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Regarded as one of Africa’s economic powerhouse nations, Nigeria is also Africa’s most populated. Nigeria is the main crude oil producing country in Africa, accounting for roughly 25% of the continent’s supply.
This vast country is located on the Gulf of Guinea and bordered by Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. Vegetation varies from mangroves and rainforests in the southern regions to woodland and grass savannah in the north.
National parks abound for safari opportunities and one of Africa’s few remaining rainforests can be found here with its unique animal species. In the cities, the nightlife is vibrant and daily business thrives. However, much of the old culture and traditions remain in the smaller villages dotted throughout the land.
The refined city of Abuja is the country’s capital and the main centre of industry.
English is Nigeria’s official language and their currency is the Nigerian Naira, performing consistently on the money market.
Nigeria is a country of many facets and is a country not to be missed if travelling in Africa.
Things to do
Nigeria’s beaches along the Atlantic shores are stunningly beautiful. Some, like Lekki beach are popular tourist destinations, others have a long and painful slave history such as Coconut beach in Badagry and the more remote and untouched beaches are to be found around Calabar.
Follow the slave trade in Badagry, a living museum showcasing slavery dating back to the 16th century. Places of interest include the Topo Island Catholic Settlement, Vlekete Slave Market, the Slave Port and Toyimi Slave Well.
Experience village life to see how palm oil (and wine) is processed and black soap is made. The soap ingredients consist of plantain peels, palm leaves and cocoa seed ash. Occasionally villagers operate illegal kai-kai distilleries to produce an alcohol similar to gin.
Even if you’re not a fisherman, attending the Argungu Fishing Festival in Kebbi State in March is a spectacle not to be missed. Using nets and gourds, fisherman frantically attempt to catch the largest fish in just one hour. The thrashing hordes of people in the river probably outnumber the fish.
The Centre for Education, Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature (CERCOPAN) in Calabar, Cross River is on a desperate mission to conserve Nigeria’s remaining rainforest and the 18 primate species endemic to the region. A visit affords the prospect of seeing a Cross River gorilla or western chimpanzee, amongst others.
Zuma Rock is referred to as the Gateway to Abuja and this 725m high prehistoric monument formed through water erosion features on the national 100 Naira bill. Further on is the Gurara Waterfalls which is off the beaten path and a guide is recommended.
View the traditional arts and ancient shrines at Osun Sacred Grove in Oshogbo. This is the centre of the Yoruba culture where Juju stalls nearby sell products said to cure arthritis and diabetes.
The Ikogosi hot springs resort in Ekiti state has swimming pools, restaurants and various other items of interest. The resort is located at the point where hot and cold springs meet. It’s a 3-hour drive from the Ibadan airport but is worth taking the journey.
Where to Eat
Yahuza Suya Spot in Abuja specialises in meat and chicken dishes prepared over an open fire. Sample the suya – marinated, skewered meat eaten straight off the grill.
The small Sanik Hut restaurant in Benin City serves traditional food. Try the palm oil akara dish loved by the locals. VIP lounge available.
When in Port Harcourt, be sure to buy a bole & fish dish from a street vendor. This ‘national’ dish consists of roasted plantain and fish basted in palm oil and served in a nylon bag! If this is too primitive for your tastes, order the dish at Bole King restaurant instead.
Located on the lagoon, Fusion Restaurant in Lagos is a great place to sit back and enjoy the assortment of Oriental, European and Arabian dishes on the menu.
Expect a good hearty meal and the chance to sample a few local delicacies at Aaron’s Signature Restaurant in Enugu. Nice atmosphere and cocktail bar on the premises.
While not exactly traditional, the Happy Food Restaurant in Calabar is an authentic Chinese restaurant offering standard, good quality Chinese fare on their vast menu.
Ibadan’s Café Chrysalis Restaurant offers the visitor European-style dishes prepared with an African influence. Located in a quiet area.
E-Bar in Lagos is a stylish bar-restaurant where the locals chill and indulge in a few international beers. Live music presented most nights.
The 3-storied bamboo built Sailor’s Lounge in Lagos is a relaxed bar positioned directly on the waterfront where there is no dress code and patrons can enjoy a drink over good conversation.
Live bands and DJs get the crowd pumped up at Eddy’s Wine Bar in Port Harcourt. Popular with the locals and celebs often visit too.
Party the night away at Mirage Hookah Lounge & Grill in Abuja. The bar is luxuriously furnished with a large outdoor veranda.
Londoners Bar and Restaurant in Ikeja is a fun venue for a great evening out.
Where to Stay
The excellent and well-appointed hotels, motels, lodges and resorts spread throughout Nigeria will ensure a comfortable and rewarding stay in the country.
Air Nigeria has 4 international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. Beware of unscrupulous taxi drivers around the airport.
Car There are a number of car rental companies at the International airports and in the main cities. Order your rental online. The road network throughout Nigeria is good but traffic in the main cities is chaotic.
Taxi Minibuses operate as formal taxis throughout the country. This mode of transport is more structured than the bush taxi which departs from anywhere, at any time and to any destination. The okada, or motorbike taxi, promises a hell ride but will get you to your destination quickly.
Bus Buses operate in over 200 cities & towns in Nigeria.
Did you know?
Banky W is one of Africa’s richest musicians. Known as the King of African R&B, the artist grew up in Lagos and operates a charity organisation in the city to help educate children.
Nigeria’s film industry, Nollywood, is a massive industry, 2nd only to India’s Bollywood in volume. The $3 billion industry is well established and releases approximately 2000 films annually.
The Nigerian fashion industry is a money earner for the country and the catwalks of Paris regularly showcase Nigerian designs.