Destination Cross River… tourist sites in people’s paradise
Tourist attractions have the ability to attract worldwide attention that transcends from not only setting up a physical edifice but also embodies structures or places of natural and physical value. They depict historical significance and outstanding beauty capable of awing and amusing the public.
Cross River State as one of Nigeria’s fascinating tourism destination boasts of many tourist attractions. Created out of the old South Eastern State of Nigeria in 1976, its population is put at 2.89 million according to a 2009 estimate.
The state covers a total of 20,156 sq km land area, and bordered to the west by Abia States, to be east by Cameroun, to the south by Akwa Ibom and the Atlantic Ocean.
It has 18 local government areas, which include Abi, Akamkpa, Akpabuyo, Bekwara, Biase, Boki, Calabar Municipal, Calabar-South, Etung, Ikom, Obanliku, Obubra, Obudu, Odukpani, Ogoja, Ugep-north, Yakurr, and Yala.
From the soaring plateaus of the mountain tops of Obudu to the Rain forests of Afi, Agbokim and Kwa waterfalls, the spiralling ox-bow Calabar River, which provides sights and images of the Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar Marina, Calabar Residency Museum and the Calabar Slave Park, there is always a thrilling adventure awaiting the eco-tourist visiting Cross River State.
While there are hundreds of places to go in the state, the following are the top five destinations:
Obudu Mountain Resort
Formerly known as Obudu Cattle Ranch, the resort is located in the Obudu Plateau, close to the Cameroon border in the northeastern part of the state, approximately 110 kilometres (68 mi) east of the town of Ogoja and 65 kilometres (40 mi) from the town of Obudu in ObanlikuLocal Government Area. It is about 30 minutes drive from Obudu town and about 332 kilometres (206 mi) drive from Calabar, the state capital.
The resort has in recent times witnessed influx of both Nigerian and international tourists due to the development of tourist facilities by Cross-River State Government, which has turned the ranch into a well known holiday and tourist resort center in Nigeria.
About 1576 metres above sea level, to get to this natural magical place, one can either drive the famously winding 11km road from the bottom of the hill or take the cable car. The drive through the road takes about 25 minutes, while the cable car ride takes about 6 minutes. With the Resort’s swimming pools at the bottom of the hill, taking the cable car would be an excellent choice as the ride is an exciting one.
A walk on the Canopy Walkway (a 100m swinging bridge suspended above the forest), which is 70m above the forest floor, brings the visitor close to walk on the air. It is indeed not for people with phobia for heights.
Once across the bridge (and once your heart stops racing from excitement), you can climb a little look-out post from which you get awesome views of some of Nigeria’s beautiful yet rapidly declining forests.
There are quite a few outdoor activities like hiking, horse riding and swimming available but ultimately, the Resort is a place for relaxation. It’s the place to get away from the boisterous noise of the city and just relax.
From sitting around the bonfire held almost every night to relaxing in front of the fireplace at one of the Resort’s main lounges, there are many spots where you can still your mind and be at rest.
Located about 17 kilometres from the Ikom Local Government Area of the state, the Agbokim waterfall consists of seven streams with breathtaking cascade of fresh water plunging down the high cliff into the beautiful tropical rainforest. Reason it called the ‘seven-faced wonder’.
Surrounded by lush greenery, steep hills, and valleys, the Agbokim waterfall is a captivating and alluring place to visit with family during a vacation. It has for years been a centre of attraction for tourists.
In addition to getting lost in the euphoria of nature’s awesomeness, one would be left in awe of the glowing beauty and serene environment at this waterfall. And without any doubt, it is an ideal location for romantic getaway.
The history of the Waterfalls dates back to the early 90’s when a hunter named Ntankum made the discovery. He later brought his family members to reside around the waterfall area.
Due to the fact that the source of the water is from the remains of plants, they have encouraged afforestation, which also helps to increase the volume of the water. Over the years, members of the Agbokim community have worked collectively to ensure that place is developed.
