By Business Reporter
Nigeria is the cultural hub of West Africa but there are many other reasons to visit the country. The cities are chaotic but safe if you’re careful. The energy and exuberance of the people of Nigeria is contagious and their art and music festivals are inspiring. Then you have breathtakingly-beautiful wilderness areas teeming with unusual animal and bird species.
1. Art lovers
Nigeria is renowned for its vibrant art world. You’ll find a selection of fantastic art galleries and street artisans across the country that showcase and produce inspiring works of African art. Lagos is the ‘Art Capital of Nigeria’ and the cultural hotspot of the country.
Artwork by famous Nigerian artists range from traditional African motifs and religious cosmology to hyper-realistic oil paintings and intricate African-inspired sculptures.
2. Music lovers
Music is an integral to the Nigerian way of life. With 250 ethnic groups in the country, the country has a multitude of music styles, each with its own techniques and instruments. Music festivals in Nigeria are a big drawcard and the Afrocentric line-up at each major music event attracts followers from around the world.
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Music in Nigeria is used to mark traditional ceremonies, inspire labourers with work songs, celebrate their ancestors and express love and joy through inspirational gospel songs.
3. Party people
The Calabar Carnival takes place over the whole month of December every year and is dubbed “Africa’s Biggest Street Party”. Hosted in the capital city of Cross River State, the mammoth music festival showcases Nigeria’s heritage and local talent and attracts millions of people to the city.
A highlight of Calabar Carnival is the Street Parade which features the Battle of the Bands. The Calabar festivities include open-air concerts, street parties, masque events, sporting events and art shows.
4. Nature lovers
The cities may be chaotic but the countryside is serene and one of the most spectacular in West Africa. Nigeria offers nature lovers a tapestry of towering mountain ranges, powder-white sandy beaches, dense tropical forests, steamy swamps and vast savanna plains that take your breath away. Nigeria has one of the largest river systems in the world and the third-largest delta on Earth, namely the Niger Delta.
5. Wildlife lovers
Nigeria is not a typical Big 5 safari destination but the country is renowned for its outstanding biodiversity and is teeming with a collection of unusual animals and bird species. Nigeria has 8 national parks which are protected wildlife sanctuaries for many rare and endangered species that are tragically facing extinction.
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The most endangered animals in Nigeria that need to be seen in case they disappear are the West African lion, Cross River gorilla, white-throated and red-eared guenon (monkey), Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, the giant pangolin and the African golden cat.
6. Avid birders
Nigeria’s highly diverse wilderness areas are home to a total of 975 recorded bird species. Four are endemic and 31 species are globally threatened. For a sneak preview of Nigeria’s rich avifauna, you can visit Lekki Conservation Centre on the outskirts of Lagos.
Avid birders will be looking to tick off the native birds of Nigeria which includes the Ibadan malimbe, rock firefinch, anambra waxbill, jos plateau indigobird, bush petronia and Neumann’s starling.
Nigeria has one of the largest diversity of butterflies which makes it paradise for lepidopterists. A checklist by the African Butterfly Research Institute shows 1 828 butterfly species have been identified in the forested countryside. The Cross River State and the ecoregion that straddles the Cameroon-Nigeria border is especially rich in forest butterfly species due to the favourable microclimate.
Okay, you aren’t going to travel to Nigeria just for its fruit but the country is a dream holiday destination for fruitarians. Nigeria enjoys a tropical climate, has rich fertile soils and good rainfall. As a result, the country produces a bounty of delicious tropical fruit. This includes mango, African palm fruit, tiger nuts, monkey cola, paw-paw and giant strawberries.
9. Sun worshippers
Nigeria has 853 kilometres of coastline that form the coastal borders of seven states. The country’s long coastline offers visitors a choice of some of the most beautiful beaches in West Africa. From the popular Calabar Beach in Cross River State to the exotic Ikare Beach and Ibeno Beach, you’ll find a collection of gorgeous seaside resorts for the best beach holiday in Nigeria.
10. Relic hunters
Well, not the relic hunters who travel the globe to track down lost and stolen objects but those with an interest in the mysteries of ancient times. Nigeria is rich in cultural history and offers travellers with a passion for the past a bounty of sacred sites to explore.
One such place is the dense forest of Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove which holds the last remnants of the royal forest of southern Nigeria. Proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the forest sanctuary has over 40 shrines, sculptures and art works erected in honour of Osun, the goddess of fertility, and other Yoruba deities as well as remnants of two palaces, five sacred places and nine sites of worship.
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