Bonfires, roast marshmallows, bush bathrooms and creepy sounds outside camp tents – these are some of the things that make up a truly unforgettable weekend and I got to experience all of that – and much more on my recent trip to Omo Forest Reserve with Unravelling Nigeria.
If you follow the stories on this blog, you will be very familiar with this group. Honestly, if Unravelling Nigeria was a guy, I would be fighting and clamoring to date him by now! I have now been on three
dates tours with them. The first, to Idanre Hills and second to Oke-Ado. But I digress. This is the story of how 16 adventurers spent two days in a forest in Ogun State – without internet, electricity (basically Nigeria every normal day), or baths – and survived!
Our trip began on a fine Saturday morning with a two hour drive from Lagos into Ogun State. We were blessed with traffic-free roads and had a smooth ride all through. After the introductions, we were handed breakfast of a mini burger and smoothies en-route, along with a beautiful ankara bag filled with lots of goodies.
The organizers even remembered that I was prone to having motion sickness and brought me mints for the road. (Their attention to details is just spectacular. Talk about boyfriend material right there!)
We arrived at our camp pretty early and settled down for lunch shortly afterwards. Then we went to set up our tents on the camp grounds. This was the first of many truly enjoyable moments for me during this trip. (Now, I can add ‘Tent setup specialist’ to my resumé)
Once our tents were up (and in some cases, fully decorated), we set out with two reps from the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) on a walk around the village and the outskirts of the reserve to catch any glimpse of the resident birds and wildlife.
We returned to the camp afterwards in time for a barbecue dinner of roast potatoes, chicken, sausages and beef around a bonfire. I called in early after that but the camp party went on into the night. Bids taught everyone a new game (Mafias). I heard it was a lot of fun.
My night was also pretty interesting. At 1 am, I woke up having a near panic attack. We were camping in Nigeria! No fences, No locks and keys. Just tents – outside! I later fell asleep having reassured myself that the company would have covered all grounds regarding safety.
I woke up again at about 2:30 am to something clawing at my tent. I wanted to switch my sleeping side but I was too stiff to move. Haha. Eventually, I fell asleep only to be awoken yet again by footsteps around the camp. (Found out later that morning that it was a camper going to use the bathroom). After that, I slept until about 6:30am when everyone was getting out of their tents.
We began the day with a good breakfast before all 16 of us packed ourselves into this metallic thing!
OK, so, not the safest mode of transport out there but certainly, one of the ‘funnest!’. I mean, how many times do you ever get to be in a ride like this?!
Bids and I as well as two guys eventually opted for the faster option of a bike to create more space in the truck. We got to our first stop, Beetle Hill after an hour’s drive. Then we all proceeded to hike it. It was a little tough for me to climb in some parts, which goes to prove that the hill (not me) was badly out of shape!
We got down from that and went in search of African Elephants. We followed a trail for about an hour but we couldn’t get a glimpse of them. I don’t blame them for being so elusive though. About a month ago, an elephant was gunned down for its tusks when it wandered away from the center of the reserve.
At the end of the day, all we saw were signs that an elephant had just been to a watering hole. Its footsteps were freshly imprinted on the ground.
Our tour officially came to an end after that. We returned to camp, packed up our tents & bags and jumped into the bus to begin our journey into Lagos. Luckily, we met no traffic and arrived in good time.
All in all, I had a fantastic outing. The tour exceeded my expectations and I am looking forward to another adventure with Unravelling Nigeria.
Here’s a short video of the highlights…
PS: I will be writing about Omo Forest Reserve in details later on.
Have you ever considered camping within Nigeria? Would you consider it? Let me know in the comment section below.