Nigeria: deep into the unknown Africa

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Trip Duration Days - 29 Days

Nigeria: deep into the unknown Africa

Price Starts from € 4700

Nigeria is Africa’s most culturally diverse country, with more than 500 languages being spoken. It is also Africa’s most populated countries, with almost 200 million inhabitants. With these two headlines, the destination creates big expectations. Nigeria always captivates, surprises the traveller… that person looking for tradition, modernity adapted to the local reality, contrasts. We like to call it Africa’s biggest secrets, and we would like to keep it this way to keep us enchanted.
Dates: 1-29 November
Duration: 29 days / 27 nights
Day 1 (Friday 1 November): EUROPE – LAGOS
Arrival in Lagos international airport. Meet the guide and transfer to the hotel. Accommodation in Ibis Hotel or similar: BB
Day 2 (Saturday 2 November): LAGOS – ABEOKUTA (2h)
Breakfast. Early departure to avoid traffic jams towards Abeokuta, ‘city under the rock’ a sacred place for Yoruba people. Explore central market and old quarter.  Accommodation in Continental Suites Hotel or similar: BB
Day 3 (Sunday 3 November): ABEOKUTA – IBADAN – IFE (3h)
Breakfast. Drive to nearby populous city of Ibadan, Nigeria’s second largest urban concentration. Visit central market, old palace and continue to Ife, spiritual capital of what was known as Yoruba Empire (S-XVI / S-XIX) until the Muslim and British colonial invasions. Ife or Ile-Ife is an ancient city in south-western Nigeria located in the present day Osun state. Ile-Ife is referred to as the home of the Yoruba race. It is fondly referred to as the place where all Yoruba’s regardless of their dialects and world view, have their roots.
According to Yoruba, a myth regarded Ile-Ife as where the founding deities of Oduduwa and Obatala began the creation of the world, as directed by the paramount and Supreme Deity, Olodumare.
Ile-Ife is widely known for its ancient and naturalistic bronze, stone and terracotta sculptures. Bronze and terracotta art created by the ancient Ife people are significant examples of naturalism in pre-colonial African art and are distinguished by their variations in regalia, facial marking patterns, and body proportions. Ancient Ife also was famous for its glass beads which have been found at sites as far away as Mali, Mauritania, and Ghana.
In remembrance of the Ooni Oranmiyan (the last son of Oduduwa, who later became king), a gigantic monument of some ten feet high (an obelisk) was built around the sword which Ife’s called Opa Oranmiyan (The Oranmiyan’s staff) at a designated area, where Oranmiyan was buried, deified and worshipped till this day. When you visit Ile-Ife, you’ll get to see this, and also experience the rich culture and history Ife has to offer.
Accommodation in Kris Court Hotel or similar: BB
Day 4 (Monday 4 November): IFE - ILESA – OSHOGBO (4h)
Breakfast and departure to Oshogbo, Yoruba-land’s major spiritual centre. On the way, stop in Ilesa Kingdom to visit (if possible the Royal Palace, an interesting example of classic Yoruba architecture). In Oshogbo we will be introduced to Yoruba religion by visiting the Sacred Forest and the Shrine of Oshun (Yoruba goddess or Orisha who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy).  Inside the forest one can appreciate the intricate artisan carvings (the lifework of Austrian artist, Suzanne Wenger). Each year the Shrine is the site of a huge festival to honour the Goddess of the Waters and Fertility. Oshogbo is also famous for its art schools and numerous galleries. To top the day visit to a contemporary Orisha temple and meet a Yoruba priest to ask for his advice and know how Yoruba religion survives in Nigeria despite the advance of Islam and Christianity. After this intense day, installation in the hotel and dinner. Drinks in a nearby terrace.  Accommodation in: Heritage Hotel. BB Accommodation in: BB
Day 5 (Tuesday 5 November): OSHOGBO – EDE – ESSIE - ILORIN (3h)
Breakfast. Morning visit to Ede Kingdom and see the old shrine with some fine examples of Yoruba art (plan based in old pictures, we are not sure these figures are still in place…). Continuation to Ilorin, via Essie where we will visit the museum and admire the rare stone figures. Continue to Ilorin, first big Muslim city that we will encounter in this trip. Arrival and installation in the hotel. The city is a confluence of cultures, populated by Yoruba, Hausa, and Fulani among others. The indigenous people's culture is predominantly Islamic. Apart from the exotic atmosphere the visitor can admire some interesting examples of Islamic architecture such as the central mosque and the Emir’s palace. Pottery is big business in Ilorin. The city boasts the biggest traditional pottery workshops in Nigeria. They are located in Dada area of Okelele, Eletu in Oju Ekun, Okekura, Oloje, Abe Emi and Ita Merin. Refreshment at a local centric bar. Dinner at the hotel. Accommodation in: Bovina Hotel or similar. BB
Day 6 (Wednesday 6 November): ILORIN – JEBBA – KONTAGORA - RIJAU (8h)
Breakfast and morning visit to Ilorin’s old quarter. Drive to Jebba where we cross the Niger River. Lunch and visit to the fishing quarter on the shores of the Niger River. This is the historic place where Scottish explorer Mungo Park was killed by the local tribes in 1806 when they confused him with an Arab slave trader (after many weeks without a decent bear shaving Mr. Park looked ‘threatening’). After the visit drive to Kontagora and from there to Rijau, our base to explore the regional tribes. Accommodation in: Emir’s palace or Guesthouse. HB (dinner)
