Beautiful landscapes, scenic rock formations, vast wild life and a very rich culture; once upon a time the Northern part of Nigeria was our pride and joy. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only visited 3 out of 19 States in Northern Nigeria (actually 2 because Abuja is not a State, lol). These days, anyone exploring Northern Nigeria is either seen as totally crazy or looking for ways to die and this is because of the killings we constantly hear in the news.
I was filled with joy when our guest nomad, Susan, boldly embarked on a Northern expedition where she traveled to 8 states in two weeks! Her adventures took her from the Wikki Warm Springs in Bauchi State, the Kanji Dam in Niger State to the Tannery in Kano State and Birnin Kudu rocks in Jigawa. When she’s not exploring or eating bizarre food, she flies planes for a living. How cool is that? Follow her waka waka chronicles on blog, twitter and Instagram. I hope you enjoy her feature as much as I did!
“WakaWakaChronicles” haha! What’s in the name and what is she all about?
I’m actually most excited. As a child, I was the queen of “wandering”. If child leashes were a thing back then, my mother would have benefited immensely. One of my notorious nicknames was Waka Waka (meaning wanderer in pidgin). I’m just a girl who chronicles her adventures hoping to inspire others.
You have a career that “fuels your wanderlust” and this is every Nomad’s dream.What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
This is a tough one because there’s so much to choose from. Some days it could be watching the sunset from a vantage point, or the turbulence (I love the feeling of slight turbulence), or the spectacular birds eye view of a new city. Most times it’s in the unpredictable nature of each flight, none is ever the same.
Do pilots have “airport goals”? What airports do you dream of taking off/landing from?
Yes, a lot of pilots do. Not every time DNMM (Lagos airport). For me, Dubai International Airport was the dream, but Male International Airport, Maldives took over.
Cross-River seems like one of your favorite destinations in Nigeria. What is it about Cross-River that keeps you going back?
The food – you know there is a saying that an Efik woman is capable of holding you hostage with hospitality & enjoyment. Also, serenity in Cross River is second to none. I’m really big on tranquility, mentally & emotionally renewing spaces.
In your article, “finding paradise on a budget”, you spent the night in a remote village with wonderful family at Agbokim. That was really bold, as you barely even knew them! What was your experience like?
Initially I planned to dine with them, then retire to the hotel. But they were so warm that I gave into their request. Funny thing is the sleep that night was the best I had in weeks.
Yoga retreats are definitely your thing and you’ve planned a few. Take us through the process of organizing a Yoga retreat.
Yes we are. We, because it’s a partnership with BreatheNG -a yoga studio owned by my friends. Choosing a destination is usually the foremost step; accessibility, facilities, food, weather are things we consider. Every other step is like planning a group trip.
Do you think Nigerians are accepting Yoga as a lifestyle? What difficulties were faced planning a yoga retreat in Nigeria?
Slowly but surely we are picking up genuine interest. There is a budding yoga community, especially in Lagos. I remember someone in my own family accusing me of joining the “flying carpet movement”. Outside the yoga community it’s always difficult convincing people to join. I’ve got a blog post titled “Should Christians Practice Yoga”, for anyone who would like to know the truth.
Top three Yoga Retreat destinations in Nigeria.
Afi Mountains (Cross River State), Gembu (Taraba State), Obudu Hills (Cross River). In that order.
You recently explored 8 Northern States in just two weeks! That’s really bold and adventurous.Tell us one uncommon opinion about Northern Nigeria.
The conservative society idea is a myth, to a certain degree. As simple as possible, they be wilding too.
What in your opinion are the MUST-Dos in Northern Nigeria and what were your best moments?
I’m not a fan of telling people what to do during their travels, I believe each traveler should go with an empty canvas to paint their own experiences. I just share my own moments to give others an idea of what to expect. BEST MOMENTS? = Bonding with the boys at Wiki Springs. Getting to the top of the rocks in Birnin Kudu, Jigawa in a dress, with backpack on my back (everyone said I couldn’t). Eating snake meat in Kano tannery. Finding good food at a bukka in Daura after days of crappy meals.
Seychelles on a budget? We are here for that! Top money-saving tips for Nigerian travelers interested in exploring Seychelles.
• Connecting flights are a money saver
• Take away food is the way to go
• There are no ritual killers on CouchSurfer, also AirBnB put a roof over my head for less
• Public transport is organized, safe and accessible.
You tried couch surfing for the first time in Seychelles! Were you nervous? What advise do you have for first time couch surfers?
I’ll be honest, I was terrified and only committed to it last-minute. I’d advise anyone willing to give it a try to follow the safety guidelines and trust your guts.
Luxury or Budget hotels?
In Jesus Name, Luxury hotels, Amen. My bank account just needs to catch up with my preferences.
Let’s talk about bizarre food, you seem to be the Queen at trying them out. From bat meat to snake meat, we are sure you have a list “bizarre food I’ll love to try”. What “delicacy” is on your list?
Lmao!!! I fear for my intestines. The only one I’m gunning for is Tarantulas, yes, they are eaten in Cambodia. Others I just ask the locals for their delicacy and as the spirit leads I eat away.
Street food or Fancy restaurants?
STREET FOOD!!! For the win.
You are doing a 25 before 25 challenge, could you share some of your activities with the Nomad community and how far you have come.
It’s an insane list: • Get my commercial pilot license • Bungee jump at Victoria Falls • Climb Kilimanjaro • Run a Marathon in Egypt • Eat sattvic for a week (I despise vegetables). I hope I can get it all done. I’ve successfully floated alongside a Whale Shark while snorkeling in Seychelles, that was my number one challenge to conquer fear. Also exploring Northern Nigeria as a Christian woman to learn acceptance. Each challenge has a value I’m trying to instill in myself and hopefully share with others to inspire.
Every single article on wakawaka chronicles has us hooked, You truly are a wordsmith. Are we expecting a book from you soon?
Awwwwww thank you, you’re far too kind. However, I don’t have the focus to finish a book. I’m too easily distracted.
Bucket lists…are you a fan of those? What do you have on your list?
I just want to marry a Swedish citizen so I’d break free from visa woes and roam the world. Help me!!!!!!!
Favorite travel quote?
“Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta
I’ll love to wake up in ________?
That would be South East Asia through to Far East Asia: India, Nepal, Bhutan, all the way to Japan. The minute I’ve got enough money saved up and visas sorted I’d be off to explore the Orient in a stretch.
Anything else you would like to add? Travel tips or advise.
There’s been an ongoing argument and flying subliminal about who constitutes an authentic traveler. I’d just say don’t be sucked into the madness. While exploring the vast universe, be sure to stay true to yourself, be happy and practice responsible travel!
After seeing Susan’s photos and videos of Northern Nigeria, I was/am no longer afraid to explore the region. The media exaggerates these Boko Haram menace so bad you feel everywhere in Northern Nigeria is unsafe. Though this is not necessarily true, I understand where people are coming from. I remember our very first group trip to Kajuru Castle, a lot of people were skeptical because they felt their safety was not guaranteed. When did it get this bad? Hats off to the few Susan’s we have left who are exploring the region regardless! Its bold, brave and really inspiring.
Ever explored Northern Nigeria or considering it? I have Sokoto,Taraba, Bauchi and Kano States on my list! What’s on yours?