Usuma Dam is a MAN-MADE dam that is surrounded by an outstretched lake and tall mountains. This is the second most beautiful place I’ve been to in Nigeria; Obudu being the first. The lake is beautiful and the mountains give it a breath-taking view.
Abuja is dry land and has no natural source of water. So dams were created to solve this problem and Usuma Dam is one of them. Having started the project of the dam in 1980 way before FCT became the capital; it is one of the major sources of water supply to the Federal Capital.
Water is supplied to the dam in three ways, one of which comes from Gurara. The dam also plays an integral part of the day to day activities of the people of that community as it is the source of water for irrigation, fishery and other daily essentials.
The pipe supplying water is about 3 meters in diameter and a grown person can fit inside. With a reservoir capacity of 120 million m³ of raw, untreated water, water is first transferred to the treatment facility before being distributed to houses. The dam consists of two sides: the higher dam which is the main dam and the lower dam.
Usuma Dam supplies the Federal Capital Territory with both water and electricity. The water at Usuma Lake is crystal blue. With the sky was so clear, and with the greenery and hills located at different miles, this place feels like man-made Santorini in Nigeria!
The view from the top of the hill was fascinating to say the least. Honestly, it felt like a piece of magic because the beauty is beyond imagination and can serve a lot of purposes. If you’re planning to visit Abuja anytime soon, Usuma Dam is a must-add to the list of places you should visit!
Usuma Dam is located at Ushafa in Bwari along the Duste-Bwari road in the northwestern part of Abuja. The dam is 25 kilometres from Abuja city centre along the Dutse-Bwari road on the Kaduna highway; and 6 kilometres away from Bwari. The dam itself is 1.3km from the main gate.
There are four major activities that best feature at the Usuma Dam. These activities are:
- boat riding,
Truly, the place is one perfect place for picnics and parties. There is a cave area underneath the rocks that is ideal for bonfires, camping and of course, parties. It’s just amazing!
Swimming can be allowed in the dam if the waters are not full. However, swimming is very much limited for safety reasons.
The lower dam is where the fishermen are located. There are boats available for rides around the dam towards the hills.
What to Wear and What to Bring
To ensure maximum satisfaction and for the best experience, here is a list of things you should take along when visiting Usuma Dam in Abuja:
- Hiking shoes
- Sun protectors (hats, face caps, shades, sunscreen, etc.)
- Water bottle with lots of water
- Food and drinks for picnics
Access Fee and Budget
Entrance to Usuma Dam is completely free. However, you are required to go with a guide before you are given access and the tour guides are not free. I was given a tour guide’s number (Governor) who spoke to the security officers at the gates before we were allowed in. Governor was very patient and nice to us. He didn’t want to collect any money for his services but because he did a good job, we insisted he collected something. So we gave him a tip.
We took a Taxify to and fro (from Gwarinpa to Usuma Dam and back to our hotel). It cost us three thousand naira but we learnt that we were overcharged.
A rough budget of three to four thousand naira is needed to visit this haven.
Governor’s number: 08056210591
The dam is a well secured location. The Nigeria Defence Academy is located in the same ‘compound’ as the dam. Access will not be given unless you have a permit.
Usuma Dam was a breath of fresh air to me. It felt like I was in a whole new world altogether… it was that good, guys. This dam is one tourist spot I will recommend for anyone visiting Abuja.
To be honest, before visiting the dam, I had no idea how beautiful the place was. I’ve seen pictures of it but I had never paid much attention. So on my recent trip to Abuja, I was hooked up with Mr Gbenga – the founder of Hike Nation. He was nice enough to create an itinerary for my 3 days trip to Abuja and Usuma Dam was the first place on the list.
At first, I was not so hyped about the place. I remember telling my cousin that we should quickly go there in the morning so that we can have enough time to do other important stuff before the day is gone. I was told the place is about an hour drive from Gwarinpa where we stayed, so I had told Mr Gbenga to get us a cab for 6 am. By 6 am the next morning, the cabman called to ask us if we were ready but we told him to give us 30 minutes more. However, as the Nigerian girls that we are, we did not get ready until around 7:30 am. We met up with our ride and we started our road trip to Dutse.
On the road I saw so many towns surrounded by high plains. I must confess, the sight was visually appealing to me. We finally got to the gate of the dam 35 minutes after our departure.
At the gate, we were not allowed to go in by the security officers. The Chief Security Officer who is a police man insisted that we had to go to their office to collect a warrant before we would be given access. The reason was because they recorded 3 deaths in 2018 from drowning in the dam. So going in without the order was not going to be allowed because the facility was quite sensitive as at the time we came: they had just opened the water and the dam was full.
We told the police officer we are tourists from Lagos and we really wanted to see the dam. So he told us to call our tour guide so he can speak to him and be sure we were not going to the dam by ourselves.
We called Governor and he spoke with them and we were allowed access. Then we went to meet Governor, after which our journey to paradise began.
The place was totally breath-taking! Even the cab man decided to join us in the tour. Governor explained everything about the dam to us: its history, capacity and how it is treated. He even showed us how water gets into the dam. Governor had the keys to all the gates.
We spent 2 hours hiking. The hike was rugged and painful for us because we didn’t go prepared to hike and so we wore slippers, but we wouldn’t give up. Even with the setback we had because we were on slippers; I made sure I saw every corner and trail of the mountain. We went up the hill in three different directions and down in two trails. Then we went back home with big blisters on our big toes!
The rocks can be very slippery and hot, but I loved every bit of it. We weren’t able to go to the lower dam because of time. It would take almost an hour’s drive to get there from where we were.
I could see everything from the top of the mountain, the boats and the way the fishermen were going on their day to day activities. When we were done hiking, taking pictures and playing with the water, we started heading back to Abuja city.
On our way out, Governor showed us the pipe that brings water from Gurara. My cousin didn’t follow because she was scared to make the climb. I was a bit scared but I was intentional about seeing the big pipes.
Usuma Dam was perfect, as far as I’m concerned. It was beautiful, breath-taking and had the loveliest view. If you haven’t been there, I would really recommend you do. And if you have, I would really love to hear what your thoughts are about the place.