There is something picturesque about road tripping through Nigeria. From the beautiful landscapes to the changes in architecture that depict different cultures as you pass through different towns, it can be magical.
Road trips are a norm here since it is the cheapest and most accessible method of travelling. Almost every traveler in the country has been on a road trip at some point.
Buying local snacks like ‘adun’ and stopping at roadside markets to fill your boot until it can take no more with ‘wara’ (goat cheese), pineapples, plantains and enough food to last you a month, are experiences every avid road traveler can relate to.
I find being on the road enjoyable whether I’m using public or private transport. On public transport you get to meet all sorts of characters. Some will amuse you, others will annoy you but when you look back it makes for fun memories.
If public transport is your preferred way, you’re likely to run into at least one of these people:
The preacher – He sees everyone as a potential convert and will stop at nothing until he has passed along his message that the kingdom of God is at hand. This usually starts with a small cough followed by “Good day, my name is Mr. Lagbaja and I am here to tell you about God.”
The local herb seller – This man has the solution to all your problems. Can’t sleep well? He has something for that. Your woman isn’t satisfied with you? He can help. Somebody from your village is chasing you? You guessed it, there’s a remedy for that, as well. If you’re adventurous, you can give him a try.
Mr. or Madam I-must-use-the-bathroom – They forget that they are on a long journey and don’t watch what they’re consuming to everyone’s detriment. This means they need nonstop bathroom breaks while your trip increases by the minute.
The talkative – This one is always on the phone talking about one container or another, one relative who is dying and someone who owes him money. By the end of the trip, you know about his family, his business and his life history.
If you’re traveling by private vehicle, you can play games, take as many breaks as you want, sleep in peace and not worry about passing your stop. One of the many joys of going in a private vehicle is being able to take pictures of anything that catches your fancy.
I remember our bus parking smack in the middle of the road as we approached Idanre town in Ondo State. We had been on the road for over five hours and were excited to get a glimpse of Idanre Hills. We all jumped down and took pictures from the middle of the road. This was also the same situation after sitting for four hours during our group trip to Erin Ijesha in Osun State.
Most group tours across the country have included road travel in one way or the other. The ‘Unravelling Nigeria Fun Bus’ has visited Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Kogi States. These trips were from two to seven hours long (starting point - Lagos).
The one thing both modes of transport will hear is “Oga, show me your particulars,” from our loving policemen. Just expect it, don’t fight it and pray to God your papers are in order.
On a recent road trip, the policeman looked at my friend and said “I like your shoe. Dash me.” I found this hilarious and embarrassing as my friend isn’t Nigerian, but alas these are the perils of travelling by road.
While road trips can be fun, ensure you’re prepared so you have a smooth ride.
I would suggest dressing comfortably, ensuring your papers are fine (or pray you enter a bus that has its paper in order), having spare cash (you never know what will happen), taking pictures and most importantly having fun.
The beauty of Nigeria is that everywhere is accessible by road. Sometimes this may require starting out very early or spending more than a day on the road but you should have tales to last a lifetime.
Fun fact: Kogi State shares a border with ten others so imagine the possibilities of all the states you can visit with Kogi as your starting point.
Founder and Chief Experience Curator
Unravelling Nigeria, @unravellingnigeria
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