Niger: Holidays, climate, national customs
|January 1||New Year|
|February March||Tabaski (Islamic festival of sacrifice)|
|February March||Islamic New Year|
|April 24||Concord day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|April May||Mouloud (Prophet’s Birthday)|
|3rd August||Independence day|
|November December||Eid-al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)|
|December 18||day of the Republic|
Source: Countryaah – Niger Holidays
The dates for the Islamic holidays are calculated according to the lunar calendar and therefore shift every year. During the fasting month of Ramadan, which precedes the feast day Eid-al-Fitr, Muslims do not eat during the day, but only after sunset. Many restaurants are therefore closed during the day. The Tabaski and Eid-al-Fitr festivals last 2-10 days, depending on the region.
The Christian minority in Niger also celebrates Easter, Pentecost, Ascension Day, Assumption Day, All Saints Day and Christmas.
Two other important festivities are the Géréwol folk festival named after the dance of the same name, which the Fulbe tribes celebrate alternately in Dakoro, Tahoua, Filingué or Ingnall at the end of the rainy season, and the ten-day Cure Salée, which takes place when the nomads gather to raise cattle.
There are three different climatic periods in Niger: the cool season, the hot season and the rainy season.
The cool season
lasts roughly from November to February. The average temperatures are then around 15 °C at night and 25-30 °C during the day. The northeast trade wind (a moderately strong and relatively constant wind), which is also called “Harmattan” in West Africa, transports the finest dust particles from the desert sand to the coastal countries.
The hot season
It starts at the beginning of March and lasts until November. At this time, temperatures rise to 45 °C during the day and do not drop below 35 °C at night. The northeast trade wind is replaced by the humid monsoons from the southwest. In between, however, the hot season between May and October is interrupted by the rainy season.
The rainy season
Depending on the location, it begins in mid-May to mid-June and lasts until mid-September or mid-October. Sandstorms often occur in the beginning, which are pushed by the huge rain clouds. The precipitation is then mostly heavy and thunderstorm-like.
For guests in an Islamic country, consideration for the local customs is required. Women in particular should pay attention to decent clothing, even in the capital Niamey. Beach clothing outside the bathing zone is taboo, and long pants are also recommended for men outside the hotel zones. With discreet clothing you are more respected.
Photographing locals without their permission must be avoided at all costs, as in Islamic countries portraying people is traditionally a taboo and people believe that the “evil eye” would come through the camera lens.
Visitors are treated like royalty in Niger; there is no other way to put it. The hospitality and cordiality also bring some obligations for the country visitor. One should avoid behaviors that brusquely reject or exploit the friendliness of people. All small gifts such as tea, small gifts, etc. should be gratefully accepted and not rejected with the thought in the back of your mind that these people are too poor to give gifts. Even if they are realiter, they are gestures of honor and respect towards strangers. A rejection is perceived as an insult. As far as poverty or grievances in the country are concerned, one should avoid commenting on them out loud or constantly reminding people of them.
One should avoid appearing drunk in public. Alcohol is forbidden in Islam.
Slavery is still found in Niger and is particularly widespread in rural areas, although this practice has also been banned in Niger since 2003. Discussions on this topic are inappropriate and will unsettle both the “owner” and the “slave”.
The animal world is – due to the poor vegetation and increasing desert vegetation – not very species-rich in large parts of the country. Desert dominates almost the entire north of the country. Fenneks and gazelles live here, while in the Aïr mountains you can find baboons and Aïr mane jumpers. In the south of the country, where savannas predominate, there are more animals.
In the southwest of Niger is the 10,000 km² W National Park, which together with the neighboring Pendjari National Park in Benin and the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso form the WAP National Park Complex, which was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites in 2017. This association is one of the most important large animal sanctuaries in all of West Africa. Here you can still find lions, antelopes, giraffes, buffalo, ostriches, elephants and hippos. The name of the W National Park established in 1954 comes from the course of the Niger River, which here takes a course that is reminiscent of the letter W.
