Calabar is the capital city of Cross River state which is located in the Southern part of Nigeria known as the Niger Delta region. Cross River state’s motto is “the people’s Paradise” due to its rich historical relations with sojourners from the Western world. The old section of Calabar is made up of the Sea Port, Dukes Town church, Mary Slessor’s house amongst other things which are on the top tourist attractions in Calabar, Nigeria.
The name Calabar is referred to Akwa Akpa in Efik language which came as a result of the land being in between the Calabar River and the Niger Delta. Tourist attractions like Cross River National park which shares a border with Cameron and the great Kwa falls, annual Calabar festival, Obudu mountain resort, Tinapa resort amongst other activities are top tourist attractions in Calabar.
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Top Tourist Attractions in Calabar
NATIONAL MUSEUM CALABAR:
This was formerly the Government house during the Colonial rule which is said to have been built in Britain and then shipped in bits to Calabar in the late 1800s. The National Museum Calabar which is made of old Scandinavian pine has stood for centuries preserving old relics mostly documents, furnishings, and artifacts used during the Colonial Administration.
The museum which overlooks the Calabar creek is a good place to learn about the Efik history while browsing through the old items carefully listening to the tour guide taking you back in time. The museum is always open between 9 am to 6 pm daily and usually rowdy during public holidays.
CROSS RIVER NATIONAL PARK:
When visiting Calabar make out time to visit Cross River National Park which is the most preserved tropical rainforest in West Africa. It spreads from Oban through to Okwangwo over a landmass of 720 square kilometres which took a period of three years to be fully established.
Cross River National park is a sanctuary to almost extinct animals, plants and faunas like the drill monkeys, Red fox, leopards and many more.
Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort is the first of its kind in the South-South which was created with the sole aim of giving tourists a dream experience in one visit. A section of this resort is Tinapa Free Trade Zone where most trade exhibitions and conferences take place with a capacity of over
Tinapa Resort is the first integrated business and leisure resort established by the government of Cross River. The resort is located just about 10 km from Calabar and serves as the ideal place to buy duty-free good and supplies. Tinapa resort boasts of spectacular architectural designs and features a luxury hotel, cinema, movie production studio known as “Studio Tinapa”, mini amphitheater, nightclubs, a children’s arcade, pubs and water-themed park.
The resort is a tourist’s dream located by the Calabar River, Tinapa Resort is a world-class facility where visitors can take advantage of retail and wholesale activities as well as enjoy recreational activities. There is an open exhibition area at Tinapa Free Trade Zone available for trade exhibitions and other events.
It is tagged the Largest street party in Africa with the tourists always visiting by the tonne year in year out, especially during the carnival period. The carnival which begins from December 1 to December 31 keeps spectators visiting from all parts of the country well entertained while boosting the tourism sector and stakeholders. The parades are known to represent various Nigerian tribes and well known international countries also participate. Outside the parades, other activities like novelty matches, Boat regattas, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival take place which spreads the event all over Calabar to ensure there is something for everyone.
OBUDU MOUNTAIN RESORT:
Obudu Mountain resort is comprised of heights and miles of rolling highs and mountain which is guaranteed to give you a double take on your first visit. The temperate climate and the deep tropical forest allows for the exotic breed of butterflies and faunas to flourish. Adventurers are known to climb the Obudu mountain which takes a number of days with enough rest and food to energise the climber. The serene and picturesque environment is great for a good ole escape from civilisation into the unknown which is sure you would enjoy to the utmost.
Top Tourist Attractions in Calabar
CHIEF EKPO BASSEY’S HOUSE:
This ancient house on No 19 Boko street in Calabar stands out for its history and the affluence of Chief Ekpo Bassey who was a Kingmaker of the Efik tribe and a politician during the colonial era. Parts of the house is said to have been imported from England in and then fixed in its present location. The House became a National monument in the year 1959 when the government took it over to preserve it for Educational and tourist purposes.
DUKES TOWN CHURCH:
When the mention of the oldest churches in Nigeria comes up, Duke town Church in the Old Calabar would come up because it is the first site of Christianity teachings on the arrival of the Missionaries in Calabar. This Presbyterian Church was built in the early 19th century under the administration of Reverend Hope Waddell who was a medical missionary from Ireland. His stay in Calabar was a memorable one with his works to abolish the killing of twins alongside Mary Slessor, treatment of Cholera with calomel and the education of people to read and write in English. The altitude of the church makes it possible for a visitor to climb to the top of the storey and view the surrounding environment including Mary Slessors tomb and the flower creek.
MARY SLESSOR’S HOUSE:
When Mary Slessor the savior of infanticide killings in Calabar arrived in 1876 she had a two bedroom mud house and a verandah built for her with the help of the villages and the chieftains. This house was called “Fine pass all” by the villagers who always saw it as a treat to visit her. Forward to 1889 when a missionary carpenter was contracted to make a better dwelling for her out of wood and iron sheets. After her death, the house was transformed into a mission house and a health centre by the Odukpani Local Government Council. Mary Slessor’s house is currently an important tourist site where one can go down history lane and understand the perspective of the missionaries and tribes back in the days.
Agbokim Waterfalls is located is Ikom Local Government Area in Cross River where the cascading waterfall can be seen from comfortable vantage points. The waterfall is made up of seven different streams which all fall over a steep cliff to form a seven-faced waterfall. It’s location which is near the Nigeria-Cameroon border which offers a lush rainforest for relaxation and taking experiential pictures.
DRILL REHABILITATION CENTRE:
This is a wildlife initiative of Peter Jenkins and Lisa Gadsby who built the drill Rehabilitation Centre (1991) to preserve the lives of the almost extinct Drills which are a rear species of Primates dominate in Nigeria. Alongside the rehabilitation centre is the Drill Ranch which is used as a form of generating funds for the upkeep and smooth running of the centre. Also, the wildlife sanctuary is receptive of orphaned Chimpanzees to care for them. Through their existence, they have recorded over 250 births of Drills and a lowered mortality rate.
Kwa Falls is a tropical paradise in the heart of Oban division of Cross River National Park which is characterized by a narrow gorge on the headwater of the Kwa River. This natural spring water flows through rocks and the tropical rainforest to form the remaining cloudy pool at the base of the Kwa River. To find this waterfall you have to visit Anegeje village in Akampa Local Government Area of Cross River State a few kilometres to Calabar.
Visiting Calabar should be on top of your travel list if you have not. For those who have been to Calabar do share your experience in the comment.