Day 7 (Thursday 7 November): RIJAU – KAMBERI – RIJAU (2h)
Breakfast and drive to Kamberi tribal territory. Stop in the first Kamberi compounds and introduction to their culture. The Kamberi have kept till nowadays their Animistic religion, the custom of tattooing and lip piercing, and the traditional adobe architecture. Around Kamberi ‘capital’ -market day-other Kamberi clans will be visited. The local guide will explain aspects of the Kamberi culture and we will be able to ask questions and interact with them. Picnic (cooked vegetables, yams, fruits). Accommodation in: Emir’s palace or Guesthouse. FB
Day 8 (Friday 8 November): RIJAU – DUKKAWA – RIJAU (1h)
Breakfast. Market day in Rijau. Check for tattooed and scarified tribal people in the market and continue to Dukkawa tribal territory to meet the people. We will observe the differences between tattoo and scarification and customs of the different generations of this unique people. With a local guide we will be able to know about their daily lives and enjoy a culture that has survived quite untouched in modern Nigeria. The Kamberi architecture (huts and granaries) is quite special too and we will be able to appreciate the different decorative styles by walking from one hamlet to the other. Accommodation in: Emir’s palace or Guesthouse. HB (lunch)
Day 9 (Saturday 9 November): RIJAU- CICIPU – DAKAKARI - RIJAU (2h)
Breakfast. Morning excursion to Cicipu Mountains to meet this small tribe. They do not practice tattooing as Dukkawa and Kamberi but preserve a beautiful mountain village where the king lives. We will also try to organise a traditional dance to admire the local tribal attire. If we have enough time we can reach a Dakakari village and try to see some of their pottery work. Return to Rijau for the night. Accommodation in: Emir’s palace or Guesthouse. HB (lunch)
Day 10 (Sunday 10 November): RIJAU – YELWA – RIJAU (2h)
Breakfast. Drive to Yelwa Emirate on the shores of Niger River. Explore villages in the area, see architectonic differences between different tribal groups and meet Fulani semi-nomadic tribal people. Accommodation in: Emir’s palace or Guesthouse. HB (lunch)
Day 11 (Monday 11 November): RIJAU - ZARIA (6h)
Breakfast. Leave ‘tribal island’ of Rijau and drive to Hausa territory, land of Emirates. Cross Kwiambana area (historical remnants of lost kingdom). Pic nic on the way and reach Zaria in the afternoon. Transfer to hotel.  Accommodation in Fabs Hotel or similar. HB (lunch).
Day 12 (Tuesday 12 November): ZARIA (4h)
Breakfast and day to explore Zaria Emirate. Beginning of the third part of the trip, focused around Nigeria’s Hausa Emirates. There are seven Emirates, and Zaria is one of them and probably one of the most traditional ones. Being far from the main economic axis has allowed the old ways to resist well into the 20th century. Reach Zaria in the afternoon (stops on the way to see vernacular architecture and for lunch) and we will accommodate ourselves in a hotel. Full day to explore on foot old Zaria, its magnificent palace (we will try to have an audience with the Emir or with one of its representatives). After the visit to the palace, we will explore the old market and some of the oldest houses still surviving within the ancient walls.  Accommodation in Fabs Hotel or similar. BB
Day 13 (Wednesday 13 November): ZARIA – KANO (2h)
Breakfast. Drive to North’s immense capital; Kano. Founded in the 10th Century is one of the oldest cities in Africa and Nigeria’s political and business centre in the Sahel region. Installation in our hotel and visit to the city within the walls (mostly destroyed by erosion and war but still 40% of the adobe structure remaining). Explore the old quarters and feel the city… some of the few remaining Hausa style buildings are not far from the Emir’s Palace. We will visit them and learn about this unique Sahel culture. We cannot miss Gidan Dan Hausa historical building and today museum and the 500 year old dyeing factory where indigo tainted fabrics can be purchased. Accommodation in Chilla Luxury Suites Hotel or similar: BB
Day 14 (Thursday 14 November): KANO – DUTSE (1h40)
Breakfast and visit Africa’s oldest living markets; Kurmi. It has lost part of its vibrant atmosphere but it is still worth a visit. By late 18th Century Kano had become the greatest commercial power in West Africa. Its leather and cotton goods were widely transported northward by caravan across the Sahara to Tripoli, Tunis, and Fès, and hence to Europe, where its red goatskin products were known as morocco leather. In March 1903 after a scanty resistance, the Fort of Kano was captured by the British. SOME OF THE CLIENTS WILL LEAVE FOR LAGOS in a domestic flight. Farewell from Kano and drive to an unknown and quite interesting Emirate of Dutse. It is reigned by a well-travelled Emir and his young son, Prince Sanusi. With him we will discover the eroded stone walls behind the old town, up in a hill and aspects of daily life of royal families in Northern Nigeria. Accommodation in the Palace: HB (dinner)
Day 15 (Friday 15 November): DUTSE (2h)
Breakfast. Morning visit the Emirate. We will explore small villages inhabited by Hausa and local tribal people (Islamised). Plunge into vernacular architecture and local culture (pre-Islamic traditions). In Jigawa State we can find prehistoric rock paintings and sand dunes, an unexplored world that we will explore together with the Prince. Accommodation in the Palace: BB
Day 16 (Saturday 16 November): DUTSE – KAFIN MADAKI – BAUCHI (3h)
