There are two suspended lakes in the world and one of them is in Nigeria. Isn’t this an interesting piece of heritage? So, I visited Ado Awaye community and hiked up the mountain to the mysterious Iyake suspended lake and then to the peak of Oke Ado Awaye. What I found could only be described as a “hiker’s fairy-tale.”
What’s the hype about this mountain?
Oke Ado Awaye gets its name from the two sister communities surrounding the mountain — Ado and Awaye. The ancient community was a powerful monarchy in past centuries until the death of the last king. According to history, the Alaado (king of Ado) was second in authority to the Alaafin of Oyo kingdom. However, the Alaado was struck by a spiritual attack while visiting a neighboring community for a ceremony and recognized that the attack had come from his kinsmen but could not stop it. Before he died from the attack, he pronounced that anyone who sat on his throne during the period of what should have been his natural life, would pay with their life. So, for the following thirty — five years, the throne was left vacant and other kings rose in clout and renown. Recently, a new Alaado was crowned king and the throne is filled once again.
Today, the Alaado is excited about the prospects that the mountain and suspended lake could mean for the community. Iyake lake is one of only two recognized suspended lakes in the world. A suspended lake is described as a lake found on top of a mountain. So, if there are only two recognized in the world, why do more people not know about it? What a rare wonder.
The lake holds significance for the people of both communities. They believe that drinking the water from the lake heals all sorts of diseases and ailments. They also use the water to cure infertility.
How to get there.
From Lagos, it takes about 4 hours to drive to the mountain through Ibadan and about 3.5 hours through Abeokuta. My friend wanted a Nigerian road trip and I wanted to show him the lush greens in Nigeria so we went through Ibadan. We hired a taxi and got underway. I am glad we did not try to drive down ourselves because after the climb, we were tired. If you are visiting by public transport, Iseyin is the town closest to Awaye and you can get vehicles going to Iseyin from Lagos, Ibadan and Abeokuta.
How long does it take to climb?
The climb takes about 3 hours in total. We got to the peak of the mountain in about 2 hours and spent another hour coming down, including the amount of time spent soaking in the views and taking rest breaks. I asked out guide to rate our pace on a scale of 1–10 and he mentioned that we were about a 6–7. This means that if your pace is slower, you’ll need more time and if your pace is faster, you could do it in less time.
What’s the terrain like?
I really enjoyed this hike because there was a good mix of geographical features on the mountain. The climb begins with steps built into the rock to assist climbers, then there’s a forested path followed by bare rock and then very steep valleys. As long as you have solid hiking shoes or running shoes with a very good grip, it should be easy to navigate each terrain. The guide also knows what techniques will allow you climb safely without falling. The only climbing equipment needed are sticks picked from the hillside. These are optional and could provide support for tired climbers.
How much does it cost?
The entry fee to the mountain is 500 Naira per adult. The tour guide charges 1,000 Naira per adult and 200 Naira per child. I highly recommend climbing with @iamatabo, who is an excellent English-speaking guide and well-versed in the history and knowledge of the stories surrounding the mountain and the suspended lake. Our group of four spent a total of 1,100 Naira to buy amala, ewedu or egusi, beef, water and cold soft drinks. That’s approximately 275 Naira per person. What a steal for such delicious local delicacies. We made a day trip, so I am not too versed on the places to stay but there are two basic hotels in the community where overnight tourists can spend the night for 3,000 Naira.
What to Bring:
- Water: 4 or 5 bottles per person, so you don’t start singing songs of freedom on the way.
- Face towel: A handkerchief will not be sufficient to absorb all the sweat.
- Shoes with a firm grip: There is a lot of bare rock and I slipped a couple of times because my shoes are smooth as a conman at the bottom. Thank God for the crew holding me up to make sure I don’t roll.
- Snacks: I recommend Minimie Chinchin, So Yummy Popcorn, Trail Mix, Assorted Nuts, Cookies, Ribena and Lucozade Boost.
- A good phone or light camera for photos: A heavy camera could be difficult to carry up and down as you slide over bare rock, holding on to a stick and the rock.
- Cash: You’ll need to reward yourself at the local iya amala’s place. We were four and spent 1100 Naira 😍 total on amala, ewedu, water and soft drinks.
- Great company: The best (and only English — speaking guide at Ado Awaye is @iamatabo. You’re in great company with him. Grab your good friends along for a yummy hiking adventure and explore one of the hidden gems of Nigeria’s West.
- Time. Don’t rush this mountain. You’ll want to soak it all in.
TVP Adventures now organizes group tours to Oke Ado Awaye and surrounding tourist destinations. You can also book a group tour or a custom travel itinerary with TVP Adventures (@TVPAdventures). Follow ‘Funmi’s discoveries, travel stories and guides on Instagram — (@funmioyatogun). ‘Funmi is available for writing or travel expo opportunities.