How to explore Ìbàdàn, Nigeria in one weekend: Part 2
If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.
The trip from Moniya station into Bodija took around 25mins. Thankfully, Seyi has a family house in Ìbàdàn and had offered to lodge us for the weekend.
When we got to the Estate, the security men wouldn’t let us in. Seyi tried to explain that it was his house and that he was the son of the owner but the security weren’t having it. They insisted we called the person inside to call them. Eventually, the security called one of Seyi’s uncles. Here’s how that went;
Security: Good afternoon sir, there’s someone here. He said his name is Seyi and he’s your son.
Uncle: *says something we don’t hear*
Security: We’re sorry sir. We didn’t know. *Then opens gate quickly*.
We got to the house, dropped our bags, greeted the family — you should never go empty handed to a family house, it’s Un-Nigerian but we did. We made up for it later sha.
Once we had settled in, our first point of call was Àmàlà Skye. I requested a Bolt(Taxify) ride (no Ubers in Ìbàdàn). The trip price showed N500. It was interesting to see that in Ìbàdàn, there were no price ranges. After stumbling over giving the driver directions to the house, we ended up asking someone in the house to speak to him on the phone and to help with directions. On our way out, Seyi picked some starfruit from the compound for everyone — first time I ever saw a starfruit.
I have to mention that Bolt drivers in Ibadan are very very interesting. This first Bolt driver didn’t even bother putting on the AC for us. He asked us how much the app showed us and started explaining to us how they don’t even bother putting on ACs for anyone because they don’t make enough to do so.
Seyi needed to use the ATM’s so we went to the Polaris bank (formerly Skye Bank — where Amala Skye gets its name from) to use their ATM. He eventually had to withdraw from those POS vendors instead because of the queue at the Bank.
We got to Amala Skye and headed inside. It’s your regular bukka with a flurry of activities happening at each corner. They served Amala, Pounded yam(iyan), Ofada. I don’t remember seeing anyone eating Jollof.
I should mention also that Coronavirus does not seem to be an issue in Ibadan. Most people were walking around without masks on and going about their daily lives without a care in the world.
Each scoop of Amala was N100. Goat meat N1000. Fish N1000. You buy drinks from a different vendor within the premises. I had 3 scoops of Amala. It was definitely more than enough.
Benie ordered nearly everything on the menu :). She had some assorted meat, fish, 4 scoops of Amala, snails ati be be lo. Eventually she couldn’t finish it all😂
The Amala was worth the hype! Everything people have said about Amala Skye is true. The stew works great! Dripping in palm oil and that ewedu? Perfect!
The Zoo at the University of Ibadan(UI)
Once done with our meal, we all couldn’t get up. We sat there for at least another 30mins before we were able to get moving again. Our next destination was the Zoo at UI. I wasn’t excited about this part of the trip but I was down to go anywhere everyone wanted to go. It ended up being really fun — it made me realize experiencing a place is what you make of it and the people you share the experience with and not entirely about the place itself.
We took 2 Okadas from Amala Skye to UI. N200 per Okada.
We spent some time outside UI’s gate in the hot Ibadan weather with Benie using us as muse for her Jordi Koalitic inspired videos.
Once done, we headed inside UI and took one of the cabs at the gate to the UI zoo. If I remember correctly, we paid N200 for this trip.
We got our tickets — N500 each (they’re sold as 3 tickets N300, N100, N100) and headed in to the Zoo.
Our original impressions was that the cages weren’t well maintained but what do we know about running a Zoo. On the other hand, there were a lot of Animals to see and the Zoo is considerably big with a lot of open spaces. Definitely a great location for a family day out or a picnic.
We didn’t have a Zoo guide while we were walking around the Zoo but at some point, a family came in with the Zoo guide giving them a tour. We followed their group and listened to the guide talk about the Animals and the Zoo in general. One of the highlights of the Zoo experience was meeting Ajoke the Giraffe. Benie and Victoria were brave enough to stroke her. I wasn’t.
We took a looootttt of pictures at the Zoo and even got to dance! That was a fun experience.
There’s also a mini park at the Zoo with swings and see-saws.
The pictures below were shot and edited by Seyi.
We spent around 3 hours at the Zoo taking pictures, seeing Animals, gossiping about people at the Zoo, criticising cages and all the random things that people do on a group trip.
Benie plucked some ebelebo for us too. Benie eh! Always introducing us to village fruits.
