Obudu is popular for being one of the best resort destinations in Nigeria and after my visit, I couldn’t agree more! The place is a total package for adventure. Visiting Obudu Cattle Ranch has always been one of my dreams and finally, I can proudly cross that off my list!
Even though I’ve been dying to go, my visit was delayed till now because most travel deals I see to Obudu are always very expensive in my opinion and way higher than my budget. As soon as I was approached by Visit Nigeria Now to visit Obudu for way less, I jumped on the offer. Who wouldn’t? The deal was just so irresistible!
Obudu Cattle Ranch is a range of mountains on the Obudu Plateau. A resort was built to compliment the beauty of this haven and to attract tourists from all over the globe. With up to 7 villages on the ranch, the resort has unique features such as cable cars, water parks, African huts, spa, mountain villas, honey and milk factories, sports facilities, convention centres and more. The ranch was formally a cattle market, that’s where the name came from. Home to over 2000 cattle, the ranch shares borders with Cameroon and people cross over to Nigeria from Cameroon to trade and vice versa.
My trip to Obudu was with the Obudu Conservation Center (OCC), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that dedicates its efforts and proceeds to the education, protection, preservation and restoration of the environment and wildlife. OCC is currently focused on bringing back the lost glory of Obudu cattle ranch. They are promoting Eco-tourism within Nigeria and are responsible for our insightful and adventurous trip.
Obudu Road Trip: Day 1
I visited Obudu with six amazing travellers and we all agreed to meet up at Spar in Enugu. The OCC sent a Pick Up for us at Enugu. The road trip was a fun bonding time for those of us that were just meeting each other, especially for the first time. We passed though Ebonyi State to Cross River State. We were picked up by the famous “Oyinbo”; our driver was a very popular guy on the road. He was well known at every checkpoint we passed and that made us feel safer with him.
There were a lot of military checkpoints on the way because of the conflict that occurred between some parts of Ebonyi and Cross River. I should add that the road network in Ebonyi State was good but as soon as we crossed to Cross River State, the bad roads started. Some of the roads were “under construction” roads that have been abandoned over time making the air so dusty. We had a dusty trip down to Obudu Local Government.
As soon as we got there, I couldn’t believe the large number of people I saw living there. It was very much unexpected because during the road trip, everywhere was thick and as deserted as an undeveloped forest, not that there are developed forests, anyway. And on getting to the market at Obudu town, I thought I was in Balogun market in Lagos! The market was so busy and crowded. From the market, it took us another 1hour drive to Obudu cattle ranch though. From Enugu to Obudu is a 4hours drive.
As soon as we got to the resort, we all ran out to take pictures with the famous Cow Head, exhibit one that you’ve been to Obudu Cattle Ranch! The entrance had such a breath-taking view; we literally had to catch our breaths. We were at the foot of the mountain and could see the mountains high up and the cables that carry the cable cars hanging on the mountain; and we could hear the sound of streaming waters and of course, some cows. The Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort’s water park was at this level but it wasn’t functioning. Unfortunately, however, as at the time of our visit, 90% of the facilities at the resort were not functioning, that was one of the reasons we went on the trip with OCC, which was the best decision.
When we arrived, I honestly didn’t know Obudu Cattle Ranch itself was up the mountain. Our driver tricked us back into the car. Because our pictures where getting too much and we were wasting his time, he told us we should first get to our lodge and unpack then he will bring us back to the cattle head to take pictures. We all got into the car and the second journey to the ranch began. We went up a spiral road which was a bit scary but because of the fascinating view, it wasn’t a problem. The road was called the intestinal road which is the road that leads to the ranch itself.
And finally, we got to Donald Duke’s residence. In case you don’t know, he’s one of the former governors of Cross River State. The place was world class!
When we got to the house, we were all wow-ing and aww-ing. The residence has two buildings in the compound and a boys’ quarters behind. Each building had three rooms; two medium-sized and a big master’s bedroom. Each house had its own fully equipped kitchen, living room and every room was fully furnished. The house was warm because there is one working heater in every room. We choose our rooms and after settling in, it was time to eat. At this point, we were so hungry and exhausted. There was an in-house chef so before we were all done settling, dinner was ready. Dinner option was either eba (garri) and egusi or white rice and pepper sauce. Trust your girl, I went with the rice and sauce. Trust Nigerians, some had both!
