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Exploring Northern Nigeria: 4 Nights, 5 Days

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As a child raised in Southwestern Nigeria, it has always been my dream to explore the other regions of the country. That dream was partially acted upon in July, 2018 when I visited Abuja (the capital) and took day trips to Nassarawa and Niger States (2 northern states).

This time around though, I stayed in a Northern state for 4 nights! Too short but it is just a start.

Day 1:

  • Arrived in Lagos, Nigeria at 3.30pm. An hour later, I was en-route to the domestic airport. My flight to Abuja was really delayed flight. I finally arrived in Abuja (capital of Nigeria) at 10pm.
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Check out video of the Sculpture Garden – here https://youtu.be/bNTDT-MvmoY

 

Day 2:

  • I took the 7am train to Kaduna. Excited because it was my first time taking a train in Nigeria or any other West African country!!! The hotel I stayed Quarter House Hotel arranged a car + driver for me. The driver picked me up from the train station. We went to the hotel to drop off my bags before proceeding to explore.

I visited the National Museum first before heading to Zaria to see the Emir’s Palace. It was an Islamic festive day so the road leading to the palace was super crowded. The palace was extra crowded.

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After the Emir’s Palace, we continued to the Ahmadu Bello University to check out the Sculpture Garden at the Department of Fine Arts. The sculptures are created by students at the department and entrance is free. The sculpture garden is a piece of heaven in Northern Nigeria for art lovers.

I headed to Gamji Park after that. Gamji Park is a green space for picnics or to simply hang out. In the park is a mini zoo to semi starved looking animals.

I ended the day by hanging out with a friend I hadn’t seen since 2011 at a really cool café.

Day 3:

  • I woke up super early to head to Southern Kaduna. It took us 2.5hours to get to Kafanchan to see the Matsirga Waterfalls. I  was sort of disappointed that we couldn’t get closer to the waterfalls. There was no trail or guide. We stopped when it was impossible to go further. After that, my driver reluctantly drove me to the Nok Museum. He claimed it was way out of the way. Anyways, after getting lost, we finally get there but it was unfortunately closed. All that stress for nothing ☹.

Anyways, ended the day on a happy note because I met with one of my really good friends from Medical school in Nigeria. We haven’t seen for over 12 years.

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Video of waterfall here – https://youtu.be/JJ0AtCQmNyM

Day 4:

  • My last full day in Kaduna aka KD City. My day started by visiting Kajuru Castle (the only castle in Nigeria). That visit almost never happened. You are supposed to book at least two weeks in advance. I didn’t. Thanks to Mark from Motley Travels and the Travel Gods, I was able to visit. That visit was spectacular. My iPhone camera couldn’t do justice to the view.

Next up was Arewa House where the museum showcasing the Northern history is house and also the residence of Sir Ahmadu Bello (one of Nigeria’s founding fathers).

We continued to Turunku. Turunku is the hometown of one of the greatest African Queen- Queen Amina of Zaria. History puts her reign as Queen in the mid-15th century.  Her palace was on a hill and the remains of her royal chair and bed can be seen. We asked a local of town to show us around and he gladly did.

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Last visit of the day was to Fifth Chukker- polo club. Amazing & breathtaking is an understatement!

Day 5:

  • I had an 8.50am flight to Lagos. This is my first flight ever with Air Peace that departed on time! It was a chilled day so I could be ready for one of my favorite cousin’s wedding the following day. Check out the blog post on Weddings + Birthday Celebrations in Nigeria to see how we turn up 😊.
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Sao Tome and Principle: 6 Days, 5 Nights

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São Tomé is a really really small country. It used to be a Portuguese colony until 1975. The country is trying to promote tourism. Flights only goes to Accra, Ghana; Gabon; Angola and Portugal. The flight from Ghana is only 1.4 hour and about USD$270 round trip.

This was the 5th country on my 6 country adventure. I flew from Accra, Ghana with TAP Portugal.

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Day 19 (June 28 -Thursday): 

  • I got in almost 9pm. There was a bit of a delay at immigration so I just went to bed as soon as we arrived at the Airbnb. The Airbnb was close to the airport and on the main road, opposite the sea.

Hotel: Val do Liz – 4 nights, booked via Airbnb

Day 20 (June 29, Friday): South Route for São Tomé

  • The following day, I explored the South route of São Tomé and Rola Island where the equator is located.
  • The South route includes City of Santana, Roça Agua Izé, Boca-de-Inferno (Hell’s mouth), Seven Waves and Micondo beaches, Pico Cão-Grande and others. Scenery is beautifulll

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Day 21 (June 30, Saturday): North Route for São Tomé

  • Next was the North route. We saw a few waterfalls on the road to the last village on the northern part. Some of the interesting things we saw on the northern route was the point where the Portuguese first arrived on the island, beautiful architecture, Blue Lagoon, Lighthouse, a Túnel on the way to the Santa Catarina village, largest bridge in the country on the Lembá River.

Day 22 (July 1, Sunday): Interior/Central Route

  • For this route, we visited the village of Batepá (where the Batepá Massacre began), Botanical Garden, S. Nicolau Waterfall, Monte Café farm, and Almada Negreiro Restaurant.

My South, North & Central/Interior route tour was arranged by Ban Ben Non tours (https://www.banbenontours.com/tours_en.html). It was overall a great experience; I will definitely use them again

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Day 23 (July 2, Monday): Bombain Waterfalls, Chocolate Factory & Calulu

  • This was supposed to be my rest day but I was not too pleased that we couldn’t see Bombain waterfalls the previous day. I changed hotel to the best hotel in Sao Tomr (Hotel Pestano), they were able to arrange a driver for me to take me to bombain waterfalls – the second main waterfall in Sao Tome.
  • It was a slippery hike to see the waterfalls but it was all worth it. The driver was dope; he dropped me off to an amazing restaurant when we arrived back in town to try the main traditional food – Calulu.
  • Later, I visited the country’s sole chocolate factory. They gave us a tour, we got to sample some chocolate and I bought some. You have to buy a ticket in advance.

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Day 24 (July 3, Tuesday): Departure

  • I was scheduled to return to Accra but my flight was at night. The hotel were able to extend my check out time which allowed be to sleep in.
  • I departed for Accra at 8.35pm
  • Overnight in Accra