Breakfast. Before leaving Hausa country to plunge into Biafra, we will visit a couple of old palaces in the late back town of Kafin Madaki and in Bauchi, today a thriving commercial centre in North-Central Nigeria. Stop in Kafin Madaki 18th Century palace with beautiful interior decoration. Continue to Bauchi and transfer to hotel. Afternoon visit to Tafawa Balewa’s mausoleum (interesting 1970s architecture). Accommodation in Jamil Guest Palace Hotel or similar. BB
Day 17 (Sunday 17 November): BAUCHI – ZUL – TORO- JOS - LAFIA – NASSARAWA EGGON (5h)
Breakfast. Long drive towards the Benoue River. Stop in tribal villages, people that used to live in remote mountains until British colonialists forced down to the valleys (so they could be controlled and pay taxes). We will drive to Zulawa land, tribe famous for its tattooed ladies, nowadays only visible in the older generations. Discover unique small rural communities, vernacular architecture and the last tattooed women in Central Nigeria. Stop in Toro before reaching Jos to check for traditional architecture. Pick nick lunch. Continue to Nassarawa Eggon town for the night. Accommodation Prince Special Guest House or similar. HB (lunch).
Day 18 (Monday 18 November): NASSARAWA EGGON
Breakfast. Day to explore the territory inhabited by Eggon people (interesting dances) and mountain Eloyi people. Little is known about this people but that despite policy of assimilation (colonial and Islam) some have decided to remain up in the hills and worship the African gods. Meet local chief and guide and visit the villages to learn about these peoples.  Accommodation Prince Special Guest House or similar. HB (lunch).
Day 19 (Tuesday 19 November): NASSARAWA EGGON – MAKURDI -  AFIKPO (8h)
Breakfast. Cross Benoue River at Makurdi Bridge and plunge into Igbo territory. Today another chapter of this trip begins. Igbo Country is still quite forested and the culture is still strong in villages and even towns. The region, former Biafra, suffered a tough war (1967-1970) and scars are still there. Despite war, westernization and social and economic changes, Igbos are willing to keep their culture alive. Our days in Igboland will be focused in discovering the remnants of local arts, architecture, dances and unique masquerades. Reach Afikpo for the night.  Accommodation in Egesco Hotel or similar: BB
Day 20 (Wednesday 20 November): AFIKPO
Breakfast. Day to introduce ourselves into deep Igbo culture. Meet local guide and visit local shrines and villages where the culture is still thriving. This is Cross River region, with thick tropical forests. One of the objectives in this area of Igboland is to see one of the local dances with unique masks. Depending on this we will organise the visit in one order or the other.  Accommodation in Egesco Hotel or similar: BB
Day 21 (Thursday 21 November): AFIKPO – OHAFIA (1h)
Breakfast. Continue to the heart of Chinua Achebe’s world. The author of famous novel ‘Things Fall Apart’ was born in this area and the surrounding villages and forests inspired him. The old Igbo ways survive in late back Ohafia. Meet the local King and prepare the visit to sacred shrine of next day. While we wait we visit nearby villages where Igbo architecture can still be observed. Accommodation in Royal Legacy Hotel or similar: BB
Day 22 (Friday 22 November): OHAFIA
Breakfast. All day in Ohafia. Enter the sacred shrine, one of the most impressive and well preserved in Africa…a work of art with powerful ethnographic symbolism. Follow the protocol, enjoy this unique moment. After lunch, discover Igbo secrets; 100 year old totems inside older houses, meeting places for the elder and the always amazing masquerades…each one with a special meaning that we will try to understand. Return to hotel for the night. Accommodation in Royal Legacy Hotel or similar: BB
Day 23 (Saturday 23 November): OHAFIA – ONITSHA (4h)
Breakfast. Drive south to Onitsha, river city, ruled by the Obi, descendant of Benin kings. The city host’s Africa’s biggest market that we will discover with interest and patience. After ‘understanding’ how the city functions we will explore the older neighbourhoods and the areas where culture still thrives. We are in the heart of Biafra (1967-1970). The fourth part of the trip finds its way in a classic southwestern Christian city like Onitsha. We will look for shrines, the surviving ones and old constructions…we are cultural archaeologists.   Accommodation in Paradise Regained Hotel or similar. BB
Day 24 (Sunday 24 Nov.): ONITSHA
Breakfast. Morning visit to Igbo Ukwu museum in a nearby town. Introduction to Uli corporal paint, unique among Igbo people. Continue to Mungo Park’s house. Lunch in Onitsha and afternoon visit to one of the shrines near the city. Accommodation in Paradise Regained Hotel or similar. BB
Day 25 (Monday 25 November): ONITSHA– BENIN CITY (2h)
Breakfast. Farewell from Igbo Country. Drive westwards to Benin City, epicentre of one of Africa’s important coastal kingdoms, famous for its unique brass statues. Reach the city and visit the museum and the old Edo style homes and shrines (the few that have survived urban and socio-cultural changes in the last 50 years). We have news of Benin City already in the 15th century. The Portuguese visited Benin City around 1485. Benin grew rich during the 16th century due to trade within southern Nigeria, mostly in pepper and ivory. Some residents of Benin could still speak a pidgin Portuguese in the late 19th century. Many Portuguese words can still be found today in the languages of the area.

