When I stepped on the platform of the Kano train station on a chilly harmattan morning in December of 2017, I had no knowledge of the adventure I was about to embark on as I had never been on a train before.
But about 2 days and some hours later when I arrived in Lagos, it turned out to be one of the best adventures I’ve ever had, and it also dawned on me that a train ride is one of the best ways to explore Nigeria.
(Lagos to Kano is 834km/518 miles)
Before we delve into what makes intercity train rides so interesting, the best advice for anyone planning a long train ride or any road trip is to “be open to experiencing new things”.
After all, that is the spirit and essence of travelling.
So, what makes train rides so interesting?
You’re going to meet new people
For a country as large and populous as Nigeria, a train ride gives you a snippet of the landscape of the country, as well as an opportunity to meet many interesting people from around the country.
From the moment you buy your boarding ticket and step into your coach till you alight, you’re going to meet and enjoy the company of people from all walks of life, many of whom are experienced travellers who have interesting stories to share.
You’re going to see new places
City dwellers whose daily triangular routine oscillates between home, work and a few social gatherings may not know how beautiful the hinterlands are.
As the train glides along its track, you would get to see the beautiful landscape of the country, from hills to farms, rivers, villages and towns.
A short break
Long train rides are interspersed with frequent stops at designated stations for a limited time. These short breaks can last for as much as 30 minutes.
The break would give you an opportunity to step out and experience the hospitality of the town or village around the station.
It is comfortable
Depending on the cabin, there is a minibar where you can chill on board, and you can also book for a coach called “sleeper” if you love to sleep all through the journey.
The coaches are well air-conditioned and roomy with wall sockets to charge your phone. In the business and first-class cabins, you can pull out a tray table from the seat in front of you.
It is relatively cheaper and safer
Compared to air flights, train tickets are cheaper. A train ride from Lagos to Kano would only cost you a fraction of what it would cost you to board a plane. The only downside is that it costs more time due to the frequent stops at various stations along the ride.
In Nigeria, travelling by train is safer than by road as there are no potholes, police checkpoints or fear of running into bandits and kidnappers who seem to be taking advantage of the country’s poor road network.