Nigeria .. land of lost kingdoms and tribes
January 13 to 25, 2021
JJoin us to discover one of Africa’s most vibrant kingdoms on a trip that will challenge your pre-conceptions about Nigeria. A much maligned nation, Nigeria suffers from a bad reputation that discourages most travelers, but this trip shows you that there’s a, much more appealing, side to the country. The Oduduwa Kingdom spans from Lagos up to the Central town of Ilorin and we will start the tour in the city of Lagos – surely one of the liveliest on earth and we head to the coastal town of Badagry, linked to the slave trade and with dark secrets to uncover. From here we travel to the old Yoruba city of Abeokuta with its grand Afro-Brazilian buildings, and climb the sacred Olumo Rock, a holy site for local people. Moving further we head to the virtually unknown Idanre Hillls for an opportunity to discover a lost world of sacred sites and hidden civilization, before heading on to the town of Osogbo where we explore a sacred grove and learn about the intricacies of Yoruba religion in the company of revered Ifa priestesses. We round off the trip at Ilorin, the last town of the exploits of the Oduduwa dynasty conquered by Fulani Jihadists in early 18th Century which explains its fusion of Islamic civilization with the Yoruba culture as will be witnessed on this trip.
Nigeria & São Tomé Tour cost (land ONLY): $5,995.00 per person sharing in double occupancy
Single Supplement: $750.00
Price based on a group size minimum of 6 and maximum of 14 participants
Led by professional tour manager David William
Your tour does not include
International air USA to Nigeria & back (approx. fare from NYC $1,100.00)-Into Abuja and out of Lagos.
Air from Lagos to Libreville (if combining Gabon with this tour)
Nigerian Visa fee.
Vaccinations - yellow fever immunization is required.
Trip surcharge to operate below required minimum participants.
Items of a personal nature: beverages, laundry, phone calls, email, souvenirs, etc.
Hotel accommodations necessitated by changes in air schedules or misconnections.
Travel protection insurance (highly recommended).
Your tour includes
Accommodation at hotels mentioned or similar (mixture of 3 and 4 star properties).
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B: breakfast, L: lunch and D: dinner).
Transportation in a minibus with A/C in Nigeria
All visits to sites, villages, monuments and museums.
English-speaking guide and local guides at various villages.
Tips to guides, drivers, hotel staff and porters.
Mineral bottled water on vehicles.
II Active – Some hikes, slightly more demanding walks at or to sites, few elevations, comfortable but busy schedule and some long rides.
*** Superior: Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined service and comfort level acceptable to western standards. (3 or 4 stars)
About your expert guide...David William: For as long as I can remember, I always had a deep rooted need to travel. After graduating from university with a degree in hospitality & tourism management that included two years abroad, one in Oxford, England and the other at École Hôtelière in Lausanne, Switzerland my career as a hôtelier was on a successful track, but I longed to get away. Twenty years ago, I finally found my niche as a travel consultant and tour leader. During the last two decades, I have had the opportunity to organize and lead groups worldwide. I have organized every imaginable tour from remote, rugged expeditions to overland African journeys to luxury yachts in the Mediterranean. Leading groups and experiencing their excitement as we travel together is the best part of my job. This path has given me the opportunity to visit 50 States and over 160 countries on all seven continents. My passion for travel and my tour leading skills and my love for Africa are the perfect mix that equip me to share this special tour with you. It’s Spiekermann’s first/exploratory tour of Nigeria and I am honored that they have asked me to lead it for them so they can ensure smooth sailing along the way and careful supervision of all the trip details. I look forward to meeting you.
Important special trip notes:
Participants must understand and agree that by joining this trip, they are committing to being very flexible and will accept any sudden changes that may be imposed on us to alter or change the tour sequence, itinerary, accommodations, or facilities depending on many factors such as political conditions, security concerns, sudden availability shortages, or changes to hotels due to unexpected events.
When traveling, you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work the same as we’re used to them working at home. The food is rather bland and they have limited options. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much parts of traveling in such places like these.
The cuisine won’t be a highlight of your trip, but it is filling and relatively nutritious. Typical Nigerian food usually consists of something starchy such as pounded yam, accompanied by spicy sauce and vegetables, and meat is usually beef or goat. You should advise us when you book if you have any special dietary requirements. We will try to accommodate you as much as possible, but we cannot always guarantee this.
You don’t need to be especially fit to join our trip in Nigeria, but there will be stairs to climb, hills to walk and sites to explore, so you’ll enjoy it more if you have a reasonable level of fitness and can handle walks of about 2-hours a day with breaks and rests in between..
