Sometime this year, I made the active decision to change my bucket list to a ‘will do’ list. And one of the items I had on my list was to go hiking. On a budget!
For years I had felt I could only do focused things like that if I had extra cash or time or something like that. It hit me suddenly that I would never get to tick anything off my list if I didn’t plan and budget for it like I do every other thing in my life.
So I set out to Google places I could possibly hike within Nigeria (I’ve got to start small). It had to be somewhere close because I only had a weekend to work with if I had to go anywhere at all.
Luckily, thankfully and happily I found two articles written by the very lovely Funmi and Bunmi. I can’t thank you both enough for writing the articles peppered with great tips, that wet my appetite enough to make the trip.
The articles were about Ado Awaye in Oyo State, a community that houses one of the 2 suspended lakes in the world and more importantly, a hiking trail for newbies like me.
I reached out to Bunmi and she connected me to David Atabo who is an absolutely brilliant guide. He made it much fun for me as I was going on this adventure alone.
I planned a 2 day 1 night trip because I wanted to start the hike in the morning before the sun comes out in it’s blistering glory.
We arrived Ado Awaye from Lagos after an approximately 5 hour road trip to one of the 2 hotels that are present there where we were informed they were no rooms. Luckily the other hotel had rooms for us. There I met Omolara who likes to be called Zainab, the makeshift cook at the hotel.
The next day dawned with me barely reigning in my excitement at the fact I was really going to do it. We left the hotel by 7:57am which was a fair enough starting time considering it was 22 degrees which might not seem like much to some but coming from a state that’s at an all time 34 degrees, 22 degrees was a welcome chill.
15 minutes later we got to the foot of the mountain and I was geared up with a walking stick. A totally essential feature you should not make the mistake of refusing.
- I was immediately introduced to the 365 Irregular steps (with emphasis on Irregular). For me, this was one of the first fascinating aspects of the mountain. Apparently it was built by a previous deputy governor of Oyo State. Sadly it hasn’t been maintained so it requires your whole mental faculty to make the climb to the top of the steps.
- Next up is Ishage rock that is believed to grant the wish of people that pray at the Rock. A white cloth is tied round the Rock by the chief priest whenever the land experiences a drought.
- After the Ishage rock, the body of water I call the ‘green water’ is the next fascinating feature of the mountain. The story goes that a woman who specializes in tie and dye used the lake for her craft which turned the water to that particular shade of green.
- The Iyake Lake, which the mountain and even the community is well known for is the most arresting of them all. There are a number of beliefs that surround this lake, with the famous one being that anyone who enters the lake can never come out.
Science buffs might say this is because the lake may actually be fed through a spring in the mountain which is where people that enter get sucked to.
Also also, it is said the leaves of the tree never ever drops on the surface of the lake.
- The depressions made on the mountains are referred to as the footprints of the elders…(who the elders are, I’m not sure)
- We made our way to the felled tree with a trunk in the shape of an elephant. Makes one really wonder how these things come to be. A friend says it’s carved. Me, I say nature is mysterious, more things are possible than we can ever dream up.
- We passed several harrowing paths, one of which is named “Ese Kan Aye, Ese Kan Iku” which literally means One leg in life, one leg in death. That path was unbelievably insane! The locals who had undergone the trip in the past used to go down the steep slope and climb up the same way before David Atabo worked together with the Kabiyesi of the land to construct this bridge.
- Getting to the top, I can only describe it with one word- Breathtaking. Literally and figuratively, words can’t express or explain that feeling of reaching that point. I had hiked for 2 hours to get to the top and I’d reached the destination with a view so beautiful I could only stare for a few minutes. The very air felt alive and different. We couldn’t stay for long of course. We had to get down.
And about an hour and 30 minutes later we made it down with my shaky legs.
We then made our way to the Kabiyesi’s palace where he welcomed us warmly and encouraged us to help the community in whatever way we can. Interestingly enough, I had informed David Atabo I would love to work on an information brochure pro Bono. My way of contributing and encouraging others to take the trip also.
I have ticked off hiking off my list because I had never done it, now I’m even more excited because my list would now have actual mountains I’d like to hike instead. (The beauty of ticking of items is that it allows you add more)
There are so many amazing places to visit in this world and my hope is to experience as many as I can in this lifetime.