So you’ll be visiting South East Region, home to Igbo speaking people of Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa? Here are a few things you need to know in advance, to help you decide what time is best to make the trip.
- South East Weather
- Travel to the South East
- States in the South East
- Best time to Visit the South East
- What to Pack for Your Trip
South East Weather
Nigeria has a tropical weather which gets progressively rainier as we approach the South. There are two seasons in South East Nigeria, Udu-mmiri (rainy season), and Okochi (dry season). Udu-mmiri is precipitated by the African monsoon and goes from March to October in the South East. Okochi begins from November but is interrupted in December and January by Uguru (harmattan), a winter-like weather. Uguru begins in December and ends mid-January, although it has been known to linger to February, before giving way to the summer-like Okochi which continues to March. Rainy season therefore lasts for eight months on average (March – October), leaving four months (November – February) for hot and humid weather.
Annual precipitation starts from 15cm in January and climbs to 200cm and above in the thick of the rainy season (May to October) each year. The south-east has a rich forest vegetation as a result of eight months of sustained rainfall. The rains cease in mid-October although they could linger until early days of November. Even during sunny weather, humidity in the South East remains high because of relative proximity to the sea.
The South East experiences roughly uniform temperatures which range from 29 to 34 degrees Centigrade throughout the year. During Okochi, the temperature is warm and humid in the day, at an average of 32 degrees. The South East does not experience dramatic increases in temperature because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and also because the rains begin earlier in March. Although the temperature in the daytime is lower than winter temperature, humidity remains higher.
Traveling to the South East
There is only one international passenger airport in the South East, which is the Akanu Ibiam International Airport (ENU), located in Enugu, the capital of Enugu State. Both ENU and Sam Mbakwe (QOW) airports serves domestic routes.
International travellers who can fly to Murtala Muhammed Inernational Airport Lagos (MMA) and the Nnamdi Azikiwe Inernational Airport Abuja (ABV) from where they can connect local flights to the two airports.
In some cases, passengers traveling to some states find it faster to land at nearby States outside the region to connect to their destination. Port Harcourt (PHC) and Calabar (CBQ) airports are closer to most parts of Abia and some parts of Anambra than Owerri and Enugu. Asaba airport is a stone throw from Onitsha and Nnewi.
Travel Within South East
Right from the airports in Enugu and Owerri, there are always charter taxis that will take passengers to every city and village in the South East. Similar car hire services are available in most star hotels in major cities in the region – Aba and Umuahia in Abia, Onitsha and Awka in Anambra, Abakaliki in Ebonyi, Enugu in Enugu State, and Owerri in Imo State.
In addition, hailing taxi services are now available. Local vehicle assembly plant, Innoson Vehicles has launched xxx as a local hailing taxi service in Enugu. Bolt (formerly Taxify) hailing taxis are in Aba, Enugu, Onitsha, and Owerri. They are also available in airport towns of Asaba, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Uyo. Intercity charter services are also available in the major cities while luxury bus rides can be
States in the South East
Abia State capital city is Umuahia but its major commercial city is Aba. The commercial city of Aba grew as an outpost of colonial government and is a heavily populated and highly industrialized city. Abia became a constituent state of Nigeria in 1991 and is rated as 5th most industrialized state in the country, with 4th highest index of human development.
The nearest airports are Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport, Owerri (1 hour), Port Harcourt International Airport (2 hours), and Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo (1.30hrs).
On its southern part, Abia is a low-lying tropical rainforest with oil-palm brush and crude oil mining, which makes it a part of the Niger Delta. It has a heavy rainfall that can get up to 94 inches especially between April through October. In the northern part, the State is a moderately high plan and savanna forest zone. The two best known rivers are Imo River and Aba River and both flow into the Atlantic Ocean through Akwa Ibom State.
The administrative capital of Anambra State is Awka. However, its two other major cities – Onitsha and Nnewi are great commercial and industrial towns. It is one of the most urbanized states in Nigeria. Anambra is the eighth-most populated state in Nigeria and the second-most densely populated state after Lagos . It has an estimated average density of 1,500–2,000 persons per square kilometre.
Although the state is developing its own international cargo airport to be launched in 2021, it is served by three airports – Akanu Ibiam International in Enugu, Asaba International Airport and Sam Mbakwe Airport (all of which are less than 90 minutes from Awka, the capital. Asaba Airp9ort (Delta State) is a mere 10 minutes to Onitsha, the major commercial city, much closer than the State.s new airport at Umueri.
Abakaliki is the capital and largest city in Ebonyi State. A second major city is Afikpo. The State was created by military fiat in 1996, carved out from parts of Enugu and Abia.
Ebonyi is primarily an agricultural region with rice and yam being the major crops. The Abakaliki Rice has become patented as a national brand on sale in most parts of the country.
Ebonyi has also signalled that it would develop and international airport. At the moment, it is served mostly from Akanu Ibiam in Enugu (less than 90 minutes from Abakaliki).
Enugu State occupies a unique historical position in the South East. Enugu is both the capital and name of the State which was created in 1991 via military fiat. The City of Enugu is the largest and most famous city. Other notable cities are Nsukka in the north and Agbani in the East. There are smaller and less developed towns including Oji River, Udi and Obolo Afor.
Enugu is relatively small – 29th out of 36 states) with total land area of 7,161 Km2 (2,765 sq. mi) and sits almost 223 meters (732ft) above sea level. It has relatively good weather all year round. February is hottest month when the temperature climbs to 30.64oC (87.16oF). The lowest temperature is in November when it reaches 15.86oC (60.54oF). The lowest rainfall is about 0.16cubic centimeters (February) and the highest is 35.7 cu cm (July).
The Akanu Ibiam International Airport is located in Emene, a surburb of Enug and serves international passenges from all of the South East. At the moment, only one international passenger airline patronizes the route.
Owerri is the capital city of Imo State of Nigeria. Two other major cities in the State are Orlu and Okigwe. It is also a highly urbanized State which is fast developing tourism as a major revenue earner.
Udu-mmiri (rainy season) begins in April and lasts till October, as is the case with all other States in the region. Annual rainfall also varies from 1.5cm to 2.2 cm each year. The State maintains an average temperature above 20 °C throughout the year, with humidity at 75% and going up to 90% during the rainy season. The dry season experiences two months of Harmattan from late December to late February with January and March being the hottest months. High population density has led to degradation of much of the native vegetation.
Visitors to Imo can usually fly from Abuja and Lagos international airports to the Sam Mbakwe Airport in the State capital. There are no interstate air travel hubs but passengers can land at Enugu and Port Harcourt airports and travel by road to Owerri.
Best Time to Visit South East
The best time to visit the South East is during the dry season, between November and February of the following year. The best times are January and February when the region records the best dry and sunny weather.
In the dry season, it can get a bit hot during the day but there would almost always be a cool weather at night and it is humid, not dry. Uguru (harmattan) brings dust storms and cloudy skies which may sometimes prove tricky for air travel.
What to Pack for Your Trip
Travellers can wear light clothes throughout the year in the South East. Even during the cold harmattan, heavy clothing are only recommended in the nights when the weather becomes relatively cold but this normally disappears at noon when the sun appears in full force. The best you can do is to add a light jacket for the mornings, which will be quickly removed from around noon.
If you plan to come during the rainy season, it may be necessary to bring a raincoat and an umbrella for the rain.
Most parts of the region have become highly westernized and there are no cultural or religious restrictions on what you wear when you arrive. Unnecessary exposure of the bosom or see-through dresses that leave little to the imagination will only attract cats and whistles from leery youths.