Nigeria — Attractions
Nigeria provides the perfect mix of attractions between natural beauty and key cultural destinations. Yankari National Park is a favored wildlife viewing destination that rivals more often thought of safari parks many thousands of miles away in the south of the African continent, yet provides near equal experiences, and is Nigeria’s key tourist attraction. You can find plenty of cultural relics linked to Nigeria’s deep history, such as the Yoruba sacred forest at Osun-Ogubo, or the ancient city of Kano. The cities of Lagos and Calabar provide an insight into Nigeria’s more recent colonial history and the infamous slave trade, or you can go to Sungbo’s Eredo to view the oldest known pre-colonial archeological site in Africa.
Yankari National Park
Yankari National Park is Africa’s largest park, and was officially opened in 1991, although it had been a game reserve since 1934. Today, it is an extremely popular eco-tourism spot and one of the places in Africa you can go to spot one of the ‘big five’. The park covers an area of about 870 square meters and attracts around 20,000 visitors per year, from 100 countries, making it Nigeria’s most popular tourist destination.
Address: Yankari National Park, Bauchi State, Northeastern Nigeria.
Osun-Osugbo Sacred Forest
Also known as a ‘sacred grove’, this ancient forest is an important site for indigenous Yoruba culture. It is one of the last remaining sacred forests of the Yoruba people, and was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2005. There are many relics contained within the forest, and it is the site of the important annual Osun-Osgobo festival which sees thousands of visitors.
Address: Osun-Osugbo Sacred Forest, Osun State, central Nigeria.
To experience a different side of Nigeria, away from the green and verdant rainforests of the south, you can go to Kano, in the semi-arid north of the country. The city is the oldest in western Africa, having been founded 1400 years ago. It was an important center of the trans-Saharan trade routes, and then became focused on academic scholarship in the middle ages. Today the city is still and important commercial hub, although as a tourist you will see be treated to delights of Afro-Arabic architecture and culture. For example, you can visit the Great Mosque in the center of the city which gets 50,000 Muslim worshippers every Friday.
Address: Kano, Kano State, northern Nigeria.
Calabar is a place that preserves a lot of colonial heritage from the time when Nigeria was an important part of the British Empire in the 19th century. It is still an important commercial hub, yet a peaceful and charming city, full of many quirks. In this part of Nigeria, the population is mainly Christian, and today it is still an important cultural city of Nigeria, with an annual Christmas Festival that attracts many visitors. There is also the Calabar Carnival which runs for a month in December, and is dubbed the largest street festival in Africa. There are several historical attractions to visit here, including the Slavery Museum and the Calabar Museum, both of which house artifacts and information regarding Nigeria during the colonial era.
Address: Calabar, Cross River State, southeast Nigeria
This is system of defensive walls and ditches that is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa. The total length of the fortification system is 20 miles, and since it also required digging of ditches, it is estimated to have required more earth to be moved than in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The rampart system served a defensive purpose between 800-1000 AD, and has been connected to the legend of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon’s mines by some historians.
Address: Sungbo’s Eredo, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria.
Lagos was the former colonial capital of Nigeria until a new planned city was built at Abuja to host the nation’s capital in 1991. Today, the metropolitan area of Lagos contains about 10 million residents, making it the second largest city on the African continent. Between 1404 and 1889 it served as the major center of the slave trade, where Africans were shipped to the Spice Islands of the Caribbean to work on plantations as forced labor. There are many attractions in the city, such as Tafawa Balewa Square, which is the city’s commercial heart and contains many national monuments. Close by to Lagos you can visit Olumo Rock, which gives great views back to the city; the area is good for a day out since you can spend the day visiting caves and an ancient shrine.
Address: Lagos, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria
Lekki Conservation Centre
Just outside Lagos is the wildlife park, home to many endangered animals all native to Africa, providing a great day out for those staying in the city.
Address: Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria