Among the small nations of the West African coast, Nigeria is a giant. More people live here than in any other African country. The profits from its huge oil reserves have helped to create large cities linked by a network of modern roads. In the 1970’s, the government decided to move its capital from Lagos, the sweltering crowded seaport on the Bight of Benin to a more central part of the country. The new capital is now in Abuja. The ethnic race of Nigeria has a wide mix of different people. There are over 250 ethnic groups each with its own customs, traditions, and languages.
Here are the top ten not to be missed places in Nigeria.
Lekki Conservation Centre
Lekki Conservation Centre
is a pleasant forest fragment where the ecological reserve exists in the great balance of nature. Enjoy a breath of fresh air in
because of the thick shades and lush green all around it. Some monkeys will give you a friendly welcome and a chance for a good photograph. Beware of some monkeys that become insistent and annoying in the manner in which they begin to demand for food. The exhaustive trail provides good moments of contemplation and being one with nature.
The conservation center is a good break from the pollution and chaos of the former capital city, Lagos. The service is very friendly and the center is supported by a prestigious oil company in Africa. A good 2-3 hour walk is enough to roam around and explore what every corner has to offer. The wooden decks for observation assure non slip trails to see every part of the attraction even during the rainy season. Don’t forget to visit the swamp lookout site where you can observe the
, see the exotic birds of Nigeria in the bird watcher’s paradise, admire the rich aquatic fauna collection, and the freely roaming giant turtles.
It’s a cool place to relax and appreciate the beauty and presence of the animals, from the smallest creatures up to the huge and tamed ones. While here you can visit the nearby
. This market highlights simple and mass made products of Nigeria and other African countries. Most of the products being sold here are tribal tapestry cloths, pieces of ivory, handicrafts including rare items and works of art by the local tribes in Nigeria.
is a huge monolith located in the north of
, which is the capital of Nigeria. It is accessible by car along the main road that leads from Abuja to Kaduna. It is often called the “Gateway to Abuja.” This monolith is also depicted on the national bank notes of Nigeria, the 100 Naira. This huge landscape rises 725 meters above the surrounding plains, reaching more than 1000 meters above sea level. For many in Nigeria, Zuma Rock is a sacred mountain. Along the road you can see interesting tribes and their villages. The outcrop of a rock in the middle of the plain is really an imposing presence with its boulders that seem to fall any moment on the homes that are located below.
It is a must see attraction when in Abuja. You can take pictures from anywhere around because its presence is clearly visible from all the strategic locations of the city. The vast expanse can also be conveniently seen on board an airplane that directly passes over its heights to land at its nearest airport. A hiking expedition to reach the top can be pre-arranged with a group of experienced mountaineers and there are designated picnic groves on top plus the magnificent view of Nigeria and its surrounding mountains and ocean.
Osun – Osogbo Sacred Grove
The best time to enjoy the
Osogbo Sacred Grove and the Osun River
is during the months of August, which is the month of the festival. It is a procession that starts from the temple and goes all the way up to the river. On the river, the ethnic tribes set up a stage where you can see traditional dances, musical performances and the tribal rites of Osun, the river deity.
The people of Osun are very friendly as they play drums and go around every guest to ask for money as a voluntary contribution. An English speaking guide is included in the admission fee. Food is in abundance and also included in the entrance fee that gets collected by the women of the village before the day ends. Picture taking with the sculptures comes with a donation to help in the maintenance and upkeep of the grove. There are divination priests and priestess who will perform their chants, rites and give a good show to the visitors of the sacred grove. The whole atmosphere is friendly and entertaining.
There are both local and foreign visitors (Asian, European, American and Latin American) that are curious about this attraction that still preserves its rich culture and heritage. There is lots of security and national guards to keep the peace and order because this event is the main highlight of every visit to Osogbo. There are plenty of things to do, many sights to see, and many tribes to encounter on this major tourist crowd drawer.
Located an hour away from the northern part of Nigeria’s chief city,
is said to be the sacred point that is treasured by the Yoruba tribe of the
. It also symbolizes what the city is all about. This sprawling town and unique landscape that lies under the huge rock, with its baked mud buildings is a center for trade and farming of cotton. It is easily accessible by a transport bus or rented car that comes daily from the city of Lagos in about 100 kilometers. The city is very unique with an amazng landscape that welcomes tourists along the highway.
