You could be forgiven for not visiting certain parts of Nigeria, but certainly not Calabar. Beyond the global appeal of its annual Carnival which usually dovetails into the end of the year, this city is famous for its idyllic landscapes, vibrant culture and its soothing calm. For a city which nestles between rivers and creeks with several shades and colors of adventure, Calabar oozes a seductive charm that is difficult to resist.
Here are 5 best ways to explore the beauty of this city.
Explore its unique food
One unique feature of the Calabar people is their rich culinary dexterity that makes their young women the darling of most would-be husbands. And when you turn the page to hospitality, food is one major item that stands the city out, every time.
In Calabar, delicious foods are never in short supply, and the more you explore, the more you fall head over heels with the people. Special delicacies like Edikang-Ikong, Afang, Atama, Ekpang Nkwuko are some of the major Calabar dishes that have become a national staple. Even though some of the foods can be found in Nigeria’s major cities, the experience is always different when savored amidst the warm embrace of the locals.
Visit Mary Slessor’s home
Get on a boat and connect Creek Town where you will be ushered into the must-see home of Mary Slessor, the Scottish missionary who halted the killing of twins in the country. The house which was built in the 1800s – where the missionary lived until her death in 1915 – still buzzes with its precolonial aura at Okoyong in Calabar. An encounter with the inspiring story of this Dundee heroine at her Calabar home is one that should not be missed.
Experience the beauty of nature
Calabar houses some of Nigeria’s most untapped natural beauties than most destinations in the country. Even though the city has steadily become the cynosure of all eyes owing to the thrills it offers to tourists, there is so much that is yet to be explored in this city of sunshine.
You could glide through the almighty Kwa Falls that runs southward into the Cross River estuary. To add color to your escapade, grab your camping and swimming gears and go for a dip in this tapered, steep valley of water while its lullaby serenades your soul. Or head over to the Marina Resort for some calm and entertainment. Here, you could stroll along its open boulevard and watch boats whirl against the tidal waves of the river.
Taste Africa’s biggest street party
Over time, December has assumed that time of the year to best experience the colors of Nigeria, with the annual Calabar Carnival being the perfect icing on the cake. Since its debut in 2005 by erstwhile governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, the Calabar Carnival has grown in leaps and bounds to become Africa’s biggest street party.
This year, the annual fest is expected to bring together over 50,000 tourists from around the world. As a guest, you will be treated to a spectacle reminiscent of the Rio de Janeiro carnival. Just like other revelers, you will be mesmerized by the sheer scale of razzmatazz that usually headlines this event. So, forget everything and experience the glamour of Africa’s biggest street party.
Have a date with history at the Slave Museum
Here is a sensitive spot to rediscover some of the darkest hours in African history. It doesn’t matter if you have visited such places around the continent such as the Island of Gorée in Dakar, Senegal or the dark memories of slave trade in Badagry, Lagos . With Calabar being a slave port of repute, you will experience first-hand the story of how over 700,000 slaves were shipped out of the coast of Calabar between 1690 and 1807. As a tourist, this treasure trove of antiquities takes you back in time into how this beautiful city lost its virginity to the scourge of slavery.
Calabar is one destination you can’t afford to miss if you truly want to absorb the nuances of the Nigerian people. And with the spectacular Calabar Carnival set to dazzle tourists yet again this year like never before.
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