Category: Blog

Idanre Hill – Magnificent Beauty

Posted By : admin/ 1191 0

Prior to this trip, Badagry and Olumo rock have won my heart in terms of organization and attitude towards visitors. On sighting me at the gate, the 5 of them parted their lips, letting out different shades of smile. It was obvious they were all happy as I immediately felt welcomed. The breeze escaping through the woods continuously attacked my face. I didn’t bother restraining them.

I greeted and they returned the gesture before introducing themselves one after the other. I felt more pleased as I was introduced to my tour guide Mr Paul Bamigbaiye who led me to a large beautifully designed space which served as the reception where I made payment after being given the breakdown. It costs #1,000 for an adult and #500 for children. this is excluding the tour guide’s fee which has to be negotiated.

Leaving my bag behind, I held closely my bottles of water with my camera strapped round my neck while I listened to the briefing of our proposed journey by Mr Paul.

FACT 1:
IDANRE HILLS WAS ADDED TO THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE TENTATIVE LIST ON OCTOBER 8, 2007 IN THE CULTURAL CATEGORY.

The Briefing

Idanre is classified into 2 (the ancient one atop the hills and the modern one down the hill).

The people of Idanre spent 800 years dwelling on the hills before descending it in 1928 (4 years after deliberating on it) due to the lack of access to civilization. They left behind all their notable monuments such as:

– the first primary school

– the prison yard

– the court of justice

– marketplace

– mausoleum

– the ancient palace et al.

My heart skipped on hearing that we have approximately 700 steps to climb before getting to the summit (but with 5 resting points). That’s crazily more than that of Olumo Rock and Ado Awaye. But hey, “I’m up to the task” I said to myself, beaming a soft smile as Mr. Paul summoned me to follow him.

FACT2:
IDANRE HILLS (914 METERS) WILL STILL BE TALLER THAN OLUMO ROCK (137 METERS) AND ZUMA ROCK (725 METERS) IF PUT TOGETHER.

After taking about 20 steps, he turned to give me a warning. He had stopped smiling. “Please Tunde, try as much as you can not to curse anyone or think ill about anybody all through our journey as this is the only forbidden act here. Instead, you should pray for those who have made you happy.”

I didn’t bother asking why because I’m more than eager to climb as I did a quick scan on my mind to see if anyone warranted a curse from me. No one, save for the Nigerian government who have done nothing really impressing to harness the potentials of tourism in the country. But since they on a daily basis get cursed by other citizens, I tuned down my rage, switched to my prayer mood saying stronger prayers for Mr Tayo Sonuga, the Managing Director of Haven Homes who funded my trip.

Before long, we were at the first resting point. Mr Paul said we had taken 75 steps. Though I felt we had taken fewer so I decided it wasn’t time to rest. I gulped a mouthful from my bottle, offered Mr Paul some but he declined. We continued with 150 more steps to reach the 2nd resting point and another 137 to get to the 3rd. I decided to rest, gulped even some more fluid and took some more pictures.

All along I engaged Mr Paul, trying to know why the Idanre Hills is in such a dilapidated state. Starting with a deep breath, He responded by explaining how the previous government had decided to do a face-lift for the resort by inviting an engineer who started out with the beautification but couldn’t finish due to his replacement by the new government. I probed further by asking if tour guiding is what he does full-time, he answered yes but lamented about its numerous inadequacies.  He currently doesn’t get any salary except commissions based on how many trips up the hills he’s able to complete periodically. I imagined how crazy survival will be for him considering the poor attitude of Nigerians to tourism. No thanks to the bad roads and very high cost of living. I was tempted again to say few curse words but refrained on remembering the warning I got downstairs.

We soon got to the topmost part of the hills after taking 320 more steps. My legs had started to ache but the views into the new Idanre town was mind-blowing as we were greeted on the left by dilapidated chalets which must have been deserted for a long period of time.

In saner climes, revenues from these chalets would have been put to more efficient use. But again I was at the tip of the peak. I don’t want to risk anything so I suppressed my rage. No curses.

After more than 50 pictures and several video recordings, we left to explore other parts of the ancient town.

The sun seemed to be mating with the trees as they combined to bless us with an amazing kind of  breeze as I gulped more liquid from my bottle.

Thunder River

We passed by the thunder river where Mr Paul stopped to tell me the story behind its name.

According to him, there was an unusual drought in Idanre town during the war against the people of Oyo who were with just one goal at the time; take over as many territories as possible. As the condition grew worse without rain, the priests in conjunction with all medicine men in the land converged at that spot to say some prayers. During the course of their prayers, thunder struck and it rained heavily that night so much that it flowed continuously to form the river.

“This Thunder river also contains some magical powers such that whenever the warriors were going to war, they have to drink from it and also confess their satisfaction, else, they will only go and not return from the battle.

The First School In Idanre

We soon got to Odeoja, (the market square) passing through a path called Ese Ogbeji, meaning walking side-by-side,  two people cannot pass through at the same time due to its narrowness. The deep valleys on both sides made it more frightening.

During wars, this spot served as the checkpoint where all unauthorized beings were fed to the valleys. Horrible thoughts paced round my heart as I requested that we continued into the forest.

We soon stumbled into an ‘agbalumo‘ farm where a number of them were lying helplessly on the withered leafs on the floor. We helped them by stuffing them into Mr Paul’s pocket till there was no more space.

Venturing further into the forest, we saw about 6 bees having a field day pursuing one another. I guessed their queen must have gone for a meeting or something more important which must have given them such opportunity. I reached for a ripe cashew hanging on the tree and devoured it on the spot. You know that garden of Eden feeling?

Next was the Court of Justice which was directly facing the prison.

The marketplace and the mausoleum where kings are buried. 25 kings have already been buried in this building. The 26th king who is currently 91 years old will, after his death be buried alongside his predecessors here.

Intrigued by the smallness of the mausoleum, I asked how 25 kings fitted well inside it. Mr Paul smiled before explaining that there are numerous ways of going about the burial in Yoruba Land. One of such is by beheading and splitting other body parts of the king to all important parts of the land. The heads most of the times are kept in this mausoleum. I made sense out of this narrative.

The Marriage Decider

This stone (located right in front of Chief Ojomu’s house) served as the true test of marriage capability in the ancient Idanre. A man will not be allowed to get married to his fiancée if he fails to lift this stone. Chief Ojomu is one of the highly placed chiefs in ancient Idanre.

Then The Wonderful Rock

I asked what makes it wonderful and he pointed to the small piece of rock preventing it from rolling over. it’s been like this for hundreds of years.

The Ancient Palace

The Ancient palace which also doubled as the conference centre was fully guarded by warriors and slaves from several parts of Nigeria.

 

This beautiful piece was written by Phillips Tunde who writes about his travels at www.nomadicnegro.com and shares his travel images on Instagram @nomadic_negro.

Do you have a travel story to share with images? Get in touch with us here or on any of our social media.

 

Nanna Living History Museum

Posted By : admin/ 847 0

Everywhere you look, there is history, from abandoned buildings to your grandparents’ photos.

History is all around us, living and waiting to be discovered. Let me take you into the world of the Living History Musuem of Chief Nanna Olomu in Koko, Delta state. I knew I had to visit the musuem after I stumbled upon some captivating photos as I was fascinated by the rich history displayed in his home as seen in pictures.

Nanna Olomu’s palace as it was fondly called is situated in Koko town, Warri North LGA of Delta state. A town founded by late Chief Nanna. The entire palace was built through direct labour by Nanna, his sons and relatives. The musuem is his palace housing his personal belongings and gravesite, yes he was buried in his bedroom.

These photos depict how flamboyant his lifestyle was and the musuem can be easily located by visitors, just by asking for directions from the locals. It is not open to the public and you would need to call the curator (Mr Wilson Onime on +2348034522138 or +2348034522138) beforehand to state the purpose of your visit and then schedule a visiting time.

At the entrance you are greeted by this imposing monument of Chief Nanna Olomu. The musuem was built with clay and stands tall for almost 3 centuries, I almost hit the sky just thinking about how privileged I was to be standing in a place that was way older than me, and my parents. The feeling was out of this world.

