Wading Through Epe Mangroves
If you’ve been reading this site long enough then Naija Nomads needs no introduction. If this is your first visit, they are a Nigerian based travel company that we regularly collaborate with and simply put, they’re our sister travel company. You can also follow their nomadic adventures here.
The nomads recently explored Epe Mangrooves and we got the head nomad to spill on how it went especially as it’s a location not many people have heard of or visited.
Give us a brief description of where you went and what the trip was about.
Epe Mangroves! It was an experience my travel company, Naija Nomads, organized; first as a group trip and second as a private trip for three doctors from Seattle. We visited the beautiful Mangroves located at Epe in Lagos State and canoed across it.
To access the mangroves, we met our guide – Mr Mufu at Ibeju Lekki and canoed to a little village called Iba Oloja. Prior to this, Mr. Mufu told us all about his community and showed us around. We started off from a “tunnel” and when we got to the large body of water, the actual tour started.
The mangroves empties into the Lekki Lagoon which flows out to the Atlantic ocean via the Lagos Lagoon. The depth of the water ranges between 12-19 feet (depends on the season of the year). The black looking water was tested by German scientist and they okay’d it and declared it “fit to drink”. To prove this, Mr.Mufu drank a hand full of water telling us to “test eet” but no one was willing to try. We just could not get over the color of the water. He told us he’d been in business since the 80s and companies such as Chevron, Lufthansa and Exxon-Mobil have navigated these waters. Huge shame that this place is largely unknown by actual Lagos residents.
During the group trip, we added a bit of ‘flava’ to the experience. After canoeing, we took Adire classes at the local primary school in Iba Oloja village. We were told that the village had about 250 inhabitants and their mainstay is farming and fishing.The entire village came out to watch us make adire. They were sat under a mango tree, watching us. Some even had their lunch right there.
We had a professional who taught us some basic dye techniques/methods such as television, sugarcane, envelope e.t.c. All the design came out gorgeous and our canvas was either a white tee or a scarf. It was so much fun, you can now call us certified adire specialists, lol.
Was accommodation required for this trip? If yes where did you stay and what was it like?
It was a day trip so no accommodation required. We
set out were supposed to leave at 7.30am and got back into town at 6.30pm.
WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU DID OR SAW?
I’ll say when one of the nomad’s dosed off in the canoe. It was so hilarious. I agree the ride was relaxing and therapeutic but there was no way I could sleep when all I was thinking of were alligators!
What was your best moment of the entire trip?
Definitely the canoeing. The first time I ever heard of this activity was on bidsingraceland.com. She visited two years ago and though it looked great. I lowered my expectations because this is Lagos and everything ‘na wash’!
Right before the trip, I visited the community and when Mr Mufu showed us the canoes I was a bit worried. I was not expecting kayaks or anything but the canoes were as local as they could get. Some even had little holes in them with water sipping through slowly. You had to scoop water out with a bowl, lol.
He assured us the canoes were sturdy and everything would be fine. When we finally came for the proper trip, I was amazed at how beautiful the entire place was. It was an amazing experience and all we wanted to do was put our feet up and paddle (be paddled lol) across for hours! We did not want it to end. It reminded us of one of those photos you see of people canoeing across a mangrove forest somewhere in South East Asia. South-East Asia was right here in our backyard!
What was the scariest moment (if any)?
Nothing scary happened while we were there but I definitely had moments where I thought “what if a crocodile or alligator just came out of nowhere”! or “what if the boat tipped over”. Thankfully none of that happened and we all came back in one piece.
Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track ie beyond the tourist traps?
The entire experience was off the beaten track. I mean how many people in Lagos are aware you can have a guided tour across Epe Mangroves. How many even know there’s a Mangrove Forest in Epe, Lagos State?
