Nigeria is a fascinating country and will probably be the most memorable country you visit. If you know these things, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time!
Nigeria is the only country of its kind on planet Earth. Most people who have visited this West African nation have described it as an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can explore this country alone but you can also reach out to a tour operator or travel experience manager like TVP Adventures to get the most up-to-date and authentic experience. Nigeria is also often misunderstood or misrepresented so here are answers to some of the most burning questions about visiting Nigeria.
- The energy and positivism is contagious:
The people of Nigeria will leave you inspired and energized. There’s a spirit of hopefulness that shows in the market hustle, the skyscrapers blossoming from land-filled areas and the way the people dance to any and everything, any and everywhere! Nigerians live as if tomorrow will be better and never truly give up. It is a coping mechanism in a country that has so much potential but has not yet harnessed enough of it.
- Nigeria is hot: Hot and humid!
You’re going to the right place if you’re looking for sunshine because all through the year, Nigeria is generally warm. The weather varies from place to place for instance, Jos is typically cool and Borno is typically hot. But it never snows and it is often warm enough for kids to play in the rain. The high humidity also makes it feel much hotter than it actually is and many people have air-conditioners in their cars, houses and offices to avoid the sticky sweatiness that comes with the weather. In Harmattan (the cooler, drier season that runs from late November till February or early March), the temperature drops slightly (especially in the evenings) and the trade winds bring along dryness and dust with them. Always have a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself as much as possible.
Well, many people speak fluent English but everyone speaks Pidgin English. Pidgin is a local variant — I would say it is a unique language on its own — that combines local dialects, slang and some English words. No surprise, since English is the official language and most people speak it alongside one or two of 350+ local languages.
- Nigerians are warm, friendly and loud:
If you are lighter skinned or Caucasian, you might hear people call out ‘oyinbo’ as you walk through the market or down more bustling areas. The term is often used in an endearing manner and should not be taken as an insult or rude reference to skin color. Nigerians are vocal and in areas where people rarely see white people, they may wave or say hello! In the same markets and more bustling areas, personal space is a null concept. Most people get right up to the next person when standing in line or tap shoulders / hands of strangers to draw their attention. With loud words and very dramatic gesticulations, Nigerians may also seem like they are arguing when describing an event to one another or passionately telling a story.
But relax, there’s order in the chaos. If Nigeria, you might recognize aspects of the country that remind you of the roughness of Delhi, New York, London or Rio. In other areas, the roads are untarred, the buildings are simple and the people lead quiet, agricultural lives. At first glance, there’s no order; for instance, many people have their own generators to provide their own electricity as well as their own water supply. So, it looks like chaos when you see arbitrary police stops on roads, unclear instructions in government offices, loose security at Seme border, and unstable electricity. However, there’s a formula to the chaos and with a local to explain a few things, you’ll adapt to the system in no time.
- Get ready for a meaty, spicy time:
In major cities like Lagos and Abuja, you’ll find every kind of food you are looking for in Nigeria — Indian, Japanese, American, French, Chinese — especially Chinese, and even Ethiopian. But what’s the fun in coming to Nigerian without enjoying Nigerian food? Prepare for lots of meats, starches and spicy food. Pretty much everything in Nigeria is flavorful and often, spicy (hot).
However, many places will gladly tame the pepper level of your meal if you give them a heads up. Nigerian food is a true representation of its people with an unlimited variety of options and a rich medley of flavors. Only a small number of Nigerians are vegetarian but there are many meals on most menus that do not contain meat.
Remember to tell your host or server ahead of time if you have specific food requirements.
- Give a nod to a Nigerian legend:
You are sure to completely win over the hearts of Nigerians if you say a word or sentence in a local language or Pidgin English. Nigerians appreciate it when others make an effort to learn their ways. You’ll get even more points if you acknowledge a Nigerian legend: Fela, Agbani Darego, Jollof Rice. Want to take it further, sing ‘African Queen’ by TuFace or dance ‘Shoki’ and watch people light up in glee. It is all about the effort.
- Public transportation might be a struggle:
There is an availability of public transport but they do not work with strict schedules and may be cramped. If you’re not in a hurry and want a full experience, jump into a ‘danfo’ or hail a shared cab a few times. For more comfortable options, Uber and Taxify work seamlessly in Nigeria and so do local taxis. If you book a tour or custom experience, your transportation will be taken care of.
Some cities encourage cashless transactions and so will accept cards payments in most places. These can be unreliable in smaller cities and smaller establishments. To be safe, always carry enough cash for the day (not too little to get stranded and not too much).
ATMs are available throughout the country and if you have a local guide, they can handle most of the transactions for you.
- Brace for the Traffic (Lagos):
If you are visiting Lagos, you’ll need to brace for the traffic. Veteran Lagosians may know the short windows during which road traffic is light but most likely, you’ll meet some sort of traffic during your visit. This is especially true if your accommodation is located in a separate area from your meetings, events or tours.
While you crawl through, take note of the hawkers who sell everything from CDs to cold bottled drinks to air mattresses and standing fans in traffic. Lagos traffic doubles as a mobile department store. True story!