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Nigeria Travel Guide

Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It is the continent's most populous nation. It has a southern coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, and has as its neighbours Benin, Chad and Niger. Nigeria is also the seventh most populous country in the world. It is the largest African oil producer.

Nigerian Airport

The official language in Nigeria is English. However, while this may sound reassuring, only upper and middle-class people in the largest cities actually speak it, though most citizens have a good understanding of English. There is also the Nigerian pidgin, an English-based creole language spoken by 75 million people as a second language and by 3-5 million people as a native language, mostly in the Niger Delta. Nigerian pidgin is highly intelligible to an English-speaker to a certain degree, but it will take time to get accustomed to it. However, Nigerian pidgin will not hinder day to day communications. The easiest way to overcome any initial language block is to ask questions. They will not hesitate to ask you to clarify what you mean, or admit that they do not understand an outsider's particular manner of phrasing. Do not assume that a Nigerian's inability to answer you indicates ignorance.

Climate

Varies; equatorial climate in the south, tropical climate in the centre, arid climate in the north. Natural hazards include periodic droughts and flooding. Tornadoes and hurricanes are rare because they typically are weak at this stage and travel west of the Atlantic.

Terrain

Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in the southeast, plains in the north. The Niger river enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea. The highest point is Chappal Waddi at 2,419m.

Entry requirements and modes of transportation

Foreign nationals who are not citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) need to apply for a visa to enter Nigeria. This can be obtained at Nigerian embassies, high commissions and consulates worldwide.

If you require a visa to enter Nigeria, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Nigerian diplomatic post. Be aware that you are not usually able to apply at a Nigerian diplomatic post in a country where you are not a legal resident. Also, an in-person interview may be a formal requirement, which can make applications from a distance challenging.

Be sure to take your yellow fever vaccination form with you. Despite yellow fever vaccination being a visa requirement, you may still be denied entry if you cannot present the vaccination form as proof.

Travelling by plane

International airports are located in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu. The Lagos domestic and international terminals are located several miles apart. Transfers between the two terminals are time consuming.

Several European airlines fly to Nigeria: British Airways (London Heathrow - Abuja, Lagos), Virgin Atlantic (London Heathrow - Lagos), KLM (Amsterdam - Abuja, Lagos, Kano), Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle - Lagos), Alitalia (Rome- Fiumicino - Accra, Lagos), Turkish Airline (Istanbul - Lagos), Lufthansa (Frankfurt - Abuja, Lagos), Iberia Airlines (Madrid - Lagos), Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa - Lagos, Enugu)

US Based Delta Airlines operates 5 times a week a non-stop service from Atlanta to Lagos using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft since 1 July 2009. More recently Delta Airlines has replaced the Boeing 777 with a 767. Delta Airlines no longer services Abuja.

Other inter-continental airlines fly to Lagos. They include: China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Dubai), Emirates (Dubai), Middle East Airlines (Beirut), Qatar Airways (Doha), Etihad Airways (Abu Dhabi). There are also African companies: South African Airlines from Johannesburg, Egypt Air from Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Afriqya Airways from Tripoli, Hewa Bora from Kinshasa. Besides these, there are other airlines (in addition to VNA and Bellview) that operate domestic and regional flights to places like Abidjan, Accra, Banjul, Conakry, Dakar, Douala, Freetown, Johannesburg, Libreville, Monrovia.

By train

The country has two major rail lines: one connects Lagos on the Bight of Benin and Nguru in the northern state of Yobe; the other connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta and Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno. However, efforts to provide more rail way lines are underway.

By bus

There are over 70 bus companies operating in Nigeria, many of which serve over 200 cities within Nigeria as well as the West African Region. Getting around is relatively easy, except that there could be delays due to traffic jams within most major cities. There are multitudes of coaches and buses that will take you to any part of Nigeria you wish (ABC Transport Services is well known for its services among others). Lagos state government also operates a transit system (BRT buses) which serves the Lagos metropolis. CHISCO is another well-known bus company in Nigeria. Both CHISCO and ABC Transport provide regular, reliable international service between Lagos (Nigeria) and Accra (Ghana).

Get around by car

It would be best to travel around in your own car or a hired one (with a driver). The "okada" (motorcycle) is not for the faint-hearted. The law requires the rider to have two helmets for himself and a passenger and should only be used for short distance journeys. "Okadas" will get you to where you want to go quickly and you will get there in one piece. For travelling from one city to another, you go to the "motor park", find the taxi that's going to your destination, and wait until it "fills up". The price is fixed, you don't have to negotiate. Some drivers may have a risky driving style however - practically this means that the only rule consistently adhered to (by cars, not necessarily motorcycles), is keeping on the right.

Driving in Nigeria

Driving in Nigeria (especially Lagos) is somewhat unique, vaguely resembling driving in Cairo. If mastered, you should however be able to cope in most other countries on the planet. Or any other planet. If you are white, get used to Nigerians shouting at you as you pass by. It will be something like "Oyibo", "MBakara", "Bature" or "white man" if you're white. It all means the same, they are just telling you and nothing more. If you as a foreigner wish to drive yourself, it is advisable to stick to the rules.