“You may see some crocodiles and snakes, if you are lucky”, Busola, our guide, calmly says, as she leads us through a wooden boardwalk. Birds chirping, the entire perimeter covered chiefly with trees and swampy areas here and there. You almost feel like you’re taking a walk in the forest.
I finally visited Lekki Conservation Centre; one of Africa’s most-diverse urban nature parks and the only protected wetland area in Lagos, Nigeria. I visited with family. I had planned to visit while I was in Lagos, two summers ago but it didn’t happen till now.
The 78-hectre natural reserve is located along the Lekki-Epe Expressway, opposite Chevron and was first established in 1990. Approaching the reserve, we came to a visitor’s car park overlooking a significant rotunda, where we were asked to wait to be picked up by our tour guide, Busola, after leaving the ticket office. We were charged per person, a 1000 Naira general admission fee and another 1000 Naira for access to the canopy walkway.
Starting off with the reserve’s “Nature Trail”, a 2-km trail boardwalk through a mangrove terrain, the first things I see are a couple of Mona monkeys, swinging tree to tree. The Monas are native to only a few countries in western Africa, including Nigeria. The trail is a 25-minute walk with rest stops and swamp lookouts.
For the second part of the tour, we are handed over to another guide, James. He leads the way to a 401-metre long canopy walkway, the longest in Africa. The canopy walkway is a suspended swinging bridge cutting across different types of vegetation, with its highest point at 22.5 feet above ground level. At one point, I could see the top of a palm tree to my left. I found it quite unnerving, as the bridge swung left to right and up and down but James assured us that the bridge is safety checked every morning before visitors are allowed access. There are six rest stop towers along the bridge for visitors to get panoramic views of the reserve and to lookout for wildlife. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot any crocodiles or other exciting wildlife – they come out when they like. However, I caught glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean from the highest point on the bridge – it doesn’t compare to spotting crocodiles but I’ll manage that.
On our way out of the reserve, we came to a tree house. Extremely exhausted from the trail walk and canopy walkway, I physically had no strength to get up there but one of us did. It’s a good spot for more panoramic views and great photos. There’s also a park with a fish pond. The park area has several outdoor games and huts for picnics.
Walking around the park in the sun is quite a challenge - it's so big, you'll most likely need a drink after it. We had drinks at the reserve's café, where we met another family who had been lucky to see a crocodile on their tour. The monkeys are allowed to roam the reserve freely, so they try to get into the café. The funniest memory of my visit was trying to shoo monkeys away from the café.