There happens to be another place in Lagos, it turns out, other than the LCC that I’ve complained a lot about, and Inagbe Resorts, which I’ve strongly recommended, where one can experience nature in a relaxing environment either with a family picnic or a mere nature stroll around trees, green grass, animals, silence, and a clean fresh air. It’s an eco-park, one of the few in the country, where one can also interact with animals at close quarters. For those interested, it’s also a place to observe birds, particularly the bald eagle.
I was there on Good Friday, last week.
Sitting on about twenty acres of land, according to our guide, the Lufasi Park boasts of more than just a touristy venue for fun and games, but also a scenic and serene environment for relaxation and exercise. It’s name, Lufasi, is an acronym for Lagos Urban Forest and Animal Sanctuary Initiative.
The part about it being an animal sanctuary caught my attention. The idea of a place where rescued animals are taken care of seemed, for a moment, pretty foreign. I live, after all, in a country where stray dogs are caught, kept in small uncomfortable crates, transported over many kilometres, and sold for meat. This place not only has huge living areas for their rescued animals, the interaction of the minders and the animals also show how dedicated to the purpose the whole crew is. One of the monkeys, rescued from the forest as a baby, had developed such an emotional bond with one of its minders that it protested loudly whenever anyone came too close to her.
Except you were a little baby, that is.
Other animals in the premises were a tortoise that is over twenty years old, a civet cat, some baboons and a chimp, two donkeys, and three horses. There were also goats, sheep, and rabbits, housed in different parts of the park. Altogether, they give an idea of an idyllic setting where one can spend a nice time away from the bustles of Lagos and its earnest humans.
The “Ekki” trees in this park (botanical name: Liphira alata, also called “red ironwood”) are said to be the rarest of their kind left in the country and in the world, threatened by habitat loss.
The nature walk through the park takes under thirty minutes, through well-labelled routes, well-constructed walkways and a decent environment with clean air. The trail ends at the foot of a tree, the red iron wood, said to be the oldest in the park and one of the oldest in the country.
From here, the traveller can decide to keep going into the undergrowth, meandering through the remaining part of the Lekki forests towards to the ocean. Or, if he’s with his wife and two year-old kid, make his way back in time for lunch and some table tennis.
Along the way to and from the end point are ponds which, we were told, are being set up for fish farming and other future irrigation plans.
What else can I say that these pictures haven’t already said? The Lufasi Park is a great addition to the Lagos landscape, and a brilliant effort at conservation and animal sheltering and care. This is a laudable project of which we need even many more.
I’ll certainly be coming back soon. My son, certainly.