agos is undoubtedly the largest city in Nigeria. As it stands today, approximately half a million people come to Lagos from other parts of Nigeria and the world to either do business or kick off their careers. The Government of Lagos faces accommodation and jobs for the City’s growing population. It reached a point where lands had to be reclaimed from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. The current Mega City (still under construction), Eko Atlantic City, and Makoko, a town with houses built on water, come to mind.
The rapid increase in Lagos population comes with its demerits, especially on wildlife and the natural Flora and Fauna. Humans expand their reach, take up more lands, and encroach on natural wildlife habitats. This leads to mass emigration and even the death of wildlife. Some species of indigenous wildlife in Nigeria are reportedly already extinct. This led to a need to conserve these species and preserve them for the future generation, and the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) rose up to the task.
I enjoyed my day at the Lekki Conservation Center of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), which was the National Headquarters. Suppose you are already in Lagos or plan to visit soon. In that case, your holiday won’t be complete without visiting this wonderful place. In this piece, I will take around the Center in detail and tell you what to expect if you intend to visit.
Lekki Conservation Center, a jewel on the Peninsula
A trip to the Lekki Conservational Center of the NCF would definitely leave you and your family with lots of pleasant memories. Situated on a 78 hectares piece of land at kilometer 19, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lekki, Lagos, this Center has lots of wildlife research, recreational, and relaxation facilities. The Center was established in 1990 with help from the American Petroleum Giants, Chevron, whose office is opposite the facility.
It has also gained lots of government patronage and recognition. The Lagos State Government put the Center under the LISTED SITES to preserve, protect, and restore historic properties and cultural heritage.
There are lots of things that captivate you when you walk into the Center for the first time. A well-planned environment, a spacious car park, some domestic animals roamed freely, etc. Before gaining entry into the Center, you would first book your tour on the Foundation’s website. You could also do this at the gate. The security guards would direct you on how to do so.
You would be ushered into the ticketing office on entry, where you would have to pay for your tour. Trust me, it’s one of the cheapest for the type of value you would receive. On you get a ticket and a tag (which shows your tour number and the destination you are about to visit), you can now be assigned to a tour team under the supervision of a guide.
The tour starts from the Akintola Williams Arboretum, where you will see lots of images and information about extinct and endangered species in Nigeria. You would also see other information about the Center and its executives. The tour then proceeds to the wooden tracks, from where you will explore other parts of the forest reserve and natural habitat.
Why should you visit the Lekki Conservation Center?
As stated earlier, there are many reasons why the Lekki Conservation Center is the place to visit for ecotourism. It’s difficult to believe that some species of animals are still in the commercial city of Lagos. There are also other attractions in the Center that you wouldn’t want to miss. I outlined some things I met below.
1. Animals in their natural environment
Once you gain entry into the forest reserve, animals welcome you freely roaming in their natural environment. However, it is essential to note that you may not see all, as they tend to hide when they hear people approaching. The Center has crocodiles, alligators, monkeys, tortoises, and different species of birds.
During my time, I noticed monkeys, an owl, a parrot, a peacock, and several other birds of different species. We also saw the shell of a 100-year-old tortoise that just died recently. We were even allowed to interact with the monkeys. I gave them a drink. The monkeys there appeared comfortable walking and interacting with humans. We were only advised to be mindful of our phones and other valuables, as the monkeys could make away with it and runoff. It was a fun experience feeding a monkey.
2. The 401m Canopy Walkway
The Center boasts the longest canopy walkway in Africa. The walkway spanning 401m is unparalleled by any other continent. We were told this steel walkway was constructed by Canadian and Nigerian experts and underwent routine maintenance.
Needless to say, the canopy walkway isn’t for the timid; walking up a hanging bridge can bring out the other side of you. It’s fun, but you would literally have your heart in your mouth, but don’t worry, it is 100% safe. The walkway has five temporary stopover towers. These stopovers are massive platforms, with the least being 22 feet from the ground. This gives you a pleasant view of the Center, the forest and wildlife reserve, and some areas of the cosmopolitan City of Lekki. At the end of the canopy trail, you will land on the wooden foot tracks to continue your tour.
3. The second tallest Treehouse in Africa
3. The second tallest Tree house in Africa
Another attraction you wouldn’t want to miss is the second tallest treehouse in Africa. At 25 meters above the ground, only the brave can climb such heights. This treehouse, built on the Dawadawa tree (Pakia biglobossa), stands tall in the conservation center and can be observed from the outside. It is made throughout hardwood. You would see monkeys in the house at the Center, since humans don’t like going that high.
4. Koi & Tilapia ponds
You would also be ushered to a Fish Pond, which is home to some species of fish, especially the Tilapia and Koi species. You would notice their eggs and fingerlings. The ponds are huge and accommodate many fish.
5. Swamp Look-out Station
There are also swamp look-out stations. It is from these platforms that you can see the alligators and crocodiles. I saw one who disappeared almost instantly. We were warned not to step out of the stations because of these wildlings. But with these elevated stations, you can enjoy a splendid view of these animals. You just have to be careful if you bring your kids.
There are other beautiful attractions at the Center too. The Bird Hide, open spaces and halls for events, family huts for a picnic, Rotunda, Floor Games, beach volleyball courts, and jungle gym facilities. The Center won’t be complete without a place to get food. There is a restaurant offering traditional Nigerian dishes that many European and Asian visitors patronize. There are also grills offering suya and kilishi, local Nigerian grills. In all, I had a fun experience at the Lekki Conservation Center.
Other important things to know about the Center
The Center isn’t difficult to locate, as it is located along the expressway. You can access the Center there through public transport or by taxi. You won’t miss your way if you are going there for the first time.
Before getting to the Center, you should book your tour on the Foundation’s website at https://www.ncfnigeria.org. The Center opens at 8:30 am in the morning and closes at 5:00 pm, so you have to get there early to beat the traffic and enjoy most of your day.
The Center also offers some discount if you come in groups of 20 people or thereabout. There is also some discount for toddlers, veterans, and disabled people.
The Lekki Conservation Center remains one of the best places for ecotourism in Lagos and Nigeria in general. If you seek a place away from the daily hustle and bustle of the busy and noisy Lagos life, this is the right place for you. At the jewel on the Peninsula, Nature awaits you.