Hi, lovely to have you on this new and first edition of the Backpacking School of Travel- BST interview series ( a revamped edition of our previous Ajala Interview Series)
1.Kindly introduce yourself briefly.
My name is Elizabeth (Eli) Ojewunmi. I am an adventure seeker and a lover of the outdoors.
2.How did your passion for travel start?
It began from my desire to alter the monotony of my life which revolved around work, home, and church. I wanted to explore new places which were budget-friendly. This was how I came across Naidrenalin Adventures.
3. What’s your very earliest memory of adventuring
I was about 7 years old when my family took a flight from Kano State to Lagos State for a vacation. It was my first time flying. I recall that we went to Bar Beach which at the time was the most popular beach in Lagos. It was my first trip to a beach, and we had a wonderful time which we captured by taking photographs.
4. As someone who has travelled with Naidrenalin on three backpacking trips in three different countries, tell us a brief experience of each and which is your favourite?
This trip was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first trip outside Nigeria, my first-time backpacking, abseiling, and camping. It was a road trip from Lagos to Ghana which took place from 29 December 2018 to 4 January 2019.
We got to abseil down a cliff to reach Lake Volta (the largest man-made lake in the world) and then kayaked to Survival Island where we camped for the night. I recall that we made a delightful meal of fried yam and grilled tilapia fish with pepper sauce for breakfast the next day. We got trained on what to do if our kayak capsized and how to rescue someone who fell from their kayak.
We hiked Mount Afadzato (the highest mountain in Ghana) the following day and thereafter strolled to lower Wli Waterfall. We had a blast at the waterfall! We also got to experience the vibrant nightlife in Accra.
Backpacking to Ghana is my favourite trip. It was a truly amazing experience all around. Because of this trip, Ghana will always have a special place in my heart.
The trip was from 29 December 2019 to 3 January 2020. The muster point was Calabar, Cross River State. We flew from Lagos to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, chartered a vehicle to Calabar and then took a boat to Idenau Port, Cameroon. The name of the boat was Divine Providence and it had uncomfortable wooden seats.
We got to participate in a 3-day hike to the summit of Mount Cameroon – the highest peak in West Africa, 4095m above sea level, with the aid of the awesome guides and porters from Ecotour Guides Cameroon.
The hike began from Upper Farms Buea on 30 January 2019 through the forest to Hut 1 then to the Savanna to Hut 2 where we spent the night. The lodging at Hut 2 (Fako Mountain Lodge) was very comfortable. We feasted on delicious meals at Hut 2. The meal and drink that stood out for me were Rice served with Groundnut Sauce, and Mint tea respectively. Having a hot cup of mint tea on that chilly mountain was a lifesaver. Mint tea remains one of my best drinks to date.
We were to hike from Hut 2 to Hut 3 then the summit on 31 December 2019. While hiking, we came across a beautiful cave. Sadly, I was unable to reach the summit due to altitude sickness. We began our descent from Hut 2 to Buea on 1 January 2020. There were enthralling views of the mountain and the surrounding. At some point, we were in the clouds.
On 2 January 2020, we got a walking tour of the majestic Ekom-Nkam Waterfall. On 3 January 2020, we got to spend a wonderful morning at the beautiful beach in Limbe and then headed to Idenau Port to catch our boat to Oron, Akwa Ibom State.
Overall, backpacking in Cameroon was a beautiful experience even with all the challenges we faced. It was truly an adventurous trip!
The trip to Benin was a land tour that began on the morning of 29 December 2021 from Ikeja, Lagos and ended with our return on 3 January 2022.
The tour in Benin began with an illuminating visit to Songhai in Porto-Novo. Songhai is a massive green farm providing a sustainable alternative model of agricultural growth in Africa. We visited the Python Temple in Ouidah and got to learn about the fascinating Voodoo customs pertaining to Pythons. I even got the chance to hang a Python on my neck!
From our visit to the Maison du Brésil (Casa Do Brasil) art gallery, we learnt about the slave trade and colonization of Benin. Maison du Brésil is the temporary exhibition centre pending completion of the renovation of the Ouidah fort and history museum. We made a quick stop at the Door of No Return which is undergoing reconstruction.
We hiked the Sacred Hill of Dassa. It is a place where funerals of members of the royal families and voodoo rituals take place. On our descent from the hill, we visited the Grotte Notre-Dame d’Arigbo which is a Catholic pilgrimage site in Dassa.
One of the delicacies we had at a buka in Dassa-Zoumé was (real) pounded yam with groundnut soup and fried wara (milk curds) which was washed down with a bottle of Youki Pamplemousse. It’s a delicious, carbonated grapefruit drink.
On our return to Cotonou, we made a short stop at the statue of General Toussaint Louverture in Allada. He is recognized as the father of Haitian independence. We bought some beautiful souvenirs at the Village Artisanal in Cotonou. Later in the evening, we chilled at the Fidjrosse Beach for about an hour.
Overall, backpacking in Benin was a memorable trip even with the challenge of not being a French speaker. It was wonderful learning about Benin’s fascinating culture and history.
5. What’s your wildest backpacking trip so far, and why?
My wildest backpacking trip so far is Backpacking Cameroon. While overall, it was a good trip, it was also very challenging. Hiking Mount Cameroon was quite difficult for me due to altitude sickness and not having hiking boots. We also experienced pointless delays from unfriendly immigration officials and hostile military personnel even though we had the requisite travel documentation.
6. What have you learned from travelling over three years of backpacking with Naidrenalin?
Some of the greatest lessons I have learned from backpacking with Naidrenalin for over three years include:
to adapt to unexpected situations as plans may go awry, face my fears when trying something new, and have the right attitude in the face of challenges.
7. How much has travelling changed your view of the world?
A lot! Travelling has made me realise that there is so much more to life and to appreciate the differences in cultures. Variety is truly the spice of life.
8. What’s the experience of travelling on land or sea to a new country instead of flying?
Travelling by land or sea to a new country has been an interesting experience. It brings you closer to your environment and presents you with a different perspective from that experienced when flying. I find that travelling by land or sea is more enjoyable if done with a friend or as a group.
9. How do you think travelling can be made easier for the nomadic Nigerian traveller?
We need to start with a change of perspective towards tourism in Nigeria. Nigeria has numerous tourist/historical sites which are not getting the publicity they deserve. It would be awesome if each State in Nigeria were to upgrade/revitalize its existing tourist sites and then publicise them, so people are aware of places of interest around them.
Improving the modes of transportation is another way to make travelling easier for the nomadic Nigerian traveller as it would be awesome to have functional road, rail, and maritime networks all over the country. Security of life and property is key as no one wants to endanger themselves by travelling to unsafe areas.
10. What is “Adventure” to you in one word?
Thanks for having you on this first series.