A Tourist Guide to Calabar
Calabar is pregnant, heavy with many tourist attractions. The city is over 2,000 years old, and was a popular sea port as far back as the 15th century, and a major slave trade port from the late 17th to 19th centuries. Due to her early role in international trade and colonial administration, Calabar hosts the earliest military barracks, the first Presbyterian Church (Church of Scotland Mission), the first monorail, the first modern road network in Nigeria, first public general hospital in Nigeria – St. Margaret Hospital, the oldest post office and one of the first two botanical gardens in the country.
The Calabar Museum houses arguably one of the largest archives of original documents relating to the slave trade and palm oil production in Nigeria. The museum also holds many relics of the British Empire and mementoes of local chiefs and colonial dignitaries, revealing the city’s discovery as early as the 1400’s.
In Calabar you can sightsee, shop and eat out.
Duke Town Church
Established by the Presbyterian Church Missionaries, this is one of the oldest churches in Nigeria. Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary whose memory is cherished in the town for her role in the movement to abolish the killing of twins, lived in Calabar from the late 19th century until her death in 1915. On Eyamba Street just past the church is the cemetery with stunning views over the town and river. Inside it lays Mary Slessor’s tomb.
Cross River National Park
The Cross River National Park is an integral part of the Cross River State rainforest conservation area. It is located in Boki Local Government Area and spans from Kanyan to the foot of the Obudu Plateau. Divided into two sections, the park covers a total land area of 720sq km of rugged mountain scenery and rolling hills.
Mary Slessor Building
Mary Slessor, a missionary from Scotland, made a great contribution to the well-being of the Calabar people. The two storey building where she lived was built 1889, and has recently been beautifully revamped and restored by the local authority. The building is reachable by boat from the waterfront.
The Obong’s Palace
This historical palace exhibits the preserved cultural heritage of the Calabar people, their involvement in slave trade and other memorabilia. The palace is an ideal place to learn more about the historical and cultural heritage of the city and her people.
The Centre for Education Research and Conservation of Primates and Nature (CERCOPAN) hosts more than 120 primates of six different species. They include endangered guenons and mangabeys, rescued and cared for by the centre. Founded in 1995 by Canadian Zena Tooze, CERCOPAN is one of the leading environmental, non-profit and non-governmental organisations working to promote conservation in Nigeria. It also has numerous species of tropical birds and is a temporary home to rehabilitate drills and other monkeys before their release into the wild.
The Calabar Cenotaph was built in memory of Nigerian heroes of the civil war and two World Wars. It is located along Calabar Road, near the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Ikom has a long and ancient history with carved stones, which date back to 200 AD. At about 3 feet high, these heavily designed stones are extraordinarily beautiful; on them are engravings, which are thought to be similar to those, found in Egypt. A fine example can be seen at the Calabar Museum.
The Agbokim Waterfalls is located about 15km from the town. This spectacular falling sheet of water is actually on the Cross River, where it descends in terraces, through the tropical rainforest.
Calabar Drill Monkey Ranch
The Calabar Drill Ranch is a component of the Afi Drill Ranch, a refuge for drill monkeys and chimpanzees. The drill ranch is run by Pandrillus, an organisation established by Americans – Liza Gadsby and Peter Jenkins. Starting with one drill in 1988, the ranch now cares for 246 in six groups, one in Calabar and five at Afi, which is the largest captive breeding colony in the world. The project is one of the few opportunities to save the species, whose numbers in the wild are thought to be as few as 3,000. At the Calabar ranch, visitors have a rare opportunity to see these unusual primates in semi-wild enclosures, as well as chat with staff, many of whom are volunteers.
Ekpo Bassey’s House
Chief Ekpo Bassey’s house is a vintage building situated at 19, Boko Street, and once the residence of the famous Nigerian journalist and politician. Imported in parts from the United Kingdom and only assembled at its base, the house is now a national monument.
