Quick Guide to Nigeria: A west-African adventure for South Africans

2018-06-25 15:04 - Saara Mowlana
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Plan your trip to Nigeria with this Quick Guide. (Photo: iStock)

The country, rich in natural landscapes, wildlife and culture is a must see for South African travellers.

From the sites like the iconic Nike Art Gallery to a familiarly titled Zuma Rock the country has a range of things to do and see.

Get wild over at some of Nigeria's best national parks or explore some of its ruins and historic sites like the Kano City Walls.

What are you waiting for? Plan your Nigeria visit now.

SEE: #AfriTravel: How to get around in Nigeria using public transport

Here's what you need to know if you go:

  • Population: About 195 793 776 +/- presently
  • Capital CityAbuja
  • Flight time: About 16h 5m hours at best with two stop overs

ICYMI: ALERT: Nigeria Consulate not issuing express visas

  • Currency: Nigerian Naira Current Exchange Rate: R1 = 26.63 Nigerian Naira
  • Medical and health: To avoid illness and dampening your trip experience, be sure to heed the warnings and get the appropriate vaccinations beforehand. All Travellers: Routine Vaccinations - Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. Most Travellers: Hepatitis A, Malaria, Polio, Typhoid, Yellow Fever. Some Travellers: Cholera, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Meningitis. 
  • Country code: +234
  • Emergencies: Dial 112 or 767 - for more emergency numbers: click here.
  • Public Transport: A network of busses, trains, taxis, ferries as well as Uber are available for transport and travel around Nigeria. Read more here

Useful App to download: Uber Abuja / Uber Lagos for getting around.

  • Climate: Nigeria has a tropical climate. It experiences a rainy season as consequence of the African monsoon which lasts between four to eight months depending on the region (June - September in the north, April - October in the centre region and March - October in the south).
  • Best time to go: Taking into consideration of the climate, the best time to go is during the dry season between November - January.
  • Popular Cuisine: Must try dishes include: Jollof Rice, Akara, or Bean and Plantain Pottage to name a few, check out more here.

CHECK OUT: Nigeria bets on 'Africa's best kept secret' to lure tourists

Useful phrases to know: 

English is the official language of Nigeria - However, other local languages like Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba are commonly spoken. Learn a few key phrases in these three local languages to make your stay more enjoyable.

Useful app to download - Google Translate and Duolingo makes learning a new language easy and fun. 

  • Hello - Sannu / Salama alaikum (Hausa) Ked? (Igbo) ? n l? (Yoruba)
  • What is your name? - Mi sunanka? (male) Mi sunanki? (female) (Hausa) Kedu aha g?? (Igbo) 
  • My name is... - Sunana... (Hausa) Aham bu... (Igbo) Ki ni oruk? r?? (Yoruba)
  • Goodbye - Sai sannu / Sai an jima (Hausa) Ka omesia (Igbo) O da ab? (Yoruba)
  • Please - Don Allah (Hausa) Biko (Igbo) Jowo (Yoruba)
  • How are you? - Kana lahiya? (male) Kina lahiya? (female) (Hausa) Ked?? / Ked? ka ? d?? / Ked? ka ?mere? (Igbo) ?e daadaa ni o wa? (Yoruba)
  • Reply to 'How are you?' - Lafiya (good) Lafiya lau (fine) Lafiya ?alau (very good) (Hausa) ? di m? mma / A di m? mma (Igbo) Mo wa daadaa, o ?se. Iw? naa n k?? (I'm fine, yes. What about you?) (Yoruba)
  • Excuse me - Gafara dai (Hausa) Biko, chetu (for attention) / Biko, e wel iwe (begging pardon) (Igbo) ? ?se fun mi / ? j?w?, ? gb? mi (Yoruba)
  • Thank you - Na gode (Hausa) ?mela; dal? (Igbo) O ?se / E se (Yoruba)
  • Reply yo 'Thank you' - Ba kome (Hausa) Ndewo (Igbo) Ko to ?p? (Yoruba)
  • Where are you from? - Daga ina ka fito? (Hausa) Ebee ka i si? (Igbo) Nibo ni o ti wa? (Yoruba)
  • I am from... - Na fito daga... (Hausa) Esi m na... (Igbo) Mo wa lati... (Yoruba)
  • What? - Menene? (Hausa) Ked?? (Igbo) Kini? (Yoruba)
  • Where? - A ina? (Hausa) Ebee? (Igbo) Ibo ni? (Yoruba)
  • Who? - Wanene? (Hausa) Ònye? (Igbo) Ta ni? (Yoruba)
  • When? - Yaushe? (Hausa) Mgbe ole? (Igbo) Nigbawo? (Yoruba)
  • Why? - Me ya sa? (Hausa) Ntak-a? (Igbo) Kí nìdí? (Yoruba)
  • How much is this? - Nawa ne? (Hausa) Ego ole ka ihe a di? (Igbo) Eelo ni eleyi? (Yoruba)
  • Where's the toilet? - I na makewayi ya ke? (Hausa) Ke ebe mkpochi di? (Igbo) Nibo ni ile igb?ns? wa? (Yoruba)
  • Do you speak English? - Kana jin harshen turanci kuwa? (Hausa) ? na as? Beke? (Igbo) ?e o le s? èdè oyinbo? (Yoruba)

