Nigeria’s Natural Wonders: From Zuma Rock to the Cross River Rainforest

Written by Robin Okwanma

rkNigeria has one of the most varied and interesting natural landscapes in the whole of Africa. From beautiful tropical beaches to swamps, rainforests, and savannahs, interspersed with awesome rocky formations and several sensational water bodies. Couple all of these with a broad collection of assorted wildlife in the uninhabited regions, and you have a tropical paradise. Many international tourists and nature lovers are quite oblivious of Nigeria’s natural wonders in their vast collection.

For whatever reason you choose to visit any of Nigeria’s natural wonders, you will return healed and transformed by the experience. We have curated a list of the top natural tourist spots in Nigeria to escape to – away from the grind of everyday life. Read along and excite your imagination. 

Yankari Game Reserve

One of the most popular places amongst Nigeria’s natural wonders is the Yankari Game Reserve (which was formerly a national park). This huge wildlife park is situated in the south-central part of Bauchi state in northeastern Nigeria. It covers a land area of about 2,244 square kilometers; and houses a broad collection of wild animals. That includes over 350 species of birds, and one of the largest population of elephants in West Africa. It also boasts of four natural warm springs. The Wikki Warm Spring is the largest one, positioned within a tourist camp (the Wikki Camp). 

The Wikki Warm Spring simmers at a consistent temperature of 31 degrees Centigrade. And its beautiful clear waters empty into a 2-meters deep natural lake, about 200 meters by 10 meters in dimension. It is available to swimmers 24 hours a day. There are also over 100 furnished chalets for getting a decent rest within the Wikki Camp; as well as organized safari trips. 

Owu Waterfalls

Owu Falls is reputed to be the tallest waterfall across West Africa – pouring from a rocky cliff 330 feet above the ground. The road leading to its location in Owa Kajola in Kwara state (southwest Nigeria) is quite rugged. Even more, it is advisable to visit the spot in the company of others (or a tourist guide). Local legend also claims that there was a giant snake that dwelled at the location up until the year 1940. Thankfully no such threat exists there anymore. 

Certain sources state that the best time to visit the Owu Falls is during the rainy season. In any case, a view of the enchanting waterfall as it cascades into the ice-cold waters below is an unforgettable experience.

Zuma Rock

The most iconic and visible of Nigeria’s natural wonders is the 725-meter high, 3-kilometer wide Zuma Rock. Located in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja, the giant rock with a smooth surface has deep etchings on one side of it that resembles a human face. The rock has blended so well into its environment that it looks more like mountain that cropped out of the ground than a naturally cut-out rock. 

It has become the natural symbol of Abuja, and is drawn on one of Nigeria’s currency notes. Local legends also state that the Gwari natives used the rock as a defence post (and probably a hideout) during ancient inter-tribal wars.

Ikogosi Warm And Cold


In the western region of Ekiti State (southwestern Nigeria), one would find the extraordinary pair of cold and warm springs flowing side-by-side. It is located in the town known as Ikogosi. Both of them flow out of the same rock formation, meander around rocks, mix a bit, then separate from one another. Nevertheless they maintain their different temperatures as they move down the surrounding countryside. It has long become a top tourist location, with a 4 to 5-star accomodation available in the vicinity. There is also a terrace, a fitness centre, and a garden within the area. 

According to local legends, the springs were once two wives of a hunter – one temperamental, the other quiet. However, a fight between the two led them to turn into springs.

Gurara Falls

Gurara falls is situated along Suleja-Minna road in Niger state (north-central Nigeria), about one and a half hour’s journey from FCT Abuja. It is formed where the Gurara river meets with other tributaries from the River Niger. The waterfall itself cascades down a height of 300 meters into a pool about 200 metres wide. It is an awesome spectacle.

In the peak of the rainy season, the falls are at its fullest and therefore very rough. Thus, it is safer for swimmers to enter it in the dry season – when it would have reduced into six small flowing streams. 

Olumo Rock

Yet another popular rock formation in  southwest Nigeria is the famous Olumo Rock. The native town of Abeokuta (‘Under a Rock’) in Ogun State derived its name from the huge natural fortress. It served as a hideout for the Egba people during the Ibadan-Egba tribal wars of the 19th Century. It has become an international tourist center, with man-made staircases carved into the rock. Visitors are allowed to climb to its zenith to have a broad scenic view of the environment. It also has an elevator to service tourists not so eager to climb. 

The location also hosts a museum,  and the Olusegun Obasanjo library; along with restaurants for diners

Obudu Mountain Resort

Obudu Mountain Resort (once called the Obudu Cattle Ranch) is a beautiful nature haven, one of Nigeria’s natural wonders located in Cross River state. The resort itself is built on the Obudu plateau situated at 1576 meters above sea level, north-east of Rivers state. It is specifically on the Oshie Ridge of the Sankwala mountain Range close to the Cameroun border. The atmosphere at that height is very cool, with low-lying clouds; and the scenery is heavenly and peaceful. It is quite suitable for any category of tourist – be it a group, a loner, couples, or even families. 