You are advised not to touch any of the items displayed. Simply observe, admire and with the permission of the curator, take photographs. The rooms are labelled according to its usage and they are not properly lit so to take clear pictures you would need a phone with a high mega pixel.

In one of the rooms, the walls have displays of framed photos of close friends of Chief Nanna amongst whom were Tonwe Ogiri, Fregene Omatseye, Chief Ogbe Yonwuren, George William Neville and Seidu Olowu. You can’t miss the intricately carved designs of the chairs, not to mention the fine china wares and bronze cutlery, at this point, permit me to say I have never seen anything like this before!!!

As I took these pictures, kneeling, shuffling from one foot to the other to get the perfect pose and lighting, I couldn’t stop saying wow ?. Who could blame me, as I have never been to a living history musuem before now. This is the only living history musuem recognized by the federal government in Nigeria, it’s so rich in Culture, you need to see it to appreciate the legend Chief Nanna Olomu.

If you are visiting, please go with an open mind, ask sensible and knowledgeable questions and show appreciation in cash or kind, though it’s not compulsory and it’s free to enter/exit. This place is an untapped tourist attraction and VisitNigeriaNow has taken steps to give it some well needed publicity by listing it as one of the top destinations in Delta, you can find the link here.

I went there solo, and took my sweet time listening to the history as told by Pa Tony Nanna (one of the grandsons of Chief Nanna Olomu). I have added to my knowledge bank and aesthetic value. This write up was borne out of the need to inform, educate and inspire you to travel and explore Nigeria. In the words of Eduardo Galeano ‘‘history never says goodbye, history says ‘see you later’’

Of course, I cannot write about the living history museum without introducing the legend Chief Nanna Olomu. Chief Nanna Olomu was born around 1852 in Jakpa, Itsekiri region and his real name was Eriomala, the name ‘Nanna’ was a pet name which eventually stuck. He was known as the merchant prince of the Niger delta.

Nanna was a plutocratic Governor and his reign lasted from 1884 to 1894. He dealt in palm oil and timber and also traded slaves and had a close relationship with the British government. When this went sour, he was exiled to modern day Ghana but freed later on. He died in 1916 but to get a more juicy tale, you need to plan your visit and hear it first hand.

Ladi Asiwaju Dada in African Drums Festival

Posted By : admin/ 659 0

 

Oladipupo Asiwaju Dada is a Nigerian, an indigene of Ogun state. He was born in Lagos in 1968. He studied fine art at Yaba College of Technology and earned the Higher National Diploma in Scupture in 1996. He worked as an illustrator/visualizer/art therapist and a lecturer.

Asiwaju Dada excellently crafted and mounted popular commissioned work which include The giant statue at Teslim Balogun (Lagos), The satllion of Union Bank Nigeria, The pieta at Saint Dominic Catholic Church (Yaba, Lagos) and many more.

 

Trip to Ikogosi – Hot and Cold Spring

Posted By : admin/ 1829 0

My name is Damilola Ogundele. A native of Osun State, Ilesha. I am a female and in my 20s. I am based in Ogun state, Sango ota. I am an entrepreneur and into fashion accessories and I also love talking about relationships and share my videos on social media, you never know who I am helping ? I am presently serving in Ekiti State. 

Errmmm, I wouldn’t say I am a keen Nigerian tourist, I am just a lady that loves having fun. Serving in Ekiti was what made me go to Ikogosi even though I had always wanted to go while I was little. Actually, it was a friend that brought up the idea so out of boredom we decided to visit. 

The history of the spot is quite a tale! I asked our tour guide what brought about the warm and cold water and the story goes as follows. 

A long time ago, there was a powerful king who had two powerful wives. The first wife is very hot tempered while the second wife is cool headed. There came a day when both wives had an argument, they were shouting and screaming at each other, then the first wife left the palace and went into a forest, the forest was close to the palace and she turned herself to warm water, the second wife also left the palace angry and turned to cold water. The king knew what happened and turned himself to a rock at the meeting point where both water meet in order to always protect them. 

We were told they knew the source of the warm water because the first wife didn’t go far before changing herself into warm water. The second wife however, went farther into the forest so no one knows the source of the cold water, even till date. Believe what you want but I thought that was a lovely story ? 