The last herd of giraffes in West Africa can be seen in the wild near Kouré, a town in the southwest of the Niger River
Reptiles (excluding poisonous animals)
– African house snake (Boaedon fuliginosus)
– Rock python (Python sebae)
– Striped house snake (Boaedon lineatus)
– Ball python (Python regius)
– Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
– West African crocodile (Crocodylus suchus)
The poisonous snakes, which are described in detail by Goruma, are only provided with one link. The others are presented here in more detail.
The contribution is still partly in progress
African spitting cobra
A detailed description of the African spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) can be found here >>>
In English the Avicennaviper (Cerastes viper) is called Sahara Sand Viper. The snake belongs to the genus of African horned vipers in the subfamily of the real vipers (Viperinae) in the family of vipers (Viperidae). The snake only reaches a size between 35 to a maximum of 50 cm. The basic color of the snake is sand-colored to red-brown and has only an indistinct rust-brown mark on the back and the flanks. Her head has no drawing. The belly is light yellow. The tip of the tail in the females is black while in the males it has the basic color with indistinct brown rings. The snake – despite its generic name (Ceraste) and in contrast to the other species of the Cerastes genus – usually has no horns above its eyes.
Ordinary puff adder
A detailed description of the common puff adder (Bitis arietans) can be found here >>>
The Mali cobra (Naja katiensis) is found in Mali in the following African countries:
Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that NG stands for the nation of Niger as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Old town of Agadez
Agadez is the largest city in northern Niger with around 78,000 residents and used to be an important center of the caravan trade. But it is still the center of the Tuareg. Agadez was founded in the 15th century and is still the seat of a sultan today, even if he only has a purely representative power. In part, numerous testimonies can still be found in Agadez, which represent the typical Sudanese clay architecture.
The most interesting buildings include the imposing Great Mosque of Agadez with its famous 27 meter high minaret made of clay, the Kaocen Palace, which is now a hotel, and the Agadez Sultan’s Palace. The old town of Agadez was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in June 2013.
National Park “W” (Parc National du “W”)
The 10,000 km² park “W” is a cross-border national park to the states of Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin. And is about 150 km southeast of Niamey the capital of Niger.
The unusual name “W” symbolizes the course of the Niger River, which is reminiscent of the letter W. The W National Park includes the open savannah and dense forests. The parts of the Nationa located directly on the Niger River On the banks of the Niger River, their own biotope has formed.
The Park National du “W” offers numerous plants (over 500 species). You can find very different locations for plants, namely landscapes overgrown with low trees, tree savannas, gallery forests (forests running along the river bank) and the river meadows on the Niger. Endemic plants such as the Eulophia cucculata and the Eulophia guineensis orchid species add to the beauty of the park.
Many animal species find a home in the park, such as B. Cape buffalo, elephants, lions, cheetahs, baboons, hussar monkeys, warthogs and hippos, leopards, hyenas, jackals. Numerous bird species also live in the park, and it is estimated that there are over 350 species. On the banks of the rivers are z. B. Ibises, storks and herons are at home, the rivers are sometimes home to the Nile crocodile and numerous species of fish.
The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
Aïr and Ténéré nature parks
Here two very different landscapes lie close together. The Air is a mountain range in the Sahara, which consists only of stone desert and is almost reminiscent of a lunar landscape. The sand desert Ténéré is also known as the desert in the Sahara.
There are a few wadis (rivers that only carry water at times) and valleys with numerous plants and animals. Mainly Tuaregs live here. In addition, numerous dinosaur fossils were found in the vicinity of Tiguidit. “Real” sand dunes with heights of up to 400 m can also be found here. In the west it is bounded by the Air Mountains.
The nature parks Aïr and Ténéré together are the largest protected area in Africa with an area of approx. 7.7 million ha = 77,000 km². The two nature parks have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
The city of Arlit spreads out in the Ténéré desert in the north of Niger and was founded in the 1960s because they wanted to exploit the nearby uranium deposits. Around 33,000 people live in Arlit, a city that still lives from uranium mining today.
