So you finally decided to come to Nigeria. You have pondered about this for so long. You are probably excited about your impending trip. You watch the news daily, you hear and see all sorts of things that occur in Nigeria, both good and bad, you are intrigued. You decide to travel down to Nigeria to get a first-hand experience of how Nigeria is like to see if it is as wild as your friends and the media say it is.
You have never been to Nigeria before. But just before you close that your luggage bag containing well-packed clothes and necessities, you might want to run through a quick checklist of things to do to ensure you have a memorable trip to Nigeria.
1. Know the places to visit
If you are visiting Nigeria on tour, you are to make the necessary arrangements.This question is critical because you cannot just get up and travel. There must be a reason for your visit to Nigeria. There are many reasons to visit Nigeria. It could be for tourism/vacation, to visit a friend, for work, or to kick back and enjoy yourself.
No matter the basis of your visit, there are a few must-see sights across the country. These include but are not limited to Bar Beach in Lagos State, Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls in Osun State, Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State, National Arts Theatre in Lagos State, and the Yankari National Park in Bauchi State.
I cannot list every tourist attraction found in Nigeria; the list is inexhaustible. Unlike what the mainstream media may say, Nigeria has numerous tourist attractions.
2. The length of your stay
Now that you know why you want to visit Nigeria so severely, the next question you need to ask yourself is how long you intend to stay. A week? A month? A year? Multiple years?The answer is up to you. Most times, the length of time you’ll spend will depend on your reason for traveling. The more time you spend, the more time you would have to properly experience, enjoy, and immerse yourself in the environment and the Nigerian culture. A very short stay will mean that most of your activities would be mushed together to fit into the minimal time you have. Quite frankly, it’s most enjoyable if you have enough time to space out your activities so you can thoroughly enjoy them. But I’ll advise you on not staying too long not to become bored and to have a reason to look forward to coming back tovisiting again. As we Nigerians say, “make you avoid see-finish.”
3. Know where to stay
Okay, now you have a reason for visiting Nigeria, and you finally figured out how long you plan to stay. What about where you intend to stay?
Suppose you are lucky enough to have already a friend, relation, or acquaintance in Nigeria who is willing to host you throughout your stay in Nigeria, then good for you. You would be saving a considerable sum of money on rent or hotel booking/lodging.
But if you have no such person available, you’d want to think about would be where you would stay. And it’s best to figure that part out BEFORE you travel to Nigeria to avoid being stranded (or, as we say, to avoid stories that touch).
If you are staying for a short while and have no-one to stay with, your best option would be to make plans to book a hotel. The earlier, the better, you wouldn’t want to leave thoseplans till the last minute, trust me, you will regret it.
So why don’t you begin booking that reservation at a good hotel or suite to avoid “had I known!”. There are numerous hotels and suites in Nigeria that would be available to accommodate you for the duration of your stay in Nigeria. If you are still unsure, a quick Google search will go a long way in helping you make the best decision.
4. Ensure you have the proper documents
It is a well-known fact that there are some necessary documents needed for valid identification before you travel to almost anywhere globally. Different countries might require various documents, so it is in your best interest to check and double-check to avoid embarrassment. The most essential and document would be your valid international passport. Without it, you are going nowhere. And in this time of the pandemic, you would also need some additional documents: A negative COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, which is to be taken four days (96 hours) before departure.
Upload the test results to the Nigerian International Travel Portal (nitp.ncdc.gov.ng), and present the physical before boarding the plane to Nigeria. If you do not possess this negative test, the chances are that you would most likely not be allowed to travel, or you may be placed in a government isolation center for weeks (which eats into your time left to enjoy Nigeria).
Additionally, some airlines might also have other travel requirements, so it’s best to check with your airline to be sure of what is expected.
5. Know your weather
There are numerous weather conditions in most parts of the world, but there are two primary weather conditions in Nigeria. It is either dry or rainy. So, depending on when you plan to travel, you need some information about the weather conditions to expect.
The best time to travel to Nigeria would be during the dry season. If you plan to travel within the ember month’ (September, October, November, December), it would be good to pack a lot of warm clothes, as the weather is usually cold during this time.
Depending on where you plan to stay, some colds are more extreme than others.
If you intend to stay in states like Plateau State (Jos precisely) during the cold weather, be prepared to experience colder temperatures. Plateau State is one of the coldest places in Nigeria during the harmattan period. So it may be a good idea to include a lot of moisturizing creams and lip balms in your travel pack.
Other states which can be extremely cold during this period include Kano State, Sokoto State, Taraba State, and Kaduna State (most places in the Northern part of Nigeria). On the flip side, if you decide to travel during the year’s hot and humid time, it’s a good idea to note that
places like Lagos state, Kano state, and Sokoto state can get hot that time of the year, so pack accordingly. Shorts, sleeveless tops, or very light clothing are advisable. You can also bring along a pair of your favorite sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself from the intense heat.
6. Ensure You Carry Light Cash
The world today is all about going digital. People now carry little to no cash because almost anything can be paid for with a credit card. BUT, when you travel down to Nigeria,it is best to have a decent amount of physical cash with you (you can call that walking-around money). This to pay for stuff like food, cab-fare, or even clothes, because not every person you meet will readily accept a transfer or payment with a credit or debit card. Even if they do, sometimes in Nigeria, network issues are a famous show spoiler. You wouldn’t want that to spoil your day. If you are worried about how and where to exchange your currency to Naira, there are Bureau De Changes located within and around the airport’s premises, or better still, walk into the nearest bank.
7. Know the foods to eat
Nigeria is blessed with many tribes, which means an abundance of food to choose from. And no, it is not possible to taste every single food in Nigeria, but of course, you can try.Whether it’s Amala from IyaBasira, or it’s pounded yam, and Oha soup from Mama Nkechi, or maybe you fancy Tuwoshinkafa from Aminat, whichever you pick, you are sure to give your taste buds something to enjoy. It also best for you to know that most Nigerian meals, especially soups,are very spicy, so if you have a low spice tolerance, you might want to take precautions. Nigeria also has a vast number of restaurants and fast-food franchises like KFC, Dominoes, Cold Stone, and the likes in case you decide to go that route. Alot of hotels also have in-house restaurants that serve continental and intercontinental dishes. So really, the choice is yours.
8. Learn Pidgin Basics
Nigeria has many languages (over 200), but English is recognized as its official language. That is not to say that we neglect their local languages. On the contrary, whenever you see two or more people of the same tribe gathered together, they are most likely interacting in their local language. The languages are too numerous to list, but the most popular and widely spoken local languages are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa.
Nigerians also generally communicate amongst themselves in a special kind of vernacular known as Pidgin. Pidgin English is pretty easy to learn, and you can learn a few basics online.
So, there you have it, if you ask and can find suitable answers to these questions, I think you are ready to travel to Nigeria.
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