Are you looking for a serene space where you can be in touch with nature and take beautiful pictures? If yes, then Oyo state has a treasure for you – the mysterious suspended Iyake Lake of Ado Awaye. I love this place so much that I have been there five times, and will not stop visiting anytime I can.
There is something about the environment – the thrill of hiking, the general calmness, the cool breeze, the mountain-top view of scattered houses, and the general mysteries the whole place has. The lake is said to have spiritual significance, and there are stories woven around this. Sometimes, some stories vary, depending on the tour guide. Generally, members of the community believe that water from the lake can heal all sorts of diseases. It is not uncommon to find people (especially the locals) fetching water from the lake, which holds spiritual significance for them. I have once used the water to wash my face and even cooked with it while camping with some friends two years ago.
Also, there is the Ishagi rock, which is said to answer prayer. Almost every time I visit, there is usually a white cloth tied around the rock. According to a story, the cloth is brought by anyone whose prayer has been answered by the rock. Another story claims that the priest ties the white cloth to attract rain. Anyway, almost all natural tourist sites have interesting stories around them, and listening to these stories can be fun.
Another fascinating thing about the lake is that nobody enters the lake and makes it out. Although I cannot swim, I like water bodies (from rivers to beaches to waterfalls and so on) – I want to be able to play in them. I wish I could play in the Iyake Lake too, but it is forbidden. This may create a kind of dread in you, especially if you had dreamt about swimming in the lake. However, you are pretty much safe as long as you don’t attempt to enter the lake.
Now, if you cannot swim in the lake, what else can you do? Kindly continue reading to find out.
Special Attractions of the Lake
So what are the things you would likely see when you get to this tourist site? Aside from the Iyake lake, there are actually a number of fascinating things to see, such as:
- Oke Ishage (Ishage Rock)
Ishage Rock is a large elongated boulder of rock, standing upright on one of its small edges. It is still a mystery that this boulder has not fallen off the steep mountain side. There is a story of its being the bringer of rain for the Ado Awaye people. It is also said to answer prayers. So you may pray for your heart desire to come true when you visit this landmark.
- Esè àwon Àgbà (the footprint of the elders)
This encompasses a cluster of large “footprints” that you will see all over the mountain top. The locals claim that the gods once walked over the mountain in order to protect the locals at a time the locals were staying up the mountain. You can place your feet in them for the fun of it.
- Ìyá-Aláró Lake
There is another lake aside from the famous Iyake Lake. This other lake is called Ìyá-Aláró, named after an old woman in the Ado-Awaye village, who specialized in cloth dyes. According to legend, the old woman, known as “Iya Alaro”, worshipped the lake and sacrificed to it at various times during the year. This other lake looks greenish-dirty, unlike the Iyake Lake that looks greenish-clean. Most times, when you visit, you will only be shown Iyake Lake. However, you can ask to see Ìyá-Aláró Lake.
Agbómofúnyàké loosely translates to “the collector of children on behalf of Iyake”. This little hole is beside the Iyake Lake. The locals believe that whenever there is water in the hole, whoever puts his/her leg into the hole ends up drowning in Iyake Lake. When you get here, you will find a wooden construction over it. This is to prevent dare-devils from making any attempt to test the validity of the story.
- The Elephant Tree
There is a fallen tree with a tangled trunk that creates the shape of an elephant’s head and trunk. In fact, the eyes of the elephant are also apparent in the formation. It is a pretty fascinating sight. I usually climb it for pictures anytime I visit. You may climb the fallen tree to sit on the formed elephant’s head to pose for pictures.
- Esè kan Aiyé Esè kan Òrun
This loosely translates to one foot on earth and one foot in heaven. It is like being between earth and heaven. Basically, this is just a wide and deep chasm on the mountain separating one part of the mountain from another that hosts the peak of the mountain. Only brave hikers or mountain climbers are advised to cross this valley as it is very steep. I have been this far on the vast mountain only once when I camped close to the lake with some friends. Except you ask to be taken here, you may not get to reach this point.
What to do in Ado Awaye
If you are looking for ideas on what to on your Ado Awaye trip, let me suggest a few things:
- Go Hiking
When going to Ado Awaye, you should prepare your mind to hike. Wear good hiking shoes and hold at least a bottle of water to stay hydrated. If you are not used to hiking, you may find the over 360 steps tiring to climb and you may end up with arching thighs. However, if you love hiking, then consider hiking Ado Awaye. In fact, there have been over 5000 hikers in the last three years as the tourist site becomes more popular.
- Have a Picnic
Imagine sitting in the serene atmosphere of the mountain for a picnic? It is simply heavenly. It is a lovely scene for a picnic with the gentle breeze teasing you. Therefore, consider going on a picnic at Ado Awaye. Carry your picnic baskets alongside everything you think you in it to have a great time. The more people you go with, the more the fun.
- Try an Amala Adventure
Go on a foodie tour, especially if you are interested in the local delicacy of amala. You will have to stop on your way to Ado Awaye for a canteen to buy and eat amala. There is a canteen opposite the car park to Ado Awaye from Iseyin, where you can stop to get amala. Or you may simply ask around for a good amala spot, and the friendly locals will give you directions. With less than three hundred naira, you can buy amala, ewedu, beef, and water.
- Try Camping
You might have watched horror movies with terrible things happening to campers. This may make you afraid of camping, especially at Ado Awaye, with all its mysteries. However, you don’t need to worry about your safety. My first camp there was with some friends two years ago in December, and according to the community leader, we were the first group to camp there. I have also camped there this year with two other friends. So you can give it a shot too. Get your camping tent and go with friends to have a great time.
- Organise a Poetry Show
Yes, a group spoken word artistes can have a poetry show on the mountain. It has been done before around last year December by a poetry community called WRR, and it can be done again. Listening to sweet words in a serene natural environment can be an amazing experience.
Does it merit the growing hype around it?
What is it about this lake? First, you should know that there are only known two suspended lakes in the world. While one is in Nigeria, the other is in Glenwood Canyon, Colorado, USA. This means that by visiting this lake, you are, in a sense, making history. That means, I have made history five times, and will continue to make history.
Anyway, as a tourist interested in nature, you will likely be fascinated by this tourist attraction, and can take the most beautiful pictures here.