Here’s why you must make that trip to Obudu
By Mike Ekunno
Going to the Obudu Mountain Resort, you’re likely to experience a shock of some sort. And that comes from the point when you realise that you have left Obudu town behind and still have to go for another 70km to reach the resort named after it. You wonder aloud at how one town could span that much landmass.
It then becomes a teachable moment as you get schooled on the politics of the Obudu nomenclature.
The resort’s site is actually in Becheve community under Obanliku Local Government Area which is almost 70 km from Obudu town, headquarter of the eponymous local government council. So why not Becheve Mountain Resort? It happened that in the immediate post-colonial period when the ranch was being developed, Obudu was the nearest urban centre and so became the name for the entire area.
You are absorbing this teachable moment as the cool breeze blows all over you on the bike taking you from Utanga, where plantains and honey and banana are a bargain; but you’ll have to leave them until you make the return journey.
When the iconic gates with the cow head sculpture come into view, you know that your lonely ride on the well-paved highway – and through the scenic landscape – has come to an end. And you proceed to honour the registration formalities, the staff cheerful and welcoming. That done, you’re full of expectations.
However, the ascent isn’t over just yet. The resort gate is at the foot of the mountain range, so you must get a guide to take you up to the top on a bike, a climb of 2870ft. (If you’re driving, please note: It will take someone familiar with the terrain to drive a vehicle up there — more like bringing a ship to harbour by a master mariner).
The narrow road of the mountain is well-paved but the long-winded ascent with deep gorges and steep inclines tests your nerves. Even without being acrophobic, it looks more like extreme sport. Your stomach tightens as you negotiate one acute-angled devil’s elbow to the next, as vistas of green valleys poke beyond the fog. At last, you emerge at the top with signs of human habitation and heave a sigh of relief.
Go for nature — no more, no less
It’s so charming up here, the veld of South Africa and pampas of Argentina would be jealous. The lodges are well-kept and dot the many well-manicured lawns around the resort. The average room rate straddles the 20k – 30k range. There’s a presidential suite with rates you wouldn’t bother about – except, of course, you’re of the bourgeoisie.
And if you need something cheaper 20k, your guide with some luck could snag a room in the less posh quarters of the resort. Here, nature’s generosity and undiscriminating nature (the pun!) come into play as the temperate weather is available, whether you are lodged in the presidential suite or a dingy hole.
Friends have asked me about the perceived decay of the resort’s once-graceful facilities. For one, the cable car is out of use and yoghurt production has ceased; however, the natural heritage which makes the resort unique is very much intact.
Apparently, the memories and legacies of Governor Donald Duke’s at the resort remain widely appreciated by the guides and resort staff. But I didn’t come all the way to lament the failings of Duke’s successors; instead, I pushed away those thoughts and happily soaked in nature’s offerings at Obudu. I’m here to praise Caesar, not to bury him.
Take inspiration from the surroundings
There’s the Canopy Walkway ensconced inside thick rain forest vegetation. Here you feel nature’s peacefulness as your inner turmoil is calmed by the expansive tropical canopy. The same quiet and stillness at the Grotto, which descends into the gushing of crystal-clear natural spring water.
My Early Man instincts kicked in at the Canopy Walkway as I envision a clearing in the bush where creatives could come and chill and tap inspiration from the boundless surroundings.
Even without the resort’s set pieces, just luxuriating in its natural ambience is sumptuous enough. Its temperature hovers between 18oC-31oC with a dip in December-January and a spike in March-April. Little wonder, workers and villagers from the adjoining settlements are often in warm clothing reminiscent of winter. Knowing March to be usually hot in my own corner of Nigeria, I hadn’t come prepared for the sharp dip in temperature.
The region is so cold that even drinks are cooled naturally – no fridges needed, as I soon found out.
Wonder, wonder, wonder
No visitor to Obudu Mountain resort has any business staying indoors and missing out on the natural wonders playing out outside. Swathes of mist constantly drift across the outdoors in what looks like palpable formations.
Being a chronic airline window seat freak, you couldn’t feel more ecstatic with having these cumulus formations up close. With surrounding mountain ranges covered in fog most mornings, you couldn’t help not thinking of Moses at Mt Sinai. You actually took close peeks at one cluster just in case. Surreal.
The takeaways from your visit are many but the ones for your bag include bananas and honey produced on the resort (I must add: there’s a gift shop with rather pricey branded items). As for the intangible takeaways, it’s the sense of wonder at how by divine decree, a swathe of earth would be blessed with a unique weather condition to the exclusion of adjoining areas.
Forgive my poor science: but why wouldn’t the temperate weather of Obudu dissipate and diffuse into the neighbouring areas? By what unchangeable covenant has it been conserved since creation? That is the takeaway you won’t find inside my bag as I pack to leave.
Ekunno is a freelance book editor, writer and poet. He visited the resort in March 2022