Getting to Ikogosi was straightforward from town. I took a cab which went through major roads and took about 45minutes. I enjoyed the drive because the route we took was very mountainous so very scenic and spectacular views all the way. 

Oh, another interesting bit of the journey was I got to see mud houses!!! I know some of you may be thinking ‘so what’s the big deal’, for me it was a big deal considering I’m a city girl and only see them in movies. 

Getting to the gate was not too bad, a little hilly but fun and once we got there, we booked tour guides who were very friendly and professional. They told us the stories, showed us around and were extremely pleasant. 

There is so much to do at Ikogosi. There are beautiful rocks and tall trees. There are swimming pools and oh the water is warm (The first wife’s water. LOL). 

I’ve been to other pools in the past and after swimming for a short while, you begin to feel the cold but this felt different, because the water is naturally warm. The temperature is just perfect and swimming in a warm pool is fun trust me as I didn’t want to leave, it just felt different ?  

There is also a bar and a DJ stand and as an aside, I remember this woman who sells drinks, biscuits and the likes. There is another woman who sells pepper soup; OMG it was peppery. I loved it I even asked for more. I am craving it now that I think of it. LOL. It was to die for sha! 

I went as part of a group. I would suggest you go in group or with a friend so you guys can talk and take pictures together, snap one another, climb the rocks together, feel the water together, swim together just have fun together. 

I feel it might get boring if you go alone. Be careful while climbing the rocks, my friend hit his leg on a stone and got injured so be careful. 

I would advise anyone going there should wear a comfortable foot wear, trainers or something ideal for hiking should do the trick. 

Also, go with a camera or a phone with a good camera for pictures so you don’t miss the amazing views. Then go with your swim suits you wouldn’t want to miss out swimming in a warm water pool. 

My best feature was the feeling of the warm and cold water. I walked through both water, one part is warm another part is cold and the middle, that is the meeting point, is lukewarm. Amazing feeling it was. Then having to swim in a NATURALLY warm water, gosh that’s an experience! I didn’t want to leave J. It was a great feeling. 

Worst memory; I did not have bananas to give the monkey in the cage. It was painful. Oh, I didn’t mention that. There is a monkey so anyone visiting should go with bananas. LOL. 

 

Follow this link to see our other blog posts. 

You can see more of my images on IG @damiogundele 

Olumo Rock – Fun & Adventure Amidst History & Legend

Posted By : admin/ 1793 0

In our last post, we told you EVERYTHING you need to know about the ‘animazing’ Sumu Wildlife Park in Bauchi. In this post, relax and read about the legend that is Olumo Rock because this tourist destination does rock! ? 

 

Just like a song, in the midnight tales and the stories told to the children gathered in circles as a history, shall I begin this tale. Today, I will tell a story about a rock, so that tomorrow another will hear like I did, go on an adventure and write a better story of Olumo rock, Ogun State, Nigeria. 

 

OLUMO ROCK IN BRIEF 

Olumo means “all the troubles and sufferings were over”. A saying linked to the story of the people of Egba land. In the 1800s, the people of Egba Land were under attack and this caused a number of them to seek refuge in safe havens. Legend has it that a hunter, named Adagba, led them to a rock. With the surrounding fertile wooded Savannah and the presence of Ogun River, they believed they had arrived at the promised land. That rock is present day Olumo rock which acted as their form of defence and a monitoring post for watching out for enemies. Olumo rock has an underground with 5 bedrooms which have several features. There are grinding holes for cooking and blending pepper and all sorts of seasonings during the hideouts.  

Jeff, short for Jeffrey, was the name of my Tour Guide. He passionately narrated the story of the rock as Iya Orisa would have done. Iya Orisa, also known as Chief Mrs Sinatu Aduke Sanni apparently grew up under the rock and has witnessed the coronation of about four Alake of Egbaland, she strongly believes in the god of the rock which has been protecting her. She is allegedly 131 years of age. *wink* 

Olumo rock was turned into a tourist attraction in 1976 and later commissioned on the 3rd of February 2006 by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The top of the rock appears like a female giant with full features protecting her people. 

