these GIANT coppiced bamboos. Vines hang from trees and ferns decorate the sides of the trail. I think there is a river about 40 feet from the main trail, so on the right, there are shorter trees, more palms, and fen-like plants. The surrounding area is very dense. I have personal issues with going off-trail, but I think even if you wanted to, the unknown state of the ground even five feet from the trail would stop you.
The forest also has pretty consistent tree cover. K and I went around 3:30 pm to avoid the Sun, but I’m not sure going at noon would have been the end of the world. We also got a pretty mild day, it was about 75º out.
As we approach three months here, walking and reflecting in the woods for about two hours was a perfect Friday afternoon. We only explored that main trail, which barely covers half of the park, and then turned back.
Because CDI is 8º from the equator, the Sun sets like clockwork around 6 pm GMT. What’s interesting about Banco is that it doesn’t get dark quickly like most forests I’ve visited. When we made it back to the entrance around 5:40 there was still about an hour of decent sunlight. We agreed we would have been comfortable staying out for longer.
I think I’ll try and visit Banco once a month and explore the other parts of the park, especially as the seasons change. Maybe I’ll pack lunch and do an all-day hike. It is truly a beautiful park and I cannot recommend visiting it enough.
Banco is located in/near Yopougon, in the western part of Abidjan. While the park spans the northwestern part of the city, the entrance is along the highway Autoroad du Nord, or the ever congested highway leading to Yopougon. I’m not sure if there are other entrances. Entrance fees are 5000 CFA (about $10.00 USD) for foreigners, though the guys at the door will absolutely look you up and down and try to jack up the price. You can get a guide if you’d like for an additional 7000 CFA, but if you’re just sticking to the main trail, you should be fine.
The main trail is well maintained, fairly large; besides the occasional muddy puddle taking up the width of the path. There’s a hotel and a small village in the middle of the park, about 3 km in, so motorcycles (and presumably cars?) go down the path all the time. A few motorcycles sped by us on our walk. It’s a very flat hike as well; I think some people use the park as a running trail.
You can go alone, but I recommend bringing a friend you’d like to catch up with/get to know better
You don’t need hiking boots, but I’d wear long socks so you don’t get sand in your sneakers. Don’t wear sneakers you don’t like.
Bug spray. Always. You should know this by now.
If you go anywhere in/near the rainy season, bring a raincoat.
Technically there are animals in the forest. We didn't see any, but if you encounter any monkeys, don't trust them. They will grab your things and run.