Saturday, 18 December 2021

Things To Do in Abuja

Spending the holiday season in Abuja? Contrary to what I've heard a few times, you have options of things to do create pleasant memories.

Abuja, a planned city, became the capital of Nigeria in December 1991. It is often referred to as the administrative capital. Some people tend to feel that there is a certain artificial aspect to it. I live in Abuja and I like the city. I think it is one of those cities that has some hidden gems worth exploring.

Abuja has 6 area councils: Abaji area council, Abuja Municipal Area council (AMAC), Bwari area council, Gwagwlada area council, Kuje area council and Kwali area council.

Here are a few activities you might want to try.

1) The National mosque
The foundation of the mosque was laid in 1982. It is one of the oldest buildings in Abuja and the biggest in Africa according to our guide. It can accommodate an estimated 15,000 worshippers. The architecture and construction were done by Italians, it was commissioned in 1991 and is located in the Central Business District (CBD).
In 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo visited and officially declared the mosque a national
monument.  
When we got in, we were directed to the Administrative block. There we were given the information above about the mosque and assigned a guide to show us around.





The rugs in the mosque are so soft, my feet were pleased to walk on them. Once you stand in the middle of the mosque and speak, everything echoes from there. 


There is a womens' section of the mosque, it was only pointed out to us, we did not go inside. For women visiting, you are required to wear long, loose fitting clothing and to cover your hair. The mosque opens to the public from 8am to 8pm except during prayer times.
  

2) The National Christian Centre
Located also in CBD, is opposite the Central Bank of Nigeria, not far from the National mosque. It was previously known as the National Ecumenical centre. The design was done by a Nigerian architectural firm, then it was built by an Italian firm. The altar is right in the middle and completes a full rotation every ten minutes. I found that striking the time I attended a service there, and it is a major attraction for tourists. The glasses are coloured which makes the windows beautiful, each colour represents something I've heard.
You can combine 1 and 2 when you visit.
People are allowed in always. However, if you have a planned group trip, a letter is required for the administration to make provision for a guide. Not sure why but that was what we were told.

3) Go hiking - This activity has become quite popular in recent times around Abuja. There are different groups like Mantrek Abuja and the Hash that organise hikes regularly. There are a others groups I hear. 


A Mantrek expedition somewhere in Abuja


If you are an outdoor person, you'll enjoy this. Two spots that you can visit on your own are Mpape crush rocks and the hill beside Magic land. 
Mpape crush rocks

You can get a nice view of the side of town close to Magic land.

4) Jet skiing and kayaking - 
i) Jabi boat club: you have the options of kayaking, going on a boat ride or jet skiing. There are rides of 15 mins to 30 mins 


Jet Ski 15 mins = 10,000 while 30 mins = 20,000
Kayaking 2,500 for 30 mins

 


The big boat (pictured below) can contains up to 10 people. 30, mins = 45,000 while 1 hour = 90,000 naira. 

 

ii) At the National stadium, kayaking costs 2,000. 
 
iii) Bwari Usman Dam - Although I'm yet to see which part of the dam kayaking happens, I hear that it costs between 1,000 and 1,500

5) Visit the Bwari pottery and dam - Bwari is located an hour outside the city centre, it is in one of the area councils of Abuja. Google maps will take you there.
You can access the dam from the front or the back. We were slightly lost, so someone was kind enough to drive in front of us. He took us through the back, then found us a guide. The last time I visited, I went through the front. 




Our guide took us to a rock that had a small cut out he called a cave...it was nice to see even though we weren't quite expecting the hike.


Bwari pottery is not so far off. Again, you can rely on google maps to get you there. From watching pots made locally by hand to being made by machines, it's all an interesting process. They even let you give it a go




 
On this day, there wasn't a lot. Most things had already been bought.


 
6) Visit Almat farms and Hope Eden gardens in Kuje - Another one outside central Abuja, this could take about 1h 30mins to get there. Again, Google maps is your 'go to' for directions. 
 


Almat farms is on a space of about 100 hectares. We went on a tour and saw different animals and activities that are carried out. If you love polo, this may be worth a visit.
During the weekends, once there is a willing group, bon fires can be organised. Kayaking takes place here, but is seasonal. At the time we visited, the lake was dry so that was not possible.
There is accommodation and we saw some of the rooms; nicely styled with a traditional touch.

Of course agricultural products are grown on the farm. We visited the green house area but most of the vegetables were gone with the delivery truck already. There were just a few left.
There are nice areas to take photos and a restaurant to chill at. 

Tour times on the farm are at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, while the entry fee per person costs NGN2,150

Hope Eden Gardens is top on my list to see very soon. I've heard and read good things about it but I'm yet to visit. It is a 35 minute drive from Almat Farms according to google maps.

7) Visit the Arts & Craft Market - this is one colourful place you will be glad you visited. You'll find a variety of different locally made items, some would be perfect as presents or souvenirs. 




8) Art galleries - a few galleries have popped up around Abuja. If you are an art lover, Thought Pyramid Art Gallery is one you should visit. I wrote about Retro Africa when I visited.
The famous Nike Art gallery in Lagos has a branch in Lugbe (on the airport road). In the arts and craft market, you would find art works and paintings, as well as on the streets. There is so much talent and so many creative people all over Nigeria.

9) Go Paintballing - Not for the faint hearted! It was mad fun. 
We went to Wakanda Paintball in Wuse zone 5. There are other spots, one just down the road from Wakanda and Central park



The hit from those paint balls hurt! It was also super interesting to see how we got so competitive. There were some real life James Bond moves, people rolling on the ground not to be seen, targets, etc. There is nothing like having the right group, hahahaha.
After two rounds, some of us were tired while others were still pumped to keep going. We had a good laugh at ourselves afterwards.

10) Go chasing waterfalls - there are a few I've heard of but I visited just one, in Karu. We found it with the help of google maps and people who live around there. We drove up to a point, then walked the rest of the way, that took 15 to 20 mins. It is somewhat hilly so you cannot go all the way by car. I'll keep chasing them. 



There are at least 2 or 3 in Karshi. But you need to know people who know these spots to get there.

The states close to Abuja have some spots worth seeing, a day trip would do. For instance, in Niger state, visit Gurara waterfalls or the Zuma golf resort. In Nasarawa state, the farin ruwa waterfalls is a place to see. There are also some farms to chill and have an easy day, I spent a weekend in Wamba on Xtreme Farms. Then there is the popular Zimbabwe area where bush meat, palm wine and local delicacies are sold. The snake farm is not far off from Zimbabwe too.
 
Wondering about food? There is a wide variety of restaurants to try, and food from different places. If you would like healthy, there is a long list, fast food is also available. Mid-range to fine dining is all available as well. I have some places that I like but I would let you do this part of the research on your own, there are lists of places all over the internet 😀

Planning a trip to Abuja any time soon? Let me know what you think of our city after your trip 😉

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this informative post. To think I lived there for years and NEVER knew all this 😆 My next trip will be a scheduled when you are also visiting. Thanks for all you do 🙏

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    1. That should be fun, looking forward to it. Many thanks for reading.

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