By Ejike Ndidum
Taking a look at the abundant tourism potential of Cross River state, what readily comes to mind is the Obudu Mountain resort which has been transformed and branded as the leading tourism destination in the country; this includes the Tinapa Business Resort.
Apart from the Obudu Moutain Resort and other unique tourist sites in Cross River state, is the distinctive Agbokim Waterfalls which is totally different from other waterfalls in the state.
Agbokim Waterfalls is one of the spectacular gift of nature to the people of Cross River state that has not been fully explored, developed and promoted like the Obudu Mountain Resort.
This eye catching waterfalls holds visitors spellbound with its unique features, especially once in a while during the rainy season for those who want to see the rainbow across the face of the waterfall.
The Agbokim Waterfalls is surrounded by lush greenery, valleys and steep hills which are enveloped in a rainbow-like aura with captivating freshness and alluring serenity.
This spectacular falling sheet of water is an attractive and impressive tourist spots that is highly recommended for picnics.
The Agbokim Waterfalls situated 17 kilometres from Ikom, close to the Nigeria-Cameroon border in Etung Local Government Area of Cross River State is a collection of seven cascades which pour over a cliff creating an impressive seven-part waterfall. The Agbokim Waterfalls is situated at a distance of 17 km from Akom.
From Calabar, the waterfalls are approximately at a distance of 315kms. It moves down in porches all the way through the rain forest.
The Agbokim waterfalls known as the seven faced wonders of nature comprises of seven rivers, each flowing above sharp rock faces, and offers seven facade cascades. This water moves down in porches all the way through the rain forest, nestled by lush green forests, gorges, and sharp hills that are covered in a rainbow-look settings. The place has captivating freshness, and appealing tranquillity. It is an ideal location for vacation, picnics and for getting back to nature.
The waterfalls is enclosed in a lush and tropical rainforest. The river descends through the forest via picturesque terraces, providing plenty of secluded spots that are perfect for bird watching or just enjoying the sound of the water.
The state government described the water falls as a “miracle of nature,” and with plans by the government to upgrade all the amazing tourist sites in the state, the Agbokim Waterfalls will become more visitor friendly in the coming years.
The falls which was selected as part of the country’s ‘Seven Wonders of Nigeria’ project will help in bringing further touristic value to the area.
Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River state has promised to upgrade facilities at the water falls in line with the state’s economic thrust of repositioning tourism as one of its revenue generating points.
The governor who frowned at the unkempt state of the facility assured that it would be repositioned to become a befitting resort of note.
Imoke noted that as a water fall which is very close to the republic of Cameroon, the government was mindful of its position and as such would direct all its intervention agencies to establish their presence there to give the area a semi urban status.
The Old Residency Museum (covering the history of slave trade from Cross River), the Cross River National Park which is home to a variety of rare and endangered animal species, including the Cross River gorilla and Ikom monoliths, .
Today, Nigerians in their thousands travel outside the country on vacation to South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia, Ghana not to talk of Europe and United States of America for leisure and vacation, to see the gift of nature that have been repositioned and repackaged to international standards, while others travel to see world class man made wonders.
Some sites Nigerians travel out to see are in abundance in Nigeria, scattered round the different local governments of the country; some in their natural state, some abandoned and dilapidated. This is because there is no deliberate effort by both the federal, state and local governments to develop and promote them.
South Africa will soon develop the Dr Nelson Mandela’ s Prison cell in Robin Inland to a world class standard. Nigerians would like to visit the site in their large numbers, but Nigerians do not promote their sites to make them areas of interest for tourists and visitors.
South Africa has repackage old mining sites as tourist attractions and visitors pay to go down to the underground tunnels mining sites to see how it looks like. These are planned and sustained, aimed at improving every aspect of the country’s economy. But here, the sites are not even accessible and with this challenge, to drive tourists traffic there becomes so difficult. Most of our zoo’s, national parks, are in a sorry state, others are now dens for kidnappers, poachers and even terrorist who now use the Sambisa forest in Borno state as their base.
This is why some people have said that the country has no standard tourism product to market, because the products are not developed, that the marketing effort of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) is an effort in futility.
Here, the NTDC should work in collaboration with the federal, state and local governments to identify these unique sites, how to reposition them to international standards, after which the body can now promote and market them locally and internationally. By so doing, the country will now have acceptable products and the private sector will now be given incentives to move in to build low cost chalets, and other recreational facilities that will keep visitors and tourists busy when they come visiting, thus creating more job opportunities.
Yes, South Africa has these sites like many other countries in Africa, but if they are abandoned, they will not be attractive to anybody, like some of our sites that have been abandoned. Obudu Mountain Resort today is attractive because it has been developed, but if it was not developed, it will not be attracting presidents and other important dignitaries including multinationals who now hold retreats there. Before it was developed by Donald Duke, the former governor of Cross River state, it was not attracting these high number of visitors and tourists. This is what other leading tourism countries did and today tourists from everywhere are flocking to their countries to see something unique and well developed. Tourists want to get value for their money, and by developing, marketing and promoting these sites, Nigeria can become a major tourist destination.