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Internal flights are a quick way of getting around Nigeria. Flights start at around N20,000. Most cities are linked by air to Lagos.
The most reliable domestic airline with the best connections is Arik Air.
Cycling is not a common form of transport in Nigeria, and roads are rutted and often extremely muddy. This combined with high humidity is likely to make cycling an extreme slog. You will certainly get lots of attention and help if you need it. Try local garages for repairs – there are no dedicated facilities.
There are boat trips and cruises around Lagos and on the river in Calabar in the far east of the country.
Each town has at least one motor park serving as the main transport depot full of minibuses and bush taxis.
Vehicles have signs on their roofs showing their destination, while touts shout out destinations. Minibuses don’t run on any schedule but depart when full.
Car & Motorcycle
Nigeria’s road system veers unpredictably between good and appalling. Accident rates are high, the only real road rule is survival of the fittest and road signage is minimal.
Foreigners driving in Nigeria shouldn’t get too much hassle at roadblocks, particularly if your vehicle has foreign plates. If you get asked for dash, a smile and some patience will often defuse the request.
It’s a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt; not doing so leaves you open to both official and ‘unofficial’ fines.
Petrol stations are everywhere, but fuel shortages are common, causing huge queues and worsening the already terrible traffic. Diesel can sometimes be hard to come by, so keep your tank topped up.
Hiring a good local driver takes a lot of the stress out of car transport: it will cost around N80,000 per day. Ask at your hotel for suggestions.
Bush taxis cost about 25% more than buses though true pricing is nearly impossible to ascertain.
The quickest way to get around town is on the back of a motorcycle-taxi called an okada (achaba in the north). Because of their general lawlessness, the government has banned okada in a few of the major cities, badly affecting traffic and driving up the prices with drivers who are willing to flout the law.
The national railway service is slowly being rehabilitated; there is now a Chinese-funded rail line between Abuja and Kaduna and plans for new services in the future.
Flights & getting there
The vast majority of flights to Nigeria arrive in Lagos, although there are also international airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Kano. Airports are well organised and have official porters, but plenty of touts outside.
Airports & Airlines
Lagos’ airport is Murtala Muhammed International. Arik Air operates domestic and some international flights, for example to Douala in Cameroon.
Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.
The main border crossing is on the Lagos–Cotonou (Benin) highway. Expect requests for bribes. There’s a good direct Cotonou–Lagos bus service run by Nigerian bus company ABC Transport. An alternative border crossing is further north at Kétou on the Benin side.
There are two main border crossings. The northern border post is at Bama, 2½ hours from Maiduguri, across to Banki in Cameroon. A remote alternative crossing is at Ngala (Nigeria), which is used mainly for transiting to Chad. Both are currently inaccessible due to political problems.
The southern border crossing is at Mfum (Nigeria), near Ikom. The road infrastructure collapses pretty much as soon as you cross to Ekok (Cameroon), making this border problematic during the rainy season, so consider taking the Calabar–Limbe ferry instead during the wettest months. However, at the time of writing the ferry was not functioning.
Although there are no official border crossings between the two countries, it’s theoretically possible to make a quick transit across Cameroon. In Nigeria, the border crossing into Cameroon is at Ngala. On the Cameroon side ask for a laissez-passer to allow you to make the two-hour traverse to the Chad border point at Kousséri. However, political instability in Chad means this is currently inadvisable.
There is heavy presence of security and more scrutiny because of Boko Haram, as it is believed that they have operations in Niger.
Before the insurgency there were four main entry points into Niger. The busiest was the Sokoto route, which crosses at Ilela (Nigeria). Minibuses and bush taxis ran daily to the border, just past Ilela. Crossing to Birni N’Konni, you could get on a bus straight for Niamey. Travelling between Kano (Nigeria) and Zinder (Niger) was equally straightforward. The final option was between Katsina and Maradi.
From Niger, it was easiest to cross at Gaya. You’ll had to hire a bush taxi to take you from the Nigerian side at Kamba on to Sokoto. Beware the potholes.
A ferry sails from Calabar to Limbe every Tuesday and Friday evening (N6000, five hours), returning on Monday and Thursday. It’s an overnight trip in each direction. Your passport is collected on boarding and returned at immigration. Try to keep hold of your luggage – if it gets stowed in the hold, you’ll be waiting hours to get it back.
Note that there are safety issues with the ferry, and at the time of writing it wasn’t functioning. Take local advice.