After a terrible road trip on Friday, I remained indoor for most part of Saturday. I took breakfast but couldn’t remember what it tasted like. Chidinma dragged me out of bed after noon to brush my teeth and shower. Clad with just my boxers short, I collapsed face-down on the 50″ by 100″ foam she used as bed. It was obvious we weren’t traveling to Obudu cattle ranch again that day.
Towards evening, I felt a lot better and ready for the night stroll she had always longed for. the time was 5:14, the destination was Mary Slessor Avenue Bogoberi- home to Suya Arcade, a really popular spot where suya vendors (mostly northerners) jostled to get the attention of every potential customer. “oga come, I go sell am well for you.” Madam, my meat fresh well well.” For a moment, I felt what ladies go through when walking alone in a street filled with unserious boys.
We finally made our way to the third stall. Chidinma chose him.
We bought suya, went into a pub just opposite the arcade to have some drinks before buying two bowls of ice cream for the road from a cream store on the other side of the road before retiring back to Eburutu Army cantonment. Sleep came faster than I envisaged and I wasn’t angry she took me that early.
Calabar To Obudu Cattle Ranch
6am on Sunday was like every other day. Save for the aches I was still feeling from Friday’s trip everything was perfect. We had cleaned up and packed our things. Chidinma was also a minimalist so my bag was enough to take the things we’d need for a 2-day road trip to Obudu cattle ranch.
The streets of Calabar were as gentle and clean as ever. Even when cars honk, it was mild, so soothing that you’d wish they never stopped.
On getting to the motor park by 7am, there was no bus going straight to Obudu, so we agreed to join that which was going to Abuja (paying N1,000 each) so we could stop on transit at Abuochicie to join another to Obudu for N500 each.
“These journeys were not as easy as I’ve mentally calculated them.” I thought as I stole a fearful look at the digital clock on my phone’s screen. Four hours was what it took to get to Obudu from Calabar. If you think Obudu is the same as Obudu cattle ranch, you aren’t thinking right just like I wasn’t because on getting to Obudu, we were told we’d still need to take a shared cab to Utanga (for N500 each). This journey also took about an hour and half. We paid N250 each to a biker who took us to ‘bottom hill’ the popular name the locals call the main gate of the ranch.
At the checkpoint, bikes and their riders clustered as though a ghastly accident just happened. we tore our way through, paying deaf ears to a number of them calling out to inform us they can take us up. “The cable cars nkor?” Chidinma asked a middle-aged man who I’m sure was in charge of the gates. “dem no dey work. Ranch people don strike.” He replied as though he’s just sipped a bitter medicine. His face was unwelcoming. A lady beckoned on us to come into a tiny room which served as the reception. It was where visitors were registered. We paid N200 each as entrance fees. I wondered what the management actually do with the data entered into this log book aside collecting money.
I was trying to sign in when a short man clad in padded suit walked in gently, tapped me and his carefully arranged teeth shone as our faces met. He introduced himself as John, a Driver guide. I wouldn’t have given him much attention but for his outspokenness.
I think I had my first real adrenaline rush here. Thousands of uncoordinated thoughts paced in my head. The same way it did when I went alone to explore Owu Fall in Kwara state only that this time, I managed it poorly. My heart stopped pumping blood. I initially thought it was in solidarity with the striking staff of the Ranch. My tongue dried but water wasn’t what I wanted. Chidinma looked back at me at intervals. The look she wore needed an assurance from me that all this wasn’t a dream.
As we ascended, the temperature moved steadily towards zero, I the breeze coiled up with the cold tearing through my pores. My bones became so cold. Chidinma grabbed my now trembling knee caps with both of her hands, as though they had threatened to fall off. I barely felt I had joints. Fog rushed recklessly into my mouth. When I tried looking down to see how high we’ve climbed, my eyes caught a view of the mountains, scattered in their numbers, reminding me of the aged market women who sold garri on the busy streets of Bodija market in Ibadan.
At every major turn, my mind skipped. Chidinma would clinch tighter, pressing her nails against my skin. I could have protested but it gave me joy. John tried telling us stuffs about the famous resort but the wind was bent on thwarting his efforts.
We Finally Made It To The Top!
At this point I wished the journey wouldn’t end as my legs still seemed on motion even though both were firm on the ground. Our first stop was a GTB cash point, the only one on the ranch. I mentally calculated how much the bank would be making from daily transactions and what’d happen should the machine be temporarily unable to dispense cash. The screeching of the machine jolted me from my revere. It wasn’t my business anyways, I shrugged as I dragged my money forcefully from the machine’s teeth. I flashed back quickly to how I started saving for this trip on Cowrywise. John kicked his bike to life and he sped through the sloppy road leading to the residential parts of the ranch. The time was many minutes past 5pm.