After dinner, we created another itinerary for our trip, played games and bonded the more. Our host had to run on generator because Obudu Cattle Ranch had no electricity. So light out was by 12 am. Both the light and the phone signals were off by 12.
The next morning, we were meant to be out by 6am in the morning for bird watching but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere until the weather started been reasonable. ´I can’t come and freeze to death’.
So by 7am, we all went out to the Bee Chive Nature Reserve to watch birds and have a tour around the forest. When we got to the forest, it was already too late to see the birds. We were given a comprehensive tour by our guide. He showed us quite a number of extinct plants. The second season of Guilder Ultimate Search was shot at the forest. It has a tree house, antique sitting area, tree nursery, and we had a canopy walk. The forest was like a mini LCC. It was obvious that OCC and LCC belong to the same organization.
After the tour, we when back to the house to clean up and have breakfast. We had the English breakfast of bread, egg, sausage, and tea. We ate immediately we got back because the food, especially the bread, could not withstand the weather.
As soon as we were all cleaned up and dressed, we set out for the second adventure of the day. They had a cab waiting to take us to the location. We drove for a while and got to a point that wasn’t motorable, then got down and started walking. We had four major attractions to cover before sunset.
Everywhere in Obudu Cattle Ranch is fascinating. At every point, there is an urge to stop and take pictures. It made our walking slow because everyone was trying to capture every moment. Our first stop was a very tasking mission. It was going down a path no tourist had ever been. Our guide tried to discourage us against it but we were out to make that record. We hiked down to the cataract waterfall. This is the waterfall that is seen from the holy mountains. No path had been created by then but the brushes had been burnt because the OCC intend on creating guided steps with rails to the waterfall.
Going to the waterfall, we literally had to crawl our way in and out. It was so steep and I was scared because for me, that was a near death experience. When we finally made it to the cataract waterfall, we relaxed a bit, swam in the fall before we started crawling out again. We nicked named the waterfall ODASAL using the first letter of every one of our names. If you’re wondering why the name doesn’t add up because we were 7 and ODASAL is 6, well someone turned back. He said he wasn’t going risk his life just to see a waterfall. Oh well… he missed out on making history!
After visiting ODASAL waterfall, we went to the natural pool and mini waterfall next. We were more relaxed here and it was easier to get to and we had so much fun swimming and diving into the bigger pool. We had some snacks (biscuits and soft drinks) when we got to the natural pool and after about 2 hours for swimming and lots of fun, we started another journey to the Holy Mountain.
The Holy Mountain is said to be the highest point on the ranch. People go there for prayers because they believe it’s closer to heaven and their prayers will be answered faster. The Holy Mountain also served as home for the locals during the civil war. It’s evident by some bunkers on the mountain. After spending some minutes on the mountain, we got on bikes and headed out to Grotto.
Grotto is also a mini fall with a pool. The pool is partially natural, but the depth and width of the pool has been manipulated to accommodate more water to make it deeper. Grotto is an ideal place for picnics and bon fires. We ate “lunch” at grotto. Rice and chicken were brought in packs and some went in for a swim. As for me, I didn’t even go near the water at Grotto because I could feel my body had had enough water for the day.
On our way to Grotto, we had seen a white woman on a horse, riding around the ranch. Thereafter, Seun (one of us) insisted she must ride a horse. She specifically asked for a white horse because she had a mental picture of the photo she wanted with the horse. Our guide, Mr Kelvin got us the white horse and as soon as we were done eating and gisting, we went horse riding. I was so scared of the horse but I wanted to sit on it for a picture. While on it, I was so afraid and screamed but I still found the smile for the camera. As soon as the pictures where done, I got down and took the available bike home.
We got back, and our host started setting up. It was movie night. We had spaghetti and sauce for dinner then when out for a movie. This movie night had a different kind of vibe: outside in a chilling cold night on a couch with blankets, drinks, barbeque, and shivering under a duvet to enjoy a movie. We watched scum dog billionaire by choice. Half of the time was spent arguing about feminism so we couldn’t watch another movie. As soon as we were done with the movie, I zoomed in to sleep.
The next morning, I was going out early for nothing. We had decided to go for the bird watching but my bed was more comfortable. Few people went for sightseeing to the villages but the majority of us remained in beds. By 8 in the morning, they were back and we were all set to head out. The itinerary for the day was a bit relaxed. We went on a tour around the ranch, the resort and its facilities. We went from our lodge to some parts of the resort such as the African hut, the restaurant and hall, the spar and the villas. On our way, we also saw the Women’s Woodlot Reserve. The Women’s Woodlot Reserve is a program by the Obudu Conservation Centre designed to replant trees in areas that have been deforested or damaged due to cow grazing.
