Africa's most populous nation and biggest oil producer, Nigeria is a fascinating destination. With a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea and Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon as neighbours, tourists should be seeking cheap flights to Nigeria in greater numbers. Sadly, years of civil war, military dictatorships and sectarian conflict among Nigeria's 250 tribes - not to mention tensions between the Muslim population and the Christian population, who live in the oil-producing south - mean that only the hardiest tourists visit this land. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to several parts of the country so tourists must keep their wits about them after landing from Nigeria flights.
Nigeria is diverse. The Obudu Hills in the southeast give way to beaches. In the middle and southwest of Nigeria are rainforest, the Lagos estuary and savannah. The Sahel melts into the Sahara in the north.
Apart from Abuja, the capital, and former capital, Lagos, Nigeria has several national parks including Old Oyo, Yankari, and Cross River.
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Nigeria's climate is Humid sub-tropical. There are two seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs from April to October. Between November and March temperatures are high and the sun beats down.
When to fly to Nigeria
October to January is high season when most visitors arrive on flights to Nigeria. Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), Eid al-Fitr and Easter are also busy times in Nigeria.
In general, the low season is the wet season (April to October).
Getting around Nigeria
Nigeria is known as the “giant of Africa”. Given its size, the quickest way of getting around is by plane. Several airlines offer domestic Nigeria flights including Arik, which connects Abuja with Benin, Calabar, Enugu, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Air Nigeria flies from Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos to Abuja, Benin, Kano, Owerri, Sokoto and Calabar.
The rail system has been neglected greatly in the past. The Nigerian Railway Corporation runs the rails and it's an inexpensive, if unreliable, way of getting around.
Several bus companies offer services around Nigeria. ABC Transport, for example, operates services in eastern, western and northern Nigeria. There are also shared taxis (for up to six people). Hiring a car with a driver is also a good option for travellers.
Nigeria insider information
- Many travellers book flights to Nigeria for a stay on one of the country's beautiful beaches. There are several along the Gulf of Guinea including Coconut Beach, west of Lagos; Bar Beach (or Victoria Beach) is very popular with Nigerians; Tarkwa Bay, a sheltered beach accessible by boat – rent a banana boat at Tarzan Jetty on Victoria Island; and Lekki Beach on the Lekki Peninsula.
- The gateway to Abuja, the capital city, is Zuma Rock. It is 300 metres (984 feet) high and 1km (two-thirds of a mile) long.
- Yankari National Park in the north east is said to have Nigeria’s only remaining wildlife. On about 2,244sq km (870sq mi), it has more than 50 species of mammal including elephant, baboon, antelope, hartebeest, lion and buffalo and more than 350 types of bird including stork, vulture and egret. It also boasts natural warm water springs.
- The Cross River National Park is made up of two forest reserves (Bashi-Okwango and Oban Forest) and has the last remaining rain forest in Nigeria. At home in the park are forest elephants, the indigenous white-faced monkey, lowland gorillas, leopards and buffalo.
- The dye pits in Kano are said to be Africa’s oldest. They are still in use and still owned by local crafts guilds. The third-largest city in Nigeria is also the centre of Islam. The beautiful central mosque – one of Nigeria’s largest – dates from the 1950s, replacing one built in the 1400s. See also the Emir’s Palace, which was built in the 15th century.
- The Durbar is a military parade, held after Id-el Fitri (the end of Ramadan) and Ide-el Kabir (commemorates Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing a ram in place of his son). The most spectacular durbar is in Katsina. It starts with prayers, and then horsemen ride to the square in front of the Emir’s palace, where each village group, district, and noble house gather to pay homage to him.