Africa: Three cities to have a fab summer in Nigeria
Ready, set? Summertime! It is now officially summertime and do you have any exotic summer plans? Or, did you have one and the visa gods decided to hinder your glory?
This year has been particularly difficult for the usual USA summer travelers, thanks to the discontinuation of the visa dropbox process for its regular travelers. Schengen visa process that usually takes a couple of weeks to process now stretches into over two months! Let’s not even get into the wahala of getting a visa from our fellow African neighbours, South Africa, una wehdone o!
All of these simply means that it is time for travel within Africa to boom even more. While Nigeria sleeps on securing its tourism space, there are still a few amazing experiences to safely explore within the country.
The first choice, IITA. If you read my articles on here, then you are most likely aware of how much I love this gem in Ibadan. A week there with your family, solo, or with friends, is just about enough.
If you are keen on exploring the magnificent Oyo, then make it a lazy two weeks holiday. Drive out every other day for day trips to explore places like Ado Awaye, Old Oyo, Ibadan City, picnic in Agodi, and so many more. If you’re like me, you would try to squeeze all the adventures into two days, and then spend the remaining twelve days feasting like a queen by the pool.
Food and drinks there are on par with mama-put prices, so feast away! If you own your own bicycles, definitely take them with you to IITA, early morning rides or jogs through the grounds would make you almost forget you are still in Nigeria. Ibadan is also famous for abula – amala, gbegiri, and ewedu with spicy soup and assorted meats. A trip to Ibadan without experiencing the South-West famous abula is an incomplete one!
Beyond Ibadan’s IITA is Ile-Ife’s Grand Resort. Fun fact, the resort is owned by the Ooni of Ife. While not on par with IITA’s grounds, the rooms are much grander and the resort is a short driving distance from many of Osun state’s tourist highlights.
Spend a day exploring the Ooni of Ife’s palace, Ile Odua, strike a pose under Queen Moremi Ajasoro’s statue. Plan an early picnic and hiking adventure to Erin Ijesha’s Olumirin waterfall and see if you can be one of the few tourists to conquer the 7th level. Osun state is also home to the UNESCO world heritage site, Osun-Osogbo sacred grove. The entry fee comes with a local guide to teach you the history and walk you through the expansive grounds of the grove.
Before heading out of Osun state, try out iyan (pounded yam) with efo riro in Ijesha. If you’re keen on exploring more Osun state food, also give eko (jello-like cornmeal) with efo riro a try. One week in Osun state is just about enough to explore the state and give your body some much-needed break before heading back to work.
Another option is to explore Lagos like a tourist and discover its beauty beyond the hustle and bustle. As a Lagosian, it is very difficult to step away from the grind and put on the tourist hats we find easy to don even in hectic cities outside the country. If you have two weeks to spare, you will find yourself turned into a tourist ambassador of Lagos state.
Based on your budget, book yourself and your family into the Federal palace hotel for the holiday’s duration. The pool area is enough to bring out your inner child and by the time you have to check out, you would probably try to sneak in one last family moment playing in the pool slides or playing water volleyball in the large pool. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet options are currently my favorites in Lagos.
Beyond the hotel, start off with a banana boat trip through Epe’s mangrove to learn about the process behind the tapping of palm wine. From there, make sure to have a picnic packed for the afternoon in the Lekki Conservation Center. Hike the longest canopy walkway bridge in Africa here and enjoy a leisurely picnic while playing some board games with the family. Be careful with your personal items and of the monkeys here.
For those that love to shop, a day exploring handmade crafts in the Lekki art market is highly recommended. Not far from the market is the Nike Art Gallery for premium Nigerian artworks for the aficionados. Spare a day to hop around Lagos Island in Keke Marwa to shop, experience the street food and remnants of old Lagos. Spare a lazy day for Tarkwa Bay beach, a couple of nights in Badagry to learn the history of Nigeria’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade and a lazy day to relax in the less populated beach area.
The nightlife in Lagos is unparalleled across Africa, and the list of restaurants and clubs to explore is too long to delve into. Before heading back to work, make sure to spend your Thursday or Sunday evening at Fela’s shrine for a night of amazing live music by Femi and his band.
Cap up your holiday a final lazy spa day before heading back to reality. Two weeks is just enough to sate your adventurous appetite, but a month is really more ideal to explore Lagos properly.
By Zainob Fashola,