Obudu Mountain Resort located in Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State, remains Nigeria’s foremost destination as its bears no comparison to any other destination across the globe.
But it has a beleaguered history of neglect and bad management. For two years it was virtually under lock and key until early this year when the state government turned its attention to it again.
Staking a hold on its soul, tour operators under the auspices of Naija7 Wonders last week undertook a facility tour of the resort to abreast themselves of the state of the resort with the sole aim of it putting it out in the market place.
Their discoveries were interesting and inspiring as their verdict demystified all the negative stories about the resort, insisting that Obudu Mountain Resort is back from the brink and once again beckons tourists seeking to explore the best of God’s creation.
The quest was inspired by desire to authenticate the state of the resort –Uko
During the course of Naija7 Wonders zoom conferences it turned out that Obudu Mountain Resort was the highest rated place in Nigeria by most of the participants. But after that quite a lot of people started complaining that Obudu is down; Obudu is no better; there are no good roads and everything is down. We then invited the Special Assistant to the governor on Obudu Mountain Resort, Bobby Ekpenyong, to talk about it and he said no, things are fine but people still kept on saying no, the place is bad. Then we said the best thing to do is to go there and confirm the state of things before we recommend to other people to go there. So, we reached out to Remlords Tours, the resort management and Ibom Air and they said fine, why don’t you come and see. So, we arranged the FAM trip for tour operators to actually do a proper facility visit. That is what brought about this trip. We had 24 people on the trip from different parts of the country; Lagos, Uyo, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ibadan.
The trip demystified the stereotypical stories about Obudu
It proved that a lot of things that people say are hearsay, ‘oh there is road to Obudu.’ But we have found out that from Biase to Obudu there are better roads than most other roads in Nigeria. But from Odukpani to Biase the road has challenge but you could see that they are already working on it. So, a lot of the things people said about it turned out not true. When we got to the place I told everybody to explore and experience it firsthand. Thereafter, we had a meeting that lasted for three hours with the management and we itemised 25 different problems.
No place as good as Obudu in Nigeria
We have come, we have seen and nobody will deny the fact that there is no place that is as good as Obudu in Nigeria. It is amazing and what people now need to do is to manage the expectations of the visitors to Obudu.
Obudu is still Obudu
Obudu is still Obudu, the environment is still there but the quality of the product has gone down, which is actually visible because it was abandoned and not used for two years. You could see today that they were cutting grasses at the water park.
The management has show the willingness to bring Obudu back to life
But the most important thing is that I have seen the will and the zeal by the management to do things to be able to bring Obudu back to life. I am also impressed with the willingness of the tour operators to come and confirm the actual state of affairs.
I feel fulfilled that Obudu is still alive
It is important to note that those stories that people are peddling about Obudu are not true. So, I feel fulfilled that Obudu is still alive. It may not be at the level that it was some five, six years ago but it is alive and it is being restored.
Obudu beckons all this December
This December almost all the tour operators have designed packages that they will be selling. So, Obudu will have a lot of businesses going forward. I am also expecting that the management keeps to what we have discussed because we gave them standards to meet. We also demanded further training for the staff and in the next two weeks somebody will be coming here to train the staff again.
We will give it a lot of attention
Haven adopted the place we have to give it a lot of attention, we have to drag them along with us, which means we have to continuously check and check on them. *Ikechi Uko, is the organiser of Naija7 Wonders and Akwabba African Travel Market
Selling Obudu Mountain Resort is top priority –Asuquo-Ankoh
This is my fifth trip to the resort but it is my first trip post -COVID – 19 and it was a good way to unwind and a good way to come into mother’s nature space and just enjoy it. There is something about this space as it allows you to recreate and accelerate your creative juice as it allows you to do a lot of creativities; a lot of writings. Selling Obudu will be one of my top priorities, especially now when we are promoting domestic tourism. So, domestic tourism it is because when we promote domestic tourism then foreign tourists can now come in and enjoy it. Sometimes we always think outbound tourism is it but this is inbound tourism. You can’t exhaust all the offerings of the resort Within the resort alone there are a lot of sites. You can’t even exhaust all of them. We were at the Canopy walkway and also at the Holy Mountain and the beauty of the Holy Mountain is that it is believed that whatever prayer you say there that God answers it. That alone is awesome. Just having the blanket of the cloud and the hills, the adjoining hills to the plateau make it so interesting. Christmas in Obudu Selling this destination is my topmost priority for Christmas. The people are very welcoming and they are ready for new businesses. They have one of the purest forms of honey, they have good food, fresh farm produce and yogurt. So anybody and everybody should visit the resort. Let’s look forward to a new Obudu Mountain Resort The road to the place is beautiful and is really good. All the stories that we hear does not hold water. So, let’s look forward to a new Obudu Mountain Resort. Beauty at its best My topmost take away from here is beauty at it best. To me, it is more like I am looking for the right word to describe it.
