Joan Mead-Matsui

Experience Nigeria

My travel experience in Nigeria

By James Svensson, guest blogger

It was 4 pm and the African sun was just setting. The weather was hot and the crowd at the airport pressing. Conversely, I was enjoying myself and was soaking in the new environment like a sponge. We were in Calabar, a major tourist city in Southeastern Nigeria renowned for its beauty and hospitality to visitors. Earlier, we had been in Lagos, a major port city and the commercial hub of Nigeria. While Lagos had been a mix of all elements of humanity, Calabar was calmer to the eyes clearly.

Not my first visit to Nigeria

We had just finished a business conference in Lagos and wanted to tour some parts of this great African nation before returning to the U.S. Personally, I wanted to see the famed Obudu Hills and the accompanying cattle ranch. My colleague, Tom and I cleared through customs and headed for the cab area. We already had a pre-arranged cab waiting for our arrival. This wasn’t my first visit to Nigeria or Africa. I had visited Kano, Sokoto, Abuja, Enugu and Port Harcourt and have come to realize that Africa was indeed a beautiful continent with its amazing wildlife, the mind-blowing terrains and vistas, the people and their vast but peculiar culture, and the many local delicacies. It was too much; I now understood how the European explorers must have felt in those great years of exploration. There was just so much to see in the world and I was determined more than ever to build my savings and go into traveling and touring fully, not for money but for the joy it gives to the soul to be able to enjoy so much freedom and see the beauty in the world. It will make you appreciate being alive.

Ekong was all smiles

We finally saw our cabman – his name boldly emblazoned on the placard he was carrying. His name was Ekong; the young man was all smiles and welcomed us profusely to his city and his cab. We couldn’t help but return his enthusiasm. After some small talk, he loaded up and we moved from the airport. We were to lodge at LeMeridien International Hotel in downtown Calabar and then continued on to Obudu the following day.

Outstanding Accommodations

From what I could see of the city, it was well-thought out and planned, the roads were good with small trees planted on the intersection between the roads. The atmosphere had become cooler, too, and in less than an hour, we were at our destination. The hotel was a very nice one with an outstanding reputation. We were booked into two adjoining rooms. I settled in and took a shower before calling Tom to ask how it was at his end. We agreed to rest a bit before heading down to the intercontinental restaurant to have some dinner.

Varying Scenes

At dinner, we met two European couples headed for Obudu and we quickly became friends. The food was good and the talk was even better. I was enjoying myself to be honest….there’s nothing more enjoyable than relaxing in a totally different environment from what you were used to. We left the following morning for Obudu; our new friends were in different cabs and following closely. The scenes were varied – small towns, villages, narrow tarred roads with much vegetation on the sides and a lot of open spaced highways. The terrain was lush in some areas and sparse in others, hilly in some and flat in others. It was a beauty to behold and we took a lot of pictures. After about 2 hours and 30 minutes, we drove up to a sign showing “Obudu Cattle Ranch and Resorts”. We had finally arrived it seemed. We drove through the arched sign and down the road; I must say the landscape of Obudu is mind-blowing. It was simply plain to see, the winding road network, the hills, the plains, the lush vegetation, the atmosphere, the weather which was cool and the beauty of the resort itself.

“Edikaikong” a local delicacy

The resort was a very large one and had so many wonderful facilities. The lodging was wonderful and we were booked into a lovely two bedroom suite that had a view facing the hills and mountains in the distance. I couldn’t take enough pictures, we had three days of awesomeness to enjoy in this place and I was very eager. During lunch, I tried out the local delicacies and especially enjoyed a soup called “Edikaikong.” Anybody visiting Calabar is encouraged to try this soup.

Three days of relaxation, good food and soul-calming fun

We later met our tour guide, Joseph, and he outlined our tour schedules. We had cable car rides, hill climbing, trail hiking, nature walks, golfing, horse riding, and animal sightseeing. It was fun and I am not sure I can put it all down in writing. Three days of relaxation, good food, and soul-calming fun and activities, I didn’t want it to end. The experience was better felt firsthand, the food was a lovely experience and the people were wonderful. I know Nigeria as a country that doesn’t have a sterling reputation but I will encourage any traveler or tourist to try out the sights and sounds in this popular West African country.

Traveling: the spice of this journey of life

Travelling is fun, liberating and educating, nothing inspires the mind and soul to be able to experience the peculiarities of different environments and enjoy the positives in them. I believe life is a journey and traveling, the spice of this journey of life.

You can learn more about Nigeria when you visit this link.

 

 

 

 

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