What You Need to Know Before You Explore Obudu Cattle Ranch
In December 2017, after a lot of saving, planning and excitement. I was able to tour Cross River state for a week. My first vacation without my family. Oh how I felt fulfilled! I shared a picture diary on my Instagram page. But I’m not just here to talk about how awesome the trip was. That’s a lie..I am. This is the surprise post I mentioned in my weekly Sunday update, Just So You Know.
I’ll be sharing travel tips, giving an estimate of my expenses and things to do while at Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort. Over the past decade travelling Nigeria for holiday leisure and adventurous exploration has been on the raise. With many indigenous tour and travel firms offering affordable, secure and fun packages, it can be daunting doing it personally. But this post will give you helpful travel advice. My love for exploring Nigeria and Africa is as high as Kilimanjaro. I’ve seen breathtaking wonders of nature on my trips.
What expenses are you making?
Without sufficient funds travelling can be disastrous. I’ll share my expenses during my tour of Cross River State. I won’t want you to find creating a budget difficult. Note that these prices might have changed.
Road Travel is an option if you don’t mind the hours. ABC Transport and GIGM offer affordable, trustworthy transporters
Flight Tickets can be as low as 16,000 or as high as 27,000 depending on when you book online with your desired airline.
Within Cross River, public cab fares cost way more. Seats in Ikom cabs at Calabar cost N2,000. Passengers are stuffed into these caravans. We paid for an extra seat at the back. Usually, two passengers sit in front, four sit in the middle and three at the back. At Four Points in Ikom, seats to Obudu Town cost N1,500 with similar sitting arrangements. From Obudu Town up to the Ranch cost N2,000. The cab driver was our guide since the Ranch workers were on strike. We and another couple paid N6,000 for his service. This money included our fare back to Obudu Town but with other passengers.
I stayed at my ex-partner’s resident at State Housing Estate in Calabar so I can’t give price quotes for hotels there. You can search out affordable hotels on Hotels.ng. In Ikom I stayed at serene Jorany Hotel Resort at N20,000 per night. They also take payment in dollars. The spacious, clean room was on the ground floor. Accommodation at the Mountain Resort starts from 45,000 up to N500,000.
FEEDING AND SOUVENIRS
You should treat yourself to delicacies like Afang or Edikiakon soups with warm fufu, white rice and spicy chicken pepper soup, suya and jollof rice, etc. The average plate of food from bukas at Ikom cost N700-N1,500 depending on what you buy. In Calabar, souvenirs at the Marina Museum cost N5000 upwards for Ankara dresses, straw hats, mini sculptures, films, etc. Original Honey was the only thing sold at the Canopy Walk entrance by Ranch dwellers. The smallest bottle, large Eva water bottle, cost N1,000.
What activities should you do at Obudu Cattle Ranch?
• Canopy Walk: was one of the fun things I did while on the Ranch. This Canopy is the first canopy installation of the company that laid the Lagos Conservation Centre canopy walk. It was just two bridges that led to a tall metal tower. The Ranch from above the tower was a magnificent view. The Canopy Walk is part of the Nature Reserve that has a Fern Tree Groove, Monkey tree views.
• Cable Ride: Is a paid ride that carries tourists high across the golden valley, grand mountains and chilled, misty landscape.
• Drive to the Presidential Villa etched on the highest mountain. Through snaking roads, past lodges, huts, settlements. You’ll drive through chilly, fog cloaked air to the top of the highest mountain. From the front of the Villa you can echo to the dipping, dark green, valley and neighbouring mountains. It’s a wondrous sight. The huts, apartments and villas are all on mountains or their sides. Little wonder it’s called the Mountain Resort.
• Walk around the Grotto. The lush, golden landscape leads to a natural pool. It was a breathtaking. airy, golden landscape. This place made me whisper, ‘Cross River is a stunning beauty’ repeatedly. It’s N1,000 to access the Grotto.
• Visit the indigenous Obudu-Fulani settlers living at Banana Island nestled between 3-4 mountains on the Cattle Ranch. You can ask your guide to drive you there.