 

The highest point on the rock 137 meters above sea levels so as you can imagine, not everyone has the stamina to hike to the top, not with our eba and amala diet in the country. In order to ensure everyone has a chance to take in the breath-taking view at the top, the centre has three elevators with a total of 20 floors and the last floor lands visitors at the top of the rock to soak in the panoramic view from that height. 

 

THE TOUR OF OLUMO ROCK 

As a popular and populous city, with one of the most visited Tourist attractions in Africa, Abeokuta stands in history as home to legends and a place that will remain forever uncontaminated. 

Olumo rock is Located in the serene neighbourhood of Ikija in Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun state.  

They are several stories to look out for including The story of the ‘Panduru’ tree believed to have the power of granting women in need of enlarged breasts their wishes, this will put Dr. 90210 out of business :). There is also the story of the shrines: The shrine of Ogun the god of Iron, the shrine of Esu, the shrine of Orisha Obaluaye, the five shrines of the priestesses,  all located underneath the Rock. 

All of the shrines depict the symbol of power which they withhold in ensuring the rock stands and function as it does today. According to our Tour guide, without them, Olumo rock is just like a stone without a story laid around to be passed by. Word! 

 

THE PEAK OF OLUMO ROCK 

Once you finish your ascension to the top of Olumo rock, you have to go wow!!! This is because when you look down, you can see the town far beneath your feet and catch a glimpse of the following:  

The beautiful view of the ancient city 

A view of the first church in Nigeria 

Ogun river bank 

N.T.A Abeokuta 

Baptist Boys High School 

The family house of late Abiola 

The Central Mosque 

Sanatan River Ogun 

However, the scratches and traces of the ancient lives of the people of Egba under Olumo rock is still visible.  To the people of Abeokuta, the story will  remain and will be told from generations to generations. 

To read our other guides and blog posts, follow this link. 

Jubilian Ngaruwa is a travel storyteller. 

She writes at jubtrip.com  

Follow her in Instagram @jubtrip 

Nigeria Is Where Lovers Meet

Posted By : admin/ 749 0

I have been in Nigeria now for a good part of 3 months and when VisitNigeriaNow contacted me about sharing my experience on their platforms, of course I jumped at it because what is not to share, it has been a crazy, amazing experience and definitely one I will keep with me for a long time. 

Who Am I? 

To give a bit of background, I am English and from the UK. I grew up close to Manchester, but have lived in a few different places in the UK. Most recently I lived in London. 

 

How Did I Get Here? 

Dano milk brought me here! ? Well, that is partly true, the real gist is that my fiance is currently doing a graduate training scheme for the company that owns Dano milk. His contract is for two years and in that time he will spend eight months in three different countries. We went to Denmark first and now he has been sent to Lagos. I decided to come along to experience Nigerian culture and also to do some voluntary work with children with learning disabilities, this has been extremely rewarding! 

Deja Vu? 

No, this is my first time in Nigeria, I have never been before this trip. Not just that, this is my first time in West Africa as this part of the world is not usually marketed as a tourist destination but I am going to change hearts and souls when I get back home and I’ll encourage folks to visit West Africa. While here, I stayed in the Ikoyi part of Lagos mainly, don’t dare call me posh, far from it ? 

How Busy Is My Passport? 

I have been lucky to travel to a lots of different countries, and have had the opportunity to live abroad in a few countries too. Travel is pretty easy in Europe, as you can get really cheap flights, so I’ve been to lots of European countries – I have a goal to visit all of them before I am 35! I have been to Africa before too, I visited South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and (very briefly) Angola. I think one of my favourite countries though would have to be Colombia in South America. Colombia can have a reputation for not being safe, similarly to Nigeria, so it was amazing to see how warm and friendly the culture was there. They also have some amazing landscapes. Guess the telly doesn’t tell you all, you need to see with your own eyes. 

 

Short or Long Haul? 

I have been in Nigeria since mid-June and I left recently as my three month visa was expiring. I was sad to leave but the journey home was amazing as I travelled through Benin and Togo and flew back to the UK from Lome. 