*Shalom Asuquo – Ankoh, a travel consultant, is the managing director of Travellab
This is where God lives – Itoe
I have been here a lot of times but it is my first trip for about five, four years. But the interesting thing about this place is that no matter how often you come here you can never get a feel of the place. The more you get to love the resort for what it is. It has so much potential to offer to different kind of people that come to the resort. This is where God lives. In fact, this is the wonder of Africa. It is completely natural. It is not manmade, just the way God created it. This is where you can walk in the cloud. There is nowhere else in the world that I know that you can literarily walk in the cloud. It is so serene, it is so natural. And it has been fantastic so far.
Obudu Mountain Resort is my next project
Going forward, the resort is my next project. Because I have seen most of the potentials in this place and I have seen opportunities that one can explore. Nigerians and Africans need to come and see what Obudu has to offer. This is literarily where God lives, so the world needs to know what Obudu has to offer.
It is work in progress
In the past there have been a lot of complaints about the services and what you get to find here. People have said it is not what it used to be back in the days of the governor, who brought this place back to the limelight, former governor Donald Duke. But I see that under Bobby Ekpenyoung, he has tried to revive the place, it is work in progress. But so far what I have seen here is beyond words.
It is the cheapest resort in Africa
Despite it challenges and what the resort has as its shortcomings, it is still the cheapest resort in Africa and even in Nigeria. In Lagos resorts you can’t compare the pricing with Obudu and in these places you will not even get a quarter of what you get here for the value. But Obudu offers you so much because there is no way that you can utilize all that this resort offers on one trip. You need to come here over and over again. So, I think the budget is cheap, compared to other resorts in Nigeria Obudu is pretty cheap and affordable.
Putting up quarterly packages December
I am here for Christmas and I also looking at Valentine as well. Going forward, I want to see how I can put together a package to this place every quarter. Obudu is also where you got to have authentic community experience as you don’t have it anywhere else in the world. They have great things to explore. Here they have the best honey in the world, and they have fresh yogurt. *Geraldine Itoe, is the CEO of Nova Roster
We had a great time –Mustapha
We are on a mission here at the resort. Obudu hill is a beauty to behold, natural and serene environment, the warmth of the people, the chalets and the villas, are all on point. We had a great time, we had campfire, and the food and everything were fine. Obudu is a place to behold, there are so many waterfalls and we visited the Bechive Natural Park, the Canopy walk and so many other places. The Presidential lodge is 2, 500 metres above the sea level and it would seem as if you are in Heaven already. We visited the Holy Mountain, and we saw so many fantastic places. You will think that you are outside the country.
Get on the next available flight here
So, if you have not yet visited the resort you must get the next ticket to visit and you will be amazed by the experience. It was my first time and I loved it.
I never knew a place like this exist in Nigeria
The memory will linger forever. I have visited so many countries overseas but I never knew that we have such a place as this in Nigeria.
A new vista for my business
So, this will open another chapter in my business and even for me as a person because I have become an historian telling people about the place. But unfortunately, I can’t narrate all that I have seen in three days.
Offering Christmas packages for the family
Christmas is just around the corner, so I will be putting out a Christmas package for the family. You might not be able to travel to Europe because of COVID- 19 but nothing stops you from coming to the resort and you are going to enjoy every bit of it. There are so many places to visit and so many things to see and do. It will be a memory that will last forever.
If you are travelling to London as a family your ticket will be over N2 million but coming to the resort, the entire package will be lesser, it is cheaper. For a family of four for four or five days with an all inconclusive package, you will be spending less than N1 million.
The roads are good and there was no traffic on our way here because from Calabar airport down here we had a seamless journey. *Olanike Mustapha, is a director of Pam Travels and Tours Limited
Quest for first time experience –Arinze-Odumou
The whole idea was to see things for myself and experience the resort. I have heard a lot of negative reports about Nigeria, about Obudu and about different sites. So, I felt it was important to have a first time experience, something that I can easily share with my clients. Something that can benefit me because I deserve a break, a getaway, I do need the experience just the same way my clients need the experience and also network with other professionals.
