Distance driven: 1552km
Days spent: 12
Distance driven/day: 129,33km
Diesel price: 0,74€/l
Money spent: 727€
We got our visas much earlier in Bissau (Guinea-Bissau). The Nigeria embassy (N11 52.554 W015 38.137) moved recently close to the Restaurant Almagui. We met with the consul and explained our situation and intended route through the country. He was very friendly and gave us tips on what to see. We could collect our post-dated visas later the same day. It was one of the easiest visa applications so far.
We had to fill out one form and hand in one passport photo.
Costs are 40.000CFA/person (61€) for a one month visa valid for three months from the date of issue (post-dating no problem).
Nigeria was nothing like we had been told before. The welcome of the people in the small Muslim villages in the West was absolutely stunning with parties braking out whenever we were sighted. Any passing car or motorbike greeted us with big smiles and waves. The road from Nikki to Abuja was pretty shocking though with only one small stretch of good bitumen and it took us two long days to reach the capital. Abuja itself may not be exactly pretty but is nevertheless modern with a good infrastructure and even cheap supermarkets. We enjoyed the hospitality of several German expats which made our time in the capital a definite highlight. The roads from Abuja towards Ikom were quite decent and the Afi Mountain Drill Ranch in Cross River State is an absolute must located in pristine rainforest with hundreds of drills and a few dozen chimps.
The country is infamous for its official and unofficial roadblocks but in our eyes nothing to deter anyone from visiting. From the border to Abuja we were stopped 13 times by mostly correct and very friendly officials. Throughout the country the traffic police wearing red berets and driving in blue pickups tried to fine us for not having a roof rack license and/or driving a right hand drive car but with a bit of humour and patience we were always on our way again. We usually explained that we know and respect the local laws but as we are only on transit with a laissez-passer/carnet de passage in a foreign registered vehicle these cannot be applied in the same way. The feared sticker boys setting up unofficial roadblocks with nail boards left us in peace throughout the country.
Crossing into Nigeria from Nikki was a treat with very interested and kind officials and no hassle whatsoever.
A gem in terms of mechanical workshops in Africa is Armin Schmands Mercedes branch in Abuja (N9 01.762 E7 24.217). He can organize parts for many different vehicles, has knowledgeable mechanics and a heart for overlanders.
The embassy (N9 04.267 E7 29.389) is located in the city centre and easy to reach. A one month single entry visa costs either 50.000CFA West (76,20€), 120US$ (only large notes from 2005 onwards, 87,60€) or 18.500Naira (84€). Passport copy, 2 passport photos, yellow fever certificate copy, vehicle paper copy and copies of the Nigeria visa as well as Gabon visa (if already in the passport) are needed as well as one filled out application form. Pickup is the following day at 14:00.
Alternatively you can also acquire the Cameroon visa in Calabar (N4 59.777 E8 19.429) on the same day without any hassle.
Recommended Campings (prices for 2 people and a 4×4):
The Sheraton Hotel in Abuja (N9 03.885 E7 28.991) is not to be recommended anymore, since they recently raised their camping price to 1000% (10.000Naira/45,50€) and you have to pay for 5 days in advance without getting a refund when leaving earlier. Things might change to the better again if they eventually come to their senses.
Coming from Nikki in Benin the countryside west of Abuja with its tree savannah and not too high population is good for bush camping.
Afi Mountain Drill Ranch, Cross River State – N6 17.949 E8 59.892 (turnoff N6 14.201 E9 01.411)
Camping in pristine rain forest surrounded by its sounds, brilliant outdoor shower, free entry to the ranch, don’t miss the feedings and the partly collapsed canopy walk