10 Epic Places in Nigeria That'll Give You Wanderlust

A wooden bridge in Ijesha, Nigeria |© Jbdodane / Wikimedia
A wooden bridge in Ijesha, Nigeria |© Jbdodane / Wikimedia
Photo of Cynthia Okoroafor
16 June 2017

Nigerians love to travel, yet, even the majority of us haven’t explored the wonders flourishing in our backyards, partly because we’re oblivious to their existence in the first place. Nigeria’s landscapes boast of magical springs and thrashing waterfalls, compellingly formidable hills and mountains, and plush greenery that will make you wish you could live out the rest of your existence in blissful nomadism. Pack your bags and venture!

Plateau State

There are a myriad of reasons why Plateau State in its entirety is your one-stop shop for tourism in Nigeria. In fact, it’s already aptly nicknamed “The Home of Peace and Tourism.” The gorgeous state of Plateau is home to the most beautiful mountain peaks Nigeria has to offer, including the Kurang Volcanic Mountain, wildlife parks, waterfalls, a resort, golf course, amazing rock formations to camp and picnic on and around, and the Jos National Museum.

Wase Rock in Jos, Plateau State. / Apata Dolapo Moses / Wikimedia https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/A_closer_view_of_Wase_Rock.JPG

Idanre, Ondo

Mysterious, alluring, dome-shaped hills characterize the scenery at the peaceful Idanre Town in Akure, Ondo State. The Idanre Hills, also known as “Oke Idanre” is not only a national pride, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Idanre Hills rise above water amid a rich and beautifully diverse ecosystem which includes a mystical river with healing powers. The walk up the approximately 660 steps leads you through sites with mysterious handwritings and footprints on the rocks, to an ancient kingdom located at the top. A visit to Idanre, with the accompanying folklores, will make you believe anything is possible.

Ikare, Lagos

The largely unexplored, serene Ikare village is a combination of beauty, nature, and relaxation. Ikare village resides on a Lagos coastline, along which lie dazzling beaches with grand palm trees. A trip to Ikare is conducted by boat, and this adds to the sense of adventure that you feel as you approach the beaches, feasting your eyes on the different gorgeous manifestations of nature in the area. Upon arrival, Ikare greets you with a line of nicely structured beach houses and the popular Kamp Ikare resort. While the boat trip back is also therapeutic, you’d still wish it didn’t mean you were going “back.”

Backwater and a view of the sky at Ikare, Lagos. / Cynthia Okoroafor

Ikogosi, Ekiti

A fantastical spring surrounded by hills and inviting plantations, which features clear skies and a wholesome river, Ikogosi Warm Springs is nature in one of its finest manifestations. Once you go beyond the simple looking and quiet town within which the spring is located, you will be transported into a pleasantly different “green planet” you never imagined existed within Nigeria. A planet that maintains its scenic splendor all year round, the visit to Ikogosi Warm Spring is made even more delightful by the state-of-the-art resort situated around the spring.

Yankari National Park, Bauchi

This park’s location in the Savannah creates a conducive environment for its precious wildlife to thrive, and for visitors to appreciate another side of nature. Yankari National Park was originally established to serve as a game reserve, but soon expanded to fit its present position as a top destination in Nigeria for tourists. Yankari is one of the few destinations in West Africa that provides and preserves a natural habitat for wildlife to inhabit, and thus it largely appeals to ecotourists. In addition to a wide variety of wildlife, Yankari has four warm springs, including the popular Wikki Warm Springs, a tourist camp site, impressive woodland and grasslands, rolling hills, and the Gaji river where you can spot the elephants in dry season.

Elephants grazing at the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State / Tsumo9 / Wikimedia https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e4/Yankari_Elephants.jpg

Matsirga Waterfalls, Kaduna

Visitors to Matsirga Waterfalls, A.K.A. “River Wonderful,” speak earnestly of the magic you bear witness to when you approach it. Matsirga falls in a loud, powerful rush to the base 30 meters below it, amid a show of sunlight, fleeting rainbows, and sometimes even unexplained smoke eruption. An umbrella-like cave exists at the bank of the river where the falling water forms, where visitors can take shelter and watch Matsirga continue to perform its wonder. Naturally, the waterfall’s immediate surrounding is a perfect picture of peace and tranquility.

The Walled City of Kano, Kano

The earliest settlers in Kano State are said to have arrived at Dala Hill, and up until the 15th century, Kano was known as “Dala.” From Dala’s peak, you get an aerial view of the entire city, including its legendary walls and gate. Kano’s walls were originally built to keep invaders out of the city. Now, they serve as perhaps the biggest physical tourist attraction the city has to offer, along with Dala Hill. A tour of the Sahelian Kano city is like taking a much needed stroll into an eventful past.

A part of the ancient Kano mud walls in Kano State. / David Holt / Wikimedia https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Kano_City_Mud_wall_Nigeria_Nov_1995_%281541425846%29.jpg

Ngwo Pine Forest, Enugu

In a bucolic community on the hilly outskirts of Enugu, you’ll find the Ngwo Pine Forest. A trip to the labyrinthine forest with its magnificent pine trees provides the calming presence of natural shades, softly flowing streams from a waterfall, and the adventurous delight of a cave toward the end of the valley. Ngwo Pine Forest is a dreamy location for a quiet, pleasant getaway. However, make sure you’re “getting away” with someone or a group of people, or your wandering might just get you lost in the pine forest.

Gashaka Gumti National Park, Taraba

Savannah woodlands, rainforests, grasslands, lakes, rivers, valleys, swamps, and the highest peak in Nigeria—the Chappal Waddi Mountain—create the natural fascination that is the Gashaka Gumti national park in Taraba State. This park’s diverse biological ecosystem allows for the inhabitation of all manners of wildlife and overall breathtaking scenery. Gashaka Gumti consists of two ancient regions and borders Cameroon to the east. What’s more, you’ll need at least eight days to sufficiently cover the length and breadth of Chappal Waddi.

© Rosemary Lodge/Flickr

Obudu Mountain Resort, Cross River

Obudu is another location that admirably caters to the desires and needs of wanderers on more than one platter. If you’re not flying, the Obudu experience begins with what can easily be an exciting road trip for certain travelers—a six-hour drive from Calabar City to Obanliku where the resort is situated. At the resort, you can get involved in intriguing cable car rides, hiking, swimming, horse riding, and engagement with the outdoors. There’s also the options of extending your adventure to the Agbokim Waterfalls and the Afi Forest Reserve three hours away from the resort.

Ober Gatlinburg aerial tramway | © Chris Hagerman/Wikicommons

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