TRAVEL EXPERIENCE IN NIGERIA
When we did our first prospective visit to Nigeria I must confess that all the Middle-Africa team was a bit nervous. We knew well Nigeria’s neighboring countries; Cameroon, Benin, and Niger, but none of us had visited Nigeria before and all the stories we had heard where not pushing us to propose Nigeria as one of Middle-Africa’s travel destinations. But once again, our curiosity, faith in unexplored territories, and the belief that Nigeria was much more than what TV used to show about this African Nation, made us go for it, and here we are, presenting a web page, specialized in travel information about Nigeria and inviting you to discover this wonderful country with us. Nigeria is certainly a challenging destination for first-timers to Africa, but with a good guide and a good car you can have a great time and discover spectacular places that receive very few tourists along the year. Lagos is one of the most exuberant cities in Africa, while port city Calabar makes for an enjoyable stopover for travelers on their way to Cameroon. Across Southern Nigeria, old kingdoms carry on their customs, from creating elaborate brass sculptures to venerating the ancient gods. More modern traditions include one of the world’s pioneering primate conservation organizations. In the north, where the land dries out as it stretches towards the desert, Muslim Nigeria thrives in dusty trade cities where memories of the Saharan trade routes still linger. While a few parts of the country remain problematic (around the oil producing Niger delta), the vast majority is as warm and welcoming to visitors as anywhere in Africa. Challenging yet exuberant, this is Africa in the raw – there’s nowhere quite like it on the continent.
TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS OF NIGERIA
Lagos is chaos theory made flesh and concrete. It’s the largest city in Africa, with wall-to-wall people, bumper-to-bumper cars, noise and pollution beyond belief, a crime rate out of control, and public utilities that are simply incapable of coping with the demands of the huge population. Elevated motorways ring the city, jammed with speed freaks and traffic jams (‘go-slows’) on top, and tin-and-cardboard shacks underneath. The city takes its name from the Portuguese for lagoon, and has been a Yoruba port, a British political centre and until 1991, Nigeria’s capital. It remains the economic and cultural powerhouse of the country, and has a superb live music scene and West Africa’s most inimitable street life. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, but if you’re up for an urban adventure then you might find Lagos truly compelling. A true megacity and the face of modern Africa as much as any picture postcard national park – jump right in.
Badagry (65km from Lagos) is a fishing and market city, near the Benin border. It’s interesting visiting the Slave House and the Slave port that you reach by motor pirogue.
Yoruba country is situated in south-western Nigeria. The most interesting places we would propose visiting are Abeokuta, great Afro-Brazilian architecture and the Olumo Sacred Rock from where you have great panoramic views of Abeokuta’s old town. Another interesting city to visit is Ife, where according to the Yoruba people, is where the founding deities Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world. In Ife you can visit the Museum and the Oba’s Palace. One place one cannot miss is Oshogbo and its Sacred Forest (UNESCO). Within the forest is the beautiful Shrine of Oshun, the River Goddess. In addition to natural beauty, there are many stunning sculptures by Suzanne Wenger, an Austrian painter and sculptor. Idanre is a beautiful Afro-Brazilian town surrounded by huge rock formations. Benin City (321km from Lagos) was the capital of the Edo Empire that ruled most of the southern Nigeria and neighboring Benin. Benin City grew rich during the 16th and 17th centuries due to the slave trade with the Dutch and the Portuguese. The Bight of Benin's shore was part of the so-called "Slave Coast". Attractions in the city include the Museum, the Oba Palace, Igun Street (-famous for bronze casting for centuries).
Kontagora tribal area. One of the major surprises when we were visiting Nigeria and seeing its touristic potentials was discovering Nigeria’s rich ethnic diversity. From Kontagora we visited the Kamberi, Dukkawa, and Dakakari tribal territories and we were amazed to see the rich cultural heritage of these unknown peoples. Tattooing is still alive in most families and traditional religion is still prevalent. In Middle-Africa we organise ethnographic tours to this wonderful and virgin part of northern Nigeria.
Kano is the oldest city in West Africa (founded around 1400 years ago) and Nigeria’s third largest. It was a major crossroads in the trans-Saharan trade routes and, from the Middle Ages, an important centre for Islamic scholarship. If you want to visit a Hausa traditional town that hasn’t lost yet its traditional character, then you’ll have to go to Daura, 134km north of Kano.
Jos Plateau is home to the ancient Nok culture, known for its remarkable terracotta artwork. There are more than 60 different tribes living in the valleys and mountains between the cities of Jos and Bauchi. Some of the most outstanding tribes would be the Zul around Zaranda, the Kaleri or Mama and Angas people around Pankshin.
Gashaka-Gumpti National Park is Nigeria's largest and most diverse National Park is set amidst spectacular scenery with Nigeriats highest peaks, Chappal Wadi (the "Mountain of Death") at 2,400mts. and Chappal Hendu ("Mountain of Wind") at 2,030 metres. The vegetation consists of an intricate patchwork of guinea savannah, gallery forest, montane forest and grassland. The last Nigerian chimpanzees live in Gashaka-Gumpti aswell as other endangered species. South of Gashaka-Gumpti you find the Mambila Plateau, an interesting mountain area to hike and meet the Mambila people.
Sukur Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Northeastern part of Nigeria. It was designated one in 1999 because of its palace, terraced fields, and village, which remain intact. The Mandara Mountains where Sukur is located are a great place to hike. The Sebschi and Alantika Mountains are also a good place for hiking in northeastern Nigeria, towards the Cameroon border. The Mumuye tribe, famous for its sculpted elongated fetish figures live on the Sebschi Mountains and the Koma tribe who still cover their bodies with leaves, live in the Alantika Mountains. Their culture and beliefs should be respected.
Calabar City is tucked into Nigeria’s southeastern corner, the capital of Cross River state is one of the most likeable cities in Nigeria for visitors. Its port has historically made the town a prosperous place – Calabar was once one of Nigeria’s biggest slave ports and later a major exporter of palm oil. A popular stopover for travelers heading to Cameroon, Calabar has a great museum and two excellent primate conservation centers. These are Drill Ranch and Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary where wild drills still survive, with other endangered primates including the Nigerian chimpanzee, and the most endangered gorilla subspecies, the Cross River gorilla. The rugged massif (1400m) is a critical watershed for dozens of communities. Cross River National Park is conceived to protect and conserve the last vestige of the rain forest ecosystem and to promote eco-tourism in Nigeria. It is about an hour's drive from Calabar and can also be linked through Port Harcourt route. Cross River National Park is home to many localized species of plants and animals which include Cross River gorilla, drill, chimpanzee, golden potto, and forest elephant.