I am considering visiting Nigeria for 2 weeks (January 4-19, 2016) with a Nigerian friend who will be visiting family/friends for a month. I’m a single, Caucasian female, and have travelled extensively throughout Europe as a solo tourist, and as part of a tour group but have never travelled to Africa. I have some concern, which I think are common, and normal especially since the images, and information we receive about Nigeria, especially from the media, which focuses on the violence, corruption, hunger, and poverty. I have been doing a lot of research, and trying to learn as much as I can in hopes of alleviating some of my fears, and concerns.
I am concerned about the militant group Boko Haram but understand that this is mostly in northeast Nigeria. My friend’s family is in southeast Nigeria – Oko and Enugu. However, I’m a little worried of how my parents will react when I tell them that I’m considering going to Nigeria with my friend as they watch the news, and get easily paranoid about things like this.
I am also concerned about malaria as I reacted to mosquitos even when visiting my grandmother in South Italy! I know that this is not the same thing but it wasn’t pleasant either. The area swelled up, and it was very itchy and painful. I know that I will need to take medication before, during and after my visit, and will also need to get several vaccinations including yellow fever.
Some of my concerns:
Flight – I know that it will be a long flight with 2 stops. I’m concerned about jet lag, and it affecting me enjoying my visit. I’m hoping that it won’t be too bad, and that the 2 weeks that I am planning, will be sufficient time.
Food – I’m vegetarian but eat fish. Are there a variety of foods in Nigeria, and is it safe to drink the water or is it best to get bottled water?
Accommodations – I’m not sure where I will be staying yet. I need to speak to my friend about this. Someone suggested that I get a hotel as it may be more comfortable for me. I’m guessing that most homes in Nigeria don’t have AC, and that hotels have it.
A friend suggested not staying with my friend and his family as I will not be used to their living situations. She also stated that they may not have AC but I have survived without it while visiting my grandmother in Calabria, Italy. They have no AC.
Things to do – What things can you recommend for me to do? I still want to do some research on this as I don't really know what there is to do or see.
Weather – I know that it’s really hot in Nigeria but wondering if January is less hot than the summer months or is it the same all year long? I grew up in Canada, and our summers are not hot (compared to Nigeria) although it depends on the month of year. Even when we do have hot/humid temperatures, we are used to the climates in Canada, and have AC in order to escape and to help sleep through the night. I can deal with warmer temperatures but can feel quickly tired after being hot temperatures all day.
I recently learned that I need to get a Nigerian visa. It seems like a complicated and expensive process. I need to submit a copy of my yellow fever card along with my passport to get my visa. However, I read that I will need to get my needle for yellow fever 10 days before my trip, so how would I even be able to submit this information along with my passport to get a visa if I need to apply for my visa at least 45 days before I leave?!
I'm staring to wonder if it's even worth it. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all of this. I also haven't spoken to my friend about it because he has been busy with work, and it's been difficult to meet and talk with him about the trip. He's Nigerian so he's already set. He booked his flight and has his passport. I'm have dual citizenship (Canadian/Italian) and would use my Canadian passport to travel into Nigeria.
I appreciate any helpful and positive feedback that you can share with me.
Thank you. : )
I need to submit a copy of my yellow fever card along with my passport to get my visa. However, I read that I will need to get my needle for yellow fever 10 days before my trip, so how would I even be able to submit this information along with my passport to get a visa if I need to apply for my visa at least 45 days before I leave?!
Yellow fever vaccination protects you for at least 10 years, so I suspect the 10 days you're talking about should have been "at least 10 days", this being the amount of time it takes before the vaccine becomes effective. 2-3 months in advance should thus also be totally fine. (But as with all medical information, please check with an actual doctor rather than relying on the word of a stranger on the internet.)
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It's very important that you discuss this trip in detail with your friend. If you don't, problems could arise. You don't want any misunderstandings. Travel in West Africa is not like travel in Europe. If you're staying with his family, that's OK. If you're staying in a hotel and he and his family are showing you around, that's OK. But if you're left to your own devices most of the time, that's not OK.
While Boko Haram operates primarily in northern Nigeria, kidnappings for ransom have occurred in the South. Check you're country's warnings and advisories about travel to Nigeria.
No, the water is not safe to drink. You'll have to buy bottled water. You shouldn't encounter problems as a vegetarian. Most African diets are heavy on carbohydrates, such as rice and cassava. Mosquitos are a problem, causing malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya. So use insect repellent; and cover up at dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active. Take antimalarial medication. You may find getting vaccinated against yellow fever could be costly. That's particularly so in the U.S.
The weather in January should be fine. I was close to Nigeria last December in Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. I may return to West Africa later this year or early next year. But Nigeria currently isn't in my plans, for a variety of reasons.
