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Nigeria - 12 days
Lost Kingdoms of Nigeria
Prices from £3,349
Lost Kingdoms of Nigeria
Prices from £3,349
Discover one of Africa's most vibrant and exciting countries on a tour that will challenge your preconceptions. A much maligned nation, Nigeria suffers from a bad reputation that discourages most travellers, but this tour shows you that there's another, much more appealing, side to the country. Starting in the mega city of Lagos - surely one of the liveliest on earth - we head to the coastal town of Badagry, linked to the slave trade and with dark secrets to uncover. From here we travel to the old Yoruba city of Abeokuta with its grand Afro-Brazilian buildings, and climb the sacred Olumo Rock, a holy site for local people. Moving further we head to the virtually unknown Idanre Hillls for an opportunity to discover a lost world of sacred sites and hidden civilisation, before heading on to the town of Oshogbo where we explore a sacred grove and learn about the intricacies of Yoruba religion in the company of revered Ife priestesses. Perhaps the highlight of this trip though is the time we spend in the heartlands of the Kamberi people, getting to know this intensely traditional group of people who have largely shunned the modern world and mark their bodies with elaborate decorations - as curious about you as you are about them. This Nigeria tour offers unparalleled opportunities to not just get off the beaten track but redefine the very concept, and you're unlikely to see any other tourists in the whole time you're here - a truly authentic experience that is often lacking in other parts of the world.
Day 1 – Lagos
Arrive in Lagos and transfer to your hotel.
Day 2 – Lagos – Badagry
Spend the morning exploring Lagos, then head west along the coast to the small town of Badagry, once an important slave port.
Day 3 – Badagry – Abeokuta
Visit the sites of Badagry, including the museum and Brazilian Barracoon then continue to the Yoruba city of Abeokuta.
Day 4 – Abeokuta – Idanre
Spend the morning exploring Abeokuta with its excellent examples of Afro-Brazilian architecture and Olumo Rock, a sacred site for the Yoruba people with a shrine near the top. From here we drive to Idanre.
Day 5 – Idanre Hills
We spend a full day exploring the Idanre Hills, walking up to a plateau that holds a hidden – now abandoned – village, a chief’s palace and many sacred sites.
Day 6 – Oshogbo
Continue to the city of Oshogbo, to explore the Sacred Grove of Osun where extraordinary sculptures of the Yoruba deities nestle amongst the trees, and a traditional Orisha temple.
Day 7 – Ilorin
Drive to Ilorin and explore the traditional quarters where Ilorin’s renowned potters and weavers ply their trade.
Day 8 – Jebba – Kontagora
Drive to Jebba, stopping first at a settlement of the Fulani, and then Jebba on the banks of the Niger River, reputedly the place where Mungo Park met his end. From here we continue north to Kontagora.
Days 9-10 – Explore the lands of the Kamberi people
From Kontagora we drive into the bush into the heartland of the Kamberi people, one of Nigeria’s most traditional ethnic groups with painted and tattooed faces and sporting pierced lips.
Day 11 – Gwari villages – Abuja
We drive to Abuja, visiting the villages of the Gwari people along the way; the older women still sport tattoos on their bodies.
Day 12 – Abuja
We explore the city before a final dinner and then transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Day 1 – Lagos
Arrive in Lagos and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Ibis Hotel or similar.
Nigeria’s largest city has a reputation that few others can match – a brash and incredibly vibrant city that can be daunting to some, exciting to others. Split between the islands and the mainland, Lagos is the powerhouse of the country, if not the region and with a population of around ten million is one of the largest cities in Africa. Nowhere else in Nigeria will you see such a marked difference between rich and poor, from the glitzy buildings of Victoria Island, where most of the ex-patriate population bases itself, to the slums and shanty towns elsewhere. It takes its name from the Portuguese word for lakes – Portuguese sailors were the first Europeans to have visited here on their quest to round the Cape of Good Hope.
Lagos is a melting pot and you will find all of Nigeria’s people here as well as Europeans, Chinese and others, drawn by the opportunities that it offers. Although much neglected these days there are still traces of its colonial past including a Neo-Gothic style cathedral and crumbling British government buildings. Like most African cities it is short on traditional ‘sights’ but the National Museum is well worth a visit, with its collection of cultural artefacts from around the country. Few people fall in love with the city, but it sure to leave a lasting impression on you and is a fascinating place to observe the complexities of Nigeria. It is not however the safest of cities and it’s not particularly advisable to walk around some areas on your own, particularly at night, so we ask that you take guidance from your tour leader on this.
Day 2 – Lagos – Badagry
Spend the morning exploring Lagos, heading off the mainland onto Lagos Island. We explore the Afro-Brazilian quarter with its unique architecture and if open, the National Museum. From here we head west along the coast to the small town of Badagry, once an important slave port and with several historic sites to explore. Overnight Bedrock Hotel or similar. (B)
Humid, languid and decidedly tropical, Badagry sits on the coast not far from the Beninese border and is just about the closest thing to a tourist attraction that Nigeria possesses. Once an important slave port, the town contains numerous traces of its rather dark past including the ‘Brazilian Barracoon’, a set of old holding cells for slaves about to make their journey across the Atlantic. A rather sombre but meaningful excursion is the boat trip across the lagoon to walk to the ‘point of no return’ where slaves were loaded onto the ships, and along the path an old stone well dating from that time still stands.
Day 3 – Badagry – Abeokuta
Visit the sites of Badagry, including the museum and Brazilian Barracoon. We also take a boat across the lagoon to follow the ‘path of no return’ which the slaves walked to meet the boats to take them across the Atlantic. After lunch we head to the Yoruba city of Abeokuta. Those who wish can head out this evening to a nearby bar to experience a bit of modern Nigerian culture. Overnight Continental Suites Hotel or similar. (B)
Abeokuta is the capital of Ogun State and of particular significance for the Yoruba people. The Olumo Rock, the town’s main attraction, is supposedly where the Egba clan hid during what became known as the Yoruba Wars of the 19th century, and then established their powerful kingdom. The rock itself is around 130m high, with steps leading up to it as well as a rather out of character concrete lift shaft. In caves on the rock you can still see the remains of rudimentary settlements and towards the back is a small community of worshippers centred around a shrine, where you may be expected to make a donation. Abeokuta is also interesting due to the profusion of Afro-Brazilian architecture in some parts – these rather impressive buildings were built for local merchants in the 19th century by freed slaves returning from Brazil, who borrowed influences from there. Although many are now in various states of disrepair, the pastel colours and ornate designs on their facades are evidence of past grandeur, and Abeokuta is a rather charming place to walk around because of them.
Day 4 – Abeokuta – Idanre
Spend the morning exploring Abeokuta. The city has some excellent examples of Afro-Brazilian architecture which are well worth seeing, as well as a rather interesting fetish market – not necessarily for the squeamish but a fascinating place nonetheless. We also climb Olumo Rock, a sacred site for the Yoruba people with a shrine near the top. From here we drive to Idanre, where we spend the next two nights. Overnight Rock Valley Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 5 – Idanre Hills
We spend a full day exploring the Idanre Hills, walking up to a plateau that holds a hidden – now abandoned – village, a chief’s palace and many sacred sites. This is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Nigeria’s cities, with lush vegetation and pristine landscapes, and a real joy to explore, yet it is virtually unknown to the outside world. Overnight Rock Valley Hotel or similar. (B)
Just outside the small town of Idanre lies the Idanre Hills ‘cultural landscape’, one of Nigeria’s best attractions that few have ever heard of. Up until the 1930s the population of the area lived high up on a rocky plateau, protected from outsiders and largely hidden from view, and when they decamped en masse to lower ground left behind well preserved buildings as a testament to a now lost way of life. Nestled among long grasses and thick vegetation lie sacred streams, mystical engravings and mud brick buildings including an old courthouse – complete with dock for the defendant – as well as a palace filled with traditionally carved pillars that is still used for ceremonies to this day. The Idanre Hills are a delightful refuge from the often hectic world below, and this will be one of the highlights of your trip.
