BY Demola Ojo
In a few days, Nigeria will be celebrating another Independence Day anniversary. Expectedly, thereâ€™ll be a day set aside as a holiday, which coupled with the fact it falls on a weekend, gives those bitten by the travel bug an opportunity to explore new places, or rediscover old ones.
Despite the sobering state of the nation amid an infrastructural deficit that has also adversely affected the tourism industry (the poor state of roads is an example), a few travel brands headed by young, vibrant Nigerians are organizing tours to Nigerian sites on the verge of slipping into oblivion, helping to promote them via social media while still having a swell time.
Driven by zeal, passion and an adventurous spirit, budding brands such as Naija Nomads, Tripzapp, Unravelling Nigeria, TVP Adventures among others are bringing the road trip culture back, or at the very least, adding some glamour to it.
This is noteworthy because in recent times, tourism in Nigeria â€“ especially projects birthed by various levels of government – has been centered on the countryâ€™s rich and diverse culture; music, entertainment, arts, fashion, cuisine and religion.
While it makes perfect sense to highlight and promote Nigeriaâ€™s culture (itâ€™s easier, considering it will take some effort and time to elevate the sites to world class standards), those desirous of experiencing unique destinations within the country now have a range of options to choose from.
Many of the trips set out from Lagos, Nigeriaâ€™s commercial and entertainment capital. Some, like Irinajo.comâ€™s boat trip to Kamp Ikare, stay within the shores of the city. The three-day Independence getaway offers tourists the opportunity to experience a side to Lagos many donâ€™t know exist, with the resort only accessible by water.
TVP Adventuresâ€™ trip to Abeokuta leaves Lagos but is close enough to be a day trip, with highlights being a tour of the famous Olumo Rock and the Adire market.
Naija Nomads will be leading a tour further out, with Ondo State being the focus of the present adventure. Fresh from a trip to the Epe mangroves during the Sallah holidays, the Nomads are encouraging youthful Nigerians to reconnect with Mother Nature at the Smoking Hills Golf Resort at Ilara Mokin.
Activities spread over three days will include golf lessons, a tour of one of Africaâ€™s largest palaces and a visit to Idanre Hills.
Idanre seems to be enjoying a new wind in its sails with many new-age tour companies choosing it as a location for trips in recent months.
Hot on the heels of a private canoeing trip to Epe during the last holidays, Tripzapp will also be heading to Idanre Hills. However in its own case, the itinerary includes a trip to Erin Ijesha waterfalls, which means participants will get to experience two of the leading tourist attractions in Nigeriaâ€™s South West region.
Still further out from Lagos, Unravelling Nigeria will be embarking on a tour to â€œUnravel Kwaraâ€. The visit to the State of Harmony will include tours of Owu Waterfalls, Imoleboja rock formations, Dada pottery and the Esie museum.
These are just a few of the tours taking place over the Independence Day period. They all bear similar hallmarks: groups ranging from a dozen people to scores; affordable pricing; destination focused and technologically driven.
Social media -Instagram especially – is the tool for promotion prior to the tours and displaying alluring pictures of the destinations after. If you would like to participate in any of these tours (some are sold out already), or looking for different options, Instagram is your best bet to find or rediscover ways to explore the hidden treasures of Nigeria.