 

Expats Vs. Locals 

I think it’s fair to say we have mingled a bit with both. At my voluntary work all the other staff are locals, which has been brilliant as they have given me the chance to understand Nigerian culture better – and to learn to understand the Nigerian accent better! We have done a few trips around Nigeria and most of the other travellers have been Nigerian. We have of course mixed with expats too – particularly through InterNations, which we found to be a lovely way to meet people. 

Shocker! 

My first culture shock was pretty much on arrival! The process of going through the airport was very different to what I have experienced in other countries. People were amazingly helpful – I think at one point I had about five people helping me to sort my visa on arrival. This was great but a little bit scary as at one point my passport went in one direction, whilst my bags and yellow fever certificate went in the other, leaving me unsure which one I should follow! Being asked for money by professionals at the airport was also a bit of a culture shock – but one I had been prepared for by my fiance who arrived a month before me. 

 

Naija Surprises! 

Nigeria has been full of surprises. I am often surprised by your landscapes, as soon as you leave the city things become so green! Recently I visited the hills in Idanre which were incredibly beautiful. I think the Lagosians I travelled with were equally surprised! I am also regularly surprised at how spicy the food is – I am still caught off guard and take a massive bite of something that looks delicious and then find that my mouth is on fire. 

You’re Kidding Right? 

My most clear “did this just happen” moment was about a month ago. We were on our way to one of the markets and spotted this structure by the side of the road that was about the size of a small house but shaped like an elephants head. We were interested to know more about this and spoke to the man inside who had built it himself. He was really friendly and happy to explain it. As we were leaving we went to snap a picture of the elephant and another man who had nothing to do with the business decided that we owed him 20,000 Naira! This seemed pretty expensive for one photo! 

Have I Seen Nigeria? 

Definitely! We have travelled to a few places in Nigeria. My first trip was to Badagry, which we took with a tour group. Badagry was such an interesting place to visit, both beautiful and of course a little sombre due to the history. We have also travelled a little bit by ourselves. In July we went to Osogbo in Osun state – again this was an awesome experience and we could really feel the difference in the culture from what we had seen in Lagos. My favourite trip would have to be to the Idanre hills though, we travelled with such a great group of people and as we went for two days we also had the chance to go to Ikogosi hot and cold springs all organised by Irinajo Tours. 

Elevator Pitch…Go! 

I think people have to be up for the challenge if they want to visit Nigeria – getting a visa alone can be an epic mission! However, I think one of the most commonly held beliefs is that Nigeria is very unsafe. In my three months here I have actually never felt unsafe. When I speak to people back home they often ask me “Can I walk outside by myself?” and are surprised to learn that I can and do. Promoting Nigeria as a tourist destination is really important as this country has some truly amazing places to see and things to do, from waterfalls to the beautiful hills, diverse cultures and the energy of the buzzing city – Lagos. 

Best Moment! 

I really love Freedom Park and I always enjoy the atmosphere there and the enthusiasm of the performers. One of my favourite moments would probably be the second time we went there to watch the live music on a Friday night. I was a little horrified when the lead singer asked me to come and dance on the stage to “prove oyibos (white folks) can dance”. As someone who can’t dance I don’t think I succeeded in proving this but it was still a lot of fun! 

…And the Worst is… 

Nigeria has shown me how reliant on the internet I am – which is something I didn’t expect. One rainy day my fiance was at work and I was home alone without internet – as we don’t have TV, I teach English online, I read e-books and always stream my music I really struggled to know what to do! Things hit a real low point when I realised without internet I couldn’t even book a taxi to go out for the day. Although I am a little embarrassed to admit how much not having reliable internet can bother me I do think it has been a valuable lesson and hopefully I will be less reliant on it in the future. 

Every Good Story Must Come to An End ? 

Overall, my time in Nigeria has been eye-opening. The impression I will be left with when I return home is a country full of contrasts. Nigeria has a lot of challenges, and I admire the attitude and political-awareness of the people in this country as I often hear people passionately discussing and debating how Nigeria can improve and continue to develop. The memories of the colourful food, warm people, armies of goats, spicy food, hectic cities and huge traffic jams won’t leave me any time soon! 

To read our other guides and blog posts, follow this link.  

Katherine Sissons is a travel enthusiast. 

Follow her in Instagram @katsissons