Calabar: 5 Things Everyone Loves About The City

Calabar Carnival

1. Calabar is Rich in Culture

Calabar is a city of history, culture, and tourism. Situated on a natural hill overlooking the Calabar River, there is so much about this city for you to experience. Historically, it is said to be one of the oldest centers for trading in Nigeria. In the 17th century, it was a popular center for the slave trade and even became the biggest colonial administration in Nigeria in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. This justifies the presence of certain colonial architectural structures in Calabar. Currently, the capital of Cross River state, Nigeria, Calabar fills the traveler with memories that cannot be forgotten easily.Calabar Garden Museum

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2. It is a City of Carnivals

The Calabar Carnival generally is known to be the largest street cultural festival in Africa. The carnival is organised annually, usually in the month of December. Usually graced by thousands of visitors and guests from all parts of the world.

dancers at the annual calabar carnival

3. You get to Enjoy The Best of Nature and History

To make memories in nature and history, you can visit the Slave Museum, then move to the Calabar Free Trade Zone, or Tinapa Business and Tourist Resort. You can also visit the Cultural and Civic Center, then explore the Calabar Port and University Campuses. Do this and you will experience the fun of life that Calabar has to offer. To crown your Calabar adventure, you can drive straight to the Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain  Resort and experience the glory of nature.

Drill monkey centre, Calabar

4. There’s So Much to Explore

You may begin your exploration from the historical Duke Town church (which is one of the oldest churches in Nigeria, established by the Presbyterian missionaries). From the church, you can go to Eyamba street, where you will find a cemetery with an amazing view of the town and river. In this cemetery, you will find the tomb of Mary Slessor, the missionary from Dundee in Scotland, who put an end to the killing of twins.

From here you can go to the Calabar Museum. It is on the hill overlooking the waterfront, in the Old Government House, which is the former residence of the colonial governor. The building is said to be designed and constructed in Glasgow and shipped over to Calabar in pieces. The museum is a historical record of Calabar.Old Residency Museum, Calabar

You may also visit the Drill Monkey Rehab Centre. The center, set up by Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby, US biologists who were persuaded by the Nigerian Government to stay in Nigeria and look after the endangered Drill Monkeys which were traditionally hunted and eaten in the Afi Mountain range that borders Cameroon.

You could head to the Marina Resort, which is one of the most charming tourist destinations in Calabar. The resort is home to structures dating back to the colonial era as well as modern facilities such as the slave museum, speed boat ride, the carousel horse ride, film/movie theatre, and nightclubs. This is just a place to be.

5. Serve Your Taste Buds with a Burst of Spice and Flavours

You can also explore the culinary wonders of Calabar.  The city, being a coastal one, enjoys an abundance of fresh seafood from prawns, to fish, to even crabs. Restaurants at every corner, allows you to play favourites. For the best suya and catfish pepper soup, visit the  Bogobiri Corner, or you may go to Freddie’s Restaurant, a local eatery with Lebanese delicacies. You can also get palm wine, local beer, wines and all sorts of drinks. If you prefer Chinese cuisine, there is a Chinese restaurant at Mirage Hotel.

Smoked catfish peppersoup

How to Get to Calabar

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There are three different ways to travel to Calabar: by boat, by plane or by car/bus.

You can find a regular boat service from different parts of the Cameroon border, which you may board to Calabar.

It is about an hour from Lagos to Calabar, but 25 minutes from Port Harcourt to Calabar if you are traveling by flight. You will land at the Magaret Ekpo International Airport. Some major airlines that travel to Calabar include Arik Air, Air Peace, MedView, and Dana. You can visit the hotels.ng/flights website to book yourself an affordable flight with your favorite airline. Enjoy your journey!

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Samuel Oluwatobi Olatunji is a happy human, who freelances as a writer and editor.