National guards are scattered around this area to secure and protect the tribal villages who believes this imposing rock has been enshrined by the Gods to bless their tribe. The congested and winding narrow road to reach this place does not deter tourists to visit and take pictures of the rock and learn about the life of the tribes that survive and exists there. You can get to the base and enjoy the local cuisine in the numerous restaurants that have set up business there or you can pay a fee to climb and get on top of the rock which provides an awesome panoramic view of Nigeria and its scenic coast.
Black Heritage Museum
Black Heritage Museum
may be small but it holds a huge threshold of history that every citizen in Lagos is proud of. From ancient times, Nigeria’s position at the crossroads of Africa has made it a land of rich cultural and interesting heritage. In this museum dedicated to the early African history and artifacts. Every guest will have a general idea of the people’s patriotism once they see the chronological transition from one government to another. In detailed pictures and with the help of a polite guide, you will understand that traders from the dry central regions and the red, dusty plains of the north met with the black people who lived along the coast.
They did not only exchanged goods, sculptures, gifts, farming and fishing tools, and crafts, but they also exchanged ideas. Most of Nigeria’s archaeological treasures include brass made icons, antique pottery, national costumes, dating back to as far as the Stone Age era (Nok Period 900B.C. – A.D. 200). Artworks from the past and contemporary art works of the modern artist of Nigeria gets a chance to shine in every weekend exhibit. A vivid Yoruba painting conjures up several major aspects of Nigerian life- music, dance, and the varied creatures of the tropical forest. The history of early slavery is also discussed in a different perspective in the works of art in the museum.
Freedom Park Lagos
The park serves as a fitting tribute to Nigeria’s freedom from all of its colonizers since the 1960’s. The park has an adjacent museum that is open to the public and every foreigner who wants to learn and understand Nigeria’s complex historical past and cultural influences. A local guide can fully explain the interesting part of how this
came to its existence. As you walk on its long and spacious promenade area, you will also begin to understand the importance of this symbol to its people. The Europeans first came to its nearby coast about 500 years ago and traded in slaves until 1808. The British government abolished slavery and first began to trade in palm oil.
British traders seized more and more territory and by 1914, Nigeria had become a British colony. When independence came in 1960, the conflict between Nigeria’s groups erupted into rioting. From 1967 until 1970, a civil war was fought over the eastern part of the country which had declared itself as an independent nation (Republic of Biafra). The park serves as a great reminder of how Lagos and its political situation use to be and how the people fought and preserve their freedom from all the conflicts it has survived.
Nigeria is one of the world’s major oil producers. Its oil fields are operated by foreign companies, but Nigeria receives more than half the profits. Its wealth has risen and fallen along with world oil prices. Most of Nigeria’s oil reserves lie in the south, where the mouth of the Niger River flows through an area of lagoons, creeks, and tangled mangrove swamps.
Oil is refined at
, which also exports other major products including palm oil, peanuts and cacao. Located in the southern part of Nigeria, the oil fields in the valuable port
account for nearly all of the country’s exports. Oil money has been used to enhance and improve education, provide farmers with fertilizers, and develop new industries. Although Nigeria is investing in other industries, oil will still be its main source of wealth for many years to come.
Prepare enough Naira (National Currency) when you are in the
Learn to haggle for half of the price to stretch your buying power in the wide selection of shops that can be found inside. Handicraft souvenirs, beaded jewelries, hand woven wraps and blankets. Silver wares, animal sculptures, leather goods, tribal musical instruments made of bamboo and wood, and local delicacies are just one of the many things you can see and taste all around the market. The un – processed cacao pods can also be seen in abundance around here. Traders buy in bulk the beans from the pods which are roasted, husked and then processed to make cocoa and chocolate. Goats are sold here for their meat, milk, and skins. Many Nigerians on this region make a living by herding goats, sheep, or cattle. A visit to this interesting and diverse market is a great way to see the typical life and livelihood of the people in the
Although Nigeria follows and respects various traditional religions that are present in their country, most of the people from the north are Muslims and those from the southern part are Christians. The majestic looking palace in the Kano region belongs to an emir, a Muslim leader. The emir’s power and the construction of this palace dates back to as far as the 1800’s.
The entrance is not allowed but a private tour can be arranged. Most of the visitors just take pictures of its beautiful façade and take time to snack at a local café out there that serves chin – chin (small pastry balls that are flavored with sugar and spices).
winds through dense tropical forest before splitting up into a broad and swampy delta. It is Africa’s third longest river.
A common scene on the river is the presence of logs that are lashed together for transportation down the Nigeria River. Forests of valuable and tropical hardwoods cover about 15 percent of the country.