Bassey Duke Effigy
Erected graciously at the roundabout by the famous Watt Market in Calabar, the effigy immortalises late Bassey Duke, a famous Efik trader and community leader of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Located close to the Calabar Free Trade Zone, Tinapa is conceptualised as an integrated business and leisure resort. It is a phased development promoted by the government of Cross River State, under a Private Public Partnership (PPP).
Obudu Mountain Resort
Obudu is located in the highlands of Cross River State, only 45 miles from the border with Cameroon. It enjoys a temperate climate, which is due to its high altitude. Facilities include cable cars that convey guests from the base camp to the summit of the mountain.
Calabar Museum Restaurant
Next door to the Calabar Museum is a cheap and popular restaurant and bar serving local dishes like pounded yam and afang soup. Cold drinks are also available including freshly tapped palm wine and afofo (locally made gin).
Located in a pleasant and clean environment, Supreme Dishes is a popular eat-out spot with the locals. It offers traditional or local dishes such as afang soup, coconut rice, isi-ewu (a delicacy prepared with goat head) and fresh fish peppersoup.
Old Chinese Restaurant
This is one of the earliest Chinese restaurants in the city. It has recently undergone a major facelift and offers a broad menu, as well as spacious outdoor areas where people can sit and relax with a cool beer while waiting to be served.
Conveniently located, the restaurant offers snacks and local dishes including the popular afang and pepper soups. There is also a well-stocked bar with beers, soft drinks, wines and spirits. This spacious air-conditioned restaurant is equipped with satellite television, making it highly popular amongst local sports fans.
Channel View Restaurant
A good place to dine and wine, it’s the perfect spot to get away from the bustle of Calabar. In addition to the African and continental standards, the best offerings served up in the cool white interior are the punchy home-made goat peppersoup and fresh coleslaw. The drinks are also considerably cheap.
Crunchies is a fast-food outlet serving a mixed barbecue of chicken, meat and fish, as well as fresh sausage rolls and ubiquitous meat pies.
Channel View Karaoke Bar
Channel View Hotel Karaoke Bar is a lively joint, most especially at the weekends. It always makes for an enjoyable night out, attracting a good crowd of non-residents. Well-stocked with an assortment of spirits, which includes the ever-popular cognacs, it is recommended for those who want to indulge their hip-hop video lifestyle fantasies.
This is another popular evening spot amongst the locals due to its chilled vibe, seasonable prices and the fact that it is centrally located. There is always a good crowd here enjoying the best isi-ewu and relaxing with palm wine, as well as local and imported beers.
A great location to explore is the Amber Tinapa, located within Tinapa Business Resort. It offers 243 well-appointed bedrooms, and an excellent restaurant overlooking the Tinapa Lakeside.
Le Chateau Hotel
Centrally located in Calabar, Le Chateau is one of Cross River State’s best kept hotels. It is a great alternative to higher priced hotels, which give less room amenities. Indeed, Le Chateau gives you the best value for money. Each room has a clock radio, in-room safe, telephone with voice mail and data port, colour television with pay movies, Internet access, and iron and ironing boards. There is also free coffee and muffins every morning. Le Chateau is the ideal hotel for business visitors and those on vacation; it lies on a taxi route, contributing to its high accessibility.
Whether one is on a business trip or simply wants to enjoy a refreshing break from the pressures of work, discerning guests will be enthralled by Marian’s excellent and delightful ambience, careful attention to detail and dedicated full service. The hotel is located in the prime business district of the Calabar metropolis, a 10-minute drive from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport and a 20-minute leisure ride to both the Calabar Free Trade Zone and Tinapa projects.
The Transcorp Metropolitan was previously known as the Metropolitan Hotel before it was recently acquired by Transcorp. Passing through the simple doorway at the hotel entrance, it’s a surprise to find a marbled foyer creating an unexpected sense of space and tranquility. Marble is the theme throughout, and the rooms are well proportioned, each with controlled air-conditioning, satellite TV, a safe box and a mini bar.
Tinapa Business Resort
The Amber Tinapa is situated within Nigeria’s first retail Free Trade Zone. It was conceived as an alternative entertainment and retail destination similar to what’s available in Dubai or South Africa.
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