Tourism in Calabar Carnival
Calabar Carnival which runs throughout the month of December is Africa’s biggest of its kind. Photo: Sterling Bank

The two UNESCO World Heritage Site in Nigeria, which doubles as the most popular tourism brands outside Nigeria, recognisable and visited by tourists worldwide are the Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa State and Osun Grove, which is the only remaining sacred site of its size and biodiversity in Nigeria’s south-west region.


Osun Grove

covers 75 hectares of ring-fenced forest alongside the Osun River on the outskirts of Osogbo town. Unlike other Yoruba towns whose sacred groves have disappeared, the Osogbo grove has survived encroachment and modernisation efforts. Some parts were cleared in the colonial period when teak plantations and agriculture were introduced, but these efforts were resisted and eventually, stopped. As the place was in 1379 when Laaroye, its first king, held its debut Osun festival, so it is today. Also, all the objects and places in the grove including that of the Osun deity and other gods tally with their present locations within the grove. Tourists find the Osun grove enchanting because it boasts of a reasonably undisturbed canopy of dense forestry of a rich and diverse flora and fauna including the endangered White-throated monkeys and huge snakes. Tourist attractions in the grove include two ancient palaces, which is part of the main Osun-Osogbo shrine where the first Osogbo, Larooye and his people originally settled. This is located within the courtyard and houses the Osun shrine said to contain the sacred stone stool, the rock of the king used some 500 years ago. Every year, thousands of people throng the Osun grove to celebrate the Osun Osogbo festival, a ritual dating back to 1379 AD.


Sukur Cultural Landscape

was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999. Surkur boasts of a palace with ritual features and villages which have survived several vicissitudes of history retaining its original form for many centuries in the northern Mandara of Adamawa State. This wasteland of early humans contain the ruins of walkways, water wells, iron smelting furnaces, traditional shrines, domesticated landscape with buildings, some for Fanning or for spiritual significance and dry-stone architecture in the villages. A splendid view awaits the tourist who climb the mountain by the northern way; the ancient plateau in various seasons as they enter the town of Sukur to meet locals going about their business or relaxing.


Lagos Lagoon

A cruise on the jetty for leisure is complemented with a sight-seeing and cocktail tour of the Lagos lagoon, where picnickers, families and groups were able to enjoy the cool evening cruise on board each of the open motorised floating barge. The cruise, which often last for three hours on the lagoon, give guests onboard the privilege not only to enjoy the Lagos lagoon at night, but also brought out the beauty and aesthetics of lighting and architecture as they mirror on the waterways[i].

Tourist experience at Five Cowries Terminal in Lagos
The historical Five Cowries Terminal in Lagos got modern facilities in 2018 to enhance transportation in Lagos waterways. This becomes a thorough delight to urban tourists especially at night. Photo: Omojola
Gashaka Gumti National Park

is the largest, most scenic and biologically diverse conservation enclave in the world. It is one of the seven national parks in the country and one of Africa’s best kept conservation secrets.

Ikogosi Springs

Ikogosi Warm Spring in Ekiti, described as a miracle of nature, unique in the world, has warm spring running on a hilly landscape and very interestingly forming a confluence with a cold spring from another hill. The two merges in a continuous stream, at marked section for tourists. Other tourist attractions in Ekiti State are Arinta Water falls, Ipole-Uoro; Olosunta Hills, Ikere-Ekiti. Natural Caves also in Ikere-Ekiti, Ero Dam in Ikun-Ekiti, and Egbe Dam in Egbe-Ekiti. There is also Esee Cave located in Iyin Ekiti which served as a hide-out during battles in those days of yore. Apart from Arinta Waterfall, about five miles away from Ikogosi, there is also the Ipole-Iloro Waterfalls which is a beauty to behold. Tourists will have more than an eyeful at the Olosunta hills in Ikere-Ekiti, the Efon Hills in Efon-Alaaye and the Fajuyi Memorial Park in the centre of Ado-Ekiti, the state capital. Closely linked to the tourism potential of the state are the festivals that are held seasonally[ii].

Yankari National Park

Yankari is another of nature’s biggest gifts to Nigeria. It is a large wildlife park located in Bauchi State, north-eastern Nigeria. It covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres and is home to several natural warm water springs, including a wide variety of flora and fauna. Its location in the heartland of the West African savannah makes it a unique place where tourists can watch wildlife in their natural habitat. The park is an important refuge for more than 50 species of mammals including African Bush Elephant, Olive Baboon, Patas Monkey, Tantalus Monkey, Roan Antelope, Western Hartebeest, Lion, African Buffalo, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, and Hippopotamus. It also has a large and diverse freshwater ecosystem around its freshwater springs and the Raji River. There are also over 350 species of birds found in the Park. Of these, 130 are resident, 50 are Palearctic migrants and the rest are intra-African migrants that move locally within; the Saddle-billed Stork, White rumped Vulture, Guinea fowl, Grey hornbill and the Cattle Egret. Yankari has one of the largest populations of elephants in West Africa, estimated at more than 300 in 2005. Yankari National Park also features four warm water springs. One of them is the Wikki Spring, the most well known of them. Wikki is, the local Duguri language “meaning “where are you?” It is the largest spring and is about 13.0 metres wide and 1.9 metres deep and has the same temperature at all times and seasons, flows 21,000,000  litres of clear, spring water into the Gaji river, open for swimming all day and night. The other warm water springs are Dimmil, Gwan, and Nawulgo springs. Tungan Naliki, the fifth spring, is the only cool spring in the park.

