A couple of months ago, I put up this post on Cat and Luke who decided to come and spend their summer vacation in Nigeria. We were glad they chose us to show them around town. They were in town for 9 days and we kept them very busy till they left.
Cat and Luke are a British couple who have never been to Africa before, but were feeling adventurous and decided to choose Nigeria out of all the countries in Africa to holiday. After a daunting visa application process (they were rejected once), they were finally able to get a visa and make it down to Nigeria.
Cat is a primary school teacher and Luke is in the IT department of a high school in St. Albans. Luke is also originally from Poland. They both love to play ultimate frisbee and also compete internationally.
The plan and they chose to accept it was to cover South West Nigeria (asides Lagos) in 4 days i.e Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ogun State.
*side note – The government really needs to look into our visa application process as it discourages prospective tourists.
Unfortunately on arrival, Cat was sick as she had gotten food poisoning (not from the flight), so it was going to be a quiet day for them. We picked them up from the airport and put them in their hotel. While Cat rested, we went grocery shopping so they could get a few things to snack on while at the hotel.
Cat was feeling much better and ready to unravel with her husband Luke. Our first point of call was the Lekki Conservation Centre and The Nike Art Gallery and a late lunch at TFC Armed with their binoculars and bug spray, they were ready to go. There was a bit of traffic but Cat enjoyed it and called it cultural immersion for her as she could see different kinds of people and things happening.
L-R: Mummy Nike, Unraveller, Luke, Cat & Professor Folabi Ajayi-Soyinka
Lunch at Tastee Fried Chicken
Verdict They quite liked the idea behind the Lekki Conservation Centre and enjoyed the canopy walk. However they felt a better job should be done in terms of maintenance of the centre and they should invest in tour guides who are more knowledgeable about the place and know where certain things can be found. E.g Cat and Luke are big bird watchers and would have loved to know what areas birds could be seen and if possible the species. They loved the Nike Art Gallery and were impressed with the collection. Some pieces reminded them of home and they were also happy to play dress up and meet Mummy Nike. A few post cards were picked up for friends and family back home. Luke enjoyed trying jollof rice for the first time at TFC. Cat just had chicken as she wanted to be sure her food poisoning was completely gone.
Day 3 – Whispering Palms
If you’ve been following us long enough, you should be aware of Active Tourism. Active Tourism was having an event and Cat and Luke were happy to tag along. They came with their frisbees and taught everyone how to play.(It was really sweet that they gave my brother one of their frisbees as a parting gift).
Verdict They thought more could be done to eliminate people just standing around (when we arrived at Whispering Palms, we had to wait for them to get ready for us despite calling ahead of time). They enjoyed the coconut waters as it tastes different and fresher from what they get in England, being able to play ultimate frisbee on the beach and also teaching people how to play it, the bus ride was fun and they also enjoyed the food and snacks. Luke suggested that for the sandwiches, people could be told the options available and asked to pick which they would prefer ahead of time. Proper maintenance (as always) and more enthusiastic tour guides would have made it super. The animals in the zoo should also be treated better.
Day 4 – Ekiti State
This was where the real fun began. At 10 am, we packed our bags and set out to Ekiti State where they would visit Ikogsi Warm Springs and Arinta Waterfalls. The plan was to see the warm springs that day and sleep over, see Arinta the next morning and drive down to Ondo State.
The road trip was fun and uneventful. Of course as expected, our policemen kept stopping us and asking our guests for everything from ‘dollars’ to the ‘shoes on their feet’. However Cat and Luke were good sports and just counted it as an experience. Luke also pointed out how things were not so different in Poland maybe just not as brazenly and openly done like we do here.
We finally got into Ekiti at past 2 and after a bit of confusion with the rooms at the resort, we were all checked in and ready to go see the spring.
The highlight was taking them to the mama putt for dinner. It was such a great experience and the owner remembered my face from our previous trip. We also met a family that was exploring South West Nigeria as their answer to the forex situation.
This trip felt like I went back to another home as people remembered ‘Unravelling Nigeria’ from our previous visits. From the concierge at the resort to the guide at the spring, it was a great feeling.
Unfortunately, a couple of things went wrong at the resort on this visit, from lack of hot water to turning off the gen and wrong information about the drainage of the pool, but we were able to make the best of it.
Verdict ‘We had a general idea of what we wanted to do and places we wanted to see, but there’s no way we would have thought about eating at a local place. It was such a wonderful experience. It reminded me of English Pubs where everyone is warm and friendly and it was awesome that people kept trooping in and out just to say hi to us. The food was also good, spicy but I guess that’s the recurring theme with Nigerian food. You should offer this experience to anyone coming from outside Nigeria, I’m sure they’ll love it.’ On the warm springs, they loved the phenomenon of the hot and cold spring and were intrigued by the story behind it. Luke however pointed out that he would ask his father-in-law what he thought could also be responsible for it as he’s a geologist. He also mentioned that customer service at the resort could also do with a bit of work. Communication is key and sometimes allowances should be made in certain situations (like keeping the hot water running or the gen on for an extra hour so people can makes use of the pool).
The first 4 days were pleasant and it was a great way for them to see the country side and show that there is more to Nigeria than what they see on tv. You’ll see more of Cat and Luke’s unravelling in another post.
What do you think of Cat and Luke’s journey so far?