Day 6 – Oshogbo
Continue to the city of Oshogbo, home to one of Nigeria’s few UNESCO listed sites. We explore the Sacred Grove of Osun where extraordinary sculptures of the Yoruba deities nestle amongst the trees, monkeys running throughout. Later we visit a traditional Orisha temple where Ife priestesses can explain the intricacies if their religion ñ this is a truly fascinating experience and not to be missed. Overnight Ideal Nest Hotel or similar. (B)
Oshogbo is best known for being the home of one of Nigeria’s two UNESCO listed heritage sites. The Osun sacred grove is an area of forest on the outskirts of the city that is home to some rather bizarre and extraordinary sculptures, carved by the Austrian Sculptor Suzanne Wenger in the 1960s. Representations of the Yoruba gods, the giant sculptures sit at various points in the forest and range from giant insects to chameleons and more, as well as a series of figures congregating at a market for the ancient deities. Underneath shady branches lies an old palace of indeterminate age, its exterior daubed with patterns and seemingly growing from the earth itself, while habituated monkeys scamper around the forest floor. Although undoubtedly in need of some love and attention, the sacred grove is a fascinating and rather other worldly place, and gives an insight into the complex Yoruba belief system. In the town itself lies a shrine for the Ife priestesses of Osun, where local people come to ask for favours from the gods – to witness a ritual here is to step into the heart of Yoruba culture and utterly enthralling.
Day 7 – Ilorin
After a quick tour of the city we drive to Ilorin, the first Muslim city that we visit on this trip. We explore the traditional quarters where Ilorin’s renowned potters and weavers ply their trade and in the late afternoon can head to a local bar before returning to the hotel. Overnight Hotel Bovina or similar. (B)
The city of Ilorin marks the border between north and south Nigeria and it is here that you first start to really notice the influence of Islam, with many women covering themselves – the conservatism in direct contrast to the flamboyance of the south. It is known as a centre of pottery and down the dusty backstreets small cottage industries churn out pots of various sizes, while in other parts traditional weavers make garments for the chiefly nobility. Still a major city by any standard, it lacks the vigour of somewhere like Lagos but is an interesting place to start to get to grips with what lies beyond.
Day 8 – Jebba – Kontagora
Drive to Jebba, stopping first at a settlement of the Fulani, one of West Africa’s widest spread groups following traditional lifestyles based around cattle. After meeting the elders we continue to Jebba on the banks of the Niger River, reputedly the place where Mungo Park met his end. From here we continue north to the remote town of Kontagora. Overnight Safara Hotel or similar. (B)
Days 9-10 – Explore the lands of the Kamberi people
From Kontagora we drive into the bush into the heartland of the Kamberi people, one of Nigeria’s most traditional ethnic groups. If he is there we meet the emir, before venturing into the villages where we can learn about their indigenous belief systems and see the brightly decorated women, with painted and tattooed faces and sporting pierced lips. The Kamberi rarely see visitors and you will be rather a novelty here. The main settlement is Genu, where we rub shoulders with people coming in from the nearby villages to trade. We spend one night sleeping under the stars in a local village, returning to Kontagora in the afternoon of Day 10. (BLD)
The Kamberi people
The Kamberi are one of Nigeria’s most fascinating ethnic groups – in a country where modernity is quickly eroding, or at least changing, the old ways the Kamberi stick resolutely to the customs of their ancestors. To the north east of Kontagora they live in isolated villages far from the main roads, making a living out of traditional agriculture. The Kamberi women are a sight to behold, with colourful beads and headgear, tattooed and painted faces and bright jewellery protruding from their lips – the men tend to be less traditional as is often the case. The Kamberi congregate at weekly markets held in a different village each day – these are lively affairs with millet beer being passed around, traditional singing and dancing, and you are likely to be the focus of attention if you visit. The Kamberi see few outsiders, and very few Europeans have ever made it this far, making this a real privilege and an undoubted highlight of the trip.
Please note that there is no accommodation near here and so we will camp in the village – you will need to bring your own sleeping mat and bag for this, and while we realise that this is a bit of an inconvenience for just one night of the tour, it is more than worth it to spend time in such a fascinating area.