Tourists at Yankari National Park
Excited tourists at Yankari National Park. Photo: Africa Jungle Adventure


Olumo Rock

Olumo Rock in Abeokuta is not just one of many rocks around Nigeria but the most popular. Climbing the rocks and the complex caves that surround it is very fascinating and can be done through the stone stairway or elevator. Guided tours will reveal relics of its earliest inhabitants like the hanging and crumbling walls of makeshift private rooms; secret war cabinet rooms where battle strategies were planned; stones used by women for grinding, and tunnels through which they passed outside to fetch supplies.


Idanre hills

Idanre Hills in Ondo State’s Idanre town stands at almost 3,000 feet above sea level . Host town is divided into the new settlement lying at the foot of the hills and Oke Idanre representing the old settlement atop the hills. Located about 24 kilometres southwest of Akure, the state capital, the hills consist of about 640 steps and five resting posts along the steps to the top.  Added to its beauty which fires human curiosity is the fact that the entire people of Idanre lived on these borders for almost a millennium. flora and fauna of the hills are also unique because a special specie of tail-less animal called Hyrax live there. Monkeys are also spotted near Orosun hills. The hill also serves as home to a group of bats and the people hold a unique festival of bats every year.

Obudu Cattle Ranch

Obudu Cattle Ranch is situated on a land area of about 10,240 hectares and with a semi-temperate climate. The ranch is located in Cross River State and provides an ideal holiday resort for tourists. The best time to visit is between October and March just before the raining season to experience the ranch’s beautiful and captivating scenery of rolling grassland, deep wooded valleys and waterfalls. The site is modernised with the construction of chalets and cable cars but despite its beauty and upscale facilities, the place is largely bereft of tourists due to inadequate publicity[iii].

Kainji National Park

Kainji is one of Nigeria’s most flaunted resort centres and is one of the largest game reserves in the West Coast at 5352 kilometers. Established in 1979 and located in Kwara State, the park incorporates the Borgu Game Reserve and Zugurma Game Reserve to the southeast in Niger State. The Bourgu sector of the park alone covers an area of about of 3,929 sq. km of savanna woodland, and Zugurma covers an area of about 1,370 sq km. The park also contains the Kainji Dam, an artificial lake which covers the town of Old Bussa. The lake is 136 km long and tours of the dam are available on request from the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). Boat trips on the lake can be arranged by the Borgu Game Reserve office at Wawa. To reduce the expense, several visitors are advised to move together so as to share the cost. Fishing is allowed on the lake. Kainji park retains a robust animal population including antelope, lion, hippopotamus, buffalo, roan antelope, jackal, baboon, monkey and crocodile. Kainji National Park is usually open from December to June, with the best time to visit towards the end of the dry season, when the grass has dried out and the animals move closer to the water[iv].


Tourism in Taraba State Gashaka Gumti Park
Gashaka Gumti National Park in Taraba State. Photo: hglafricatours



Nigeria’s much smaller version of the world famous Rio De Jainero festival, the annual Calabar Carnival is the region’s most popular street cultural festival. It takes place every December for one whole month in the city of Calabar[v]. Arochukwu cultural carnival likened, in impact, to the famous end-of-year Calabar fiesta have also had Aro natives congregating to recover the glory of a city, which, among others things, once stood out as a formidable slave depot[vi].

International fishing festival is celebrated by the people of Argungu, in Sokoto State annually. A lake is stocked with fish which are nurtured until the festival day and individuals go into the lake without the aid of boats and the prize goes to the one with the largest catch. This festival attracts visitors from all over the world. As part of the fishing festival, car manufacturers and marketers have organised the annual Argungu motor rally in which cars go through an endurance race over country roads. Notable names like Toyota, Mercedes and Peugeot feature in the rally[vii]. Argungu was carved out of old Sokoto State when Kebbi State was created in August 1991 with its capital at Bimin Kebbi, a town dating back to the 14th century. History of Argungu Festival has been traced back to 1934 as a goodwill gesture and celebration of peace between the people of Sokoto and Argungu. it is the largest festival of its type in Nigeria[viii].


[i] Tribune March 6, 2013

[ii] TELL April 17, 2000

[iii] Newswatch 5, 2011

[iv] Nigerian Compass June 13, 2009

[v] Guardian Novermber 16, 2013

[vi] NATION December 4, 2014

[vii] Newswatch September 5, 2011

[viii] Guardian June 7, 2013

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer