When most people speak of Erin Ijesha, they speak of the amazing waterfalls that have placed this small town in Osun state on the tourism map. The destination is actually called Olumirin Waterfalls in a town called Erin Ijesha. Famed for its seven layers of falls, most people visit to explore the first three falls, take in the beauty and splash away in a crisp and clear pool. However, the full experience at Erin Ijesha comes with a hike all the way to the source of the falls (the seventh level). The seventh layer is not a waterfall, but a stream that feeds the falls.
I have hiked this mountain several times and each time, there’s a new experience that reminds me of how much beauty we have in Nigeria. If you are up for the full experience, I recommend that you set out to Erin Ijesha early, allow five hours to make the round trip hike of the mountain and then soak yourself under the second level falls on your way down. This will be one of the most refreshing showers you’ll ever have.
What’s the hype about this mountain?
Like any natural formation, Olumirin Waterfalls comes with its own historical and cultural legend. When it was discovered by a brave hunter centuries ago, the falls became a source of water to the surrounding communities as well as a place of healing.
Nigeria is beautiful and one of the best places to observe this beauty is from the hilltop. There is a small community resident on the mountain. They mostly farm for subsistence and petty trading. The hike up the mountain goes through their farms where they grow everything from cassava to pineapples to palm to calabash to moin moin leaves and kola nuts. I have found that it is often a learning experience for everyone to see how some of our most popular staples grow.
Once, I stumbled on two hunters shooting down a snake from a tree for food. Another time, we learned more about how kola nut is grown as a group of women were harvesting their crops. This time, we witnessed a prayer band complete with bells, whistles and bottles of water, waging war mid-way up the mountain. The community is incredibly warm and welcoming. They allow us take photos in front of their homes and with their crops, when we politely ask. They even offer us corn and palm kernels to taste. It is courteous to share a token with them for this kindness.
How to get there.
From Lagos, it takes about 4 hours to drive to the mountain through Ibadan and Ife. It is best to combine a visit to Erin Ijesha Waterfalls with one or more of the following: Ikogosi Warmsprings, Idanre Hills and Osun Osogbo – Grove. Of course, you’ll need multiple days depending on how many other attractions you plan to visit. In my case, I often combine the Falls with Ikogosi Warmsprings, Idanre Hills and some landmarks in Ile-Ife, over a three-day period.
How long does it take to climb?
The full climb takes between 4 and 5 hours in total. Of course, this can be slightly shorter if you have a very fast pace or longer if you have a much slower pace. When we climbed, we took our time to soak up the views as we went along. We also spent some time taking photos of the magnificent forested hills. Then, we rested and played in the stream at the top for about 30 minutes. Most people can do this hike, even if you’ve never hikes before. As long as you are physically able tp push yourself, you’ll make it.
What’s the terrain like?
This climb is actually not too difficult, but it could be a stretch for those who’ve never hiked before. Nonetheless, everyone who went in our group made it to the top with adequate breaks, boosts and water. Initially, there are very steep steps cascading beside the waterfalls. When the steps end around the third waterfall, there are steep rocks which require hands and feet (or sticks) to climb through. The steep portion could seem endless and tiring but it doesn’t go for too long. After that, there is a grassy portion of the rock which also doubles as a great resting point and lookout over the hills. Then, majority of the climb is a leveled leisurely walk through the forest all the way to the top.
How much does it cost?
The entry fee to Erin Ijesha is 500 Naira per person and cameras cost 1,000 Naira each. If you would like to hike the entire mountain, you will need to pay a guide (per group size) to lead you to the seventh level and back. If you do not come with a camera, there are also camera men handy to photography your experience at a fee. Majority of the expenses for this trip will come from a car or bus hire, accommodation and feeding.
What to Bring:
- Water: 3 or 4 bottles per person, you’ll need all the hydration you can get.
- Face towel: A face towel is ideal to absorb all the sweat while you climb.
- Shoes with a firm grip: There is a stretch during the climb that is quite steep and in the rainy season, could be very slippery. It is important to have good hiking boots or regular running shoes with a firm grip.
- Snacks: I recommend Minimie Chinchin, So Yummy Popcorn, Trail Mix, Assorted Nuts, Cookies, Ribena and Lucozade Boost.
- Packed lunch: Don’t forget to pack delicious lunches to eat on your way back to your hotel or home.
- 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: For those who would like to protect their hair, shower caps are on sale at the entrance to the site. Also, you can buy bathroom slippers for the falls.
- Great company: Enough said!
- Time. Don’t rush this mountain. You’ll want to soak it all in.
Erin Ijesha will have you feeling well worked out and fulfilled!
TVP Adventures organizes group tours to Erin Ijesha Waterfalls and surrounding tourist destinations as part of Best of the West package. 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.