Roads throughout the part of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Nigeria can be tiring, involving some days hot and dusty climate, and traffic sometimes can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure– for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa. Although travelling in these countries can at times be an unpolished experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.
Nigeria is one of the more challenging destinations that we offer, and we do not recommend this trip unless you are accustomed to travel in Africa. You can expect to encounter roadblocks, and at some of these the personnel manning them will be looking for some sort of problem, real or imaginary, which they can use to extract a bribe. Your guide will handle this and we ask that you do not get involved.
Hotels in Nigeria range from the acceptable to the very good, and in some places there is not a huge amount of choices. Water and electricity may not always work, especially at the same time, and the attitudes of hotel staff towards rectifying issues can be very different to what we would expect at home. Again your guide will be best placed to deal with issues but bear in mind that in some parts of the country Nigeria only just functions and it may not be possible to solve all problems that you encounter. Nigeria is an entity unto itself, and if you can accept this and see its many frustrations as part of the fun in traveling in a completely un-touristy destination, you’ll enjoy the trip more.
View Tour Itinerary
Wednesday, Jan 13
Depart the USA, arriving the next day in Abuja.
Thursday, Jan 14
Abuja Arrival (Nigeria)
Arrive in Nigeria. You will be picked up at the airport to assist you with your transfer to hotel. Check into a pre-booked hotel. Depending on the time of arrival, you will receive a tour briefing over dinner. (D)
Friday, Jan 15
We start the day with a visit to “Bill Clinton Village” at Ushafa to witness the making of local pots. President Bill Clinton visited this village and commissioned the pottery village as part of his tour of Nigeria. On our way to Ushafa, we will visit some Gwari villages to interact with the local people and see their cultures and traditions and their ways of living. We will have the opportunity to mix and discuss their local food, drinks and music. Return to the city late evening to refresh and prepare for dinner. Overnight at Newton Park Hotel or similar. Abuja, Nigeria’s capital is an artificial construction, much like Brasilia and Astana, built in the 1970s to provide a workable seat of government rather than the chronic overcrowding and traffic problems of Lagos. Unlike Lagos it is dominated by any one ethnic group, chosen partly due to the fact that it could be a ‘neutral’ site for government to be located. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Jan 16
Abuja - Kontagora
We drive to Kontagora via Minna, visiting the villages of the Gwari people along the way. Although not quite as traditional as the Kamberi, the Gwari are still very interesting, living in rural villages with huge round granaries to store their crops, and the older women still sport tattoos on their bodies. In Kontagora this evening we head out to a local open air bar at a military cantonment for some drinks. Overnight at SafaraMotel. (B,L,D)
Sunday, Jan 17
Kontagora – Genu - Kontagora
From Kontagora we drive into the bush, to the heartland of the Kamberi people, one of Nigeria’s most traditional ethnic groups. If he is there we meet the emir, before venturing into the villages where we can learn about their indigenous belief systems and see the brightly decorated women, with painted and tattooed faces and sporting pierced lips. The Kamberi rarely see visitors and you will be rather a novelty here. The main settlement is Genu, where we rub shoulders with people coming in from the nearby villages to trade in the village market on their market day. There will be a 20 minutes’ walk to the interior village where the traditionalists live in the local huts with thatched roofs. We spend time with them exploring the cultures and traditions of the Kamberi people before returning to Kontagora late evening. The Kamberi people, The Kamberi are one of Nigeria's most fascinating ethnic groups - in a country where modernity is quickly eroding, or at least changing, the old ways the Kamberi stick resolutely to the customs of their ancestors. To the north east of Kontagora they live in isolated villages far from the main roads, making a living out of traditional agriculture. The Kamberi women are a sight to behold, with colourful beads and headgear, tattooed and painted faces and bright jewellery protruding from their lips - the men tend to be less traditional as is often the case. The Kamberi congregate at weekly markets held in a different village each day - these are lively affairs with millet beer being passed around, traditional singing and dancing, and you are likely to be the focus of attention if you visit. The Kamberi see few outsiders, and very few Europeans have ever made it this far, making this a real privilege and an undoubted highlight of the trip. (B,L,D)
Monday, Jan 18
Kontagora – Jebba - Ilorin
