After the last staycation at Lighthouse Beach House, I was itching to go out of Lagos for a weekend. I went through my ever growing list of staycation options and settled on Ibadan which turned out to be a great choice, it afforded me the opportunity to take the new train from Lagos to Ibadan and finally explore the renowned International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). As soon as my mind was made up, I requested for a travel partner on my travel group and within minutes, I found the perfect person.
IITA is located in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo state. Ibadan is one of the most populous cities in Nigeria and is renowned for it’s cultural heritage. IITA is an award-winning research for development organization providing solutions to hunger, poverty and the degradation of natural resources with a heavy focus on agriculture. You can learn more about the amazing work they do here.
The Train Ride
Currently, the train leaves the Alagomeji station in Lagos for Ibadan at 4p.m on weekdays and 8:30a.m on Saturdays. There are three class options: 2,500 Naira for standard, 5,000 Naira for business class and 6,000 Naira for first class. For now, only cash payments are allowed and you’ll need to have a means of identification, I used my international passport. Out of curiosity, I went for the first class option while my travel partner chose business class. Both were very comfortable with first class having more leg room and space. There’s the option to turn seats around if you’re traveling in a group so you’ll all be seated facing each other. It soon got cold so I put on my sweater, settled into my window seat nicely by reclining it, plugged my phone into one of the many charging ports and lost myself in the scenery as the train whizzed by. For alternative transportation, read my Hiking at Ado Awaye post.
The train ride lasted exactly two hours and forty minutes with two stops at Kajola and Abeokuta train stations. It was starting to get dark when we finally arrived at the Moniya train station in Ibadan and the few taxi drivers at the station seized the opportunity to call out exorbitant prices. After a bit of haggling, we ended up using a bike that cost us 600 Naira each from the train station to IITA. It’s best to make arrangements for pickup at the Moniya station. Any of our Bolt driver friends we eventually made in Ibadan would be glad to pick you up at the station, just tell them you’re from Alex. Muyiwa – 0805 129 6330 and Adeshina – 0806 426 2415.
IITA + What To Do In Ibadan
The service at IITA was somewhat unpleasant. After making payment for our reservation, it took about 2 weeks and incessant emails before they finally confirmed payment. The service staff on ground were very nonchalant and saved their best behaviors for foreign nationals. We chose the superior double room at the International House which cost us 33,180 Naira per night with free breakfast for two.
The breakfast spread was mildly disappointing but just okay enough to provide enough fuel to start your day. There’s an in-house restaurant that provides lunch and dinner with specials on different nights. After breakfast, we set out for the University of Ibadan Zoological Garden where we spent over two hours with the animals. They have a pretty impressive range of animals and the giraffe was definitely the highlight for us.
From the Zoo, we drove up to Bower’s Tower with Adeshina who helped us communicate with the locals and settle on an entrance fee of 500 Naira for the three of us. The top of the tower provides a spectacular view of Ibadan with its greenery and corrugated iron roofs. We stopped at Trans Wonderland Amusement park where we paid an entrance fee of 300 Naira each to look at the non-functional rides and people holding meetings in groups. The attendant claimed there was no power source on that particular day but Adeshina informed us the park had been somewhat abandoned for a while.
We decided to stop at the popular Ose Oslohun restaurant a.k.a Amala Skye for an afternoon treat. The Amala didn’t quite hit as good as my last visit and my travel partner agreed it was definitely not the best she’s had. After lunch, we stopped at Ventura mall for a game of bowling and ice cream. We headed back to IITA afterwards to rest from our eventful day.
On the morning of our departure, we took a stroll around IITA to explore the grounds and the lake. Unfortunately we couldn’t take advantage of most of the facilities because of our short stay. I’ll definitely recommend if you need a quiet weekend out of Lagos to relax and recharge. Because the trains do not operate on Sunday, we had Muyiwa drive us from Ibadan to Lagos for a fair fee. The road trip was mostly uneventful and lasted about four hours.
You can reach IITA on +23439784167 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you tried the new trains from Lagos to Ibadan or been to IITA?
P.S: All prices are accurate at the time of publishing, do check for updates at the time of planning your trip.