One of the rooms
JUST AN HOUR DRIVE AWAY FROM THE BUSTLING, CHAOTIC URBAN SPRAWL OF LAGOS, LAYS A TRANQUIL PARADISE BEYOND ONE’S IMAGINATION. AN ENVIRONMENT ENRICHED WITH PALM TREES, WHITE SAND BEACHES WHERE TIME IS IN SYNC WITH THE RHYTHM OF THE WAVES THAT GENTLY LAP THE SHORES. ITS A PLACE ONE CAN CHOOSE BETWEEN A DIP IN THE REFRESHING SURF OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN OR THE PLACID FRESH WATERS OF THE LAKE. ADA IGBOANUGO WELCOMES YOU TO LA CAMPAGNE TROPICANA
Right from the trip to the destination hidden in the belly of Ibeju-Lekki, in which the distance is a far cry but is readily neglected and overshadowed by the longing eagerness to explore the resort’s many features, to the swift bustling of nature around its metropolis. The journey was a bumpy one with each stop by the taxi driver increasing yearns. Finally arriving at my destination, mid-afternoon, I proceeded to the reception. From the exterior to the inner chambers, the reception reeked of bamboo and raffia palm fronds. Little artefacts could be spotted at the right corner of the room as well as a show glass of previously satisfied customers.
A lady, dressed in native regalia, a mode of dressing every worker adopted and I spotted, approached me and made a certain gesture with both her palms to form a fist-like shape. In the village of Ibeju-Lekki it is recognised as a greeting and is usually returned in appreciation by a pat on the formed fist; the men however, greeted in a different manner. They had their fist instead raised to their chest while they gently take a bow.
Because of its inkling to nature, cars aren’t usually allowed into the gate; however a ‘Nature Walk’ is required to get a proper feel of the environment, or an option to ride the bicycle provided, if you’re too tired after the long trip. Where I had my downside though was the expectation that everyone should be able to ride the bicycle.
The nature walk was guided by a young man by the name Nnamdi, a native of Delta State, but dressed also in the native attire similar to that of the Yoruba culture. Passing through the forest didn’t just feel like being surrounded by tall and large trees. The forest possessed some features created and put in place for recreational activities. In the forest is a library accompanied by a reading room where you can borrow books. Trees could be spotted with chairs carved in them and swings dangling from them for relaxation. The forest inhabits over 7000 monkeys, but not one I saw in sight. It has signs all over that said, ‘Do not feed the monkeys’. I got wind of why it was put up as the fact that it leads to the monkey’s escape.
Also the spots in the forest that had the signs are pointers to where the monkeys resided. I was further led into the forest and showed the mangrooves that made up the resort as well as the snake tree which got its name from the trunks that was curved in a snake shape. We crossed a brigde that led us into the accommodation area. Detached-like houses built out of woods and well designed to an architectural perfection were classified into three ethnic groups. Each with a talking drums serving as a doorbell. The rooms are en-suite and it ranges from family to couple and friends abodes. Each rooms are also rich in arts but the best house is the ‘Ile Rimi’ that is the house on the water. It comes fully en-suite with a SPA and a clear view of the ocean.
Away from the lodges, a mini restaurant in the middle of the vastness could be spotted and is known to serve locally made dishes such as yam fries and akara amongst others. Beside, it is the mythical ‘Bole Kaja’ which denotes the old age events of the popular means of transportation, but in a more funky and relaxed eating spot. Right in front is the Yoru’ Bar. In this a la carte meals are made to the delight of the visitors and freshly made palm wine is served as drinks.
La Campagne Tropicana is the type of resort you dream about but never realised it was on your doorstep. Yet for those lucky enough to have discovered it, this is the tropical getaway that allows you to escape the stress of the city life and breathe again. A stroll on the beach, sipping a cocktail at sunset or enjoying the night-time entertainment, you’ll have to remind yourself that you are still on the shores of Nigeria. With a 65 acre of expansive lawns, scented tropical gardens, mysterious savannah, and a cool mangrove forest that gives La Campagne its unique ambience, you can’t help but lose yourself in it. Activities to look out for at the resort by day is the canoeing, hiking, hunting or ocean fishing, a thrillingly bumpy ride on an ATV (quad bike) or a serene excursion around the lagoon – whatever floats your boat! Volleyball is just one of a number of beach games for adults and children, and if you prefer to go it alone, there’s a mini-spa, fitness centre and cyber-cafe. And if you must, Wi-Fi is available around the resort to keep you in touch with the outside world. By nightfall, you can either decide to walk round the forest for a quiet time alone with nature and listen to the trees cackle or visit one of the bars for a game of snooker or dance to locally enriched music.
Though owned and managed by a one man army, some of the load is indeed also carried by an undisclosed body. La Campagne Tropicana started out as a vast land discovered in the late 80s in the outskirts of Lagos by a young man named Ambassador Wanle Akingboboye, in his twenties. He just came back from the United States where he had studied Hospitality Management with a vision to transform Nigeria in his own way with three core factors: Tourism, Entertainment and Security, he breathed life into this nothing and turned it to the edifice it is today. Over two decades after, though initially starting out with the Ikeja location, the resort has placed itself comfortably on the map of the various destinations spots in Africa to visit.
The presence of the resort has created job for various Nigerians, but particularly the indigenes of the neighbouring villages most of which their able men are in the resort’s football team. Most staff found it easier and more convenient to relocate to the resort and now it has become home to them.
But what might be a turn-off for most is its distance far away from civilisation. If you weren’t properly prepared for your vacation, you might not be able to get alternatives as not even an ATM much less POS is in sight. The resort was created to take you away from the bustling and busy life of the city and that aim was achieved. But the good side to that is that everything in the resort is made out of natural resources- except of course necessary items such as the fridge and other electrical appliances.
From the duvet to the bed-sheets and the roof to the ceiling and the chairs and tables, you could smell the raw stench of nature. Maintaining the resort is no easy feat, Akingboboye must admit but the only way he has kept it going according to him is, because of the passion he has for it, his focus on the resort and of course a little help from people who believe in this dream.