Enugu is one state I have dreamt of visiting. I have met so many people that hail from the state or have schooled there. Enugu city is the capital of Enugu State in Nigeria. It is located in southeastern Nigeria. The name Enugu is derived from the two Igbo words Énú Ụ́gwụ́ meaning “hilltop” denoting the city’s hilly geography. The city was named after Enugwu Ngwo, under which coal was found. Enugu state is known to be rich in Igbo culture; Enugu was the headquarters of the former East Central State and Eastern Nigeria. Enugu state also has diverse geography; the coal city is made up of a lot of hilly landscapes.
But, first and foremost, as a Yoruba girl going to Enugu, the language barrier was a big issue for me. I had to pretend I understood the language. But this Yoruba girl enjoyed her stay in Enugu so I’ve decided to break down my stay in Enugu.
Here are 8 the highlights of my trip to Enugu.
The road trip from Onitsha to Enugu
Before heading to Enugu, I had previously been in Asaba, Delta state for a couple of days. I enjoyed the beautiful city of Asaba. Asaba is one of the most organized places I’ve been to in Nigeria. I had previously heard about the yippee fun lifestyle in Asaba and I wanted to experience it. I had two days in Asaba and I was able to go round the city during the day and at night. Trust me, I had so much fun. After Asaba, I decided to spend a day at Onitsha, in Anambra state. I stopped at Onitsha to visit my friend and her baby. She relocated from Lagos to Onitsha after her wedding, since I was within the region, I felt it was high time I went visiting.
So I left from Onitsha to Enugu. I was given two options to get to Enugu. Either to go to “chisco” bus park and pick a peace mass bus going to Enugu or I should go to “express” and join a moving bus.
I wasn’t going back to chisco because I was almost robbed the last time I was there. This was my second time in Onitsha and I know little about the area. “the express” was closer and faster to Enugu so I decided to settle for that. I took a Keke from the gate of her estate to the Enugu/Onitsha expressway. The Keke cost me 100 naira.
While in the Keke, I met a woman who took complete interest in me because she wanted to know my weight loss regime. We talked at length; she told me about her undergraduate life in Ghana, her husband and kid and her extended family. Then she decided to follow me to the express to help me with my language barrier issue and to help me with my luggage.
When we got to the express, we waited a while before we got a bus. When we finally saw one, she helped me bargain for 500 naira to Enugu. Without her help, it would have been really difficult to hustle for a bus with my box. She showed me genuine love by sacrificing her time for me.
On my way to Enugu, the bus wasn’t comfortable because there was no air condition and the roads are very dusty. The roads were under construction and might have been abandoned for a while. The bus took me through Akwa, the capital of Anambra state. I saw the University of Nigeria, the new Campus site (UNN). It took me 1hour, 30 minutes to get to Enugu from Onitsha (it took longer because of the bad roads). The bus stopped me at old park in the city of Enugu, there I was able to get a ride to my destination.
I stayed in Enugu for two nights. Before getting to Enugu, the person I was meant to stay with cancelled on me. So I was left with paying for a hotel room for the two night or getting somewhere else to stay. I made some calls and was lucky someone knew someone that knew someone. I finally got a place to stay at UNEC for free. UNEC is the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. From old park, I took a straight drop to UNEC for 500. I stayed at UNEC for a night, the next day, I stayed at the Rivonia hotel, at independency layout. This is the first hotel I’ve seen the occupant will be asked to pay extra before they can swim. I think swimming pool is a big deal in Enugu.
Riding the Ferris wheels at polo park
A trip to Enugu will not be complete without a visit to the polo park mall (Shoprite). This is one of the most popular places in Enugu city. After arriving at my destination in Enugu, I freshened up and headed out to polo park mall to meet up with the travellers I will be exploring with. This was the first time I will be meeting them and we will be spending a week together. I was quite anxious but at the same time in a hurry. I wanted to get to the mall before it became dark. I wanted some ‘dope’ pictures with the amusement park Ferris wheel. Unluckily for me, Enugu had shorter days. It was already dark by 6 pm.
I took a Keke drop from UNEC to the mall for 500 naira – the fixed rate for a Keke drop is 500 naira in Enugu – there was a bit of traffic on the way but after like 30initues, I arrived at the polo park mall.
I met up with Seun and Ayo; introduced ourselves. while waiting for the last person, Ahmad, we decided to take some pictures at the ‘two units’ amusement park.
Polo Park is a mini amusement park at the car park in the mall. The amusement park had just two stations. A Ferris wheel and a merry go round for kids. They were beautifully decorated with halogen lights which glow at night.
While taking the pictures, we were stopped by an angry bouncer. We tried to explain to him that we were just taking harmless pictures. His response wasn’t making sense; In his words; he said ‘íf na your property, Naso you just go dey allow everybody to come to take pictures?’ I left the sight because I didn’t have the stomach to exchange words with him. I decided to photograph other parts of the mall and help Seun with her video content. When Ahmad came, we brought tickets to go on the ride. The tickets were sold for 300 naira per ride. The sales person told us we were not allowed to use our cameras because they had an in-house photographer.
