Fast and Furious: Travel Tips for Nigeria
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and it is rapidly developing. It ranks in the top 5 countries in the world for growth, due to its production of oil. But this is Africa: the wildlife, the ancient cities and the spectacular scenery are not to be missed.
The best city: Lagos
The capital of Nigeria is bursting at the seams: the technology and communications industry is booming, the melting pot of posh restaurants and clubs, and the music and arts scene merge to create this African megacity. Look past the noise, traffic and pollution and you will find a thriving city where anything is possible.
Highlights include the Nike Art Gallery; the National Museum; and Freedom Park, which was originally a colonial era old Broad Street Prison, and has been transformed into a cultural centre for music, events, restaurants and markets.
The best for rainforest: Calabar
The colonial town of Calabar is a much more relaxed and clean city than Lagos. To the north are dense rainforests and the Cross River National Park. There are no visitor facilities here, but it is possible to visit the Afi Mountain Drill Ranch, where you can appreciate the forests and see a sanctuary for endangered drill monkeys and chimpanzees.
The Rhoko Forest is another top primate sanctuary. The serene, cool hills of Obudu Plateau are a tranquil visit, and it is possible to explore the former cattle ranch, cable car and hiking trails.
The best national park: Yankari National Park
No visit to Nigeria is complete without discovering its best known tourist attraction: Yankari National Park. The rolling hills of woodland savanna, the two rivers: the Gaji and the Yashi, and the wild animal spotting, make Yankari an incredible African experience. Keep your eyes peeled for herds of elephant, antelope and buffalo.
The Wiki Warm Springs boast crystal clear water at 31 degrees Celsius, for which baboons and elephants come down to bathe. North of Wiki Camp are 59 caves, and nearby is the Kaiban Hill, with its flat top allowing a complete panorama of the park.
The best ancient city: Kano
Kano is famous for its dye pits, which produce traditional cloths. The ancient and claustrophobic Kurmi Market is where trans-Sahara camel caravans used to exchange their goods with Hausa traders. The traditional arts practiced here include weaving, indigo cloth dyeing and leatherwork.
The Old City of Kano is walled and contains many clay houses, which gives the area a medieval feel. The ancient wall was built in the 15th century, although a lot of it is now dilapidated.
The best lake: Lake Chad
Lake Chad is common to Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, and is historically one of the largest lakes in the world. The size has varied over the centuries, and it is now much smaller than it used to be.
The shoreline is still rich in flora and fauna, the islands are home to crocodile and hippopotamus, and the lake attracts several migratory bird species. On the Nigerian shore is the Lake Chad Game Reserve, home to elephants, antelopes, gazelles, cheetahs, African wild dogs, and many other species.