Calabar, popularly referred to as Canaan City, has a complicated yet fascinating history. One of the Nigeria’s famous travel destinations, numerous attractions abound for tourists paying a visit to this beautiful city.
However, although it is common to make mistakes when exploring the unknown, certain flubs can turn your trip into a disappointing experience, especially if you are a first time visitor.
Jovago.com, Africa’s No.1 online hotel booking service presents ten common mistakes that travelers make when visiting Calabar. Hopefully, by looking at these mistakes, you will avoid replicating them, and thus get more enjoyment from a vacation to this land rich in culture.
Arriving in high season
A significant percentage of visitors arrive Calabar from November through January for the famous Calabar Carnival. If you are in for a wild time, then this is the best period to take a holiday there but if some peace and quiet is what you want, this may not be the best time to visit for a unique and enjoyable experience.
Work towards arriving during off-peak season as you will escape long lines at the leading museums and tourist attractions plus getting tables in restaurants or rooms at hotels will be easier.
Being easy prey for pickpockets
The odds of being mugged in Calabar are low however, with pick-pocketing and purse-snatching…it’s a different story. Many tourists invite theft by carrying wallets and passports in their hip pockets or wearing bags with gaping zips slung over their shoulders. It is important to hide the wallet in a safe place such as a zippered security pocket, or wear the small purse under a jacket or sweater. It is also important to carry a backup credit card, cash, and passport in a neck wallet inside your clothing.
Straying from researched sites
When visiting for the first time, you may want to stick to the tourist sites that you have read about and researched on, as you assume it is safer and is the best way to get the full Calabar experience, however, restricting yourself to the common tourist trails will deny you the opportunity to create your own unique experiences. Do not just follow what others have done, dare to explore outside the commonly done and seen, as often times the best experiences and the biggest opportunities are found off the beaten path.
While visiting the town, you may be tempted to buy many souvenirs either for personal use or to give to loved ones. However, you need to watch out for overpriced souvenirs, especially the one’s which you are likely not to use after that it makes the trip home. If you must, buy souvenirs that you can easily carry, and has a lasting appeal.
A relatively clean city, most tourist visit this place because of its spartan landscape. Littering is not acceptable around the metropolis. So, do not to throw food wrappers, empty plastic cans or cigarette butts onto the streets as you can get fined for it. Wait till you can find a trash can and discard it properly.
Expecting to be waited on very attentively in a restaurants
Calabar has a variety of restaurants to meet the taste of any visitor, from low budget to high-end, however, most of the restaurants do not offer quick service as the ones in some cities like Lagos or Abuja. It can be as a result of the general laid back vibe in the area, however, you may just want to sit back, be patient, and flag down your waiter when you need something, and be patient in knowing they are probably working very hard. The good news is, you will rarely be presented with the check until you ask for it.
Blindly trusting road directions
Locals in calabar are generally friendly and willing to help visitors. If you are confused with your directions and need to get help from a local, rather than sticking to information given by one person, you might want to cast a broad net of directions. Ask more than one person for directions to the same place. If the person hesitates or appears to not be certain of their answer, seek additional elsewhere.
The native meals here are relatively affordable and super-tasty. This is why even a normally health-conscious visitor will ditch their strict food rules as soon as they land in the city. While it is a manageable lapse if you are on holiday for a fortnight, it becomes rather more problematic if you are planning to stay for a longer period.
Being culturally insensitive
Calabar has a very rich culture as well as a unique language that influences their English pronunciations. A lot of Nigerian comedians tell jokes with the local accent however, it is important to understand the culture and the surrounding when visiting. Having an unbiased mind will help you blend better, absorb the culture in a more interactive way and avoid insulting them unintentionally.