It was a beautiful experience
It was a really beautiful experience. I have actually seen pictures of Obudu and other parts of Nigeria online but there are so many things and places that you don’t see. I think coming made a lot of difference. Seeing the water park, seeing the grotto and actually going down the grotto by myself, seeing the Holy Mountain and getting to pray, for me, it was really a different experience because I have fear of height (Acrophobia). Going through the journey everybody knew that I was scared but I made sure that I went through the Canopy walk.
Others need to experience it
These are things that other people need to experience because life is about experiences. You can’t be confined to your space and think that is all there is. But when you come out there is something else that must impact you. So, for me, getting to see all these, so close to nature and being really upclose, the place they say God lives, taking those pictures and the amazing thing is that these pictures are as good as other places that you see in the world.
We have it all in Obudu
We have it all here and it was a really beautiful experience and an awaking for me. The topmost memory for me was being able to make it and being able to do everything and not shying away from facing my fear and not doing all the activities. There is nothing like doing it yourself, feeling the adrenaline, feeling the heat and feeling the fear.
A good season ahead
I hope to do a lot this Christmas and I pray that my clients would step up and take the offer. I look forward to good season. Right now we have a deal, we have seen the place and everything is fine.
Obudu has become a soft sell
for me It is a soft sell. It is softer now than before. Now that I have been here I can tell the story and people can see the pictures. People will like to go to where you have been to. *Helen Arinze – Odumodu, is the CEO of Domina Nostra
It was mind blowing –Enemchukwu
I am totally blown away. What we have seen in the last three days of being here is what I would describe in one word – mind blowing. It is has been everything that I imagined it would be and more.
It was also my first time here in Obudu.
We have been at the Holy Mountain, the Mountain Villa and we are here at the water park and my goodness.
Don’t believe all the negative stories that you hear of Obudu
You know what, nobody should take my word for it, you have to come here yourself and see it yourself. Don’t believe all the negative stories that you hear, especially in the social media. Listen to us because I am seeing it first hand and I am not here to garnish anything. Yes, there are areas that need improvement and we have shared those with the management and we believe that they will address them. But even if you are right here today and when it comes to the Obudu experience, you would almost have a hundred per cent. My message to Nigerians who have heard so many negative stories about this place, is first cleanse your hearts of any negative things that you have heard in the past and listen to it now because I am saying it as it is.
This is the place to be
You want that serenity? You want that quiet and peace? You want everything in its purest and most natural form? You want somewhere you have your children if you come as a family and you are not worried about them straying or getting hurt in anyway? Then this is the place to be. *Ebele Enemchukwu, Mrs. Tourism UN; 2015-2017 and CEO of WABIO
My mandate is to revamp the resort –Ekpenyong
I am here to basically transform the resort and bring it back to its full potential. The mandate is to revamp the resort and rebrand it. That is what I am here to do until we find good investors for it. The truth is that the resort was actually dead due to some circumstances that were beyond our reach. But since I came in about 11 (Eleven) months ago, the focus has been to revamp it and bring it back to full function. Life has come back to the resort and sometimes we have full occupancy. It is work in progress, we are not done yet. We have a total number of 165 rooms, but when I came in we didn’t even have up to 80 sellable rooms. But now we have more than 150 sellable rooms.
Sight on domestic market
Our focus now is on domestic tourism due to COVID-19 international travel is greatly affected, so the solution is domestic tourism and the resort provides the opportunity for the entire Nigeria because it is the best destination that we have and even in Africa. That is why have taken this step of bringing Nigerian tour operators here to see what we have and understand what we have, look at the facilities and the standard that we have reached and then market it.
Devoted to making it the best destination
In the next one year we expect that we are going to make big business at the resort and a lot of Nigerians will find it as the best destination. The awareness and interest on the resort is huge now and so we need to expand. We need to add about 300 rooms more to the resort and that will be great.
Bibi airstrip is still functioning…
Bibi airstrip is still functioning but the only thing is that the airline stopped coming as a result of poor patronage. So it is for us to drive traffic to the resort and the airline will come back.
Access road to the resort is good
For road access, we only have a few bad spots in Calabar area but after about 30 or 40 minutes from Calabar you will see that you have good road to Obudu. Calabar – Ikom- Ogoja – Obudu is good and faster route.
*Bobby Ekpenyong, is the special assistant to the governor on Obudu Mountain Resor