The capital of Niger is also the largest city called Niamey located in the southwestern region of the country. Niger is an Islamic country but still has a sizable Christian minority living in some of its larger cities. A famous landmark of Niger’s capital is the Grande Mosque pictured above and below. The mosque is enormous and is the biggest in the country. Above is a photo of the outside on the upper left and the main prayer area for men on the upper right. What’s interesting is the mosque was built by the now deposed Qadafi. I found out when I asked where some of the marble was imported from and was told everything was donated from Libya as a gift. The photo on the lower left shows the prayer room for women, and on the right is another prayer room for younger girls that is located on the second floor of the mosque.
Niamey has a few interesting places worth visiting such as their national museum. The museum is fairly large and covers Niger’s culture, history and wildlife. I never realized this until I arrived to Niger, but it’s a major exporter of uranium, especially to France, and has mines in the central parts of the country. On the left is a display of 100 grams of uranium. I asked if I could buy it but it turns out it wasn’t for sale. Another interesting part of the museum is the large dinosaurs they have on display. Most of the museum is organized by small huts that each have their own theme, such as the uranium mining one. Photos aren’t allowed indoors so I don’t have anything to share from the cultural sections. They included exhibits that showed tribal weapons and life, currency, and historic artifacts that are important to Niger. I don’t ever expect to see a vial of uranium again that is stored in a cracked taped up container again so I had to sneak in a photo of it.
I was warned the zoo can be a bit depressing because of the small cages the animals are kept in. This turned out to be very true. Most of the cages didn’t have enough room for the animals to build up any speed much less run. Most were in an area that was about the size of a jail cell. The zoo did have a lot of wildlife here, from the warthogs, hyenas and lions above, to other species of birds and reptiles and even two hippos. When I visited the lions they began to get excited and all started roaring which sent the nearby caged monkeys into a screaming frenzy.
The most impressive animals I saw were actually outside of the zoo. There is a grove of trees in Niamey along one of the major streets that is the day time sleeping place for hundreds of wild African fruit bats. I saw this by chance while I was along the street and took these photos above. I was working on trying to get a great shot when a security guard came and kicked me out for taking photos. Fruit bats or flying foxes are unique since they have their fox like heads unlike most other species of bats.
Most visitors go to the market in Niamey. To be honest I had gone to so many others markets already on this trip that I didn’t have much motivation left to see another one on this West Africa trip. The most interesting scene for me in the market was when a car hit a wheel barrel of nuts knocking them over the floor. The man on the upper right was working on clothing within the market and asked me to take his photo. I have more photos below from the markets of Zinder which I visited prior to Niamey.