The highlight of travelling in Nigeria is meeting these culturally rich people; practically any person in any corner of Nigeria will offer a moment of their time to say ‘Welcome’.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is often dominated by impressions of Lagos, a chaotic and traffic-heavy city. Yet look deeper within and beyond this metropolis and you’ll discover a vibrant country of generous people, ancient cultures and an impressive natural heritage. From roadblocks where policemen wear bandanas and mirrored sunglasses, to ladies going to church in the most beautiful dresses you’ve ever seen; from plane-loads of wealthy Nigerians going to Dubai on shopping trips, to people so poor they resort to eating rats and maggots; from black-magic markets full of weird charms, to more cell phones than perhaps anywhere else in the world.

In the waterlogged south of the country are deltas and lagoons where people’s lives haven’t changed for hundreds of years, and in the north are ancient kingdoms and walled cities, even today ruled by sultans and emirs. Love it or hate it, Lagos does have to be seen to be believed and nowhere on earth will you experience such mind-boggling, vibrant chaos as in this mass of humanity; explore the colonial town of Calabar and the primate sanctuaries of the Cross River forests; walk through the mysterious Oshogbo Sacred Forest of Yorubaland, a World Heritage Site; relax in Yankari National Park’s startlingly beautiful Wiki Warm Spring;  journey to ancient Islamic cities such as Kano to experience the centuries-old Kurmi Market – and you’ll see there’s much more to Nigeria than its headline notoriety.

Lizzie Williams

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