In order to appreciate the beauty of Agbokim Waterfalls, it is advisable to visit the place during the rainy season. You could be lucky to catch a glimpse of the rainbow across the falling sheets of water.
Rainy season in Cross Rivers occurs between April and September, with a short break in August. You should also have a non-slippery footwear with you, which is both water-resistant and would enable you to climb the rock effectively.
Tinapa Business & Leisure Resort
Born out of the need to have a place that offers business, leisure and entertainment destination that is comparable to no other in the world, Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort was developed.
Located close to the Calabar River and contiguous with the Calabar Free Trade Zone in the North of Calabar Municipal, the business and leisure resort is a four-phased development promoted by the Cross River State Government, under a Private Public Partnership (PPP).
It is planned to be a business and leisure resort where visitors can engage in quality business, retail and wholesale trades, operate a product warehouse, as well as enjoy quality leisure and entertainments.
The resort sits on approximately 80,000 square metres (860,000 sq ft) of lettable space for retail and wholesale made up of four emporiums of 10,000 square metres (110,000 sq ft) each, smaller shops, and warehouses.
Its entertainment strip contains a casino, an eight-screen cinema, children’s arcade, restaurants, a mini amphitheater, a nightclub and pubs, a movie production studio commonly referred to as ‘Studio Tinapa’ or Nollywood.
Business facilities at the resort include an open exhibition area for trade exhibitions and other events. There is a 243-room international three star Hotel. There is an artificial tidal lake that feeds from the Calabar River, a Water Park / Leisure Land and parking space for 4,000 cars. The resort also has a truck terminal, and it’s powered by an independent power plant.
Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
Formerly part of the Afi River Forest Reserve, a production forest reserve for which logging concessions had been issued, Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, was established in 2000 to provide improved protection to important populations of several endangered species including the critically endangered Cross River gorilla, the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, the drill and the grey-necked rock fowl.
The Wildlife Sanctuary and the surrounding Afi River Forest Reserve (383 sq km) constitute one of the largest forest blocks left in Cross River State, outside of the national park.
Located on the highlands of Cross River State, the ‘Drill Ranch’ as it is known and called by the locals and staff comprises roughly 100km² of lowland and sub-montane forest with rocky peaks rising to altitudes of 1,300m.
Accompanied by the echoing sound of drill monkeys and chimpanzees chanting in the forest, this project does not only have an impact, but it also serves as a nice stop for tourists.
Although the steep mountainous slopes of the sanctuary have largely protected it from logging, the forest is frequently damaged by dry-season bush fire set by local farmers, clearing new farms or to flush game. Interestingly, open areas created by this fire are quickly colonized by herb species, which form an important staple food for gorillas.
On the western flank of the mountain is a large grassland roost of migratory European barn swallows, estimated to contain up to 20 million birds at times and reputed to be the largest wintering roost site of swallows in Africa. This explained why it was listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for hosting and watching the largest migration of swallow roosts on the African continent.
Surrounded by 16 communities with a total population of approximately 27,000, the Sanctuary is presently being managed by the State Forestry Commission/Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry.
Kwa Falls is a spectacular waterfall located in a narrow, steep gorge on the headwaters of the Kwa River, found in Anegeje village in Akamkpa Local Government Area, about 25 kilometers from Calabar Municipal.
Its sparkling natural waters cascades through the basement of igneous rocks, and flows into a canopy of the tropical rainforest and mangrove forest that is rich in Mahogany, Ebony, and Spruce trees in a fascinating landscape situated at the Oban division of the Cross River National Park.
Kwa Falls is characterised by its well-arranged staircase of 234 steps from the plane down to the rest place of the cloudy waters. There is a deep plunge pool form at the bottom of the waterfall, which, before deforestation, was hidden under the thick canopy of the tropical rainforest.
The nearby Kwa River Sand Beach is recommended for an afternoon peaceful relaxation. It is a great place to go for family vacation and also a place to retire due to the friendliness of the local people and the natural vistas of the ambience.
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