“Everywhere I go, people are warm…” – Lola of Unravelling Nigeria

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Jumia Travel recently interview Lola, a travel blogger who works to unravel the numerous amazing destinations in Nigeria while also working 9-5. Read about her experiences as she travels around the country.

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Agodi Gardens, Ibadan

Hello, it’s great to meet you and have this chat with you. To start off, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Curator and CEO of Unravelling Nigeria. I like to think I’m friendly and quite playful. I love to travel and try out new things. I have a regular 9-5 and I also run Unravelling Nigeria which is your go to place for all things Nigerian tourism.

On the website it says “…a website where I would discover, share and review everything tourism related in Nigeria” tell us, how has that experience been so far?

It’s been fun. It’s also been a wonderful experience so far. I can truly and honestly tell you that it has opened my eyes to the many things Nigeria possesses, I have met amazing people ranging from our tour participants to the people at the local bukkas. Everywhere I go, people are warm and accommodating and I believe that’s the true Nigerian spirit.

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Iyake Lake, Oyo.

You also describe yourself as a full time tourist. Sounds all kinds of exotic. Tell us what that entails.

LOL. Ok maybe that isn’t true in the sense that I also have a regular 9-5. That said, being a full time tourist means that on my days off from work, public holidays or whenever I get a chance, I’m looking for the next place to visit and explore – restaurants, hotels, tourist traps/sites, markets etc. You name it and I’m interested. It’s not as exotic as it sounds. It can be stressful as Nigeria isn’t the easiest place logistics wise and things are not standardized. However in the end, it’s usually worth it.

What do you love the most about travelling?

Going to a new place (even going to an old place can be fun as you tend to see things you might have missed the first time), Meeting new people, learning new cultures and trying the local food and the sights which are usually AMAZING. For road trips, I love the views.

What inspired you to start travelling?

I’ve been travelling for as long as I can remember. However, what inspired me to travel around Nigeria is easy. I wanted to show off Nigeria’s tourism potential and it’s been fulfilling so far.

Apart from unravelling amazing destination spots we have in this great country of ours, do you have interests in touring and visiting other African countries?

Yes we do. We’ve actually started an Instagram page (@UnravellingAfrica) and we hope to get the website (www.unravellingafrica.com) up and running soon. Africa needs to take its place with the rest of the world and show off its gems (both famous and not so famous)

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Unravelling Nigeria Tour

With all of your experience traveling, when would you say is the right time to travel in Nigeria?

Hmmm, this depends on where you’re going to. For waterfalls, rivers, lakes, mountains it’s best to go in the dry season. If you’re going to the North, don’t go during harmattan as the weather may be too cold for you. Depending on the kind of person you are, going during the public holidays may be a pro or con. Tourist attractions will probably be crowded during this time so if you don’t mind it, go for it.

How do you afford to travel – are you rich?! Trust Fund Baby? Heiress? Tech Money? Oil Money?

Hahahaha. I wish I was I was all of the above. Still waiting on Baba God to pick up the phone on that. I know this sounds cliché but everyone has that one thing they don’t mind spending all their money on and for me, that’s travelling. Spending money on experiences makes me happy. The memories stay forever but shoes, bags and clothes will fade. I plan ahead and save, save, save! Also Nigerian tourist attractions are not as expensive as they seem. I think.

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Oke Ado Mountain, Oyo State.

What would you recount as the funniest or most embarrassing travel moment you have experienced?

A – Funniest thing was probably in Ondo State. Our tour group was having a mini party on the balcony and when we looked down, the security was dancing too instead of manning the gate. We found that hilarious.

B – When I took a British couple to a mama putt in Ekiti State, everyone within the area literally trooped in to take pictures with them, hug them and have some sort of contact with ‘oyinbo’. It was so funny but it was also a magical moment.

What are the three things that you certainly cannot travel without?

Power bank, Phone/Camera and cash. ( I know I cheated and wrote 4 things)

Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?

  • Carry cash. You don’t want to depend on an ATM and not find one that works at your destination or your card acts up.
  • Research on where you’re going to. What are the dos and don’ts there so you’re not offending anyone.
  • Don’t just up and leave, tell family/friends where you are. God forbid something happens, you don’t want to be stranded.
  • Be security conscious.
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Kayaking in Victoria Island, Lagos

Do you travel alone? Or is there a Robin to your Batman?

I usually drag my brother along and he’s more than happy to tag along.

How much has traveling changed your view of the different parts of this country, and the different cultures you encounter on your adventures?

A – Don’t believe everything you see in the news or read in the papers. Everything isn’t what it seems or as bad or backwards as people make them seem.

B – Do not judge tribes based on what you’ve heard. I met the most amazing Fulani man when I went to Kajuru Castle, he left a lasting impression on me.

C – Nigeria is beautiful and we are blessed.

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Kajuru Castle Tour

How many languages do you speak?

I speak Yoruba, I hope to learn Hausa one day and speak couple of words in Igbo.

What steps do you take to ensure your safety while travelling?

Would it be reckless of me to say none? Ok that’s not true. I cannot over emphasize the value of research. Research tells you everything you need to know. Is it generally safe? Do people go there, what are the customs and traditions, etc.? I also try as much as possible not to travel at night or through routes that have been flagged as potential red zones. Travelling in Nigeria is not as awful as people make it seem. The roads are bad granted but you would be surprised by how many trips people take in a month. Once in a while bad things happen by air, road or rail but hey, it happens everywhere in the world.

Don’t be a show off or draw attention to yourself. Do you really need to wear that fancy watch during your trip, or that diamond necklace? Put it away.

* I want to add something here, while some places may have this cloud over them about safety, sometimes like I said in earlier, it simply isn’t true. I have a friend who just recently explored the North and she never felt like she was in any danger. She researched, dressed appropriately and did things the way she was meant to and she is back in Lagos safe and sound. We will be putting her story up on the site soon.

If you have to recommend just one place to a visitor coming from outside Nigeria, where would that place be?

Yankari Games Reserve in Bauchi State

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Idanre Hills Trip, April 2016.

Tell us about some of the most interesting places you have been to in the different states. Markets. Parks. Museums. Carnivals.

 A – Kajuru Castle – Kaduna

B – Arts & Crafts Market – Abuja

C – Idanre Hills – Ondo State

D – Oke-Ado Mountain – Oyo State

E – Ikogosi Warm Spring – Ekiti State

F – Arinta Waterfall – Ekiti State

G – Osun Grove – Osun State

H – Erin Ijesha Waterfalls – Osun State

I – Nike Arts & Crafts – Osun State

J – Nike Art Gallery – Lagos State

K – Agodi Gardens – Ibadan

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Ikogosi Warm Spring Tour

How do you handle the lodging and accommodation challenge when you travel?

I check online for reviews or ask people who have been to those states for referrals. Thank God for technology, most of these place have websites so you have a general idea of where you’re staying/prices and after comparing with others I pick the one I feel most comfortable with.

What would you say about your hotel experience when traveling in Nigeria?

The hotel experience hasn’t been too bad. You get what you pay but Lord can customer service be improved?

How do you think the experiences can be improved overall?

The attitude of staff needs to be checked. No matter how decent your hotel is, the whole experience is destroyed by rude, haughty, unprofessional staff. Some sort of training needs to be done for these people ‘cause Lord knows this is how businesses die.

 

Image Source: Images have been forwarded by Lola of Unravelling Nigeria .

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