Plateau Hikers and Tour Association (PHATA) officially launched this year’s hiking season on January 20, 2024, marking a significant moment for Nigeria’s growing hiking community.
As the first registered hike association in the country, PHATA brings various hike groups under one umbrella to advocate for sustainable tourism development and promote Nigeria as a global hiking hub.
The event commenced with opening remarks from Mr. Friday A Nwetu, the Director of Tourism representing the honorable commissioner of Plateau State Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
The village head of Gwash, Mr. Musa, and his deputy also welcomed the hikers to their community. A headcount revealed 276 participating hikers, and the 5-kilometer hike, featuring a mountain climb elevation of 251m, commenced.
The trail offered two major viewing points, with the first one at the mountain’s top serving as the venue for presenting certificates to registered and recognized hike groups by PHATA. Mrs. Nanna Dashe Yakubu, the association’s chairman and the zonal coordinator of Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NC Zone), expressed appreciation to all hikers and invited guests for participating in the Unity Hike.
She emphasized that the event, a first of its kind in Nigeria, aimed to unite different hike groups, promoting hiking as a domestic tourism product for Plateau State and Nigeria. Mrs. Yakubu announced that PHATA, with its executive team consisting of leaders from various registered hike groups, would make the annual event launch a tradition to kickstart the hiking year officially before groups embark on their respective hikes.
During the certificate presentation at the top of Gwash Mountain, distinguished hikers, including Mr. Jim Pam Wayas (Executive Chairman, Plateau State Internal Revenue Service), Dr. Dan Meshak (Personal Physician to the Executive Governor of Plateau State), and Senatorial candidate Barr Gyang Zi, honored the occasion.
Notable hike groups, such as The Trailblazers, Wayfarers of Jos, Jos Plateau Hikers Club, Jos Hike It, Plateau the Beautiful, Rock Hikers, Hikers and Adventurers, Mupun A+ Hikers, The Hike TribeQ, and Pan Hikers, received certificates of registration.
Beyond hike groups, the Jos Bird Club and the JUTH Suicide Prevention Team, along with supporting organizations such as the National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), Nigerian Tourism Development Authority (NTDA), ICE FM Jos, and PRTVC, participated in the successful event.
The chairman emphasized safety by urging community chiefs to request PHATA identification cards from hike groups seeking to explore trails in their areas. The launch marked a milestone in fostering community, promoting tourism, and ensuring the safety and recognition of hiking activities in Plateau State.