Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Salsa, taekwondo and go-karts: Leisure time in Lagos

By Vladimir Duthiers, CNN
August 17, 2012 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
CNN's Vladimir Duthiers tries out go-kart racing in Lagos, Nigeria.
CNN's Vladimir Duthiers tries out go-kart racing in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • CNN's Vladimir Duthiers investigates what to do in your free time in Lagos
  • The Nigerian city offers up almost any leisure activity that you can think of
  • Duthiers tries out taekwondo, go-kart racing and salsa dancing

Editor's note: Vladimir Duthiers is an international correspondent for CNN based in Lagos, Nigeria.

(CNN) -- I moved to Lagos earlier this year as CNN's correspondent for West Africa and so far, it's been everything I expected and more.

I've lived abroad a good part of my life and I've visited some of the most dynamic cities in the world -- from Sao Paulo to Hong Kong to Dubai -- and I can honestly say that I've never experienced anything as vibrant, exciting and yes, as challenging, as Lagos.

Recently, I had the pleasure of filling in for Errol Barnett on CNN's Inside Africa and while batting around show ideas I mentioned that I had been so busy since arriving here that apart from a few dinners, I hadn't really had any time for leisure.

It was like a light bulb went off. Why not do a show where I try to find things to do? But not just anything. I would look for activities that I'd really want to do in my spare time -- which granted, I don't have a lot of.

It's not always easy to find, but if you know where to look, Lagos offers up almost any activity that you can think of -- golf, sailing and even polo.

Read more: 'Netflix of Africa' brings Nollywood to world

Nigeria: Africa's rising powerhouse
Addressing Nigeria's infrastructure
Nigerian fashion goes 'green'

But I'm not that much of a golfer and while I like watching polo, I wanted to find more accessible activities. Not one which requires the purchase of a horse.

For me, staying active is the key to getting rid of any stress that comes on from work, traffic and the incessant power outages. And as you can see from my Inside Africa show, I am an avid student of the martial arts. I started out learning judo when I was six or seven years old and got hooked on taekwondo in my 20s.

In Lagos, when it comes to martial arts, taekwondo -- the way of the hand and foot -- rules. Nigerians really started to get hooked on the art when Chika Chukwumerije won the bronze medal at the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing.

Watch: Taekwondo - 'Nigeria's fastest-growing sport'

In Lagos, you'll find most martial artists practicing at Lagos National Stadium in Surulere. That's where I met 7th Dan black belt Ferguson Oluigbo. He's also the president of the Nigeria Taekwondo Referees Association. (+234-803-409-3004). Whether you just want to learn how to defend yourself or stay fit by focusing on the sporting/Olympic aspect, you'll find plenty of opportunities to do so in Lagos.

Everyone knows that Lagos has a notorious traffic problem. Whenever we are working on a story in and around Lagos, we always have to factor in the traffic. It can take hours to travel even short distances. I'm still getting used to it but I found a place where I can indulge in my "need for speed."

GET ARENA is a go-kart race track and the only drivers you'll see are your mates or other patrons that you want to race against.

Watch: Go-kart racing in Nigeria

After a workout and cruise around the track, I like to head out in the town with the friends I have met here. If you've heard anything about Lagos it's probably around its killer nightlife. When I started going to some of the nightspots in town, I noticed that everybody -- and I mean everybody, loves to dance.

Unfortunately, I seemed to have been born with two left feet and even my Caribbean roots are not enough to get them moving to the rhythm. So I decided to try and learn how to salsa dance.

Enter Bunmi -- the dance instructor of the Bailamos Dance Company (33 Moloney Street 1st floor, off Obalende). Trained as a lawyer, she's now following her bliss and teaching both movers and shakers -- and the inept like me.

Watch: Changing the perception of dance

Once you've got a few moves under your belt, it's time to hit the scene. And you can make that scene at countless bars and nightclubs all over the city.

There's something for everyone, from the old expat standby Pat's (2952C Ajose Adeogun st. Victoria Island) to the ritzy Sky Bar (Eko Hotel & suites, Adetokunbo Ademola Street) and the rowdy and pulsating Xclusive Lounge (1310 Karimu Kotun Street, Victoria Island).

I personally like to chill out with a nice bottle of wine and some good conversation over at Lotanna Winehouse(19 Mekunwen Road.). It's a wine bar with great selection and great nibbles to accompany the wines from Europe and South Africa.

One place I have been looking forward to visiting is the Bogobiri guest house. I play the guitar and I am told that you can sit in with the house band from time to time. Another journalist I know is prone to bringing his saxophone there and jamming with the band all night long.

I have only scratched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to having a good time in Lagos. I haven't mentioned the beaches, the restaurants or the paintball tournaments.

But for me, access to the martial arts, dance, nightlife and music feels just like home.

Part of complete coverage on
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
Vintage helicopters, ziplines, private flying safaris offer new, spectacular views of wildlife and rugged terrain.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Photojournalist Daniella Zalcman asked Uganda's religious leaders their views on homosexuality. Their answers might surprise you.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
In Africa, royalty is an endangered species. Meet the man on a mission to photograph the last remaining kings and queens.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1035 GMT (1835 HKT)
Getty photographer John Moore captured the spirit of those who survived the epidemic
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
Nazis, bomb raids, and a mysterious man with a mustache. The search for the spinosaurus reads like a spy novel.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Can a rat be a hero? It can if it saves lives. Meet the giant rats that sniff out landmines and TB
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
In Africa, royalty is an endangered species. Meet the man on a mission to photograph the last remaining kings and queens.
September 18, 2014 -- Updated 1110 GMT (1910 HKT)
Can state-of-the art schools in rural Africa rescue the environment? One charity is betting on it.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
To save the rhinos, one charity is moving them out of South Africa, where poaching is at an all time high.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1542 GMT (2342 HKT)
mediterranean monk seal
Many of Africa's animals are facing extinction. Is it too late for them? Our interactive looks at the many challenges to survival.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1635 GMT (0035 HKT)
No one knows what causes "fairy circles" in Namibia's desert. A new study, however, may have solved the mystery.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
A picture shows the Rwenzori mountain range on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 8, 2014. At 5,109 metres (16,763 feet), Mount Stanley's jagged peak is the third highest mountain in Africa, topped only by Mount Kenya and Tanzania's iconic Kilimanjaro.
The 'African Alps' are melting, and it may be too late. Now may be your last chance to see the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains.
August 5, 2014 -- Updated 1438 GMT (2238 HKT)
One company thinks so. They're investing in insect farms in Ghana and Kenya. Could bugs build an industry and curb malnutrition?
March 21, 2014 -- Updated 1020 GMT (1820 HKT)
Morocco is famous for its historic cities and rugged landscape. But it's becoming known as a surfer's paradise.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
A photographer took to an ultra-light aircraft to capture Botswana's savannah from above. The results are amazing.
May 27, 2014 -- Updated 1016 GMT (1816 HKT)
Makoko Floating School
A new wave of African architects are creating remarkable buildings in the continent, and beyond.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)
A huge spiral in the Sahara had Google Earth users baffled by what it could be. So what exactly is it?
Each week Inside Africa highlights the true diversity of the continent as seen through the mediums of art, music, travel and literature.