You know you are in Idanre when you see the hills kissing the cloud. The town is beautiful and serene. The locals going about their businesses, like the goats and chickens we saw at every turn.
I left Lagos without an idea of what to expect from Idanre Hills. I chose not to read reviews online because it has a way of limiting your imaginations and experiences. The only info I had was from a ‘fake news‘ friend who told me it takes about 6000 steps to get to the top. It takes 682 steps.
We arrived Idanre at midday.
For the first 200 steps, I was trying to be badass, you know, taking two steps at a time. I underestimated how steepy the hills were and ignored the first two resting points… As per Yinka is gallant.
By the time I got to the third resting point, I was out of breath. All I could do was to relax and observe the environment. At this point, I was neither up nor down. I could see the calm of Idanre town and could also see how the clouds embraced the hills.
The resting points are artsy. The craftsmen played with materials like wood, palm fronds, concrete etc. It is beautiful. Amidst my thoughts, I remembered I had to catch up with the rest of the team.
682 steps later, I was relieved. I had managed to reach the top. It felt like I dropped my worries with every step I took. At the top, there were several hills, all surrounded by clouds. I sat on the edge, closed my eyes and absorbed the air. It was positive. I felt like I could stay there forever.
I took photos, lots of them to remind myself of the calm.
Atop the hill, is an abandoned settlement, Oke Idanre. We passed through bushes and slippery paths to get to the central area of the settlement. Located on Oke Idanre is a primary school, a courtyard, and a prison built by a Christian missionary team led by Rev. Gilbert Carter. There is also an ancient palace, the mysterious Arun river and a mausoleum where all the past oba’s of Oke Idanre were buried.
According to our guide, the old town of Oke Idanre existed way before colonialism in Nigeria. They did everything on the hill, they farmed, drank water from the mysterious river, and had pretty much everything going well for them. But felt they were lagging in civilization so they decided to move down the hill in 1928[errr not so sure] to access civilization.
I honestly do not understand why they had to come down. To access civilization? What civilization? It already came to them. They lived on the hill when a primary school, customary court, prison yard was built for them, by missionaries.
More would have come. Things would have worked for them. Maybe adventurers would have been paying a lot to spend the night like a local on Oke Idanre. Just like the Somba villages in Togo.
I digress, there is another story, one that has to do with the war against the Idanre people. A war that went on for so long that it prompted the people of Idanre to seek refuge on the hill. They didn’t come down the hill till a treaty was signed. That explains the Dagunro spot, which means “Stop The War.” The spot where the treaty was signed [No photos].
We didn’t get to see the Ark of Noah and The unreadable letters of the flood and no one bothered to ask the guide. We were tired and hungry.
After over two hours of hiking, we descended the hill. Like the ancient Idanre people did… But this time we came for the pounded yam. The food everyone had been thinking of.
The pounded yam came with a package, Ogufe [goat meat]. It felt weird at first because about six goats walked by when I was about to eat. I wondered if they were judging me, us for eating them. I waited for them to go away, then I dived into my meal.
Like all the hiking sites I have been to in Nigeria, they said no one has ever fallen off the hill. Did I mention I fell? Well, I did… when we were hiking through a slippery path. If this counts as falling off then, I may have been the first person in history to fall in Oke Idanre.
Moving on, what’s your hiking tale in Nigeria?
This trip was organised by Irin Ajo.