Another off the beaten track activity we got up to was a picnic at “Epe beach”. Epe has no beach; however, we found this nice water front which had been sand filled by the government. It made the perfect spot for our picnic and throughout the trip we called it “Epe Beach”. It felt like our own little discovery and we made the best out of it. The nomads were instructed to bring their mats which they all did. We laid the mats on the “beach sand”, ate our lunch, drank and played games.
The people in the community do go there to hang out and even host events. However, it’s very untapped and no one knows about it. It’s pretty close to the fish market and you can make an entire fishing experience out of it. Set out with the fishermen in the morning bring back your catch of the day and grill it right at the “beach”. Alternatively, you can just buy fresh sea food from the market and plan a barbecue right at the “beach”. I bet the latter is easier, lol
What are two interesting things about where you went that the average person doesn’t know?
A lot of people in the community have not left that place i.e their idea of Lagos is really different from ours. It was a real eye opener for a lot of us, there was nothing chaotic or fast paced about this place. The people in the community seemed content with their lives. They did not have “a lot” but they were happy.
Did you meet any locals? If yes, what were they like?
Yes. They were so excited to see us, especially the little kids. And for some odd reason they thought we were “American”. They kept calling us “Americana” because of the way we spoke. No one had a phoney accent but it must have been a different sound from what they are used to hence “American”. I also think it’s because most visitors to the mangroves are foreigners; either researching or seeking something different from the norm. Nigerians do not go there.
During the private trip, the chants we got were “Oyinbo…Oyinbo” (this is a Nigerian term for a Caucasian person). I was with an actual “oyinbo”. It was so bad that people came out of their homes to wave at her and followed us till we got into the car. She actually found it hilarious and said it was their way of welcoming her to their community.
What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said?
On the private trip, we met some little girls who offered me some pretty purple flowers in return for a photo of them. They took the flowers from the bush right in front of me and said “Aunty, e gba flawa ki e’ya foto mi” (Aunty, I’ll give you these flowers if you take my picture). They totally get it! Creativity is hard work and should not be for free.
What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?
LATENESS. I usually do not condone lateness when I plan trips. However, this was beyond my control. The adire instructor did not get to the take off point on time and we had to wait for over one hour. It was very embarrassing because we had “threatened” the nomads in our “before the trip” email. We told them the bus would leave if they did not set out on time and the last person showed up only 15 minutes late (very impressive)! We waited and after a while we had to explain to them that the adire instructor was keeping us there. We unanimously decided to leave and he met us later… Over an hour later. I wanted to bite his head off, no jokes! Thankfully everyone understood this was a circumstance beyond our control.
Did anything go wrong that seems funny now?
Same as above. We were worrying a bit too much while everyone was already in the mood to have a good time, which they did!
Did you eat anything locally, if yes, what was your favorite?
No one goes to a fishing community and does not try out the fish. So we surely tried out their catch for the day (which was Tilapia) and another fish which I cannot remember. It was made with sweet potatoes and plantain by one of the local fishermen and was really YUM!
If you ate locally, what was the strangest thing you ate?
Nopes, unless Tilapia is strange, lol.
What were the cost implications of this trip?
Each nomad paid N23,000 and this covered everything; transportation, breakfast and lunch, canoeing fees and adire classes. They also took their “canvasses” with beautiful adire patterns home. It was either a tee/scarf.
Now that you’ve been there yourself, when you think of your trip what’s the first image that comes to your head?
Definitely this one with Bimbo, a member of the nomad team, looking like a damn Militant. I have no clue what came over her but that’s the look she was going for and she totally nailed it!
Would you revisit or ever move there?
Definitely not move, I would not need to as its right here in Lagos. I’ll visit over and over again. I’ve gone there three times in two months and I plan to go before the year runs out.
So how’s that for discovering new places? Have you ever been to Epe Mangrooves? If you haven’t are you motivated to go?
*Reviews are based on opinions and personal experiences, and may differ from person to person
*prices written are based on the time the visit was made and is subject to change by the owners.
*pictures are provided by the ‘horse’ interviewed.