Omu Resort (Lagos), Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove (Osun), Idanre Hills (Ondo)
With the four-day weekend early this month (October 4 to 7) a great opportunity for a road trip presented itself, and so road tripping we went.
We started off on October 4 with a visit to Omu Resort in Bogije Town, off Lekki-Epe Expressway. The resort is a couple of minutes after Ajah. If you’re visiting Omu Resort for the first time, keep your eyes peeled. The resort has a small easy-to-miss sign at the junction where you’re supposed to turn off from Lekki-Epe Expressway, and if you’re not careful you will miss it, like we did.
Looking at Omu Resort from the outside you might think for a moment that you’re in the wrong place. Within the compound are two large rectangular buildings, painted grey, that made me think of a warehouse or some other kind of storage facility. The expansive compound sits by the water, but I was disappointed to find that the resort makes no use of the waterfront – there’s just tall grass covering the shoreline and blocking the view.
Our tickets cost N3,600 per person – a discounted price because there were ten of us. Platinum tickets, which we got, cost N5,000 per person (without the discount) and allow access to all the attractions. The Gold ticket is cheaper at N3,000, but does not allow access to everything.
Omu Resort has a zoo, a Go-Kart course, quad bikes, small pitches for football and volleyball, a Seaworld with aquatic life, a few amusement park rides, an archery point, indoor games like snooker, and a mini golf course. The zoo was quite exciting, with an impressive variety of animals – a (lonely) lion, a (friendly) hyena, baboons, ostriches, emus, geese, a crocodile, tortoises, jackals, peacocks, and a donkey that is allowed to roam the compound freely.
Their lion is (not ironically) named Simba, and our guide described how he’s fed. Every day the resort gets a live goat which the zookeeper releases into Simba’s den through a latch, and then Simba ‘hunts’ the goat. On our way out we saw the unfortunate goat that was to be Simba’s lunch that day. It was quite young and I felt sorry for it.
Zoos leave me with mixed feelings. I enjoy seeing the animals, but I also wonder what they do all day, worry that they get bored with their caged lives.
Omu Resort does not have a restaurant on site, so you will have to call (probably days) ahead and order your food. This is the only way of getting food at the resort besides bringing your own, which you are allowed to do. You might be able to get snacks like biscuits and popcorn at the resort, but not much else. Omu Resort also does not have provision for lodging, so you’ll have to make it a day trip.
We said goodbye to Omu Resort at about 3 pm and headed to Osun, where we would be spending the night at MicCom Golf Hotel and Resort in Ada. We got into Osun early in the evening, but getting to Ada took much longer than we had anticipated. As we weren’t exactly sure where we were going we had to navigate using a combination of smartphone maps (which our driver did not trust) and the good old stop-and-ask. We reached MicCom Golf Resort at about 9:45 pm.
We paid for our reserved rooms, collected our keys and were ushered out of the main building and toward a rectangular block that reminded me of the hostels at my old secondary school. As we stepped through the entrance to this block I noticed a sign on the wall that said ‘Hotel Annex’. I did not like the sound of this. We later learnt that this block contained the hotel’s older rooms.
I’m reluctant to badmouth MicCom Golf Resort. To be fair, we did go for the cheapest option available – the ‘Studio Room’, which cost N5,980 per night. Prices for other rooms range from N6,670 (Double Room) to N34, 500 (Royal Suite).
So we took the cheapest rooms; still, I don’t think it’s unfair to expect a few basics from a place like MicCom – working water heaters for hot showers (none of our rooms had this), and 24-hour electricity (apparently the hotel needs to reach a certain percentage of occupancy before they can run the generators through the night). The good thing was that PHCN electricity was pretty stable the whole night.
I enjoyed the food at MicCom, at least. Their rice and efo riro was a delight and cost N1,500. Food prices at the resort range from around N1,000 to N2,000 per plate.