With its 147,000 residents, Maradi des Niger is the third largest city. It spreads in the south of the country in close proximity to the Nigerian border. The old trading town accommodates a branch of the Abdou Moumouni University Niamey, where electrical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering are taught.
Niamey is the capital of Niger and also the most populous city in the country with more than a million residents. The political, cultural and economic center of Niger was founded in the 20th century and is therefore still a relatively young city. Niamey stretches on both sides of the Niger River, both of which are connected by the Kennedy Bridge. The city has numerous interesting buildings and museums and is the seat of the Abdou Moumouni University.
Zinder is the capital of the region of the same name and the second largest city in the country with around 240,000 residents. Zinder even functioned as the state capital until 1926 and is now one of the most important cultural and economic centers of Niger. The former quarter for nomads attracts with a colonial new town, the old French fort and a water tower.
Palace of the Zarmakoye in Dosso
The Palace of the Zarmakoye, located in the city of Dosso, is an architectural child of the year 1904. In 2006 it was proposed as a World Heritage Site by the Nigerien Ministry of Culture. It was once used as a residence for the Zarma ruler over the pre-colonial empire of Dosso. The colorful mixture of white, light blue and red that dominates the palace in terms of color is very striking. Incidentally, the Zarmakoye is still the traditional head of Dosso.
Sultan’s Palace in Zinder
In the years between 1812 and 1820, the residence for the leader of the Fulbe people was built in today’s town of Zinder. The building, designed in the Hausa style and decorated with numerous relief ornaments, used to serve as the seat of the Sultanate of Damagaram. And the sultan still lives there with his family and around 450 people who belong to the court. Today the sultan no longer has an official role; however, he still has a great influence on the concerns of the local population.
Museums and theaters
Center culturel franco-nigérien (CCFN) in Niamey
In the Rue du Musée, opposite the Musée Nationale, is the Franco-Nigerian cultural center, which offers an extensive library, a bar, a cyber café and many French or Nigerian language courses as well as numerous musical delicacies. There are also debates, theater performances, films, exhibitions and games. The center also has an amphitheater with 400 seats.
Center Culturel Oumarou Ganda in Niamey
Close to the Wadata market and Ecogare, Niamey’s largest taxi rank, is the Oumarou Ganda cultural center with its amphitheater, which is designed for around 5,000 visitors. It is also equipped with a bar and a library. The cultural center was established in 1980 and was named after Oumarou Ganda, a well-known Nigerien film director. Concerts, theater and film screenings take place regularly in the amphitheater.
Center de Collecte in Zinder
The Center de Collecte in Zinder is the Nigerien museum for regional culture. It has existed since 1988 and extends over several buildings that are between Birni and Zengou and were designed in the traditional Hausa architecture.
Maison de la Culture Garba Loga in Dosso
The cultural center of the city of Dosso is a popular place for concerts, theater performances and films.
Musée Nationale in Niamey
The Nigerien National Museum in the capital Niamey extends over 24 hectares and was initially founded as the Institut français d’Afrique noire. One year after the completion of the first pavilion, named after the artist and politician Boubou Hama in 1958, it was opened. In the center of the museum there are seven pavilions that deal with various topics. These topics include ethnography, handicrafts, music, early history, archeology and uranium mining.
One of the most famous exhibits is the Arbre du Ténéré, the tree of Ténéré. Its remains have been in a separate building since 1979. Other special elements of the museum complex include a depressing zoo with local animals, a small bar and numerous stalls selling traditional handicrafts. Water should be bought outside the building because it is very expensive inside.
Mosques and churches
Cathedral de Maorey in Niamey
The cathedral of Niamey rises near the Place Maourey. It is by far the largest place for religious services for the Christian minority in Niger. The interesting architecture of the church building is a mixture of local and European elements. During the services, which by the way are offered in French and Hausa, it is very lively and people wear fine clothing.
Grand Mosquée d’Agadez
The Great Mosque of Agadez is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Niger. The imposing Islamic church is dominated by a 27 meter high clay minaret that tapers towards the top. The mosque actually dates from 1515, but was extensively restored in 1844.