I will be very happy to assist you as a Nigerian who has lived in Nigeria all my life but I now in Europe.
First of all I want you to trust your instincts fully. You will need it wherever you are Travelling especially so far from home.
I am going to break down my answers according to each of your concerns and give you the best advice possible.
I wanted to send you this quick reply but I am going to take time to tell you of many ways to make up your mind if you really want to take this trip and the red flags to watch out for.
I am busy now, I can send you a mail tomorrow. Take care and you are going to be just fine. I know because I have helped people like you find the true Nigeria that is not purported on the media.
Before proceeding further these are the questions that I would ask...
Is there a romantic relationship between you and your male friend? What is his family's situation... are they rich by Nigerian standards? How long has your friend been in Canada? Is he thoroughly westernized? How about his family, are they traditional Nigerian or are they well versed in western ways?
Enugu and Oko are well off the traditional tourist trail, but I think they would be very interesting to visit, in particular Oko. Since you don't have any experience with independent travel in developing countries and in particular in West Africa you should in my opinion have it well understood that you have at least one male family member with you at all times.
It has the potential of being a fascinating trip, but not as an independent solo white woman, you should in my opinion have a trusted escort with you at all times. If you're good with that then it could be very eye opening.
Good luck with your research.
Wow! Either you are a Nigerian, a reporter or a keen observer. Why is Nigeria not currently in your plans? Do you not feel that you are already passing to Natalia whatever negative vibes you have already? One minute you seem quite objective, the next you seem quite biased and almost an affiliate of CNN ( No offense meant really) . Please when you give this sort of thesis on a country, be bold to let us know whether you are a citizen or just an expert opinion. All you wrote could have been a regurgitated article from Time Magazine? Like when was the last time you heard of a kidnapping in the south? She said she is traveling in January 2016, are you aware of the recent elections in Nigeria and its political and social implication concerning Boko Haram, kidnapping etc? I really hope you are a Nigerian for all you have written!
Malaria? True and she does know already all she needs is to protect herself but Dengue fever, Chikungunya? Really? Where did you get this medical statistics from?
Every country should have a warning attached to their visa! Like don't travel to the United States because you could be randomly selected in a shoot out or be the victim of a serial killer! With all the dangers in Nigeria like every other country in the world, we need to tell people how to be safe and not sensationalize the BS that is already out there!
Luluzine, I am not a Nigerian; and you are making certain assumptions as to why I am not currently planning to travel to Nigeria. I have my reasons; and they have nothing to do with "negative vibes." I am certainly interested in visiting Nigeria.
I am aware of the recent elections in Nigeria. I try to keep fully abreast of the political, cultural and economic affairs of the countries that I am interested in visiting. I feel that the better informed I am, the better I can fully experience life there, with the help of people, be they locals or expats. Let's say I am a "keen observer."
As part of my research, I review the warnings and advisories of the U.S. State Department; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control; and others. I may or may not heed those warnings and advisories, based on my own further research. I weigh the risks carefully, but I'm not fearful of going into troubled places. I recently visited one place where the U.S. State Department and others cautioned against travel. I obtained more recent information on the ground that eased my concerns, so I changed my itinerary to visit that place.
As for dengue and chikagunya, the Centers for Disease Control lists Nigeria as one of the countries in Africa where it is present.
I responded to Natalia's query just to be of help, based on my experience in travel to Africa and other places. Sorry, I don't have more time to extend this discussion, as I am currently on the road, hoping to experience as much of this wonderful world that I possibly can.
I am happy to hear of your intentions to visit Nigeria, reading through your writeup in respect of your fears let me state that no part of the world is currently safe, the negative media coverage both local and international has not helped to place Nigeria has a tourist destination country.
You made mention that you are much more concerned about Boko Haram fine why are we not concerned about other terrorist group that operates in already developed countries.
Nigeria is located in the tropical region of Africa and it is expected that issues of malaria cannot be over looked, please make use of Anti malaria treated net where ever you'll be accommodated.
You have answered most of your questions but i can assure you that Nigeria is a peaceful and accommodating country because even at the local markets you see foreigners and their host shopping, from our Travel Agency we have welcomed at least Five solo tourist.
The relationship between you and your friend is personal and there is a limited advice anyone can give but i do wish you the best of luck.
With so many responses, you are somewhat quiet probably getting either more frustrated with your plans or quietly digesting the whole situation.
Whichever way, it would be nice for you to express yourself with all the advice so far so that all the lovely people taking the time to give their heart felt opinion do not feel like we are actually having a debate in futility. Like where in Canada are you from, what is your relationship with your intending host, how old are you? These are important so people can give you answers that are more relevant to you.