Drive to Ilorin, stopping first at a settlement of the Fulani, one of West Africa’s widest spread groups following traditional lifestyles based around cattle. After meeting the villagers we continue to Jebba on the banks of the Niger River, reputedly the place where Mungo Park met his end. From here we continue South-West to the town of Ilorin., the divide between the Muslim dominated North and Mixed Southern Nigeria. On arrival, we will head straight to the hotel and check in to rest from a long trip. Rest of the day at Leisure. Ilorin, The city of Ilorin marks the border between north and south Nigeria and it is here that you first start to really notice the influence of Islam, with many women covering themselves - the conservatism in direct contrast to the flamboyance of the south. It is known as a center of pottery and down the dusty backstreets small cottage industries churn out pots of various sizes, while in other parts traditional weavers make garments for the chiefly nobility. Still a major city by any standard, it lacks the vigor of somewhere like Lagos but is an interesting place to start to get to grips with what lies beyond. Overnight E-Phoenix Hotels or Whitefield Hotel or similar. (B,L,D)
Tuesday, Jan 19
Ilorin – Esie - Ilorin
We start the day with a drive to Esie museum, the first Museum in Nigeria established in 1945. The museum houses the largest collection of soapstone sculptures believed to have been excavated in 1775 AD. On return to Ilorin, we will have lunch at a local restaurant with continental dishes. After lunch, we will explore the traditional quarters where Ilorin’s renowned weavers ply their trade and in the late afternoon we head to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin. From the palace, we will head back to the hotel and retire for the day. Esie Museum, Formerly a grove, Esie museum is sited at the spot where the sculptures were discovered about 1.4km southwest of Esie township and about 50km southeast of Ilorin city. The sculptures were brought to limelight in 1933 by a school inspector H.G. Ramshaw and in 1945, the colonial government officially established a Museum to house the soapstone sculptures. The Esie museum contains over 1000 carvings of men and women presided over by a king (Oba Ere) and are believed to have been carved before or around 1775 AD. Esie tradition holds that the statutes are petrified remains of visitors from distant land and have occupied a central place in local cosmology. People believe that even in their stony state, the sculptures still have powers to do evil. They believe that the sculptures run about at night and many mishaps are attributed to them. The sculptures were believed to be capable of giving children to barren women or supplying rain. While most of the figures were found in a rough semi-circle in 1933, one of the figure had a central position and have been considered as “King” and the Esie people used to offer sacrifices to him. Overnight E-Phoenix Hotels or Whitefield Hotel or similar. (B,L,D)
Wednesday, Jan 20
Ilorin - Osogbo
After breakfast, we’ll drive to Osogbo via Ogbomosho, the first full Yoruba city that we visit on this trip. Osogbo is home to one of Nigeria’s few UNESCO listed sites. We explore the Sacred Grove of Osun where extraordinary sculptures of the Yoruba deities nestle amongst the trees, monkeys running throughout. From the grove, we will visit a traditional Orisha temple where Ife priestesses can explain the intricacies if their religion – this is a truly fascinating experience and not to be missed. After lunch, we will visit Nike Art Gallery for souvenir shopping of antiquities for those that love art. Osogbo (Oshogbo) is best known for being the home of one of Nigeria's two UNESCO listed heritage sites. The Osun sacred grove is an area of forest on the outskirts of the city that is home to some rather bizarre and extraordinary sculptures, carved by the Austrian Sculptor Suzanne Wenger in the 1960s. Representations of the Yoruba gods, the giant sculptures sit at various points in the forest and range from giant insects to chameleons and more, as well as a series of figures congregating at a market for the ancient deities. Underneath shady branches lies an old palace of indeterminate age, its exterior daubed with patterns and seemingly growing from the earth itself, while habituated monkeys scamper around the forest floor. Although undoubtedly in need of some love and attention, the sacred grove is a fascinating and rather other worldly place, and gives an insight into the complex Yoruba belief system. In the town itself lies a shrine for the Ife priestesses of Osun, where local people come to ask for favours from the gods - to witness a ritual here is to step into the heart of Yoruba culture and utterly enthralling. Overnight Ideal Nest Hotel or similar. (B,L,D)
Thursday, Jan 21
Osogbo – Ile-Ife
After breakfast, we will leave for Ile-Ife, home of Oduduwa – the legendary father of the Yoruba race. On arrival, we will visit the Oodua shrine for prayers. From there will proceed to the Obatala palace and shrine before heading to the the Oranmiyan staff site belonging to Oramiyan, the great warrior and the last of the 7 sons of Oduduwa. We will round off Ile-Ife tour with a visit to the palace of the Ooni of Ife, the traditional head of the Kingdom and spiritual leader of the Yoruba. Our guide will take us through the history of the Yoruba race including that of the past kings of Ile-Ife. We will return to Osogbo late evening just on time for dinner. Overnight Cameron Hotel or similar. Ile-Ife: The cradle of the Yoruba race. The history of the Yoruba nation is involved in obscurity. The Yoruba people believe that all mankind have their roots from Ile-Ife to the extent that oral tradition has it that the white man was originally black but got the skin bleached from long exposure to cold temperature over time and hence the name “Oyibo” (Ooyi bo o; Ooyi bo yee). The various tribes of the Yoruba nations traced their origins to Oduduwa, the founder of Ile-Ife and the progenitor of the Yoruba people. The entire South Western states of Nigeria are composed of the Yoruba race including the Dahomey Kingdom in Benin Republic and the Popo Kingdom in Togo. This tour will provide a better insight into the Oduduwa Kingdoms in relation to the creation of mankind. (B,L,D)
