DESTINATION OF THE WEEK: Afikpo

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Popular for the major art form named after it, “Afikpo Mask”, Afipko also known as “Ehugbo” is an ancient town and a mecca of ancient Igbo tradition. The town, which is the second largest urban area in Ebonyi State, Nigeria, has managed to retain much of its cultural identity, ancestral heritage and celebrated art forms even though several archeological findings support the claim that Afikpo civilization existed as far back as the Neolithic age.

Afikpo is blessed with a wealth of distinctive art form on display in museums, galleries and online stores worldwide. The town is also home to some of Africa’s top traditional dance groups, artists and cultural festivals. Wherever you go though, you will find that Afikpo retains an appeal for independent travellers that are in short supply at more package-oriented destinations elsewhere in the state. Most budget and mid-range accommodation is still in the form of private rooms, inns and motels, and there has been an explosion in the number of hostel-type establishments in the major. There is plenty in the way of urbane appeal too, if that is what you are after, with impressive hotels and cocktail bars aplenty.

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TOP SITES

Mater Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing and Midwifery

The legendary Mater Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing and Midwifery was one of the first and probably remains the finest nursing school established in Nigeria by the Irish missionaries and Dr. Akanu Ibiam.

Amanchore Cave:

Located at Etiti in Amanchore-Edd in Afikpo-South LGA of the state, this cave is about 3m high with multiple narrow tunnels that extend to different directions. It is accessible through Abakaliki to Afikpo, Ngusu and Mile 2 along Akaeze/Ngusu roads (about 140km and 76km from Enugu and Abakaliki respectively).

Unwana and Ndibe Sand Beaches:

Unwana and Ndibe beaches are both located at Afikpo North LGA. Ideal centers for relaxation, sunbathing, swimming, sport fishing, canoe-racing, and yachting, the two beaches are part of extensive scenic golden sand beaches along Cross River basin.

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Lodging

There’s a growing choice of accommodation in Afikpo with the best options including Ndibe Beach Hotels And Resorts Limited, The Focus Hotel & Resort, and Ikemba Guest House. Most of them are boutique hotels and B&Bs, as there is a relative shortage number of well-equipped four- and five-star hotels. For the moment, the budget hotel rooms offered represent the town’s best-value accommodation.

Dinning

Afikpo is a major food basket of Nigeria. There are a number of local restaurants, fast food joints and bukkas around town. Most of the dishes are usually no different from main Ibo dishes served around the south-east, the meals are served come in large portions, making an excellent low-cost meal.

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Shopping

Afikpo offers a range of retail experiences you won’t find in other parts of Ebonyi State. The city has regular flea markets, second-hand clothes shops and plenty of stores selling old books and electronics. It also has more in the way of boutiques selling household goods and fashion accessories made by local designers. Many of Afikpo’s best souvenir ideas involve the art and craft that the town is best known for. Even the smallest pieces make gorgeous souvenirs, but can be very expensive.

Fun Facts

Afipko is also the home of the late Eze (DR) Akanu Ibiam, who hailed from the village of Unwana. Dr. Ibiam was one of the first Igbo medical doctors of Western training and the former Governor of Eastern region.

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