Set among scenic hills intermittently dissected by river valleys and blanketed by lush green vegetation within which exotic and endangered wildlife thrive, is Nigeria's top tourist destination, the Obudu mountain resort, formerly known as Obudu cattle ranch.
Situated in Obaniku Local Government Area in northern Cross River state, about 30 minutes drive from the scenic Obudu town â€“which is itself about 5 hours drive from state capital, Calabar.
The cattle ranch boosts a small airstrip and presidential helipad for accessibility by air â€“ very convenient for those who may find the several hours drive from the Port Harcourt airport hectic.
The ranch is situated atop a plateau, 1,575.76 metres above sea level, accessed by an 11km long winding mountain road, whose 22 bends, including the hair rising â€˜devils elbow' halfway through the stretch, makes for an exhilarating experience driving in.
The high altitude provides a view that apart from being breathtakingly beautiful, gains from the abundant vegetation that assures a continuous supply of fresh clean air, devoid of the fumes that characterize urban settlements.
A spectacular grotto with natural, sparkling swimming pool, and a clear view of a long winding waterfall, is part of the many memorable natural attractions.
Lush green mountain ranges that are home to rare species of birds surround the resort, extending to the Cameroon border, at the base of the Sonkwala Mountains on the Oshie Ridge, 110km east of Ogoja.
Though the natives have always farmed the valleys and hunted wildlife amongst the rolling hills, Ranch documents have it that the ranges were explored in 1949 by Mr. McCaughley, a Scottish rancher who camped on the mountaintop for a month before returning with Mr. Hugh Jones a fellow rancher who, in 1951, together with Dr Crawfeild developed the ranch. The ranch was managed previously by Protea Hotels; however, it is now managed by African Sun Limited.
The resort will appeal very much to those who find it difficult to leave modernity behind, for they will find that the Obudu mountain resort made provisions for their pleasure. Aside from a modern conference center; there are also bungalows and chalets of varying sizes, a well equipped hospital, night club, police post, and a golf course set among the clouds, Gymnasium, Flood lit lawn tennis court, Squash Court, and an ultra modern water park with water slides and other modern facilities for swimming amongst others.
The Cattle Ranch Hotel has 70 stone walled chalets comprising 54 double rooms and 23 suites. The Presidential Villa which is highest on the ranch was situated in such a way it allows for unfettered view of the distant Cameroon border. Guest chalets at the Ranch are fully furnished with a lounge bar, Restaurant, in house laundry and 24 hour security
For those in search of unspoiled nature, a hike into the mountain ranges or the nature reserve that lie next to the resort will avail ample opportunities to experience nature at its best. The reserve was created by CERCOPAN and sponsored by AG Leventis as a habitat for the highly endangered species of gorilla found only in South Western Cameroon, on the island of Bioko and in South East Nigeria. The reserve is also home to many endemic bird species. A tree house built in the tree canopy will cater for even the most avid bird/monkey watcher. And let's not forget the ancient Anape village that preserves the history of the natives.
The dense forest canopies that in some places block out the sun will bring naturalists close to varieties of wildlife that thrive here. Hiker trails take visitors close enough for eyeball view of these fauna.
The cattle Ranch produces its own milk from cows bred in the resort for their fresh milk, cheese and meat, there is also a honey and yogurt factory. Several well rated restaurants here serve local, continental and western cuisine. The natives are renowned for their leafy soups and fish stews. I will seriously recommend the peppered snails, a local delicacy made from fried snails dipped in hot peppers and other spices.
The Bebi Airstrip located at the foot of the hills about 40km away from the ranch, has been upgraded to a 2.0 km runway so as to handle larger and twin engine aircraft of the Boeing 737 and BAC 1-11 category. The airstrip attracts flights, run by Aerocontractors, from Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt via Calabar.
The 4.5 kilometre twelve stations cable car which beats the South Africa 1.2 Km cable is possibly the longest in the World. With a total of 30, 6 passenger cars and one presidential cable car. It takes about 6 minutes to reach the ranch in one cable car.
The Ranch is open to guests throughout the year with special events organised for holidays and special weekends. It plays host to the annual Obudu Mountain Race, an international mountain race endorsed by both the IAAF and the World Mountain Running Association
The resort possesses a temperate climate due to its high altitude. With daytime temperatures that range between 26Â°C to 32Â°C between November and January, the nights are surprisingly cool to cold around this time. But the lowest temperature ranges of 4Â°C to 10Â°C are recorded during the rainy season between June and September. The temperature variation makes Obudu Mountain Resort the only place in Nigeria where heaters are installed in rooms as against the normal practice of installing air conditioners. Warm clothes and rain coats are recommended.