Practical Tips

When travelling to Nigeria, make sure you have the following on your packing list:

  • A valid passport, arrival ticket, return ticket, adequate funds
  • a camera;
  • basic essentials;
  • comfortable, lightweight, and casual clothes - avoid blue and black clothing as tsetse flies are drawn to these colours and their bite can give you African Sleeping Sickness;
  • comfortable and strong shoes or boots if you decide to trek the rougher landscapes;
  • a warm jersey or jacket - preferable with fleece;
  • gloves, a beanie and neck scarf;
  • formal / occasional wear (depending on your reason for travel);
  • basic toiletries;
  • hand sanitiser;
  • prescription medication;
  • sunglasses, sunhat and sunscreen;
  • umbrella for tropical downpours;
  • a medical or first aid kit - including malaria pills and bug deterrent spray;
  • a flashlight (for exploration);
  • video camera and accessories;
  • vaccination certificates;
  • insurance documents;
  • your credit / debit cards;
  • Nigeria maps - city / town maps and travel guides;
  • a notebook, tablet or smartphone.


  • Get a waterproof cover / pack for your phone or tablet - to keep them protected from rain or the the water bodies that run through Nigeria
  • Get a Nigerian sim card when you arrive - it will save you a lot of data-roaming charges.
  • Always carry a lightweight and powerful powerbank to ensure you've always got juice on the move - snapping pics and navigating Google maps tend to chow up battery life rather fast. Make sure you have your charger and a universal adapter too while you're at it.
  • As much as the urge to take as many pictures of the beautiful country as possible is strong, be sure to ask permission before you begin to snap pictures of houses or people. In some cases, you may be required to offer a tip for those pictures.
  • Watch your money - Make sure that, when changing currency you do so in a reputable hotel, foreign exchange bureau or bank.
  • Drinking water - Don’t drink or even brush your teeth in tap water. Consider using bottled water or water from filtered sources, read more here.
  • Tipping is optional in Nigeria and 10% is customary depending on the service provided. 

Top attractions in Nigeria

  • Nike Art Gallery - Situated in four Nigerian cities: Lagos and Abuja being the most prominent with Oshogbo and Ogidi. The art galleries are owned by local Nike Davies-Okundaye. The Lagos gallery is housed in a five-storey tall building, while the Abuja one sits in . It boasts a collection of about 8 000 diverse artworks from various Nigerian artists. 
  • Kajuru Castle - Located in its titular city, Kajuru, this luxury villa was built from 1981 until its opening in 1989. It fit well into the medieval style architecture of the city at the time. It is built with metre thick granite stone, complete with turrets, armoury and a dungeon, this castle is ersatz Bavarian Castle.
  • Zuma Rock - This rock might seem reminiscent of our former president, but is actually located in the west Niger State of Nigeria. It is a large monolith, an igneous intrusion composed of gabbro and granodiorite. Rising a spectacular 725 metres immediately west of Nigeria's capital Abuja, along the main road from Abuja to Kaduna off Madala, it is sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to Abuja from Suleja". 
  • Kano City Walls - Located in the Kano State of North West Nigeria, the 14-kilometre radius earth structure has associated sites that are made up of features like: Dala Hills, Kurmi Market and Emir's Palace. Dala Hill was the place of the first settlement in Kano city and it formed the nucleus for the peopling of the rest of the city and was the foundation of its economic and political development. The site bears testimony to local craftsmanship and ingenuity as is evidenced in the materials used for the construction of the walls and palace. 
  • Yankari Game Reserve - This large wildlife park is located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in northeastern Nigeria. It covers an area of about 2 244 square kilometres and houses several natural warm water springs, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna. Its location in the heartland of the West African savanna makes it a unique way for tourists and holidaymakers to watch wildlife in its natural habitat. Yankari was originally created as a game reserve in 1956, but later designated Nigeria’s biggest national park in 1991.

SEE: Travelling to Lagos? Google it!