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Calabar, the capital and urban centre of the Cross River State, is described as a scenic and developed city owing to its location overlooking the hill and main Kwa and Calabar Rivers along with their tributaries. It continues to serve as the historical seaport of the country, and was the main hub of overseas slave trade during the British colonial times, which is why the main museum is the Calabar Slave Museum exhibiting slave trade, palm oil trade and its functioning as a seaport. The Obong Palace falls in the same category of representing local history. Missionary movements led to the establishment of the oldest Christian landmarks present today like the Duke Town Church & Eyamba cemetery. The neighbouring Henshaw town as well as the waterfront area still have buildings and houses left from the colonial era. By the Calabar Riverside, the main attraction is the Marina Resort, providing water sports like canoeing and boating, a riverside restaurant as well as a gaming club. Along the mountains with Cameroon is the Obudu Mountain Resort, providing ample views across the scenic mountains and countryside from vantage platforms with suites and pools. For engaging with indigenous species of wildlife, there is the Drill Ranch for the rehabilitation and conservation of local Drill Monkey populations in the Afi mountain Range, also housing antelopes, parrots and chimps. Towards the outskirts, there is the Cross River National Park for the entire state, sharing the population of Gorillas along the borders with Cameroon. Another official institution is the CERCOPAN, dedicated for the upkeep of 6 endangered primate species as well as tropical birds found in the region. The presence of the rivers as the main bodies of water has led to multiple scenic green spots like the Kwa Falls and the Agbokim waterfalls. Mary Slessor building, the effigy of Bassey Duke, Calabar Cenotaph and Ekpo Bassey’s House are all considered as the city’s monuments dedicated to its notable humanitarians, heads of state as well as local leaders and personalities. In terms of cultural and promotional events, Calabar is the main biggest hotspot. Starting with the great Cross River State Christmas Festival, housing a large assembly of musical performers, races, and Christmas rituals and traditions, along with the Great Calabar Carnival, for providing a good market of local souvenirs, as well as an audience for local talent performances, may it be theatrical, dance or musical. For local shopping, the largest markets are Marian Market and Walt Market, ranging from flea street accessories to handicrafts, stalls and goods in the area. Urbanization has also led to small shopping complexes, the most notable being the Tinapa, complete with arcades and plazas and entertainment facilities for catering all visitors.
Arik Air is the prime air operator for reaching Calabar from UK.
No, currently there are no airlines providing direct flights from London to Calabar. There is at least one stop over for the average flight to Calabar taking off from London.
The average flight time from London to Calabar is approximately 11 hours and 15 minutes.
Margaret Ekpo International Airport is the main international airport serving the city. It is located at a distance of approximately 6 kilometres
There are many ways to get to the city centre from the Margaret Ekpo International Airport. One of the most popular ways is to get a taxi from just outside the airport. It may be a little expensive; however it is also the most comfortable forms of transportation. In addition to this, buses and public transportation is also available and is one of the cheapest forms of getting to the city centre.
Calabar is a safe city to move around however the taxis within the city are not in good shape as they are quite old. The taxi culture accommodates passengers on both private as well as shared basis if they are travelling on the same route. A more reliable source of getting around is by hiring a car, as the transport is more stable, you get to have a dedicated driver, and thus routes are made easy with fast travel. In the suburban residencies and towns and villages to the outskirts, there are rickshaws locally termed as ‘kekes’ as a fast alternative for travel. It may be expensive however the ease of having your own car is simply worth it. There are minibuses which operate on their own routes along the nearby vicinity along expressways and motorways.
The best time to visit Calabar is between November and December. This is because the famous Calabar carnival takes place around this time of the year.
Finding a good place to stay at Calabar is not a problem at all. Villas, guest houses and deluxe studios are some of the general offers to cater for the local tourism community active in the area. A few international standard hotel chains ensure luxury and grandiosity by providing suites with posh furnishing and ample views over the surroundings. As the culture sticks to simple taste, the hotels established within apartment buildings focus on basic bedding and seating. Towards the main commercial and urban centres, accommodation options transform into small towers from villas. Overall, apart from these options of accommodation, there are no budget accommodation options like camping, backpacking or living in hostels. A couple of bed and breakfast options may be found towards the suburbs.
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