There is a canopy walk which allows strollers to walk through the area at a height. Thus one can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the environment. The location also has the longest cable car system in Nigeria, installed to service visitors. It takes them through a canopy of trees to the top of the mountain range.

Idanre Hills

The ancient and enchanting set of hills known as the Idanre hills was the dwelling place of Idanre people. These inhabitants lived for about 800 years (in the 17th Century) at the peak before moving down to the surrounding valley. The peak is set in an envelope of mist. A number of ancient relics are set into the hills – popularly called ‘the 9 wonders of Idanre’.  

Such is the case of the 667 steps carved into the hillside from its base to the peak (called ‘Ibi Akaso’). There are 5 resting points (set at 100 meters apart) along the staircase in its long journey upwards, to allow climbers take brief stops. The other curious relics include:

  • The King’s palace decorated with carvings (at the peak of the hills)
  • Agboogun’s Legacy
  • The Unreadable Signs (which appear like hyeroglyphics)
  • A giant footprint called ‘Agboogun’s footprint’
  • The Wonderful Mat
  •  ‘Omi Aopara’ (Aopara Water) 
  • The Orosun Hill  
  • Arun river

The Cross River National Park

The Cross River National Park has been earmarked as the last (untampered) rain forest in Nigeria by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. It is thus a reserved natural haven – covering a land area of about 14,000 square kilometers. The pa lies between the Cross River, and the Sanaga River (located in Western Cameroun). It belongs to a cluster of wildlife sanctuaries known as the Cross River-Korup Takamanda (CRIKOT) National Parks (which cut across both Nigeria and Cameroun). 

The entire area encloses the Sankwala Mountains (and the Obudu Mountain Resort), plateaus, and the beautiful Kwa waterfalls. The vegetation consists of a dense foliage of trees, mangrove swamps, and savannahs (located further inland) interspersed with rivers. It is also home for several animals such as elephants, white-face monkeys, drills, and lowland gorillas.  

Gashaka-Gumti National Park

Unarguably the largest national park in Nigeria, Gashaka-Gumti National Park covers a land area of about 6,731 square kilometers. It is located in a mountainous region between Taraba and Adamawa states  (northeastern Nigeria); and shares border with Cameroun. No roads are allowed to pass through this huge national park. The plant life consists of montane vegetation and savannah. It is also the natural haven of several mammals and primates (including lions, hippos, elephants, and buffaloes). It is about 10 hours’ journey from the city of Jos.

Visitors are allowed to visit the park all-year round, although the best recommended time is between December and March (during the dry season). There are paid lodgings within the area, but you have to bring your own food. The enthralling environment can be enjoyed in the company of a tourist guide. Hikers are also allowed to climb up the mountains on trips that could take up to 2 or 3 days. 

Ibeno Beach

Yeet another one of Nigeria’s natural wonders, the Ibeno beach stretches from Ibeno to James Town (along the Gulf of Guinea). At 45 meters long, it is the longest beach in Africa, and one of the most popular in Nigeria. It is a perfect fun spot for hordes of fun seekers, tourists, couples and families from far and wide. 

Ibeno beach hosts a number of seaside sporting activities such as kayaking, boat rides, beach soccer, archery, and several others. 

Ogbunike Caves

The Ogbunike Caves is situated in Anambra State (southeast Nigeria). It is a place of cultural, spiritual and historical sugnificance to the inhabitans of the area. It is a system of caves, the main cave being a chamber about 30 meters long, 10 meters wide, and 5 meters high at the entrance. Ten tunnels lead from the main cave to other chambers, and some of them are interconnected. There are streams in different locations, and a fast-flowing cold river (River Nkissa) in the caves. 

Surrounding the caves (up to 200 meters radius) is a thick rainforest. And beside the river is a table land of about 5 meters by 5 meters in dimension, suitable for vositors to sit down and relax. There is also a set of 317 steps in the location, said to be constructed by the state government in the 1990s. The location is home to a wide variety of animals such as alligators, antelopes, grasscutters, snakes, porcupines, fish, crabs, as well as birds. 

Other natural wonders that are favorite spots for nature lovers and tourists in NIgeria include the following. Make a mental note to visit at least one or a couple of them in your lifetime:

  • Erin Ijesha waterfalls
  • Agbokim waterfalls
  • Farin Ruwa waterfalls
  • Lekki Conservation center
  • Landmark Beach
  • Jabi Lake
  • Elegushi Beach
  • Lufasi Nature Park
  • Arinta Waterfalls
  • Ado-Awaye Suspended lake
  • Mandara mountains
  • Oguta Lake
  • Tarkwa Bay beach
  • Aso Rock
  • Old Oyo National park
  • River Niger and Benue Confluence
  • Ngwo Pine Forest
  • Kwa Falls
  • Awhum Cave and Waterfall


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About the author

Robin Okwanma

Hi, I'm Robin Okwanma. Software Engineer || Django, Python || React, React Native || Blogger. Technical Writer.

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