On 17 February 1897, Benin City fell to the British. In the "Punitive Expedition", accusing the Oba –king- of practicing human sacrifices. The "Benin Bronzes", portrait figures, busts and groups created in iron, carved ivory, and especially in brass (conventionally called "bronze"), were taken from the city by the British and are currently displayed in various museums around the world. Accommodation in Rlerd Hotel or similar: BB
Day 26 (Tuesday 26 November): BENIN CITY
Breakfast. Day to visit the old city of Benin. Access to the Oba’s Palace is restricted but we will try to get in… admire Edo or Bini vernacular architecture and meet the people in their homes and markets to know about this ancient people, inheritors of one of the greatest empires in the Gulf of Guinea. Accommodation in Rlerd Hotel or similar: BB
Day 27 (Wednesday 27 November): BENIN CITY – LAGOS (5h)
Breakfast. Early drive (to avoid traffic jams if possible) to Lagos city. 20 million souls live in Black Africa’s most populated urban conglomerate. From popular floating quarters such as Makoko to the elegant villas in Victoria Island, Lagos is concrete and humid monster with its charm. We will adapt to the city’s traffic jams and we will do our best to get the essence of Lagos. Accommodation in Ibis Hotel or similar: BB
Day 28 (Thursday 28 November): LAGOS – FLIGHT BACK HOME
Breakfast. Depending on departure time we will have time to visit National Museum or Fela Kuti’s (Nigeria’s most famous musician and father of afrobeat). At the appointed time, transfer to airport. Flight home. BB
Day 29 (Friday 29 November):  ARRIVAL HOME
Services included in the price:
-all transfers
-travel and photography permits
-transport (a/c minibus) + fuel.
-Anthropologist guide, specialized in tribes (all throughout the trip)
-accommodation in hotels and tents.
-food as specified in the program
-daily excursions and visits
-travel insurance and cancellation policy
Services not included in the price:
-international flight
-food not specified in the program
-tourist visa
-The order of visits and excursions can be modified according to local conditions (i.e. state of roads, market days…).
-If some visits and / or tours could not be done due to external conditions, they will be replaced when possible.
-There are long distances between cities and towns, and often roads or tracks are in bad conditions.
-Clients will bring their own sleeping bag for camping days
-Meals code: breakfast + accommodation (BB), half board (HB), full board (FB)
Anti - malaria drugs.
Anti-septic spirit.
Cotton wool
Eye drops
Glass or plastic coloured beads for body decoration + string