Day 11 – Gwari villages – Abuja
We drive to Minna, visiting the villages of the Gwari people along the way. Although not quite as traditional as the Kamberi the Gwari are still very interesting, living in rural villages with huge round granaries to store their crops, and the older women still sport tattoos on their bodies. Drive to Abuja, Nigeria’s modern capital and our last stop in Nigeria. Overnight Petrus Hotel or similar. (B)
Day 12 – Abuja
We explore the city before a final dinner and then transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Nigeria’s capital is an artificial construction, much like Brasilia and Astana, built in the 1970s to provide a workable seat of government rather than the chronic overcrowding and traffic problems of Lagos. Unlike Lagos it is dominated by any one ethnic group, chosen partly due to the fact that it could be a ‘neutral’ site for government to be located. This being a new city there are no real sites to see as such, but it is very interesting to see a side of the country that is in such contrast to the remainder.
Airport transfers – We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.
Accommodation – Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.
Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
What’s not included:
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.
International flights – Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.
Travel Insurance – If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.
Most travellers will require a visa to enter Nigeria, and obtaining one can be a rather cumbersome process. We recommend that you use the services of a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) for assistance.
Should you require proof of hotel reservation then we will be able to provide this.
Non-UK citizens may also require additional supporting documentation to support their visas. If this is the case then we may need to charge an additional fee for this.
Health and vaccinations
We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.
You will need to bring your Yellow Fever Certificate with you as this is a compulsory requirement of entry to Nigeria.
It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.
Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.
Arrival and departure taxes
There are no arrival or departure taxes applicable to Nigeria.
The local currency in Nigeria is the naira. We recommend taking either Euros or US dollars to exchange – the latter should be issued from 2009 onwards and be clean ad without marks, otherwise you may find it difficult to change them.
Your guide will assist in changing money into the local currency – usually the best rates are obtained from money changers.
We do not advise using a credit card in Nigeria, as levels of fraud are so high.
When to go
Nigeria has distinct wet and dry seasons and it almost goes without saying that it’s best to travel in the dry season, from October to March. Outside of this time travel can be difficult and some unsealed roads can be very difficult to negotiate. In the dry season you should expect it to be hot, with humidity increasing from March onwards until the rains arrive, normally in April or May.
Culture – language and religion
Nigeria is a vast country with around 160 million people, and so as you might expect it is incredibly diverse. Roughly speaking there is a north / south divide in terms of religion, with Islam dominating the north and Christianity the south. However throughout the country there are a huge number of different ethnic groups that still follow traditional religions, and discovering their cultures and customs is one of the highlights of travelling here.
Nigeria’s official language is English, a legacy of its colonial occupation, but other key languages include Hausa, Fulani and Igbo. The English spoken here is often of the pidgin variety with numerous colloquialisms – it can be difficult to understand at times although a lot of fun.
Eating and drinking
It’s fair to say that the cuisine won’t be a major highlight of your time here, but having said that it’s filling and relatively nutritious. Typical Nigerian food usually consists of something starchy such as pounded yam, accompanied by spicy sauce and vegetables, and meat is usually beef or goat. Fried chicken is fairly ubiquitous if you don’t fancy the local fare, and a cheap snack is suya, kebabs of fried meat. Surprisingly for a country this size there aren’t that many decent restaurants, and often the choice is between a roadside shack type of place – typically denoted by the sign ‘Food is ready’, fast food style outlets (with a distinctly Nigerian flavour) and eating in the hotels. A simple meal should set you back about $3-5, but upmarket restaurants and hotels will cost more. Alcoholic drinks are more readily available in the south than the Muslim north, and a beer costs around $1-2.
You should advise us when you book if you have any special dietary requirements. We will try to accommodate you as much as possible, but we cannot always guarantee this.
Luggage and packing
The first rule of packing is not to bring too much. There will be plenty of occasions where you’ll need to carry your luggage yourself and so you should be able to do this without help. Most people are surprised at how little they actually need to bring, and it’s normally possible to get laundry done along the way. It doesn’t matter whether you bring a suitcase, rucksack or holdall, but please don’t bring more than 20kg of luggage as this may be difficult to accommodate in the vehicles we use. You’ll also need a day pack.
There are no special dress requirements for Nigeria, but when travelling in the more conservative north it’s better to err on the side of caution and cover legs and shoulders. It doesn’t really get cold in Nigeria, but you may want to bring a light fleece.
You spend one night camping on this trip and so should bring a light sleeping bag.
You’ll be walking around a number of sites when in Nigeria, many of which will have uneven surfaces, so do consider this when selecting shoes or boots.
