We shouldn’t beat about the bush: Nigeria has an image problem. It dominates West Africa economically and politically, and has produced music and literature whose influence spreads far beyond the continent. But for all this clout, mention the country’s name to the person on the street and they’re more likely to come up with a litany of woe: corruption, ethnic violence and email scams. As a travel destination, Nigeria seems more a place to avoid than to book a flight to.
And yet, Nigeria is a country we’re coming to love. Getting around can sometimes be a little tough, and it’s certainly a challenging destination for first-timers to Africa, but you shouldn’t believe all the scare stories. Lagos is one of the most exuberant cities in Africa, while port city Calabar makes for an enjoyable stopover for travellers on their way to Cameroon. Across Southern Nigeria, old kingdoms carry on their customs, from creating elaborate brass sculptures to venerating the ancient gods. More modern traditions include one of the world’s pioneering primate conservation organisations. In the north, where the land dries out as it stretches towards the desert, Muslim Nigeria thrives in dusty trade cities where memories of the Saharan trade routes still linger. Don't miss West Africa's oldest city Kano, and Yankari National Park, the best in the country.
Nigeria is a country of extremes. Great wealth and great poverty sit cheek by jowl, and tensions between different communities can boil over into civil strife. While a few parts of the country remain problematic, the vast majority is as warm and welcoming to visitors as anywhere in Africa. Challenging yet exuberant, this is Africa in the raw – there’s nowhere quite like it on the continent.
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Best places to stay in Nigeria
Argungu Fishing Festival: a guide to Nigeria's fishing frenzy
This is an excerpt from Lonely Planet's A Year of Festivals. Location: Argungu, Nigeria Dates: around mid-February Level of participation: 1 – get a fish-eye view from the river banks.
Nigeria destination guides
Lapping it up around the world
Soup: a warming staple the world over – but who knew there were so many fine flavours? The ten below are our picks for the finest soups to slurp worldwide. 1. Pho, Hanoi, Vietnam Beef noodle soup for breakfast? Once youʼve tasted a good pho, youʼll crave it for lunch and dinner, too.
Travel literature review: My Nigeria
My Nigeria by Peter Cunliffe-Jones Rating: 4 out of 5 Reviewed by Cate Jaques In My Nigeria, Peter Cunliffe-Jones follows in the footsteps of his forefathers, combining family memoir and history to examine Nigeria after five decades of independence. Cunliffe-Jones is the third of his family to travel to Nigeria.