Lagos locals rediscover the city with the iconic Danfo minibus
Residents of Lagos, Nigeria are rediscovering their city and all it has to offer through special day and night tours offered by EXP Lagos, a local tour company that uses Danfo minibuses as their means of transport. Weekend tours offer exploration and experiences, according to Uzo Umeh, the head of the domestic tourism startup.
“You can’t experience Lagos without experiencing the Danfo,” says Uzo, referring to the popular form of public transport for Lagosians who use it for their daily commutes in Africa’s most populous city.
“If anything, the Danfo bus represents Lagos – it has stood the test of time. It’s who we are. We are just as strong and persistent as the Danfo bus,” she adds.
Difference between day and night
Tours also eliminate the need for attendees to drive, park, or deal with taxis.
The explorations take place the first and second week of each month, on Fridays and Sundays.
“We do this for everyday Nigerians and for people who want to experience what Nigerians experience every day,” she says of the targeted clientele.
EXP Lagos started with the Friday bus to explore the nightlife and added the second Sunday bus for daylight experiences. Uzo explains that day and night exploration locations are often similar, but she says the experiences differ.
“The vibes are different. Friday nights are more of a kind of party. Sunday is kind of like brunch – let’s eat, drink mimosas and enjoy a day in the sun,” she says of the vibe.
It’s a Sunday afternoon and we’ve arrived at Bature, a microbrewery that makes craft beer on Victoria Island. With pub dining and fare, a DJ as well as live music, Bature comes alive day and night.
“I like the fact that they have the concept, like abroad, of a local brewery. So the beer is like homemade,” says Sabin, one of the explorers, as Uzoh likes to call them.
“And you can taste and experience different beers distinct from mass commercial beers,” adds Sabin, a Rwandan who has lived in Lagos for two years.
“I believe there is more to discover. I am very new to Lagos. So the next time my people back home ask me ‘what’s in Lagos?’ I will have something to say.
Longtime Lagosians love it
Discovering new places in Lagos isn’t just for new residents like Sabin. At Tiger Bar on this late Sunday afternoon, the bar is packed. With beers and soups lined up on several wooden tables, Tiger Bar looks like a garden for beer lovers.
Efosa, who has lived in Lagos since 2007 and has used Danfo buses to get around, says exploring Lagos in groups has opened him up to new places and experiences.
“You hang out with 10 different people, you go to different bars…it’s really fun,” he says, who enjoys meeting new people.
A young urban professional, Obianuju, seeks to broaden her horizons and use the Danfo shuttle service as a place of contacts.
“You meet really good people and good vibes – it also helps form your network,” she said. “It’s a new experience. Before EXP Lagos I had never been on a Danfo bus – I thought it was amazing.
But it hasn’t always been amazing. Uzo and his business partner had to go on hiatus for most of the pandemic year in 2020. It would be risky to park a bus full of people in the heat of Covid-19.
“Even so far our buses are still half full,” says Uzo. “But if there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that human connection doesn’t go anywhere,” she says, adding that some people had tears in their eyes during the first post-lockdown tour. , because they hadn’t seen other people for so long.
While Nigeria is set to become the third most populous country in the world before 2050, Lagos will never stay the same as Uzo’s EXP Lagos will continue to evolve and present interesting and fun locations in Nigeria’s business capital.
“The comeback is just a reminder of how important human connection and community is, to be completely honest,” she adds.