Nigeria's made-to-measure capital, Abuja was founded during the boom years of the 1970s. After the divisive Biafran War, the decision was made to move the capital from Lagos to the ethnically neutral centre of the country. Clean, quiet and with a good electricity supply, sometimes Abuja hardly feels like Nigeria at all.
The temperate climes of the Jos plateau are perhaps the oldest inhabited parts of Nigeria. The earliest known Nigerians, the Nok people, originated in the area, witnessed by the famed Nok terracottas. At 1200m above sea level, it's noticeably cooler than most other parts of the country – in colonial times it was a recommended holiday destination for British officers.
Benin City, which served as the capital of the Benin kingdom, starting in the 15th century, gave rise to one of the first African art forms to be accepted internationally – the Benin brasses (often given the misnomer bronzes). Today the city is the centre of Nigeria's rubber trade, and a sprawling metropolis.
Abeokuta is a remarkable place, backed by the huge Olumo Rock. Grand but dishevelled Brazilian and Cuban mansions built by returned slaves sit alongside basic shacks with hand-painted signs, historic mosques and churches and the rounded mass of the rocks, creating an unforgettable streetscape.
The word sprawling could have been invented to describe Ibadan, now the biggest city in West Africa. You're likely to pass through this major transport junction, but you'll find few formal sites. There's an acclaimed university, and the Gbagi market has an enormous selection of fabric, but otherwise just keep on driving.
Yankari National Park
Yankari, 225km east of Jos, is Nigeria's best-known national park for observing wildlife. The park still holds reasonable numbers of buffaloes, waterbucks, bushbucks, hippos and plenty of baboons. The biggest draw is the 300-strong population of elephants – a few lions also survive there. The birdwatching is excellent.