Nigeria Visa
A valid passport and a visa are required for travel to Nigeria. Applications for visas have to be made in advance in the travelers’ home country. Last Places assists all travelers that need any type of help applying for the visa at the embassy. We recommend that passports be valid for six months from date of arrival.

Vaccines and Travel Health
A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is essential for entry to Angola. Malaria is prevalent in the country. It is wise to take Malaria prophylaxis when travelling through Nigeria. Water supply is unsafe to drink, visitors should drink bottle water. Visitors should also avoid eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables.

Security in Nigeria
Nigeria has a population of almost 200 million souls… This means that any small incident can develop in a complicated situation. We recommend to avoid travelling during political elections because some roads get cut or curfews are sometimes applied. Some parts of Northeast Nigeria should be avoided despite that Boko Haram movement has moved to Lake Chad islands and is decreasing. The roads in that region (Borno State) are full of military controls that make the trip tiring. In big cities as it happens all around the world, one must be careful during night time and be careful with personal belongings (mainly passport, vaccination card, and money) in crowded markets where pickpocketing is always active.

When to go to Nigeria
Travelers can visit Nigeria all year around. Last Places offers trips to Nigeria all year around. Said this, dry season –from November till April- allows the traveller visit all tribal areas while whet season – from June till October- may limit the visit to certain regions.

Currency in Nigeria                                                                                       
The unit of currency is the Naira (NGN). If you bring Euros or US Dollars is better you change them in Lagos where you will get a better exchange rate than in other cities. Generally, foreign credit cards are not accepted in many of the stores or even hotels in Nigeria.

Time in Nigeria
GMT +1

Electricity in Nigeria
In Nigeria the power plugs and sockets are of type D and G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Communications in Nigeria
The international dialing code for Nigeria is +234. There are many more mobile telephones than fixed lines and the mobile coverage is much more reliable than fixed lines. Internet access is available at most major hotels.

Language in Nigeria
The official language of Nigeria is English. The lingua franca of Nigeria is Nigerian Pidgin - an English-based creole language. Pidgin is most widely spoken in the Niger Delta, where most of its population speak it as their first language. The language shares a lot of similarities with English-based creoles found in the Caribbean, particularly Jamaican Patois. In Northern Nigeria Hausa is the dominant trade language and a guide fluent in Hausa is needed to communicate with local people in markets and rural areas.

Prohibitions in Nigeria
Do not take photographs of government buildings, or use binoculars near them, as this could lead to arrest. We recommend asking permission to people before taking their picture to avoid uncomfortable situations.