Next, we headed to the helipad, to see the Angel’s View. The Angle’s View is a breath-taking view of the valley forming a V shape. After numerous pictures at the Angel’s View, we went to the Presidential Villa. The Presidential Villa has a pavement that shows the Angel’s View and beyond. We spent time relaxing and learning more about the ranch, after, we headed back home for breakfast passing by the schools, churches and clinic.
We were meant to go on the cable car but it was cancelled due to the fact that it had not been serviced for a very long time. After lunch, we set out to see the intestinal road view. We hiked to two different hilltops to see the road from different angles. The first view shows the road to the left and quite a distance. We were also able to see the previous and only road that led to the ranch before the government came to construct the intestinal road.
The second view was quite another adventure for us. It was more strenuous to hike to and after we got there, we were chased by a cow who had just conceived the previous day. Then we all ran back and starting the hike again. The man tending to the cows had to lead them to another direction before we could see the road network. The second view showed the road view down below. After the adventure, we went back home for the campfire.
We were going to sleep outside in the tent after a bonfire. At this time, the cold was already getting to me. I was feeling sick because of the cold so I couldn’t participate in that activity. I slept off instead and dinner was brought to my room. After eating, I continued sleeping and by the time I woke up, everyone was already asleep in their tents. I was told the bon fire party was lit and fun and I missed it. How sad!
The following morning, I was up as early as 6am but everyone was still sleeping. As soon as 10am, our ride was already waiting for to take us back to Enugu. We were set to leave too, because we had to get to Enugu before 2pm so as not to miss our flight. Our host bided us with natural Honey from their honey factory.
We enjoyed our road trip back to Enugu better because the car had a video player in it. Unfortunately for us, on our way to Enugu, we received messages that our flight had been moved to 4 in the evening. We got to the airport around 5 and were further delayed to 7 pm before we took off. After about one hour, I was back to the hustle and bustle of Lagos.
Tips When Going To Obudu
What to pack
You should carry sweaters and warm clothes due to the temperature, especially early in the mornings and at nights. Hiking/sturdy shoes for walking around especially when climbing the mountains.
I’ve made a comprehensive list of what to pack to Obudu. Avoid falling sick like me and pack just the right things you need before heading down. Read more here.
Getting to Obudu
You can either go by air or by road. From Lagos, it is best to fly to Enugu then go on the road for four hours to Obudu. From Calabar to Obudu is 7 hours by road you can also fly in through Abuja. The best and fastest is through Enugu though. Return Flight ticket from Lagos to Enugu cost about 45-50k.
Attractions to See At Obudu Cattle Ranch
The list of tourist attractions in Obudu Cattle Ranch is endless. There are new discoveries every time. The ranch has up to 3 major waterfalls. I’ve carefully mapped out the list of attractions visited during my short stay at the ranch. Read more here.
Accommodation at Obudu
The Obudu Cattle Ranch Resort has a series of different rooms and villas that can accommodate people but I had it quite expensive. For our stay, we stayed at the residence provided by the OCC. The compound had two separate buildings with three bedrooms in each. The living area, kitchen, yard and all rooms are ensuite and they all came with heaters. The beds were very comfortable and the house had a central water heater (which is very essential due to the cold). Our host provided us with basic toiletries like bathing soaps, towels, tissue papers. The only thing missing was a Jacuzzi!
There are other options available for accommodation. As we were informed, people let their homes for short stays and more apartments have been built for travellers to stay.
There is also Abebe lodge. Other people are also starting to create more options so the ranch has a variety apart from the resort itself.
Obudu Cattle Ranch was an amazing place to visit and that’s one place I can visit over and over again. It’s a perfect place to have a vacation home. We were told a lot of foreigners have acquired most of the lands in the terrain. Next time I’m going there, it’s definitely going to be a beacation!
We loved seeing the efforts the Obudu Conservation Center is putting into doing what they can to revive it (they run independently of the ranch). They know the villagers and vice versa and in their bid to push Eco-Tourism, they are also helping the community and creating jobs.
Hopefully, with the help of Obudu Conservation Center (and us… lol) we can help to promote the ranch better and bring more people to visit which will translate into more money for everyone.