These days I find myself jumping at opportunities to visit new places and create new memories. It didn’t come as a surprise to my friends when I impulsively decided to join a group of people to go hiking in Ado Awaye, Oyo State and visit the popular suspended lake – Iyake Lake. Did you know that there are only two suspended lakes in the world and the Iyake Lake in Nigeria is one of them?
On the morning of the hike, we met at the bus park in Oshodi which is right next to the railway tracks and boarded a vehicle going to Ado Awaye through Ibadan. We initially planned to go through Iseyin but after weighing our options, we decided this would be a better route and it was.
After a bit of haggling in Yoruba with the driver, we paid 1800 Naira each as opposed to the initial 2000 Naira. The driver took his sweet time eating Amala after which we were on our way to Ado Awaye.
The journey took approximately 3 hours and came with all the joys of road trips in Nigeria including bad roads and the occasional bribe tips to police officers along the way. Our vehicle got stopped at a checkpoint because my friend who you might remember from The Guy’s Guide To Natural Hair Care For Men post had braids and apparently, looked like a member of the terror group – Boko Haram. I remember saying I wouldn’t go on any more road trips this year after going to Ondo State in July but look at me.
We were dropped off at Ado Awaye on the path leading to the foot of the mountain and welcomed by a group of chanting school children. After filling a tourist book and negotiating an access + tour guide fee of 4000 Naira for the 5 of us, we began our hike at 13:00 hrs.
Luckily for us, the weather was quite lovely but it is advisable to arrive in Ado Awaye a day before, lodge overnight and arrive early the next morning, say 08:00 hrs to start your hike. Also, wear comfortable shoes with a good grip and light, stretchy pants, no jeans!
Our tour guide was able to communicate only in Yoruba so we didn’t get the kind of education & history I was expecting. A member of our group was able to translate to English the few times we all stopped at the same levels.
An important part of hiking is to go at your own pace. Because of the excitement of hiking for the first time, we started off at a fast pace and my burnout literally smacked me full on. I whined and refused to continue with the hike at 5 different points but my friend wasn’t having any of that, he provided the right motivation and support I needed to go on.
The Seven Wonders of Ado Awaye
If you ever go hiking at Ado Awaye, there are 7 important landmarks you should look out for also known as the 7 wonders of Ado Awaye. It was fun trying to look out for these landmarks while on the hike.
1.) Oke Ishage
This translates to Ishage Rock. It was the first wonder we came across on our hike. The people of Ado Awaye believe that it is the bringer of rain to the community and so, whenever there is a drought, the Chief Priest ties a white cloth round this rock, prays and brings down the rain for days.
2.) Esè Àwon Àgbà
This translates to footprints of the elders and can be found at different points on the mountain. I wear a size 38 and there was a footprint that was 4 times the size of my foot. It is believed that the mountain was home to gods many years ago.
This translates to collects child and gives to Iyake. It is a small body of water located next to the Iyake Lake and it is believed that anything that is dropped into it is passed on to the Iyake Lake.
4.) Iyake Lake
This is the main attraction – the suspended lake. Asides this, the only other suspended lake in the world is the Hanging Lake in Colorado, U.S.A. The lake is believed to be bottomless as its depth has never been truly measured, any object or person that attempts to enter the lake is dragged to the bottom and never seen again.
5.) The Elephant Tree
It took me several tries and squinting to be able to point out the head of this Elephant tree which is made up of branches and trunk of a fallen tree.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the remaining two – Ìyá Aláró Lake & Esè Kan Aiyé Esè Kan Òrun because we were exhausted and needed to get to Ibadan before it got dark. The climb downward was definitely easier and the thought of finally eating kept me going without making any stops.
Accommodation + Feeding
Because no journey to Oyo is complete without a taste of Amala we decided to make a stop at Amala Skye in Ibadan to sample their notorious Amala. See, I used to be one of those people that would be quick to condemn Amala because I just couldn’t get past its appearance but my tiredness on this day did not allow me to be picky. If you follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, wyd?), you’ll know this particular Amala changed my mind towards Amala in general. Looking back now, I’m not sure if it tasted great just because it was my first meal that day and I was starving. I’ll have to try Amala again just to be sure.
For reasons unknown to me till this day, the trip convener did not make our hotel reservation. On getting to the hotel at 20:00 hrs, we discovered the rooms were booked except the “Penthouse Suite” at Gulliver’s hotel which was slightly over our budget. After walking around and checking out other hotels, we ended up right back at the penthouse at 21:00hrs, celebrated our first hiking experience over wine and called it a night.
The next day we moved around Ibadan with Taxify. We had breakfast at a lovely little place called Chrysalis then proceeded to the bus park at Ojoo where we boarded a bus for 800 Naira back to Lagos.
Have you ever gone hiking? What was the experience like? Are you a fan of Amala or not? Tell me in the comments!
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