By Franklyne Ikediasor
An Islamic holiday was coming up; one of those that stretched into the weekend giving you nearly five days without work, so my goons and I decided to take a short holiday during the period to some local place. We tried IITA Ibadan and we were told they were fully booked for the holiday; we also called the Half-Moon resort in Osun state and learnt a wedding party had the entire place on lockdown. After a few weeks of calling different resorts, reading reviews online and cancelling we eventually decided on the Ikogosi warm springs resort in Ikogosi-Ekiti in Ekiti state. I had learnt about the warm spring in high school geography but now we discovered the state government had built a resort next to the spring, so we made a decision to visit the place.
We called Ola my usual “take me to the airport” cab man who incidentally is from Ekiti state and told him about our plans and after much bargaining and arguing he agreed to take us to and fro plus all our sightseeing for about three hundred and fifty dollars which we agreed was a good deal because reviews we read online already hinted that getting a cab out of the resort is a herculean task, so having your own vehicle is very important.
We set off on a Thursday morning; four of us in Ola’s Toyota with a lot of food packed and plenty music to enjoy the ride. What was supposed to be around a 6 hour journey ended up taking up to 8 hours because we kept stopping Ola to take pictures of rock formations and things we generally found interesting and honestly he was really patient with us; and if you are Nigerian like me you know that patience and Nigerian cab drivers don’t mix very well.
We eventually arrived at the breathtaking Ikogosi resort by evening and we marveled at the sheer beauty of the place. It was stunning with a very beautiful landscape spreading out before us. I was very glad we decided to take the trip. The first bummer was that there was no working internet and my etisalat had very poor reception but I was determined to enjoy the holiday internet or not. Now the rooms started at around 50 dollars for a beautiful cottage of two adjoining rooms with an opportunity for a five percent discount. One of my travelling companions Anita ever the Igbo girl that she is managed to snag us a five percent discount as well as complimentary breakfast and the hotel staff reluctantly agreed.
As soon as we got settled in our rooms we took off to the spring to see what it was like and it turned out to be magical. Cold water flowed from one end and warm water flowed from another end and they eventually met at a particular point; it is indeed something everybody should experience.
After that we went straight to the pool area to see what it is like; the pool is fed directly from the warm spring. So you have this large pool full of warm water from the spring that is untreated with chlorine; amazing right? No pain in your eyes from the fumes of chlorine. The resort staff should however pay more attention to keeping the surface of the pool very free of debris.
After a good swim we retired for dinner and I must say that the food is not great. Dinner is an average of 8 dollars a plate which I must say wasn’t very good. We began to wish we took the self catering apartments so we would have made our own food, I mean at worst we make noodles at a fraction of the cost and still enjoy dinner.
The following morning, being a fitness bully that I am I dragged everybody out for a brisk 5km run amidst protests of ”come on Franklyne, who exercises on holiday?” and after our run we took a good dive in the pool which was very refreshing. We enjoyed our complimentary breakfast and our vehicle arrived just in time to take us to Oshogbo to see the Osun grove. Now the Osun grove is a UNESCO world heritage site and there was no way I would come so close to it without visiting the cradle of culture and history.
Two hours later we arrived at the Osun Grove and enjoyed its eerie majesty. First of all it costs less than a dollar to get into the groove and for a free will donation you get a tour guide, then for around five dollars you can go in with a camera. The tour guide took us round the place giving us a lecture on Yoruba cosmology which is a subject that has fascinated me for years. We saw the works done by Susan Wenger (the Adunni Olorisha) and we went to the shrine of Osun the goddess. My scared friends were very skeptical and wary of entering but I did, I even dropped an offering for the priestesses who asked me to make a wish while they prayed for me. Funny thing is that that wish has come true; coincidence? Well you tell me.
After we left the sacred groove we headed into town to visit the home of Susan Wenger, you should Google here; she was an Austrian artist who came to Ibadan Nigeria with her then husband Uli Beier. She later divorced him and after an Obatala priest cured her of a terminal illness she became a devotee and eventually rose through the ranks to become a chief priestess of Osun. We visited her home and we were received by one of her children; she had adopted kids from Oshogbo and raised them and one of her kids is the internationally known artists Nike Davies-Okundaye. Her home was breathtaking and full of culture, but sadly we were not allowed to take pictures inside the home so I have none to share with you guys. It was however refreshing to see how this woman travelled from faraway lands to become one of us, I honestly hope someone makes a biopic on her life.
We stopped for Iyan (I mean we were in Oshogbo) and headed back to our resort, however not directly.
We had found a waterfall on Google which was close to our resort; the Arinta water fall which is just about a five minute drive from the resort. It turned out to be a very beautiful sight to behold with clean water cascading down the rocks. The rock formation was however very tricky and I wasn’t properly dressed for it seeing as I wore leather slippers and my Kente’ two piece so climbing to get a good look was a bit of a struggle, but nothing was going to get in my way of course so I climbed. I really wish more people knew about these places and visited, they are truly beautiful.
Everybody woke up, respected themselves and came out for a morning run without having me going to knock on their doors (yes I am a bully like that) and after a good run and breakfast we piled into Ola’s car yet again to head to the Erin Ijesha waterfalls. I had read so much about this water fall and its seven layers and I was determined that I was going to get to the very top. So today no dulling, I rocked my Nike Max light shoes, a very short pair of shorts (don’t judge me abeg, I have nice legs lol) and I carried a waist pouch for water and off we went to conquer and brag after wards.
We arrived there before noon and bought our tickets which went for about two dollars and when we told the people at the gate that we were going to get to the top they laughed us off, which made me even more determined to have them eat their words or is it laugh now. We set out or our journey and discovered there was a stairway constructed by the state government, so we were all like “there is even a stair way? So what is the fuss all about? Mstchew” and we marched on. Alas the stair case ended after the second waterfall and that was where real the journey began.
One of my “goons’ quietly sat down on the stairs and wished us well saying she was not ready to commit suicide (lol), the rest of us marched on determined like warriors. We held onto roots, clinged on to branches and braced with stems for support; I can safely say this was the hardest thing I have had to do in my entire life (besides passing Mathematics in WAEC though). We were going from level to level, taking pictures at each waterfall (each layer has a waterfall) and I have to really thank the people that put up signs along the way, it made our journey easier albeit slightly.
I was sweating buckets and was almost ready to quit at the 6th level when we saw these little kids running past us and when we asked them they said they live in the community at the top and that they commute to and fro to school daily. My accomplices looked at ourselves and silently asked each other what was our excuse if these little kids can do it? So we continued and a good three hours after we set out we reached the top. We took pictures, inscribed our names on the rocks and yelled at the top of our voices so the entire Osun state could hear that we came and conquered lol.
The journey down wasn’t so easy, but when we got down we got into the water as there was no way I was going to visit a waterfall without getting undressed and getting wet and it was worth every bit of it.
We got to our hotel by 8pm completely exhausted and tired and everybody went straight to bed and snored the night away.
We assembled for breakfast after which we packed ourselves into the car with our luggage in tow and bid the sleepy town of Ikogosi goodbye, our hearts full of gratitude for a magical experience and our bodies recharged and ready for the craziness that the town of Port Harcourt offers. This was a great holiday, one which I will not forget in a hurry and I would highly recommend the Ikogosi Warm springs resort for anybody looking for a getaway within Nigeria.
Franklyne Ikediasor lives in Port Harcourt where he works as a Medical Representative and spends most of his spare time reading, running or riding his bike. Catch him on Instagram @that_portharcourt_boy. This story was submitted to Afro Tourism in 2016.