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Africa > West Africa > Nigeria > Southeast Nigeria > Calabar


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Calabar is the capital city of Cross River State in Southeast Nigeria. It is a charming and quite peaceful city.


Calabar is one of the oldest trading centers in Nigeria. The city is set on a natural hill overlooking the Calabar River. Calabar was established as a center of slave trade by the British in 17th century. It became the biggest colonial administration in Nigeria in the 18th, 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. At the end of slave trade, the city was a major port for palm oil trade and commodities exports and imports from the South East of Nigeria. It became the capital of Niger Coast Protectorate and later the Southern Protectorate capital of Nigeria. Calabar is now the capital of Cross River State of Nigeria. The city is a major center of tourism in Nigeria. The Calabar Carnival is the largest street cultural festival in Africa. The carnival holds in December of every year and attracts thousands of visitors and guests from all parts of the world.

Like other major cities in Nigeria, power supply could be a major problem. The Federal Government of Nigeria is developing a major plant near the city to boost domestic and industrial power supply. Water is easily available in the city and it is of very good quality. Other attractions include the Slave Museum, Calabar Free Trade Zone, Tinapa Business and Tourist Resort, Cultural and Civic Center, Calabar Port and University Campuses amongst others. The city is a few hours drive to the Obudu Ranch Resort which had hosted many Presidential Retreats and conferences in the past. There is an airport which has connecting flights to other major cities in Nigeria.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Calabar is about 1 hour from Lagos by plane. Calabar is about 25 minutes from Port Harcourt and has an International Airport - Margaret Ekpo International Airport.

Calabar is 1 hour flight from Lagos and a 4 hour drive from Port Harcourt. With the development of the city by the present administration, the city flight schedules have increased and you can now get a flight in or out of Calabar every day. Also the major airlines in the country have their presence felt in Calabar and have flights to and from major cities in the country; they include: Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air and Aero Contractors. Their flight schedules can easily be found at their respective websites. Don't forget visas!

By boat[edit]

There is also a regular boat service from various parts of Cameroon's coastline which will transport vehicles and people. You can get Cameroonian visas on the boat which can save you a lot of time. However, you can use Calabar as a base before transferring into Cameroon by road slightly further north.

By car[edit]

There are several car transportation services into Calabar from all parts of Nigeria including the major cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja,Yola. They include ABC Transport, the Young Shall Grow, Elim Tours Etc.

Get around[edit]

The local authorities have made a great effort to make the streets safe by enlarging them, removing potholes, and adding stripes between lanes. Local taxis are not advisable as the cars are very old and quite often the drivers are not particularly experienced. As long as you are careful Calabar is quite safe.


There is a lot of colonial architecture in the older parts of Calabar that are around Henshaw Town, Duke Town and the waterfront areas.

  • Duke Town church, 13, Eyamba Street. One of the oldest churches in Nigeria. It was established by the Presbyterian church missionaries. If you go to Eyamba Street just past the church there is a cemetery with stunning views over the town and river. Inside the cemetery is the tomb of Mary Slessor, a missionary from Dundee in Scotland UK. She was very influential in this part of Nigeria.
  • Calabar Museum (On the hill overlooking the waterfront, in the Old Government House). the former residence of the colonial governor. The building was designed and built in Glasgow and shipped over in pieces. The museum concentrates on the history of Calabar, the region and slavery. It has a larger quantity of original documents relating to Nigeria. Since it is not heavily frequented by tourists you can easily get a guided tour from one of the staff. Interested persons could spend 3 hours there and barely touch the surface of the material. There are a lot of artifacts relating to the production of palm oil in the back which are fascinating too.
  • Drill Monkey Rehab Centre, Ndidem Nsang Iso Road (Behind the Jahas Guest House), +234 803 592-1262, . set up by two overlanders from the USA (Peter Jenkins and Liza Gadsby) who were biologists back home but who were persuaded by the Nigerian Government to stay in Nigeria and look after the endangered Drill Monkeys which were traditionally hunted and eaten in the Afi Mountain range that borders Cameroon. The couple now have staff in Calabar where they care for recently rescued monkeys e.g. those they capture from people trying to smuggle and export them and they also then return them to the wild at the Drill Ranch in Afi Mountains which is not too far from Calabar. You need a decent vehicle and map to get you to the ranch. The Afi Mountain Ranch (near Katabang) has cabins for guest accommodation and a forest canopy walkway (25 m high!) for people to experience the environment more closely. You are able to visit both after prior arrangement with the team. Go, meet Mickey the chimp and experience having him sit in your lap and fiddle with your hair.
  • The Marina Resort. One of the most fascinating tourist destinations in Calabar. The resort is home to buildings dating back to the colonial era, and modern facilities like the slave museum, speed boat ride, the carrousel horse ride, film/movie theatre, and night clubs. The resort affords visitors a rare view of the beautiful Calabar River in a relaxed atmosphere.


  • The Cross River State Annual Christmas Festival [dead link] held every year attracts thousands within and beyond Nigeria. The Festival which include music performance from both local and international artists, the annual Calabar carnival, Boat regatta, Fashion shows, Christmas Village, traditional dances and the annual Ekpe Festival is a yearly events that bring in thousands of tourists at the time of the year.
  • You can also visit Tinapa. similar to Universal studios, provides international standard wholesale emporiums, integrated shopping complexes and product distribution elements supported by business tourism and entertainment facilities.


The old town is remarkable for its great variety of small shops where you can get just about anything (but expect to bargain). There are two great markets, Watt Market and Marian market. Watt market is large, bustling, vibrant and full of beautiful materials etc. One can buy anything from live chickens to the most stunning wax materials, jeans at knock down prices and anything from car parts to the latest 'trainers'. Marian market is much smaller but is where the vegetables arrive once weekly from the north of Nigeria and the atmosphere on market day is fantastic, preachers are singing, women are joining in, traders are very vocal and one just bargains for everything.

Seriously, materials in Calabar are second to none. Beautiful waxes from Ghana, stunning materials from all over Africa can be found in Calabar - all at prices that will amaze. There are many very professional tailors who can make wonderful clothing from linens etc.

For those of us that we haven't tasted fresh live fish, you can get it direct from the sea.

  • A and A Farms, Ikot nakanda, akpabuyo, Tel: +234 (0)806 951-3512, [1] [dead link]. Poultry, fishery, piggery, feedmill.


  • Go to Bogobiri Corner and enjoy suya from the many vendors.
  • Freddies Restaurant is the local eaterie. Run by Ellie and a very professional staff, Freddies is a successful and well run restaurant. Main menu is Lebanese foods but Ellie will try to please everyone. Good salads, fish and best of all huge prawns are the best. Local beers, wines and all drinks are available and all at good prices.
  • Chinese restaurant at the Mirage Hotel is well run and although fairly limited menu, food is good - not cheap though.




Internet cafes[edit]

  • Link On PC, 15 New Edgerly Road, +234 805 240-5210, . Scanning, printing, chatting browsing, photocopying and all-night browsing services everyday. There are enough machines for walking visitors and guides are available to help people who can't browse well get on the Internet.
  • Cross River State IT Village, at Women Development Center Parliamentary road, [2] [dead link]. Equipped with state of the art IT facilities, Wi-Fi, Wireless Internet, IT capacity building and Coffee shop and restaurant.
  • HitecPro" @ Odukpani Road, is the leading cyber cafe in the city. It boasts of Friendly IT personnel, it is air-conditioned. The large bandwidth makes the cafe the fastest. Hitecpro is Wi-Fi equipped, provides Internet connectivity to homes and offices


The major religion of the state is Christianity. There are numerous churches from the orthodox to the more contemporary including the Anglican Church, the Catholic Church and the Presbyterian church.

  • The Shepherd's Porch (Effa, WordAlive Family Church) (atu by anteing street).
  • The SpringHouse, 10 Grace Edet Crescent (by Total Filling Station).

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Calabar is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.