With sunrise the next day we were able to appreciate the resort’s well-kept grounds – acres of green spread over a rolling landscape, with trees dotting the space. The bright sunlight, the brilliant blue of the sky and the people out playing golf made for a very pretty picture.
We found the swimming pool, and a lawn tennis court right beside it. The pool was unimpressive and the water did not look as clean as it should have. There was a pale little frog chilling on the pool’s wall, like it was sunning itself after a leisurely dip and had as much right to be there as any human.
We left MicCom early on Sunday afternoon and decided to make a quick stop at the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove just outside Osogbo. The Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove is set on forestland along the banks of River Osun. The quiet road leading to the gates is surrounded by trees and vegetation, and several small black and white monkeys appeared on tree branches and the roadside to stare at our bus. Something about the place made me want to talk in whispers and walk on my toes, to cause as little disruption as possible.
The Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005 and is the venue of the yearly Osun Osogbo Festival that takes place in August.
At the gate we paid N100 each to get in. The attendant said it would cost an additional N2,000 for every camera we wanted to take in. We ended up paying N3,000 for three cameras.
Past the gates and all the way to the shrine you will see many surreal sculptures.
There’s an old suspension bridge that takes you across a part of the river. The bridge is a tad unsteady so we did not attempt to cross it.
We said goodbye to the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and set off for Akure, where we would visit our main destination, Idanre Hills. The plan was to get into Akure by evening, spend the night at Royal Birds Hotels, Agbalaka, visit Idanre Hills early on Monday and then head back to Lagos.
Just outside of Akure our bus broke down, and so we had to split up, find transportation and make our way to the hotel in two separate groups. It did not help that it started to rain, and that the second taxi my group took broke down a short distance from the hotel!
We all eventually made it to Royal Birds and it was pretty amazing. Our rooms were large and spacious, and we had a charming view from our balconies. Plus the showers ran hot water and we had electricity and a good internet connection. Our rooms cost N9,000 each, the hotel’s least expensive. I did not get to see much of the hotel’s food menu, but their peppersoup was good and came at a reasonable price – N750 to N800 per plate. Breakfast was complimentary for one occupant per room.
We left Royal Birds for Idanre around noon the next day. Idanre is just about an hour’s drive from Akure. We had to stop and ask for directions a few times, but we made it there okay. The site was officially closed to tourists the day we visited – apparently the town was preparing for a festival and there were rehearsals going on within the compound. But, thankfully, we were able to convince the attendants to let us go in.
We paid the entry fee (N500 per person) and were assigned a guide who advised us to buy drinks from the sellers at the base of the hill. He assured us that we would need the drinks for the climb, and he was right.
About 660 steps take you to the tourist summit of the hill. According to our guide, the main summit cannot be reached in one day. There are four rest stops along the stairway to the top, so you can take a break and catch your breath if you get tired.
There’s also a small lodge at the tourist summit where I think people can spend the night. It doesn’t look too inviting from the outside, though, and it did not look inhabited at the time.
Climbing Idanre Hill was relatively easy as a result of the stairway – 660 stairs seemed like child’s play compared to our Erin Ijesha experience. The views were amazing. You don’t even have to reach the summit to start enjoying them; just look behind you as you go up.
We reached the tourist summit and the town lay sprawled beneath us, a perfect picture.
Our guide took us to see some of the attractions at the tourist summit – the old primary school building, which was in use from 1896 to 1928, the old court, and the old prison built in 1906.
According to our guide, it’s forbidden to step on it. He said the ‘ancient crown’ landed on this spot when Oduduwa descended, and that at the coronation of every new king sacrifices are made there (or something like that).
There’s also an ancient palace, but we didn’t get to see this as we were running quite late. It was time to leave for Lagos after what was, for me, a long weekend very well spent.
Photo credit: Yellow Mitsubishi
About the author: Uche Okonkwo has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. She is a freelance writer and editor with years of publishing experience, and she blogs at www.yourstruly-uche.blogspot.com. She is also the winner of the 2013 Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize. Uche lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.