We were the last set of people to go on the ride. It was very scary and exciting at the same time. The ride was rolling very fast and it kept going on and on. Anytime the operator makes the ride too fast, I remember the first safety rule of the park which states ‘All persons use this facility at their own risk’ adding to the facts that the seat of the ride had no safety belts, we all had to scream for him to take us down. It was a fun ride and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Enjoying Monday night at the Hi-Life beer festival at polo park
After the ride went on and on, we got tired and drossy and told them we wanted to get off. We were all hungry and we needed to eat something. We went straight into the mall’s food court to get food. We saw a moving T-rex. It was a bit scary at first but it was only an effect. It was moving and making some sound. it was really creative. We then went through all the restaurant at the mall. I was personally intrigued and impressed by a restaurant called Sizzlers. It was a paste section and the chef made it in the open. He was very professional about the way he made it and the food was very appetizing. After long deliberation on what to eat, we later resolved to going back outside to the beer festival.
There was an open bar at the mall’s car park. It was a beer festival courtesy of life beer called the Hi-Life fest. The place was filled up with a large number of people. It was really intriguing to me because it was a Monday night. Monday night in Enugu was like Friday night in Lagos. People were relaxed, drinking, eating and getting entertained like they had no worries. I began to wonder if we are all in this same Nigeria together. I kept on asking myself if they had no work tomorrow.
We found a seat and ordered malts, pepper soup and noodles. While eating, we enjoyed the jokes and music. It was an opened mic event. It was a fun night but after a while, we decided to get going because the night was not getting younger.I took a Keke drop back and in no time, I was back to UNEC.
Locating the Ngwo pine forest and hiking down to the cave waterfall
The next morning, we all met up at Enugu mall (spar), we had breakfast at Kilimanjaro, an eatery in the mall, then we set out to Ngwo town to see the Ngwo pine forest and cave waterfall.
Ngwo pine forest was about 30minutue drive from new market. Ngwo Pine Forest and cave waterfall are one of the tourist attractions in Enugu state. The forest is filled with bunches of pine trees which gives it a great beauty. The forest hosts a limestone cave sculpted with a small waterfall that forms a shallow pool at the bed of the cave. Its better described as a canyon with a mini waterfall. The forest is extremely beautiful and breathtaking. We hiked down to the waterfall and coming back up was no joke. Read all about my experience at the Ngwo pine forest here.
Admiring the Nike lake at the Nike lake resort:
Admiring the Nike lake at the Nike lake resort
After the long hike from the waterfall, we were exhausted and figured the best thing that could happen was to go for a swim. I personally felt the need to be dip into warm water. we decided to go to a natural pool to swim rather than going to a hotel’s swimming pool. We all loved nature and we wanted to explore more of Enugu. We asked our tour guides and they told use Nike lake is the place to go. We took a bus to old park and made further enquires there. We asked to be sure people were allowed to swim at the lake and they said yes. (if you’ve travelled around Nigeria a lot, you will understand there’s a need to be sure swimming in a lake is allowed).
We took a bus to Nike lake and on getting there we found out no one could swim in it because of crocodiles.
Nike lake is a lake is named after the Nike town in Enugu state. But unlike any other lake, Nike lake was developed by the Enugu state government. A resort was built to blend and enhance the beauty of the lake; making the place so peaceful and a scenery hideaway for leisure seekers and making it a pleasurable home away from home.
Nike Lake resort is situated on the banks of Nike Lake on Nike Lake Road, Abakpa Nike, Enugu state, Nigeria
The lake had a resort which was to be re-opened because of the change in management. It was to be re-opened the day we went and they were expecting the governor. The resort had a lot of amenities. They had an average sized pool at the resort. We weren’t able to swim because the fee was outrageous. We were asked to pay 2000 naira to swim and the pool was going to be closed in an hour’s time.
We spent some time at the resort to relax and enjoy the ambience. This was the best place I visited in Enugu.
The quest to find local food in Enugu
After we left Nike lake resort, we were all hungry but this time we were hungry for some indigenous meal. We haven’t had any local food since we came. We were all tired of the fancy restaurant food and I didn’t come all the way to Enugu to come and eat the same food I was eating in Lagos. We stopped a Keke and told the man to take us to the best local restaurant in Enugu. That was the worst decision we made on the trip. The Keke man took us to roadside eat out in front of Shoprite. People were eating on stools beside the road. Though we wanted the local feel we weren’t going to have an unhygienic meal. One of us decided to make a call to his friend for help. His friend referred us to a restaurant at new haven. When we got there, we realized it was a much better option for us. The restaurant is named Ntachi-Osa. The restaurant was clean and the foods were delicious.
My food was cumbersome; I had Ogbono with Akpu and I couldn’t finish it. The Akpu was very thick and heavy. I was so happy we got a good local restaurant to eat. That was the best part of my stay in Enugu.
Departure from the city of Enugu
The next day we all met at Enugu mall to depart to our next destination. We bought food and snacks at Spar; some for breakfast and some or the road. We met up with three new people that joined us from Lagos. It took a while before our driver could get the location of Spar. We used the waiting time to eat and get to know each other more before we set out to our next destination.
Enugu isn’t a done deal for me. Although I had so much fun, met a lot of new friends, saw new places, there are still so many attractions the state holds and I was unable to see. I’m looking forward to visiting the state in the nearest future. I completely enjoyed my stay in Enugu and I hope we are all inspired to visit.