You don’t need to be especially fit to join our trips in Nigeria, but there will be stairs to climb, hills to walk and sites to explore, so you’ll enjoy it more if you have a reasonable level of fitness. The steps up into the Idanre Hills are about the most strenuous part of this trip, but even so this is a relatively short walk.
In Nigeria, like many of the destinations we offer, environmental thinking is not at the forefront of everyday life and you will see a lot of litter in places. However, we ask that you don’t contribute to this and to please take all litter back to the hotel where it can be disposed of properly, including cigarette butts.
Especially in the larger cities, you may come across beggars. There’s no hard and fast answer on this and everyone has a different view – some feel that giving simply encourages begging while others see it as helping someone in need. Some guidebooks will tell you that you should only give if you see a local person also giving, to determine whether the beggar is genuine. The issue is particularly difficult when it comes to children, but we’d ask that you don’t give to children as in poor communities this can often act as a discouragement to going to school. If you feel that you’d like to contribute then speak with your guide who will be able to make appropriate suggestions.
Most people like to take photos, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the photogenic person in front of you may not want their picture taken. Always ask if it’s okay, and respect their wishes if they say no. You’ll often find that in remote villages or among more traditional communities the older generation, and women in particular, are not comfortable with having their picture taken.
On the subject of photography, it’s often forbidden to take photos of ‘sensitive’ areas such as military buildings or border posts, and doing so can land you in trouble with the authorities. If you’re not sure, ask your guide.
If you’re happy with the services of your guide and driver then we would recommend leaving a tip for them at the end of your trip. The amount is entirely up to you, but a reasonable amount for a medium sized group to tip would be between €80-120 to both the driver and guide – however it is not obligatory and if you do not wish to tip then this is up to you.
When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.
In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa. Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.
Nigeria is one of the more challenging destinations that we offer, and we do not recommend this trip unless you are accustomed to travel in Africa. You can expect to encounter roadblocks, and at some of these the personnel manning them will be looking for some sort of problem, real or imaginary, which they can use to extract a bribe. Your guide will handle this and we ask that you do not get involved.
Hotels in Nigeria range from the acceptable to the very good, and in some places there is not a huge amount of choice. Water and electricity may not always work, especially at the same time, and the attitudes of hotel staff towards rectifying issues can be very different to what we would expect at home. Again, your guide will be best placed to deal with issues but bear in mind that in some parts of the country Nigeria only just functions and it may not be possible to solve all problems that you encounter. Nigeria is an entity unto itself, and if you can accept this and see its many frustrations as part of the fun in travelling in a completely untouristed destination, you’ll enjoy the trip more.
We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Nigeria that we visit on our tour.
This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.
Nigeria – The Bradt Guide
Looking for TransWonderland
This House Has Fallen
The State of Africa
Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Updated 31 January 2019
I expected Nigeria to be chaotic, and it was, but Euloge steered us through the trip calmly and without unnecessary fuss. The country is fascinating, and it’s difficult to see how it actually functions – but it does, in its own way. The best part for me was definitely heading into the Kamberi villages, and seeing the complete contrast of a simple tribal society with somewhere like Lagos or Ibadan. The Kamberi were friendly, welcoming and curious and it’s obvious that they don’t get many visitors – I hope that doesn’t change. Other highlights were the Idanre Hills which again like the Kamberi were very different – much more tranquil! – than most of the country. Nigeria has a huge energy that is intriguing to witness, and although this wasn’t an easy trip or country to travel through, I’m very glad I went.
I want to thank you because you made this trip possible. In general, everything was fine or even a positive surprise for me (the quite good accomodation, the variety of food). Also the programme was good (not too much driving per day, diversified programme – nature, culture, history). It’s also a good idea to have quite a lot of local guides at the different places, so more Nigerians can benefit at least a bit from tourism and tourists can meet more locals.
I liked the trip a lot. Things like food/accommodations were probably better than I expected. I do understand there was not much choice. I would delete nothing from the itinerary for others who would take this trip. I also thought that Hassan and Obi did a great job and I would not hesitate to travel with them again.
|13 November 2019||£3,349||Not applicable||Available||
|11 November 2020||£3,349||Not applicable||Available||