Lagos, Nigeria. Now this was somewhere I was intrigued to visit – to explore and learn about the traditions and culture of the place. Sure, Nigeria has a reputation as an unsafe place, but what, all Nigerians are criminals? Absolutely not. And I was determined to find this out for myself and boy I’m glad I did, in my 24 hours in Lagos, Nigeria.
Lekki Conservation Centre
Head to Lekki Conservation Centre to do the Canopy walk. This is Africa’s longest canopy walkway at 401 metres long! It is pretty scary but equally, pretty awesome walking amongst the treetops and admiring the view!
A short walk from the canopy walk is a reallyyyyy high ladder leading up to a cute treehouse, which we climbed and were rewarded with an amazing view. You’ll be able to see the monkeys jumping from tree to tree from up here.
It was nice and peaceful here in the Conservation Centre: a nice way to spend a couple of hours. The entrance fee for Lekki Conservation Centre is very reasonable (1000 Naira which is just over £2). To go on the Canopy Walk costs an extra 1000 Naira.
You’ll see a couple of monkeys near the entrance, as well as some peacocks too.
Lagos Island Market
This outdoor market was huge, frantically busy, and absolutely packed with hundred of locals. Not a single foreigner in sight. But I wanted my traditional Nigerian headdress and outfit. Like you do. So we headed for the direction of the stall belonging to a friend of my friend. The stall was buried deep in the heart of the market, not a chance would I have been able to find my way alone: that place was a maze. I was fascinated by all the people carrying things on their head, as you can see in the pictures below.
Walking through the market, almost everyone was looking at me in an intrigued way, possibly wondering what on earth I was doing there! Children staring, probably having never seen someone like me before in their life with fair skin and red hair, women smiling and nudging their friends to look at me, many people taking a second look at me.
I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all, I felt a really nice positive energy from these people. My friend took me to his friend’s stall and we picked out a design, agreed on a price (remember to haggle here!) and his friend tailor made it all there as we waited. She then wrapped the gele (Yoruba headscarf) around my head, so tight to keep it in place that I could barely feel my head or hear anything.
I left the stall wearing the headdress as I loved it so much; I felt like an African princess. So many calls of “oyinbo” (meaning “white person” in the Yoruba language), and everyone was looking at me and many were smiling, saying they were happy to see a foreigner embracing their local tradition. Even some men who had seen me come in the market earlier said “ah you look much better now!” because I had on the headdress, and again young women nudged their friends so they would see. I smiled to all of them and it was really a special moment.
Traffic in Lagos
The traffic back out of town was horrendous; it took almost two hours to drive back to the airport from Lagos Island, a drive that should take half an hour. But Lagos is known for its traffic. Really I had never experienced chaos like this. I am an experienced driver, I have driven in many countries, but Nigeria is not somewhere I would want to drive. The Nigerians had somehow made 5 lanes out of 3 lanes, all of them pushing infront of each other. I thought traffic in the likes of Bangkok and Jakarta was bad, but this was really something else!
My first impressions of Lagos, Nigeria:
What my brief time in Nigeria taught me; that Nigerians are sooo friendly! Providing you are kind and polite to them, they will be twice as kind to you! They really look after you and almost bend over backwards trying to help you! By the end of my stay, almost all the staff working in reception and security knew me, even some addressing me by name, which is really touching. They even asked me the next morning where my headscarf was, when I came down not wearing it!
Alternative things to do in Lagos:
- Visit The National Museum on Lagos Island, where you can learn more about the Yoruba culture lifestyle, something that has interested me for many years.
- There is also supposedly a really nice beach; Eleko beach, 45 minutes drive from Lagos. I’m sure it would be great to visit and meet local people there!
- There are also a few orphanages in Lagos, which would be nice to visit and volunteer for the day but it needs to be organised in advance.
- Badagry is a couple of hours drive west of Lagos, to see the slave museum and the black history museum. Badagry was the main port for export of African slaves to the Americas and attracts many tourists who want to learn more about the history of the slave trade.
As you can see, there is a lot to do in and around Lagos, most of which I didn’t even get to see this time, however there is always next time!
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