THE IGBO-ORA EXPERIENCE; OKE ADO-AWAIYE HILLS
The Oke Ado-Awaiye Hills is located in Oyo town. It is popularly known for containing a suspended lake, the Iyake Lake. There are only two suspended lakes accessible to humans worldwide. Iyake Lake is the only one in Africa. The other is Hanging Lake in Colorado, United States of America. A suspended lake is a stagnant body of water that pools itself at the peak of a mountain. Aside from having a suspended lake, this mysterious hill – Oke Ado Hills has more compelling stories to tell.
The hill derives its name from the surrounding town Ado-Awaiye in Oyo Town which is a two-hour drive from Ibadan. Upon arrival, you will be required to pay a gate fee of about a thousand naira and then you are free to begin your ascent. The climb upwards is an arduous task and takes about forty-five minutes to an hour to climb with intermittent rests and stops. The first quarter of the journey is laden with well-construed steps while the rest of the journey requires tact and care in navigating the rocky and bushy pathways.
Although your ultimate goal is to get to the lake, I will encourage you not to be in such haste to arrive at your destination that you don’t enjoy your hike there. This is because asides the suspended lake, the mysterious hill has ancient landmarks with its own story to tell. My visit to Igbo-ora during my Community Medicine Posting afforded my group members and I the opportunity to make a planned visit to this Hill. So, in case you missed this part of Medical School, let me take you on a journey:
1. The Oke Ishage. More than halfway through your journey, you will encounter a lone rock which resembles a huge boulder that sits upright precariously at the edge of a sloppy rock. It has made many wonder how it has stayed in its place without slipping off into oblivion. The rock is believed by the locals to be the rain bringer for the land. Whenever rain is needed a white cloth is tied to its waist and rain falls lasting for four to five days.
2. Esè Awon Agba. This takes form as elongated elliptical impressions found within the rocks as you go along. They are believed by the locals to be the footprints of deities that have once walked on Earth. This brought about their collective name “Esè awon Agba” meaning, the feet of the elders. However, historians have quite a different story to tell, they believe the depressions were used for grinding stones while others have attributed these pits to be workstations used by an old woman given the name Iya Alaro talented in tie and dye.
3. The previous story gives an insight into the next landmark. The Iya Alaro Lake which is attributed to Iya Alaro. It is believed that she worshipped here and gave sacrifices to the lake.
4. The Elephant Tree is another wonder. It is a fallen baobab tree but so named because its exposed roots take on an uncanny semblance of an elephant’s head and trunk. Also, if you look close enough you will see tiny depressions that look like the eyes of an elephant.
5. Upon arrival at Iyake Lake, you will notice that the lake has a turquoise green hue to it, and it is surrounded by rocky plains. The name “Iyake” meaning ‘woman cry’ subtly tells the story of its origin. The lake is believed to be the product of the tears of a troubled barren woman originally from Ota, Ogun State who had climbed the mountain to find succour away from locals who taunted her because of her childlessness. Other stories have it that the said woman died by suicide as she fell into the lake. Hence, the lake is believed to possess some spiritual healing powers, especially for barren women.
The depth of the lake remains a mystery, the locals believe that the depth of the lake holds a portal into another dimension of human existence. However, it is advised to never go into the lake as it has been widely reported that no one ever comes out. A few attempts have been made in the past, prominent of which was an attempt by three foreigners and only one person made it out.
6. Beside the Iyake Lake is a mini lake that resembles a wide hole filled with the same liquid content as the bigger lake. It is named ‘Agbómofúnyàké’, meaning, “We collected the child and gave to Iyake”. The reason behind this name might be because the locals believe that whoever dips his or her feet in it gets translated into another world that exists at the bottomless depth of Iyake Lake.
7. The last ancient landmark is Esè Kan Aiyé Esè kan òrun. This part of the hill is reserved for the brave travellers. It is a wide chasm that separates the mountain from another mountain.
My experience at Oke Ado-Awaiye Hill was indeed a beautiful one. It was an attestation to the rich history, culture, language and religion of the Yorubas. However, to further enjoy your hiking experience, take comfortable shoes and a bottle of water along.
Have you ever paid a trip to this hill? Let us hear your experience in the comment section.