We put it out in the universe, so the universe made sure we got an adventure.
Like every other adventure, there is a beginning. We began in Lagos.
LAGOS – Overcrowded Overbooked.
Day 1 – Lagos Airport, Enugu Airport, Abakaliki town, Ikom town
Lagos is an overcrowded city and can be stifling with the non-stop traffic and trying to keep up with the fast paced nature of its inhabitants, which is why an escape to refresh yourself is crucial every now and then.
Our reward for good behavior was a missed flight – ‘counter is closed’
We were scheduled to leave Lagos with Air Peace by 7:30 am on Friday the 1st of September 2017; only V had checked in beforehand, so the rest of the group had to wait a while. Hounded for bribes to cut the line which lots of people fell for – not us, and our reward for good behavior was a missed flight – ‘counter is closed’.
We got lucky, Arik Air flying at 10:30 am wasn’t fully booked so we met up with V at noon.
The original plan was to get a ride from Enugu Airport to Ikom but we met even more hiccups and had to make one stop in Abakaliki (Ebonyi State) because no vehicle would go straight to Ikom (Cross River State).
We saw a bit of the town as we journeyed to Abakaliki (as much as one can see by driving from the airport to the park – lol), got tired counting the stops by officials on the way and we assumed we had seen the worst of the journey.
At Abakaliki, boarding the vehicle to Ikom, we were still on schedule and hoped to make it to the Drill Ranch but the journey to Ikom was such a downer with over 25 road stops – it’s a border road which links Nigeria and Cameroon so everyone is trying to ‘work’. The journey was so long because of the stops, and our irritation didn’t let us enjoy the nice views but we still tried to see the positives – at least we were almost at the destination.
We arrived Ikom around 8 pm, met up with our contact (MD of the Cross River State Tourism Bureau) and made a stop to pick up supplies for the Drill Ranch (since it is a self-service ranch). He advised us to stay one night in Ikom, because it was too late to make the 2 hour trip to the Afi (Drill Ranch) and we would miss the picturesque views, plus the roads were not trusted – trees tend to fall if a storm or rain visits.
The New Yam Festival in Obudu was on the 2nd of September (the following day) so the hunt for a hotel was another adventure, making calls and visiting 5 fully booked hotels added to our already long day.
Finally, we found a cozy hotel and had our first taste of Cross River cuisine. This break/hotel stop was the best decision ever, waking up refreshed and re-energized was a perfect way to continue this adventure.
Day 2 – Agbokim Waterfalls, Buanchor Village, Afi Mountain, Drill Rehabilitation & Breeding Center
Agbokim Waterfalls felt like a renewal of energy, with intense feelings of happiness and gratefulness for getting to the thrilling points of the adventure – finally!
We were up and ready by 7:30 am because we had decided the previous night to make a detour and visit Agbokim Waterfalls. This was not part of our itinerary, we needed respite to make up for the unexpected turns in our journey yesterday – this visit to Agbokim Waterfalls would have never happened if we made it to Afi yesterday.
The long detour and ride through dirt road was worth it at the end, as we gazed upon the 7 rivulets of water, Agbokim Waterfalls felt like a renewal of energy, with intense feelings of happiness and gratefulness for getting to the thrilling points of the adventure – finally!
We had a guide take us around and got a brief history of the fall and caves leading to it, the walk to the second view of the waterfall was absolutely beautiful – you could feel the moisture in the air and see water droplets around you, it smelled of adventure too (lol). Some rivulets come down mixed with soils and others are free of dirt, and there’s usually a rainbow around 2pm when the sun is at its peak. We couldn’t spend more time in the water as the rainy season means the force will be too strong so we decided to continue our trip missing the rainbow too – maybe next time we’ll go during the dry season and stay longer.
We drove back to Ikom, loaded our things and headed out to Afi. Our very pleasant driver (James) drove to Afi and we then understood why we needed to do the trip during the day, we were shown breathtaking views as we drove past the villages and we also sighted the Mbe Mountain (the mountain before Afi) – standing impressively and waiting to be explored.
After our arrival at Buanchor village we needed to continue the journey into the ranch with motor bikes, since our small car couldn’t go through the shallow rivers caused by the landslide in 2012. Said our farewells to James and mounted the bikes with all our bags, I kept thinking – maybe we should walk.
We saw the shallow rivers and still had to cross on foot to avoid falling, and it was nice to walk through the water – more time with nature (yay!), the ride to the ranch was about 15 minutes of hilly and sloppy dirt road divided by thick forest so we would have missed this experience too if we came at night, it would have been more dangerous too.
The cabins are amazing, very minimalist – with a mirror, bed, stool, a line for clothes, and one camping/military tin box to store your personal items
We finally arrived at the Drill Rehabilitation & Breeding Center with smiles on our faces and were welcomed by C.J our host, who gave us a brief introduction to the ranch and showed us our individual cabins. The cabins are amazing, very minimalist – with a mirror, bed, stool, a line for clothes, and one camping/military tin box to store your personal items.
After he read us the rules – don’t bring food in here else you will welcome rodents, don’t leave the door open else bugs will attack your life, master the path to your cabin and if you get lost head back to your cabin and don’t stray into the jungle; we spent the next 40 minutes hiking around the enclosure/forest to see the drill monkeys, the chimps and get a sense of our new environment.
We took some time to practice yoga, and stayed back in the common area to relax, spending the rest of the day with great conversations and heart-full laughter with our friends at the ranch, while listening to nature communicate.
The walk back to the cabin after dinner felt longer but reflecting on the past two days gave a feeling of gratitude for the trip so far and anticipation for tomorrow..
Before we post the second part of our trip, we’d love your comments about the journey so far.
Will you keep exploring Nigeria despite all the difficulties we are faced with? What’s your most vivid experience with travelling inside Nigeria?