Friday, Jan 22
Ile-Ife - Abeokuta
After breakfast, we head to the city of Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State and of particular significance for the Yoruba people. The Olumo Rock, the town's main attraction, is supposedly where the Egba clan hid during what became known as the Yoruba Wars of the 19th century, and then established their powerful kingdom. The rock itself is around 130m high, with steps leading up to it as well as a rather out of character concrete lift shaft. In caves on the rock you can still see the remains of rudimentary settlements and towards the back is a small community of worshipers centered around a shrine, where you may be expected to make a donation. Abeokuta is also interesting due to the profusion of Afro-Brazilian architecture in some parts - these rather impressive buildings were built for local merchants in the 19th century by freed slaves returning from Brazil, who borrowed influences from there. The city has some excellent examples of Afro-Brazilian architecture which are well worth seeing, as well as a rather interesting fetish market – not necessarily for the squeamish but a fascinating place nonetheless. Although many are now in various states of disrepair, the pastel colours and ornate designs on their facades are evidence of past grandeur, and Abeokuta is a rather charming place to walk around because of them. After early lunch, we will visit on the palace of the Alake of Egba land the paramount ruler of Ogun state. The history and cultures of the Egba and other tribes in Ogun state will be on display. We will then proceed to the Kuto Market to see the “Adire” makers. From the adire shops we will visit the “fetish’ market to see the local voodoo items on display including various herbs and animal remains used for traditional medicines for different ailments. Dinner and accommodation at the House 56 Hotel. (B,L,D)
Saturday, Jan 23
Abeokuta - Lagos
After breakfast, we will drive to Lagos, heading off the mainland onto Lagos Island. We explore the Afro-Brazilian quarter with its unique architecture. We will visit the National Museum remarkable for an array of artefacts and antiquities from all over Nigeria which are in its custody. Within the Museum is also a building in which objects and photographs illustrate the evolution of Nigeria’s government over the years. From the Museum, we will drive through Broad Street and the Marina- Nigeria’s financial hub but home to early colonial settlement. From the Marina, we will drive to the Lekki Peninsula to visit the International arts & craft market for souvenir shopping before retiring to the hotel. Rest of the day at Leisure. Overnight at IBIS Hotel or Similar. (B, L, D)
Sunday, Jan 24
Lagos – Badagry - Lagos
After breakfast, we head west along the coast to the small town of Badagry, once an important slave port and with several historic sites to explore including the First storey building in Nigeria, the family house of Seriki Williams Abbas, We will also visit the “point of no return”, where most slaves are kept awaiting shipment. It is a place where the sad history of slave trade is rekindled in our minds. Among the relics are the leg locks, security clasp, neck chains, mouth padlock and Heritage Museum that accounts for the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade activities between Africa and Americas. After lunch or upon return from the point of no return, we will pay a courtesy visit to the Wawu of Badagry, a high chief Badagry Kingdom. The history of Badagry will be relayed to us at the palace. We will return to Lagos city late evening and get refreshed for Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at IBIS Hotel or Similar. Badagry, Humid, languid and decidedly tropical, Badagry sits on the coast not far from the Beninese border and is just about the closest thing to a tourist attraction that Nigeria possesses. Once an important slave port, the town contains numerous traces of its rather dark past including the 'Brazilian Barracoon', a set of old holding cells for slaves about to make their journey across the Atlantic. A rather sombre but meaningful excursion is the boat trip across the lagoon to walk to the 'point of no return' where slaves were loaded onto the ships, and along the path an old stone well dating from that time still stands. Some places of interest include the Akran Palace, the first story building in Nigeria, the family house of Seriki Abbas, the returnee slave who later became a slave trader himself on his return. (B,L,D)
Monday, Jan 25
Lagos – USA
After Breakfast, We explore a bit more of the city of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous before transfer to the airport for your flight home, most likely in the evening. (B) NB: Most airlines will bring you back to USA on Jan. 26th.
We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed