“Obudu is breathtakingly beautiful” – Sola of YTourAfrica
During the week, Jumia Travel, Africa’s number one hotel booking portal, met with Sola Jegede of YtourAfrica. Sola who is a travel blogger in Nigeria and the founder of YTourAfrica spoke on his traveling experience in Nigeria and why he is so passionate about travel in general. Below are the excerpts of the interview. Enjoy!
Hi, its great to talk to you. Tell us a bit about Y Tour Africa
Hello. Good to talk to you too. YTourAfrica is the hub of tourism in Africa (well, in the near future). YTourAfrica started out as an idea on how to project and promote tourism in Nigeria and Africa to the world. I started exploring purposely to see hidden tourist and fun attractions about 3 years ago. The blogging didn’t start until about 2 years ago. I saw that as the opportunity to share as well as archive my experiences, and where others can come to share their experiences as well (this has yet to really happen because most people don’t like to engage themselves in the task of writing). Then the group tour started not too long ago after people indicated interests in joining me on my trips. So, it’s been a gradual buildup towards showcasing the beauty in our habitats and of course building a business around it.
How and when did you develop an interest for traveling?
I think I have always had interest in traveling. Growing up, I joined my father on some trips and he would make me write down names of every single town and village to which he will tell stories of important monuments there (if any). I have always been curious and feel we always wait for validation of the Europeans before we start appreciating our own natural habitats. I remember my experience at Osun Groove, where it took us traveling from Lagos to get a friend who grew up 100 metres from the Groove to visit the heritage site. I think curiosity and the need to better appreciate our heritage and natural endowments helped develop my interest.
How many cities have you toured (Nigeria and worldwide)?
For the tours, I have been to Uyo and Ibeno in Akwa Ibom state, Calabar and Obudu in Cross River state, Osogbo and Erin-Ijesha in Osun, Idanre in Ondo state and Badagry and Epe in Lagos state. That makes about nine (9) cities or towns in Nigeria. We plan to commence touring other African countries by 2018.
Share with us your most memorable trip(s) in Nigeria thus far.
Most memorable? This is really hard to pick as I find all these places memorable and interesting. They are a few places I hope to visit over and over again. But if I am restricted to one, then will take the Obudu Resort. This is because the journey there from Calabar was so stressful and dangerous, we left Calabar at 11am and got to Obudu town by 11pm. At one point in the journey, I even saw a python with its head raised to strike. The most beautiful thing is actually that the Obudu experience will make you totally forget whatever stress you encountered to get there. Obudu is breathtakingly beautiful!
What is the most interesting thing you have learnt about Nigeria during your trips?
The most interesting thing I have learnt from my trip is something I have always suspected, which is, Nigeria is blessed with amazingly beautiful natural landscapes. What is needed now is to develop and showcase this gift nature has magnanimously bestowed on us.
What thrills you the most about traveling to a new destination entirely?
Well, that would be the thrilling effect of discovering something new. Most times, I don’t know what to expect, so the anticipation really gets me excited.
What are the top 5 places in Nigeria that you would recommend to a foreigner?
- Obudu Cattle Ranch
- Idanre Hills
- Osun-Osogbo during the festival
- Calabar at the time of carnivals in December
- Erin-Ijesha waterfalls
What is your preferred method of traveling? Solo or with a travel buddy?
Definitely with buddies. I particularly do not think I can travel alone. I think some things are best enjoyed with others, and the fact that you are with buddies does not mean you can not retreat to have a personal time to reflect or soak in the environment. More so, who will take your pictures to disturb the social media? Who will you laugh and compare notes with as well as relive the amazing moments? Also if you are driving, you may need someone to share driving with or just to keep you awake. Some live experiences are best shared.
What are the 5 things you can’t do without while traveling?
- Food – I try to experience local foods. So I am always on the lookout for hygienic places to enjoy local delicacies.
- Camera – At, least good camera phones. I take pictures for posterity and yes, social media oppression too.
- Questions – I can’t stop asking questions, especially if there’s some history behind such locations. I usually do my own research ahead of the visit but I’m always keen on listening and learning from locals to compare notes. I always revel in the myths, no matter how superstitious they sound.
- Earpiece/Headpiece – I can’t do without mine. Even though I don not use it 90% of the travelling time, I just want to know I have it handy, should there be a need for it.
- Money – Of course, some loose cash. I can’t over-emphasize the need for it. Most of the tourist attractions do not have reliable network to power mobile banking, so CASH IS KING!
How do you manage your finances while traveling?
This is particularly tough, but I try to haggle as much as I can and negotiate for discounts where possible and I work on getting group discounts. Most times, it’s not easy especially when you’re trying to experience as much as you can and you’re mindful to encourage the locals as well. To be honest, I have not really figured that out.
What advice do you have for people who want to travel for fun but can’t afford it?
Come on board YTourAfrica, we get you best deals. The thing is you can do anything with proper planning. You plan ahead; get people of like minds to share costs with; look for places around your locality (trust me, there are interesting places in every state in this great country); visit at off-peak periods when there is less demand as the entry fees are usually hiked at festive and general holiday periods.
All images are gotten from Sola of YTourAfrica and published with permission.