Following the wake of the attack in Kajuru Castle of Kajuru Local Government of Kaduna State last week, I can say 90% of Nigerians have never heard of the place. I was opportune to visit Kajuru Castle for a daycation sometimes in 2016 before catching the full photography bug and I have been meaning to go back to spend a night to get a sunset and sunrise pictures.
From the pictures you can see the beauty of the castle but it raised a huge security issue. You can be a target of someone with a long range rifle.
I am writing about this to tell people about the beautiful place Kajuru is, and its benefits to its host community for decades.
Irrespective of what you might have heard concerning the Northern part of Nigeria, it still has the most beautiful landscapes, and trust me I have been to more than half of the States in the country.
Tourism and Agriculture are the new gold and we need to take it seriously especially the security aspect of it.
My heart goes out to the family of the people that were killed in the Kajuru attack, may God grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.
Kajuru Castle Location and setup
Kajuru Castle is a private property owned by Gerhard Heubrer, a German who lived in Kaduna in the 1970s. Built in the 1980s, its setting and ambience offers a ‘Home away from Home’ experience for visitors who need the sort of serenity to refresh, to reflect or simply to get away from a busy schedule.
Kajuru itself is a town situated in a local government of the same name in Kaduna State in Nigeria’s North-West region. It was previously part of the Chikun Local Government before it was carved out during the military regime of the 1990s.
The castle’s design is typically European and similar to what you may have seen on Western TV or publications. Surrounded on all sides by mountains and hills, the castle is built with stones patterned in shades of grey, making it look almost like a crocodile’s skin.
Guests can visit or book into the castle under any of the following options: (1) a one-hour guided tour; (2) a daytime package (which is what our group opted for); (3) a 24-hour package; and (4) a weekend package. Arrival for all packages is 10:00am and departure for a daytime visit is 5pm.
All the packages are self-catering. Guests either bring or plan for their meals or ask the management to make arrangement with food service providers in town, who will make deliveries at an extra cost. However, guests can choose to use the castle’s sufficiently equipped kitchen, its outdoor barbeque spot or pizza oven to make their own meals. The castle management will only provide drinking and cooking water.
For the 24-hour or weekend packages, the maximum number of guests that can be accommodated per time is five couples or 12 individuals, a function of the limited number of rooms. Once there are 10 or 12 people on the guest list, the castle is locked down for the period of their stay and no other guests can be admitted until the occupants leave.
Getting to Kajuru Castle
To get to Kajuru Castle, I signed up for a tour organised by Globe Jaunters Nigeria. Being based in Lagos, I had to make the trip up country to the take-off point, which is the Idu train station in Abuja.
Idu is less well known compared to the Kubwa station. I’m impressed with the terminus—it is spacious and clean and reminded me much of the train platform at the San Francisco Airport. Once inside the train, I’m equally impressed by the train’s inviting interiors: the seats, covered in velvety colours, are well cushioned; the coaches are kept cool by the air-conditioners. TV screens light up films and TV series.
The train left Idu at 7:30am, stopping at Kubwa to pick up more passengers. It is obvious that Abuja residents and workers love taking the train to Kaduna; it is cheaper and seeming more convenient than going by road.
As is common with all train journeys, we passed by long stretches of mountains and vegetation and villages. I noticed some road constructions ongoing in the hinterland as well.
Our final station was Rijana, which is midway between Dutse and Gidan, according to the sign at the platform. The terminus here again is a delight. The Nigeria Railway Corporation has upped its games, I must say.
As a child I rode the train with my parents to Zaria on holidays in the first-class cabin section; and as someone who takes the train whenever I am outside the country, I am pleased by my time on the Abuja-Kaduna train trip. The country needs to improve on the rail system, though, but the fact that there is a service like the Abuja-Kaduna route is a step in the right direction, no doubt.
The tour company had made arrangements for buses to pick us to Kajuru castle from Rijana, a one-hour road trip that takes us past the Kaduna refinery and pockets of rural communities.
Vehicles on automatic transmission can go up the steep hill to the castle. Otherwise, cars are parked at the foot of the hill, where space is provided. Then visitors have to climb up for about five minutes to the castle’s entrance.
Our group went hiking to the nearest mountain which overlooks the castle and from where you can get a clear side view of the castle. We returned to play different games in and by the pool, made use of the outdoor barbeque accompanied by lots of dancing.
We left Kajuru Castle around 4:30pm in order to get to the train station on time. The train leaves the station at 6:30pm.
We were all exhausted but the journey had been worth all the time and stress. The challenging aspect of using the Idu terminus is transportation to and fro. It would be good if the Nigerian Railway Corporation could operate a shuttle service to take people to the nearest taxi stop, especially for travellers using the train at night. (The transportation and shuttle system has immensely improved when I was in Kaduna recently.)
All said, I look forward to coming back to spend a wh