We got a message on our Instagram page showing us and Australian living it up in Nigeria and we were hooked.
Turns out Daniel is an Australian on a mission to visit all the countries in the world so it was only natural that Nigeria would be a stop on his way.
What we loved from watching his adventures was how he presented these states with brand new eyes. Felt like we had never seen these places before. Check out his highlights on Instagram.
From getting serenaded by Mummy Nike of Nike Art Gallery to popping a tyre on the way to Yankari Games Reserve, Dan had a ball and of course a few things to say about Nigerian tourism.
Give us a brief description of yourself.
Well my name is Daniel - I grew up in Australia but haven’t spent much time there in the past few years. My family traveled a fair bit when I was younger, so I got a real taste for the world around me and a general curiosity for other cultures. I spent a long time at university (around 7 years) studying law and languages.
I have previously studied and worked in Shanghai and Beijing, China, Florence, Italy and New York. In 2016, I moved to Hong Kong to begin a new job and to take advantage of a more strategic geographic position in the world. In late 2019 I left Hong Kong and embarked on this current adventure in an attempt to visit every country in the world!
I hit my 50th country (Malta) just after my 21st birthday, my 100th (Algeria) at age 23 and recently passed the 180 mark (Mali).
I was fortunate to spend over 2 weeks in Nigeria last month. It's a complex and beautiful country yearning for exploration!
What inspired you to travel the world?
I don’t think there was ever a particular “spark” – I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember! As a kid, my room was filled with globes, flags of the world and travel books. Naturally, I made the most of every break I had from university and hit the road.
What was your first impression when you landed in Nigeria and how did that change over time?
Unfortunately my first impression wasn’t that great - the new visa on arrival system for Nigeria is probably the most difficult and corrupt visa process I have ever dealt with in over 180 countries of travel. It appears that the Nigerian government wants to actively dissuade businessmen and tourists from visiting. This was made more unpleasant by the fact that the Nigerian immigration stole over $400 USD from my credit card (on top of the exorbitant visa fees)!
Luckily, my impression changed very quickly once I actually began to spend time in Nigeria and with the incredible people of Nigeria. Within a few days of landing in Lagos, I quickly fell in love with this great urban center: the vibrant art and music scene, cosmopolitan restaurants and unique cultures which call the mega-city home.
How many states did you visit, which was your favorite and why?
My favorite would probably be Bauchi - whilst domestically it may be known as the pearl of tourism, it is relatively unknown on the international scene.
I absolutely loved my first introductions to Hausa culture and architecture and of course, the hot springs at Yankari National Park!
What was accommodation like during this adventure. (Local living, hotels or a mix)?
In Lagos I opted for an AirBnb, which was the best choice! I was able to stay in the heart of Victoria Island and be within walking distance to some of Lagos’ best restaurants, bars and arts institutions (a great way to avoid Lagos traffic!).
Otherwise, I opted for a range of hotels and small guesthouses.
What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
How little tourism infrastructure there is (see below)
What was your best moment of the entire trip?
Seeing Femi Kuti live at the New Afrika Shrine!
What was the scariest moment (if any)?
Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track i.e beyond the tourist traps?
I’ll be honest and say that I found Nigeria to be one of the least “touristy” countries in West Africa.
Despite a large expat population in Lagos, it appears that most of the country is not geared up for tourism at all. There is minimal to zero tourism infrastructure.
Given the immense beauty and rich cultures of Nigeria, I think this just shows how much potential there is for Nigeria to tap into! Cities like Abeokuta, Kano and Bauchi, whilst well-known amongst Nigerians, are more-or-less anonymous to international travelers. Yet, they offer cultural riches which could challenge even the most touristy sites in Africa!
Abeokuta is home to one of the greatest collections of colonial architecture in West Africa, all in beautiful pastel colours reminiscent of its Afro-Caribbean roots.
Kano and Bauchi are some of the great historic centers of Hausa civilizations, with some truly impressive architecture and very colorful markets!
What are two interesting things you learnt during your trip that the average person doesn’t know?
1. That traditional rulers (Obas/Emirs) continue to exert some influence on everyday life
2. Nigeria’s role as a leader in the development of Africa’s rich contemporary music scene - if you haven’t listened to any Afro beats yet, get onto YouTube or iTunes!
Did you meet any locals? If yes, what were they like?
The best! Nigerians would have to be one of the friendliest people in Africa - and they’re always up for a laugh!
Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
On the road to Yankari National Park, we popped a tyre in our car. At the time, it was boiling hot and we were literally in the middle of nowhere. We were just watching the clock tick away from our precious time at the Park. Now, we already laugh about that time we were stranded on the way to Yankari!
Did you eat anything locally, if yes, what was your favorite?
Whilst I am vegetarian, there was no way I was going to let that get in the way of me trying Nigeria’s famous cuisine!
I found this great vegan restaurant in Lagos (Veggie Victory - Lagosians, go give them a try!) and basically ordered the entire menu! The unique flavours of Nigerian cuisine were right up my alley and I think Egusi or Efo Riro were my favourites.
Now that you’ve been to Nigeria, when you think of your trip what’s the first image that comes to your head?
Smiles. Chief Nike singing a Yoruba “Ekabo” to us in Lagos and being dressed up by the Emir’s guards in Bauchi.
Would you ever come here again?
Yes - Nigeria has easily made it onto my list of favorite African countries! I am so keen to visit Nigeria’s east and the south-south regions - especially after reading “Half A Yellow Sun”! Once Nigeria implements a tourist-friendly visa arrangement, don't worry, I will be on the first flight back!