Ekiti is a beautiful state, with a stunning landscape and views that had me wide-eyed and stretching my neck taut. We drove through some amazingly picturesque villages and towns – Ikeji-Ile and Ogotun-Ekiti were two that stood out for me – that had me thinking it might not be such a bad idea to move from mad Lagos and live there. There was something very clean and wholesome and unspoiled about these places. Also to my delight, many of the roads we took in these parts, off the major highway, were built to be as unobtrusive as possible. The asphalt seems to cling to the rolling landscape like a desperate lover, with valleys and dips and bends and curves that will steal your breath and make your stomach drop. It was like riding nature’s roller coaster.
We arrived at Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort from Lagos at about 2 pm, and I found it way better than I’d expected: neat, well-tended lawns, buildings that looked freshly painted, newly tarred or very well-maintained roads, outdoor tennis and volleyball courts, something that looked like a small outdoor amphitheatre, a wooden boardwalk leading to the warm springs and a swimming pool which, along with the restaurant, is open 24 hours every day. There is also a palm wine shack that is open for a few hours a day.
What I found really great about the resort is that it’s just right there in the midst of forest land, like some kind of oasis. This means it’s really quiet, with none of the noises most city dwellers have to live with every day. (Although someone had the brilliant idea to shatter this serenity for a few hours that afternoon, on our first day there, by playing loud Naija music on the resort’s outdoor public address system.)
I found the resort staff rather nice, no complaints there. The restaurant looked clean, and the food was good and reasonably priced, with meals costing between ₦800 and ₦1,800 on average. Our rooms, which were standard and housed a maximum of two guests, cost ₦12,500 per night and were quite comfortable. On the downside, the resort’s wi-fi was quite poor, virtually unusable.
We checked into our rooms and later met at the restaurant for lunch, where a couple of my friends shared the story of The Immortal Fish, as told to them by a local. Apparently, there’s a species of fish – in some stream in Ekiti somewhere, or so I presume – that cannot die. According to the story, even if it’s caught and killed, throw it back in the water it came from and it will come back to life. Also, said the fish cannot be cooked because however long you cook it, it never gets done. I think, basically, whatever you do to this fish, if you put it back in the water it came from its life will be restored. Feel free to make of that what you will.
Fifteen to twenty minutes from the Ikogosi Resort is a village called Ipole Iloro Ekiti, and here lies Arinta Waterfalls. It costs about ₦200 per person to get in, and we got a guide to lead us up the path to the falls, which was slippery in places.
Back at the Ikogosi Resort, we ventured down the wooden boardwalk leading to the springs, and at the end, we came upon the meeting point of the warm and cold waters. The remarkable thing about the springs is that you can stand with one foot in warm water and the other in refrigerator-cold water, and they don’t mix!
After dark, a few of us came out to try the pool. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the water was warm, channeled into the pool from the warm springs. I had what was possibly one of my best swimming experiences that evening if you leave out the insects that came swimming with us, drawn by the pool lights only to get stuck on the surface of the water. It’s like taking a swim out in the forest, your view of the night sky framed by a canopy of trees.
The next morning we headed back to Lagos, but not before visiting our last stop – Olumirin Waterfalls at Erin Ijesha, Osun State. Here, it costs ₦500 per person to get in. (There’s an additional ₦500 charge if you plan to take a camera with you.)
To get to the waterfalls you have to climb several flights of uneven stairs that weren’t built with human convenience in mind.
We discovered three levels of the waterfalls; we had no guide so we had to find our own way around. The first level of the falls was the easiest to reach, as it was right at the end of the stairs. We continued further up, though, and we found the second level. A couple of us decided to keep climbing to get to the summit of the rock, the seventh level. The path – if you can even call it that – is slippery and steep in many places, and we had to hold on to rocks and tree branches and such, first testing their hold before entrusting them with our weight. I found it quite a daunting climb, but we reached the seventh level, and the view was worth it.
After resting for a while we started back down, which in some ways was more difficult than climbing up. On our way we took a detour and found the third and (I think) the highest point of the waterfalls. At this point I was so thirsty that the water looked almost good enough to drink.
We continued our descent, and when we reached the bottom of the stairs we besieged the waiting cold drinks, snacks and fruit sellers, who were only too happy to oblige us. Then it was time to leave for Lagos.
The Ikogosi Warm Springs Resort deserves more publicity than it’s getting. It’s a lovely, serene place, ideal for getting away from the noise and hassle of cities. And it’s worth the trip just to swim at night in that pool of water from the warm springs. Arinta and Erin Ijesha Waterfalls are quite small as waterfalls go; still, it was great to have seen them. With Erin Ijesha Waterfall, the more adventurous visitor can choose to climb up the hills and rocks to the seventh level; you’ll feel like you’re on Ultimate Search or something. Oh, and when you go to Ikogosi, be sure to ask about The Immortal Fish.
All photos courtesy of Yellow Mitsubishi.