After leaving the Zoo, we called the Cab guy that had brought us to the Zoo from the UI gate to pick us up — It’s a distance from the Zoo to the main gate so you’ll need some sort of a ride to the gate.
We hung out outside the entrance and spent some time sitting on their fence too. Someone kept trying to get our attention from a room, telling us to get off the fence but as the “coconut head”children we’re we didn’t listen. Eventually sha, we felt sorry for the man and got off the fence.
Eventually, we saw Keke’s and we ended up taking those. Apparently, that thing Keke drivers do in Lagos where they carry 3 at the back and 1 person with the driver does not happen in UI. They’re only allowed to carry a max of 2 passengers and at the back seat.
Benie suggested we check out the market opposite UI. Then she suggested trying out cashews. Everyone knows cashew nuts but not everyone knows the fruit itself. The nuts are made from the seed of the fruit — something Benie taught us.
This fruit is mildly sweet and juicy and we bought a lot of it! It has an interesting taste like a cross between agbalumo and watermelon or something.
Victoria’s face trying out Cashews had us in stitches.
We were tired from the Zoo but weren’t ready to go home yet considering that we didn’t have enough time to see all the places we wanted to see. We discussed where to go next between all of Mapo Hall, Bower’s Tower and Stone Cafe. We ended up going with Bower’s Tower.
We requested a Bolt ride from the market. The driver said he was parked in front of the first bank near the University. We crossed over to meet him. It looked like he was just dropping off his friends. When we got into the car, we asked him if he knew were Bower’s Tower was. He said he didn’t and that he can only go there offline. He asked how much the app showed us. After telling him, he said in the strongest terms possible that he could never collect that.
We were a little confused. Is Bolt like the regular cabs in Ibadan that you negotiate the price? We even suggested directing him with the map but he kept saying he wasn’t going and does not know the area.
Eventually, we got out of his car and found one of the Nissan Micra taxis that move around Ibadan. It was driven by a man that looked like he was in his late 60’s or 70’s. He also didn’t know Bower’s Tower but from the map we were able to tell him what area it was around — Oke Aare. He agreed to take us there for N1,500.
We were able to navigate with the map while I gave directions to our Driver in Yoruba. We got to the Bower’s Tower area and we were a little confused if we were in the right place. We were able to see the tower from the distance. This was how we knew we were in the right location.
We asked Baba (the driver) to wait for us because we knew getting a ride out of that area would be difficult. Then, we started the trek/hike up the mountains.
We passed by a couple of Churches with Mountains in their name. We even saw a number of Prayer spots on the Mountain, a Mosque and a Praying ground. The sun was starting to set too so it was a great time to take pictures with the Sunset.
It was clear we weren’t from around the area. People kept staring at us. We met some hanging out around the area who said we asked in Yoruba that we give them money on our way back down.
After walking for around 15 minutes, we finally arrived at the gate to Bower’s Tower. We entered the gate. The place looked deserted save for one man hanging around.
As we approached the tower itself, one man called out to us. Seyi and I went to meet him. He said it was N200 per person to take pictures or enter inside.
We paid and we entered the tower. We started the climb to the top through the very narrow tower stairs.
We spent about 30mins around the tower. Most of our time was spent mainly taking pictures. Again, no guide to give us the history of the place. You can read about it here.
Some of the kids we had met around the area came up and helped take some group pictures of us.
On our way out, we had 2 men who looked like indigenes of the area “beg” us for money and we gave them.
We started the descend down the Mountain Bower’s Tower was located on and headed back to our Cab.
Next stop, Stone Cafe for dinner.
We drove past The Palms Mall, Ibadan on your way here. You may decide to make a stop here to spend some time at the Mall.
What can I say about this place?
Apparently, it’s meant to be a Hard Rock Cafe wannabe but I didn’t really get that vibe from the place. It just reminded me of regular Lounges in Lagos.
We ordered Grilled croaker, peppered wings and gizzard, asun and fries. I have to admit that everything tasted decent. I did wish that the croaker was grilled longer to get it crunchier.
Our bill for all of that came to N17, 500
By the time we got here, my battery was on 3%. Make sure to carry a purse on your travels with a power bank!
After leaving Stone Cafe, we headed back to the house and spent the rest of the evening eating cashews, talking about heartbreaks and careers.
I have to say that, compared to Lagos, I felt safe throughout our time in Ibadan. There were a couple of police cars on patrol but I never sighted a policeman with a gun throughout our time there. The most I saw were traffic wardens.