Sprawling cities, green-fringed villages, a vast Gulf of Guinea coastline and more than 500 ethnic groups make Nigeria a compelling – if complex – destination for an out-of-the-ordinary holiday.
Nigeria is one of the most under-explored destinations by travellers to West Africa, with a shaky reputation that many find intimidating. Yet there is much to discover and learn about in Africa’s most populous country, from slave trade era history and old Yoruba kingdoms to remote mountain villages and bio-diverse national parks.
Visit UNESCO-listed Oba’s palaces, explore the Afro-Brazilian heritage of returned slaves, rummage for colourful fabrics in city markets, or catch a ‘Nollywood’ film before spending the night dancing to Afrobeat music.
Lagos is an obvious base for your adventures in Nigeria. From here you’ll have easy access to some of the country’s most interesting destinations, like the nearby slave port of Badagry with its Black Heritage Museum and Brazilian Baraccoon, ancient Abeokuta where you can climb the famous Olumo Rock for panoramic views of the city, or West Africa’s largest indigenous city Ibadan with its old protective city walls.
In Lagos itself, there’s an abundance of cultural activities to enjoy. Catch a live performance at the raved-about Bogobiri House guesthouse, which has its own house band and welcomes regular big-name artists. Or head over to the mainland, where the open-air New Afrika Shrine hosts shows by Fela Kuti’s sons Femi and Seun when they’re in town.
You could also soak up Nigerian arts and culture at Terra Kulture on Victoria Island, a venue which promotes art exhibitions, book readings, dance performances, culinary events and more.
For wildlife and remote scenery, the Drill Ranch rescue centre in Calabar cares for orphaned drill monkeys and chimpanzees. Run by the conservation organisation Pandrillus, Drill Ranch also has a mountain location you can visit four hours north, near Cross River National Park. Hillside guest cabins overlook the rainforest, and you can view the rehabilitated animals in their natural habitat.
There’s a lot to pack in on a trip to Nigeria, with unrivalled opportunities to get off the beaten track and enjoy a truly authentic African experience.