The ranch itself is a small community of people whose primary occupation was subsistence farming. their proceeds were mostly sold to visitors on the ranch. Those who weren’t farming either sold foods or engage in the business of hospitality which was pretty huge there. The is a primary school which served the whole community, a redeemed church, a police station and also a honey factory.
After giving us the price ranges of all accommodation options, we decided we’d be going for the cheapest which costs N12,000/night. John promised to come back the next day to give us a tour of the most important places on the ranch, but he still has a final mission before calling it a day with us. He needed to take us to buy food and shop for a few items for the night.
We were there in no time. we bought one plate each of FuFu and Eba with Oha and Egusi respectively. John rode us back home like a donkey on drugs. I tipped him N1,000 for his troubles with a promise to give him more should he show up the next day as promised. I could easily tell that he was happy. “I will come by 7:00 sharp tomorrow!” he blurted as he disappeared into the intense fog.
We settled into our room. It had no fan nor AC but we were really happy it didn’t.
It was so cold that on getting to the bathroom, it took a lot of self convincing before agreeing to pour water on my skin. I couldn’t really tell which it was between the fufu and stress of the trip. All I knew was that sleep overpowered me yet again.
Monday Morning Came, And It Did Fast!
John’s knock jolted us out of bed at exactly 7am. He must have been there many minutes before the knock. “Please give us 15 minutes ooo!” Chidinma blurted as she dashed into the bathroom. I opened the window to be sure it was morning, I saw nothing. Only fog.
We were ready 20 minutes later and with a loosed smile, John dictated our itinerary. I’m sure his smile is a built-in feature. He rode like he smiled, effortlessly, making us disappear into the clouds till we saw nothing behind us.
The Tour Had Begun!
Beachive nature reserve canopy
Then we left the residential space for the jungle. John led the team, moving like he’s got no joints. His small frame found it easy among the dead sticks obstructing the path.
Obudu cattle ranch Hosted the 2nd edition of Gulder Ultimate Search, a popular Nigerian reality TV Adventure (May 14th and ends June 4th, 2005)
On leaving the Beachive nature reserve canopy, John rode us further and even higher into the mountains. He wanted to show us the highest point on the ranch where he said we could see a waterfall and an aerial view of the snakelike road which led to the top of the ranch from the bottom. On getting to the cliff, the weather changed rapidly, as if trying to hide something from us, like a teenager who’s about being caught watching porn. The fog got thicker, we gave up shortly afterwards.
John smiled sheepishly as he directed us to take few steps leftward. Chidinma couldn’t hear him probably due to the strong wind (which took away speeches as soon as they were vomited) or carried away by the countless selfies she was taking. Her lips were red, not pink as they normally were. I felt like grabbing her and plant a kiss on them, I wanted to add moisture on them but I felt for John. He’s here with no one.
“Babe, we need to go now.” I said loudly as I made my way to the parked bike. John followed me briskly like a toddler going with his mother to the market for the first time. Chidinma didn’t bulge, she took even more pictures and we had no choice than to wait till she’s fine.
On getting to our cabin, we quickly stuffed our things into my brown backpack including the bottle of honey we had bought near the honey factory in the ranch.
My mind skipped anytime we rode past any oncoming vehicle or bike due to the narrowness of the road. I tried thinking about how difficult it’d be to find my body should the bike tilt off the road but Chidinma’s grip brought me out of my reverie. She searched my face as though I had hidden her lost usb cord under my eyelid. She wanted to know why I wore a wry smile. I planted a long kiss on her lips as the heavy breeze forced out a tear from her eyes. John was talking but none of us answered. He kept quiet shortly after, leaving the wind and sound from the bike to do the talking.
We Finally climbed down!
John rode out of the ranch adding more speed to the lonely road guided on both sides by mountains and forests. All covered in green. We made a 1800 turn to see the Scary looking cattle head hung at the centre of the gate. I wished we could stay for just another night. I regretted not saving more than I had done on Cowrywise . The bike propelled faster than it had been running, I was absent-minded, refusing to acknowledge the present. I placed my focus on what was ahead and all that had happened before climbing up the ranch. I avoided every temptation to give myself a spoiler of this amazing movie!
Tips On Touring Obudu Cattle Ranch
- Try not to go during a public holiday. Prices are unnecessarily high. The room we paid N12,000 for would have gone for N7,000 on a good day.
- Try as much as you can to come along with your girlfriend/wife/anyone you can hug tightly because it is severely cold up there.
- The best route to take if you are coming into Cross River by road is through Enugu. I advise you fly!
- What to bring along
- Basic toiletries
- Cash (loads of it)
Have you ever been to Obudu cattle ranch? What was your experience like.
Have you never been there? Why haven’t you?
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