• Ask your guide for historical facts about the Ranch, settlers’ myths and other things you can do. When we drove from the Ranch entrance up to the first Hill curve. there was a sign post. Our driver said a high ranking military official had run the distance back when the Ranch was being created. That sign post is named after him in honour of his efforts of uniting tribes and encouraging hard work. If you see it, share its picture and tag me!
How do you get to Obudu Cattle Ranch?
You can take a flight to Enugu. At the Enugu International Airport take public cab to Ikom. At Four Points in Ikom you can get a cab ride for N1,500 to Obudu Town. Get another public cab ride up to the Ranch for N2,000.
You can get a bike ride to the town from the Ranch. Usually the bike rider switches off the bike and it rolls down the sloppy, twisting hill in a thrilling, lifetime ride. I didn’t do this because I’m afraid of unleveled, sloppy heights. On the Ranch there are public cabs that carry Ranch dwellers and tourists to a cab park in Obudu Town. Remember how you got, there then go back.
You can take a transporters bus trip to Calabar. I was on the road from Jibowu ABC park at 7am and got their Calabar park at 9pm. I love road travel. It exposes me to the sensational landscape, unpopular treasure sights, communal life and Nigerian socio-politics. Once you are at Calabar. Ikom car park at Calabar is called Mobil by MCC, bedside Conoil station. You’ll get a 4hrs drive in a public caravan to Ikom. I’d advice you lodge at an hotel and rest.
At Four Points in Ikom you can get a cab to Obudu Town, which is a 4 hours drive. I liked how traffic-free Cross River expressways and highways were. The mountainous land mass is extremely vast. Road travel between the state capital, Calabar and neighbouring local governments, eg Ikom, Obudu takes hours. From Obudu Town you’ll get another cab to take you into the Ranch. It takes two and a half hours to get back to Ikom from Obudu Cattle Ranch. To leave Cross River, you either go back by road travel or a flight at Margaret Ekpo Airport in Calabar.
I remember the drive back to Ikom. As the sun set, it’s rays illuminated the cold, translucent air. The air I breathed was clean and crisp. It was chilled like someone had left the air conditioning on out there on the tarred two lane highway. The trees and mountain silhouettes smelt like fragrant pastries because of the cocoa farms and plantations lining the road aides.
•Find out if the staff of Obudu Cattle Ranch and Mountain Resort are on strike before you visit or book for Ranch lodgings. When I and my ex-partner went they were on strike. I was so grateful we decided against lodging on the Ranch. It was our local cab driver that we and other couple paid to be a tour guide. We couldn’t access the Cable Ride, Grotto Pool and some parts of the Ranch.
•Have a travel read o. Mine was The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin. Pick a paperback book that will be interesting. I’d advise either a witty poetry collection, intriguing short story collection, fantasy or mystery or African literature best seller. I say paperback because the drive from Ikom to Obudu and back takes over 7 hours. Boredom follows wonder after a while. The landscape and excitement can distract you from focusing on business, career or school books. Network is poor, so listening to online audio books or book podcasts will be frustrating. Your battery should be saved for emergency calls or taking pictures. Reading an ebook will drain it.
•Don’t take pictures at stops with military or police check points. It can be an oversight because the silhouette of large mountains beautifully fill the horizon. The device can be ceased and you might get harassed.
•Have safe places to keep cash because ATMs and POS are scarce once you leave Ikom. The highway cuts through fragrant cocoa plantations and outskirts of towns.
•Wear warm clothing. Obudu town itself is colder than the highway between it and Ikom. Nobody warned me about the temperature. Don’t wear shorts like I did. You can slay in Ankara maxi dresses, denim trousers and basically warm chic clothing. Your footwear should be hiking friendly. Being comfortable while climbing, walking and hiking is paramount. Don’t miss the sights because of sore feet.
•Write out your emergency contacts. Have a means of identification on you at all times. It can be your national, school or work I.D. Your phone battery might run out. For security reasons text your next of kin, family, close friends. They should be updated of your journey progress and stops where you are being harassed. A text is an admissible electronic evidence. Stay safe and be smart.
All the best with you wanderlust Gemstone!