They are united by the spirit of adventure. They are bankers, doctors, entrepreneurs and artists. When they set out, they plan to tour, sport, stay fit and have loads of fun. They are Abuja hikers.
Abuja hiking groups go by different names. One is known as ‘Strides, Adventures and Tours’, founded by Chukwuma Sesan Nwuba, a banker, and Blessing Tangban, a singer. In 2015 when the two went hiking, they enjoyed the experience so much that the next time, they invited friends. So, through the word of mouth, the group swelled.
In 2016 they decided to expand the group since a lot more people were interested. They went on social media to invite more adventurers. This was how ‘Strides, Adventures and Tours’ was officially born.
“We simply post that we are going hiking and anyone who is interested joins us,” Nwuba said. "Now they are between 150 and 200 registered members, although there are those who partake once in a while and aren’t registered."
The hiking group visits tourist attractions around Abuja. From Apo, Kubwa, Lugbe and many other parts of the capital city. But before they go out, Nwuba and Tangban scout places they intend to visit ahead of the group. Satisfied, they then plan the hike.
‘Strides, Adventures and Tours’ also plans trips outside Abuja. “We have been to places like the Gurara Waterfalls in Niger State and Farin Ruwa Waterfalls in Nasarawa,” Nwuba added.
The group aims to encourage domestic tourism. “Since we are passionate about tourism we realise that not many people know about the tourist attractions in our country. We decided to encourage others to visit such places,” he said.
Nwuba also pointed out that they are also trying to “infuse a bit of fitness into it because hiking isn’t very easy, especially when it’s long.”
Another hiking group is Mood House Dynasty (MHD) run by Jerry Doubles. It all started due to Doubles’ love for the outdoors. Eventually, he thought of how to get like-minded people together, those who needed a get-away from life’s Monday to Friday hustle and bustle.
“The first part of the idea was to go out and explore, but other things soon followed,” Doubles said. “When we go out we explore tourist sites. We have been to Yankari Game Reserve and so on. We also promote healthy living. Hence the hike, aerobics and sporting events. Sometimes we go running. So, healthy living and tourism is the basis of our organisation.”
Hiking for this group began in September 2016 under what was called ‘Jos Hike It’ in Jos, Plateau State, until there was need for expansion. So, MHD Abuja started in November 26 the following year and is presently also in Lagos, Kaduna and Bauchi.
Like ‘Strides, Adventures and Tours’ MHD also used social media to get people together with an intriguing theme that says, ‘We Make Love Not war’.
“When people show interest, we add them to the group. There are people who have gotten jobs, visas, become friends, and gotten married in the group,” Doubles said.
Now they are over a hundred in Abuja, while their counterparts in Jos are over a thousand. So, the future does look adventurous for these hikers. Doubles pointed out that, “Right now in Jos, despite the crises, people from different religions and ethnic groups, from Canada and Bangladesh meet and unite as hikers.”
But like every other thing in life, hikers in Abuja face challenges. For instance, cofounder of ‘Strides, Adventures and Tours’, Nwuba, said transportation poses a problem for the team.
“It costs a lot to organise trips outside Abuja, particularly because we are trying to achieve it at minimal cost. It’s usually very expensive to get something good when you are hiring a bus,” he said.
The group leaves nothing to chance, Nwuba explained. They provide first aid and ensure members who are medical practitioners tag along just in case someone gets injured.
“We don’t just go out and hope for the best. We make sure that there’s hardly any chance of anyone getting injured. So, we take the safest route and not necessarily the easiest, Nwuba added.
There are other hiking groups that have spilled over to Nigeria. One of them is Abuja Hash House Carriers, an international hiking group that is probably the most adventurous. Part of the tradition is for participants, who are called ‘hashers’, to not know trails they need to follow, such as that of shredded paper.
Hikers and Abuja have fun in different ways while hiking. Sometimes it may be a buffet, at other times a picnic or pool party. However, at the end of the day, they have fun touring the country