Nigeria, what you need to know

A quiet street in Lagos

In November I had the amazing privilege of traveling to Nigeria for work. And wow. What an experience it was.

From the second I set foot off the plane to the second I got back on it was a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences. If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Nigeria, please do take it.

Here are some easy to follow tips for your trip, note that these tips are based for travellers traveling from South Africa to Nigeria.

You need to be prepared for the trip in a couple of ways. Mentally, physically and just plain old good planning.

Packing:

  • It’s hot in Nigeria. All the time. You will not need a jacket or any form of winter clothing when you are there. I packed shorts, t-shirts, one jean for work and a light jersey for on the plane along with a few summers dresses. I never needed the jersey.
  • Pack a few snacks, they have funky food and their water is questionable. So I packed seed bars from Woolworths, along with instant oats and crackers. Lived off of it for the week.
  • Pack comfortable shoes, I packed a pair of sandals, flip-flops and ‘vellies’. You won’t always be walking in environments where open shoes will work.
  • Have your suitcase wrapped in SA because they do not handle your luggage with care in Nigeria.

Arrival

  • The airport is the worst part, which means the second you get there it will be crazy and really scary, especially if you arrive at 22:00 in the evening like I did.
  • Prepare for very humid, very hot air, no air-cons and thousands of people. When they open the airplane doors you can literally feel you are in Nigeria.
  • Be prepared that they have power outages constantly, so it will go pitch black for minutes at a time, and no one will pause when it happens, everything just keeps going. So keep up!
  • Nigeria is known for bribery, so make sure your paperwork is 100% in order. You will need a yellow booklet that shows that you got all your necessary injections AT LEAST 10 days prior to your trip. Do not forget to do this, or they will send you right back where you came from (after locking you in a cell for way too long!) OR asking for money to let you through.
  • The queues will be long, and there will be a lot of people, be patient. Note that you have to pay for a trolley, and they only accept American dollars or Naira.
  • Make sure you have organised for a driver to pick you up before hand, or, if you’re brave enough to take a taxi, make sure you know exactly where you need to go and that someone you knows are aware that you are taking a taxi.
  • They do not allow drivers and taxi drivers to come into the airport, so you need to get in touch with your driver to make sure he is there before you leave the airport, or they won’t let you back in without proper checks either.
  • There will be people that seems like they want to assist you, they will charge you for their service, no one at the airport is just being polite or doing you a favour. They offering a service. They can see you are not from their country so they will charge a premium fee for services offered. Like 20 USD to look for you driver (yip!).
  • On your way back to SA, make sure you are at the airport at least 4 hours before your flight.

Lagos

Traffic in front of the hotel
  • Be prepared for the traffic. Their peak times are 4:00 AM to 23:00 PM – a.k.a all day everyday. Average time spent in traffic: 4 hours. The one day we traveled from a venue to the hotel which was about 5-6 kilometers away, it took about 2 hours.
  • The people are really friendly and sincere. It was the best part of my trip. They love talking to you, asking questions and they honestly show an interest in your life. They are amazing.

Food

The only meal where I had ‘meat’
  • Where to begin? They have 3 kinds of meats: red, chicken, fish. If you ask what it is, it is meat. Most likely it will be goat.
  • Their food is really, really spicy. Like really spicy. So if you’re not keen on hot food, careful what you eat.
  • Their signature meals include jollof rice (the only thing I was able to eat and enjoy), goat soup (that burns the shit out of you), pluntane (it’s like a really big banana that they use similar to what we use potatoes for – like mash, wedges etc) and a couple other things.
  • If you have to eat with them, opt for pluntane and jollof rice. I stayed away from the meat apart from a couple situations where I had no choice.
  • Careful of fruit and veg as their water is often contaminated and effects the food as well.
  • ONLY DRINK BOTTLED WATER

Travel in Lagos

  • I can’t really give a lot of insight here as I had a driver for the entire trip. If you can organise a personal driver, please do. Under no circumstances do you want to drive in Lagos on your own. They drive on the right hand side of the road, and they disregard lanes. Where they have space they drive – so what we would consider 2 lanes, they consider 5. It’s a great experience to have, as long as you aren’t driving!
  • If you get the chance, drive in an iKeke, they are everywhere, and super cheap. Only use them for short distances, as they aren’t very safe.
  • They have Uber in Nigeria

Accomodation

  • You want to make sure you stay in a good hotel, preferred is something like the Raddison Blu in Ikeja or Protea Hotel. Stick to what you know. Rather spend more on good accommodation.
The amazing people of Nigeria

Site Seeing

We didn’t have a lot of time for sight seeing so I can’t give a lot of insight here.

But a few great things you have to see and experience:

  • The Victoria Island Bridge
  • Ikeja Streets
  • Street Markets (they are everywhere – but don’t go alone, and wear comfortable shoes)
  • Victoria Island
  • Ride in an iKeke
  • And visit one of our PEP stores! We have different clothing from here in South Africa. You won’t regret it, we have stylish clothing at amazing prices.

Some of the things I saw & experienced:

And that’s it! You’re set for an amazing experience with amazing people. If you can meet up with someone in Nigeria that knows local areas and cultures, even better. They can then take you to the best spots and show you where to go and where not to go. The country isn’t the safest out there, so be careful to get into vehicles, hold onto your belongings and don’t travel alone.

But most of all, have fun!

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