In so many ways, Calabar seems much more Cameroonian than it does Nigerian. It’s a laid back city that sprawls a little bit, but doesn’t have that same desperately aggressive feel that much of the rest of Nigeria has. There is good food here, a nice market, and even a couple opportunities to see some primates in rehabilitation centers. Calabar is easy to get around, there are loads of taxis and mototaxis if you need them, and in general the city is more than pleasant. If you’ve tired a bit of the pace of life in Nigeria, Calabar is a relaxing escape a breath of fresh air.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: $40-55USD
Things to Do and See in Calabar
Though there are things to do in Calabar, you’re not going to be blown away with opportunities. There really are just a couple usual activities everyone does in town. You’ll really only need a couple days to do it all, and could probably see everything in a day if you had to.
- Watt Market: A little bit calmer than other African markets, this is a good place to do shopping of all kinds. I re-fit my entire wardrobe here for about $10.
- Pandrillus: In conjunction with the Afi Drill Ranch, they work with Drill monkeys and even some chimps here as a part of a breeding and rehabilitation program. If you’re heading up to Afi, check in here before you go.
- Duke Town Church: The oldest church in Calabar, it’s a beautiful building well worth a photograph or two.
Where to Eat in Calabar
- Nelbee’s: At the guesthouse, there is almost a buffet-style food set up. They have fried chicken, local dishes, and the bush meat is said to be antelope, not monkey, but beware.
- High Quality Bakery: Nice bakery up near Pandrillus, they also serve fried chicken, as well as the breads and cakes.
- Big Bite: A fast food place that does burgers, pizza, friend chicken, and things like samosas.
- Nelliz Fast Food: Another fast food joint, similar to Big Bite.
Where to Stay in Calabar
- Nelbee Executive Guesthouse: Down near Watt Market, the staff here is incredibly welcoming, the rooms are nice, and everything is organized and clean.
- Jahas Guesthouse: If you’re only really in town to see Pandrillus, this is the place to stay. It’s up just off the road to the sanctuary, and is decent for the price.
Getting out of Town
- Boat: There is a ferry that operates to Limbe, Cameroon. However, when I was there it was out of service because it was hijacked by pirates. The captain was killed, and all the things people brought with them above cabin was stolen. Be careful before taking this boat, and ask for up-to-date information before attempting the journey.
- Bus: With the ferry being down, it means you have to take the long road to Mamfe and then down if you’re heading to Limbe. You’ll be able to find rides to the border of Nigeria and Cameroon, but they are fewer and farther in between than you’d expect. For trips withing Nigeria, you’ll be able to find buses going to just about any city in the country.
- Car: If you’re heading into Cameroon, the road is decent all the way to the border. Once you enter Cameroon, the road is terrible. They are working on the road near Mamfe, so it may improve in the future, but it will be slow moving until improvements are completed.
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