For some travellers the thought of traipsing into deepest, darkest Africa is a fearful thought: reflection on the unknown imprints ghastly images in our minds. But if you overcome your trepidations and bravely go head into the untamed depths of Africa you’ll be surprised at the beauty and serenity that will surround you.
Whether you journey with a guided tour or take to your own path, travelling through Nigeria is guaranteed to be a wondrous experience. In Lagos, the biggest city in the country, you’ll find city markets that rival the shops back home. You can also take a slow-paced boat-ride along the lagoon, relax at your hotel on the pretty Victoria Island or explore the houses of the age-old Brazilian quarter.
For a lesson in Nigeria’s slave-history travel westwards to Badagry. There you can visit the Mobee Family Slave Museum, the new Museum of UNESCO’s Slave Route Project and the Badagry Door of No Return. Take some time out on the shores of the Badagry Lagoon at the Whispering Palms Resort. This area is home to the Yoruba people.
To the north you will find the city of Kano, which sits on the edge of the Sahara desert. This ancient metropolis was an important stop along the caravan routes and this is where the Hausa people live; at the centre of Nigeria’s Islamic culture. You can meet the Emir of Kano at the Royal Palace or learn a bit about the dye pits where indigo cloth is produced.
At the city market and the camel market you’ll be able to buy spices, cloth and antique beads. The Gidan Makama Museum showcases the relics of past emirs and the architecture of the north. If you’re lucky, you may even catch one of the two yearly durbar’s hosted by Kano where a procession of mounted warriors can be enjoyed.
You should definitely spend a few days in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. It is a new city carved out of the plains of central Nigeria and it is here you can visit Zuma Rock, an important spiritual landmark that appears on Nigerian money. The city tour will allow you to come to know the architecture of mosques, governmental buildings and parks.
South of the capital city lies Oshogbo and the sacred Shrine of Ashun (goddess of water). Around the shrine you will see the exquisite lifework carvings of Austrian artist and patron of the shrine, Suzanne Wenger. Every year a huge festival is held at the shrine to honour the Goddess of the Waters and Fertility. Oshogbo is well-known for its art galleries and art schools.
Along your way you will encounter many aspects of Nigeria’s rich culture, including a performance by the famous Yoruba masked Geledi Dancers and meeting and interacting with Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba people. You’ll also be able to buy traditional cloths, textiles and pottery, experience Nigerian carvings and hopefully enjoy a festival of two.
Some of the festivals include:
Argungu Fishing festival at Sokoto
Durbar festival at Kano or Katsina
Igue festival at Benin City
“Mannwu” festival at Enugu
Oshun festival at Oshogbo
Money: Nigerian Naira
Time: EST +5 hrs.
Language: English and local languages
Population: 124 million