The Suspended Lake Of Ado Awaye

My Journey to the only suspended lake in Africa

Ado Awaye suspended lake

Agodi Gardens, Mapo Hall Bower’s Tower, The University of Ibadan Zoo and Ado Awaye Mountain were the major places I had planned to explore when I traveled to Ibadan. While I achieved my aim with the first three, I failed at the fourth because of my crazy assumption of thinking since Ibadan and Ado Awaye are both inside Oyo state, it’d be easier for me to travel between the two destinations.

 

This turned out to be the craziest assumption I made in 2017.

The plan had been to either take a bus or a cab from Round-about on my way back from Bower’s tower in Ibadan. This was based on the assumption that one of them would be loading for Ado-Awaye. Unfortunately, everyone I approached seemed not to know anywhere with that name. Not even the bike men

It dawned on me then that all what I had read about Ibadan being the largest city in West Africa in terms of land mass were not false.

So I gave up on my plans but didn’t back, hence promising myself I was going to do a solo return before the year runs away.

I didn’t fail myself.

How did I get the fund?

It was self-funded. As soon as I could, I started saving up every hundred and thousand which came my way. I put the word out to my community so they could send in their prayers and well wishes. Then I started counting down to the day as the nights became longer.

The day finally came, and I can honestly say that I had a miserable journey. My trip ended up going beyond one day. Though, it ended up being worth it.

Preparation

Waking up at 8am on Saturday, the 2nd of December 2017 was on hindsight a very bad mistake, but since I didn’t know that then, I went on with my day. I rushed to have my bath; dressed up, unplugged my phone whose battery was still less than 50%; raced to a nearby barber to get a better haircut; then took advantage of an innocent Keke (tricycle). This took me to Sabo (Lagos) where a bus was on standby to accommodate just one more passenger before leaving for Ojota.

I was very happy because I thought I was very lucky. My happiness disappeared though when I realised that the time was already several minutes past 11am. I started trying to calculate just how long the journey was going to take; if I was going to return the same day as I had promised; and if I couldn’t return, how I would get extra cash since I was on a budget.

These were the questions running through my mind as I wandered around Ojota garage looking out for the next bus/car going to Oyo state. But no one was there to tell me I was on a long thing. Kudos to the driver though, he did well in terms of safe driving but did fairly well with acceleration.

I got to Oyo around 3:30 pm (Yes! I spent close  to 2 hours waiting for the car to get filled) and after asking a cab driver how to get to Ado Awaye,  he told me I had to get to Owode. From there I could take a bus to Iseyin, drop at Oja Agbe, before taking another to Ado Awaye.

Owode
Owode

My muscles immediately became feeble. I also suddenly remembered I hadn’t eaten.

“Who even send you message?” asked another voice from nowhere.

I was in a dilemma. Going further into the journey was going to be futile, and trying to go back home would be more brutal. So, I continued with little joy while I munched on a roll of Gala which I guess might have been close to its expiration date.

Road to Ado Awaye
On transit to Ado Awaye

By the time I got to Ado Awaye, it was almost 7pm. I had just one option left then because there wasn’t even a guest house or a hotel anywhere in sight.

My only option was to look for the King’s palace and sleep there.

I soon decided against that when I heard a lady beside me say she was waiting for a cab going to Abeokuta. That was when I realised that Abeokuta was close by.

Thank goodness, I thought. I could pass the night at Dare’s place.

Houses in Ado Awaye are guided by the mountain
This was me right in front of the magnificent beast, but the time was 6:32pm. It’d make no sense hiking by this time. The next option was to locate the king’s palace to pass the night but I ditched that thought immediately as I heard a woman mentioned that Abeokuta isn’t too far away. So I headed to Dare’s place. Remember Dare? My very first host.

LOCATING THE SUSPENDED LAKE

On getting to Dare’s pace, I swore never to return to Ado Awaye again because that would mean spending way outside my budget which was very risky. But then, how could I suffer in vain? Going through all the trauma and returning home with nothing.

No! I decided I couldn’t go back empty-handed. A lot of people needed feedback about this trip.

So the next day, I washed my body and wore my polo and shorts again and this time around, I set out earlier. Off I went to Lafenwa, from where I boarded a cab destined for Igbo-Ora. There I joined another cab which took me to Ado Awaye.

A pepper seller in Ado awaye
It’s a Sunday but traders still went ahead with their thing.
Mud houses in Ado Awaye
Mud houses in Ado Awaye

All these happened within 3 hours. I was so happy that my energy levels soared and I barely remembered the pains of the previous day.

 

 

Ado Awaye Tour guide
So the thing is, almost everyone in Ado Awaye is a tour guide. they can easily Identify a stranger and the reason behind visiting. Here’s Akande- on discovering I was coming to him after alighting from the cab, He asked if I wanted to see the mountain and I answered yes. He requested I paid #600 but I insisted on parting with #400 and he let out a mild grin after i promised I’d teach him how to take pictures with my camera.

 

Ado Awaye suspended lake

Poor care

Ishage rock
This is the Ishage rock. It is Famous for it amazing posture as it has remained in an upright position since the existence of the mountain itself.
Ishage rock
Whenever there is sever drought in the land, the chief priest of the mountain will visit the mountain and wrap a white cloth around the ‘waist’ of Ishage rock; an action which will make rain fall heavily upon the land that night and the Ishage Rock will drop off the white cloth after the downpour.
Ese Awon Agba
A tale that has been repeatedly told to every tourist who’s hiked the Ado Awaye suspended lake is that these holes scattered all over the mountain are “Ese Awon Agba” meaning “footprints of the Elders”. I don’t think this is true. These holes must have been as a result of consistent grinding activities by the early settlers. since there were neither blenders nor grinding stones as at these periods.
Ado Awaye suspended Lake
The popular belief which I guess must be myth is that this lake is bottomless. Folklore even had it that whoever attempts to swim inside it will never be found again. Villagers however drink from it, professing it spirituality in terms of healing the sick and cleansing the filthy.
A view from the sky.

Tips on Hiking the Ado Awaye Suspended lake

  1. Leave home very early (esp. when you wouldn’t be going with a private car).
  2. Speak Yoruba (or go alongside someone who’s fluent). Majority of the locals are Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani.
  3. Haggle for everything with a Naira value.
  4. Carry water along. A lot of it.
  5. Hike light. carry only items you’d need. e.g camera water etc. as carry more than necessary items will get you tired easily.
  6. You should learn endurance as that’s the only skill required to get to the top.

 

 

 

Ado Awaye suspended lake

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