Getting there & away
A ferry sails from Calabar to Limbe every Tuesday and Friday evening (N5000, 10 hours), returning on Monday and Thursday. It’s an overnight trip in each direction. Your passport is collected on boarding and returned at immigration. Try to keep hold of your luggage – if it gets stowed in the hold you’ll be waiting hours to get it back.
The main border crossing is on the Lagos (Nigeria) to Cotonou (Benin) highway. Expect requests for bribes. An alternative border crossing is further north at Kétou, but there’s not so much public transport that way.
There are two main border crossings. The northern border post is at Bama, 2½ hours from Maiduguri, across to Banki in Cameroon. A remote alternative crossing is at Ngala (Nigeria), which is used mainly for transiting to Chad.
The southern border crossing is at Mfum (Nigeria), near Ikom. The road infrastructure collapses pretty much as soon as you cross to Ekok (Cameroon), making this border problematic during the rainy season, so consider taking the Calabar–Limbe ferry instead during the wettest months.
Although there are no official border crossings between the two countries, it’s possible to make a quick transit across Cameroon. In Nigeria, the border crossing into Cameroon is at Ngala. On the Cameroon side ask for a laissez-passer to allow you to make the two-hour traverse to the Chad border point at Kousseri.
There are four main entry points into Niger. The busiest is the Sokoto route, which crosses at Ilela (Nigeria). Minibuses and bush taxis run daily to the border, just past Ilela. Crossing to Birni N’Konni you can get on a bus straight for Niamey. Travelling between Kano (Nigeria) and Zinder (Niger) is equally straightforward. The final option is between Katsina and Maradi.
Lagos is Nigeria’s air hub, and is served by all the major African airways and international carriers (although the are no direct flights to the USA). Virgin Nigeria is the closest thing to a national carrier, with good regional connections and flights to the UK.
Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos has traditionally been the nightmarish entry point into the country, but has raised its game in recent years and shouldn’t present travellers with any undue horror (although there is no currency exchange at the airport – only black-market touts). Abuja and Port Harcourt are alternative entry points with connections to Europe.