Grande Mosquée in Niamey
The mosque of the capital Niamey is the largest Islamic religious building in the city. Fittingly, it rises on Avenue de l’Islam and was realized with the help of Libya as a gift from Qadafi. The mosque’s minaret has 171 steps – from the floor to the top. You can turn to the security guards in front of the main door, who are happy to give visitors a tour, for a small fee of course. However, you will be asked to pay in three places: In addition to the actual baksheesh for the “tour guides”, a donation for the mosque and one for the women’s area of the mosque is required. But you can also climb the minaret for this.
Abdou Moumouni University de Niamey
The Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey, a state university in the Nigerien capital, was founded in 1971. It has had an agricultural and medical faculty since 1974 and an economics faculty since 1980. The university has been named after the physicist Abdou Moumouni since 1992. From 1979 to 1983 he was the rector of the university. One of the most famous graduates of the university was the playwright and novelist Alfred Dogbé.
Arbre du Ténéré
The “Tree of Ténéré” is a well-known and important landmark that is located almost in the middle of the Ténéré desert. The tree was actually a so-called umbrella acacia; it was once considered the most isolated tree in the world, because there was no other tree within 400 km. Its roots protruded up to 36 meters. In 1973 the Arbe du Ténéré was unfortunately knocked over by a truck driver who is said to have been drunk. Therefore, the remains of the tree can now be seen in the Nigerien National Museum in Niamey. Instead, there is a tree-like structure in the desert, made of metal tubes and reflective hubcaps. The structure marks the point at which the slope coming from Agadez divides. There is also a well with poor water quality,
The city of Ayorou in southwestern Niger delights with its colorful Sunday market and is a good place for a day trip from Niamey. It takes about three hours by car to drive the route. The bus company Africa Assalaam is recommended; it offers a shuttle service between Niamey and Ayorou.
Balleyara, a town just a two-hour drive from Niamey, can be reached by bush taxis departing from the Wadatta taxi rank in Niamey. Balleyara is famous for its Sunday market and animal market. The latter is one of the largest in Africa. Balleyara is good for a day trip from Niamey. There are no hotels there, just a camping resort about 3 km outside the city.
This archaeological site on the western edge of the Ténéré desert extends approximately 180 km from Agadez. In 2008, archaeologists from the University of Chicago in Gobero found the oldest graves in the entire Sahara to date. There were around 200 well-preserved graves that even had their grave goods. They go back to the Holocene, i.e. a time between 7700 and 6200 BC. The statements of the finds are interesting: According to them, the Sahara was once a water-rich lake landscape.
Grand Marché de Maradi
The great market in the city of Maradi is a colorful bustle of people and goods, including clothing and agricultural products. These come from all parts of southern Niger.
Grande Marché in Niamey
The largest market in Niger opens its doors in the capital Niamey. It is made up of around 5,000 stands and booths, 1,500 of which are covered. This market is one of the city’s economic centers. In 1980 it was destroyed by fire, but was later rebuilt. The goods on offer include fabrics, crockery and clothing. You can find the market on the edge of the city center.
Petit Markt von Niamey
The Petit Marché, the “small market” of Niamey, is an important point of contact for the trade in spices, fruit and vegetables.
Giraffes near Kouré
The last herd of giraffes in West Africa can be seen in the wild near Kouré, a town in the southwest of the Niger. It is best to rent a car with a driver with other travelers so that you can share the cost per vehicle. The price depends on the time of year and how far the giraffes have migrated. Larger groups should rent a mini bus that leaves from the Grand Marché in Kouré. You negotiate the price yourself.
The park spreads out about 65 km from Kouré. You can only enter it with a valid ID, which you have to show at the checkpoint. If you enter the park during the rainy season, you can see the giraffes “near” the road, which means that you don’t have to rent a car. In this case, go to the Wadatta taxi stand, buy a ticket and take a bush taxi to Kouré. The guide will then take you to the giraffes. But even then it can take an hour or more to get there.