There is perhaps a no better known landmark in Nigeria than the towering monolith that is Zuma Rock.
Zuma Rock is based in Madalla, Niger State and is a mere 45 minute drive from the nation’s capital, Abuja. On a clear day, Zuma rock is visible from the city and is often called the “Gateway to Abuja”.
If you’ve ever taken a closer look at a 100 Naira bill, you will have noticed that there is a picture of Zuma Rock. However, many Nigerians have never had the chance to see the rock in person.
That’s a great shame because the rock is truly one of the greatest spectacles in Nigeria, if not in the whole of Africa. The rock’s vital statistics speak for themselves. Zuma Rock is 725 meters (2,379 ft) in height and 3.1 kilometres in circumference. To put that into some context, Zuma Rock is twice as high as the world famous Uluru Rock in Australia and more than four times as high as NECOM House, Nigeria’s tallest building.
Without getting too technical, Zuma Rock is what is known in Geological circles as an “Igneous Intrusion”. In simple terms, this means that Magma has over the course of many millions of years pushed towards the surface of the Earth, pushing rock at the surface out of the way.
What makes Zuma Rock particularly special is that the natural contours in the rock face leave the image of a human face with a visible mouth, eyes and nose. Perhaps no wonder then that Zuma Rock is the stuff of myth and legend…
What are these myths and legends? Well, visitors to the Zuma rock can speak to the local villagers who are well rehearsed in these stories. One such legend is that the “face” of Zuma Rock took a disliking to and placed a curse on a new 5 star hotel, the Zuma Rock Resort, being built nearby and which has subsequently fallen into a state of disrepair and is now abandoned.
Another legend which persisted for a number of years is that those who climb the rock will never return. However, many people climb Zuma Rock each year including tourist groups from abroad. Do keep in mind if you’re thinking of climbing the rock, that it is a steep climb and can be dangerous for those who are unprepared. Only those who have the proper equipment (rope, helmet etc.) or who are accompanied by an experienced climber should attempt to climb Zuma Rock.
The climb takes around 5 hours but is well worth the effort – on a clear day the peak of Zuma Rock offers amazing 360 degree views of Abuja and the surrounding areas.
Directions for Driving to Zuma Rock from Abuja: Take the A234 out of Abuja and continue past Kubwa until you get to the Madalla junction. Once you reach the junction, make a right onto the Daura Road (A2) and continue travelling northwards towards Kaduna until you see the Zuma Rock on your right hand side.
Did You Know? Zuma Rock was once used for defensive means in wars fought by the ancient Gwarri people of central Nigeria