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Friday, May 23, 2014

ROAD TRIPPING WITH YELLOW MITSUBISHI

#1: Badagry, Lagos and Olumo Rock, Ogun State

One weekend in March, I and seven other friends took a road trip from Lagos to Badagry, and then on to Olumo Rock in Abeokuta, Ogun State. We started our journey from Surulere late, at about 1.30 pm, and reached Badagry some minutes past three. First stop was the Badagry Heritage Museum, where our guide, Mr. Michael, showed us around and took us on a boat (a canoe with an engine fitted behind it) across the lagoon, so we could walk The Path of No Return.

No going back

Badagry has a number of slave museums, as it was a major slave port in Nigeria at the time. Also in Badagry is Nigeria’s first storey building, which is still standing. 

The route we were walking, according to our guide, was the same one captured slaves were taken through after they crossed the lagoon from mainland Badagry. On the path to the beach there’s a well, which I think is called the Spirit Well. It is said that water from this well was force-fed to wilful captives to subdue them. Make of that what you will. 

At the end of the path lies the Atlantic.  

The Atlantic

Found this abandoned candlestick and footprint and got inspired to take feet selfies

Visiting the Badagry Heritage Museum cost us N500 per head, and the lagoon crossing N1,000 per head.

Sunset on the lagoon

After the lagoon crossing, we headed to Whispering Palms, where we were staying for the night. We’d underestimated the distance between the beach and Whispering Palms, and we ended up spending well over an hour getting there. It did not help that the road to the resort was badly potholed and unpaved in places, and darkness was falling quickly. But we made it there in one piece, all eight weary travellers and our driver, Mr. Segun. After haggling for several minutes with Stephanie, the good-natured receptionist we met at Whispering Palms, she was able to give us a discount everyone was happy with.

Whispering Palms has nice large rooms, an expansive compound with tennis courts and other facilities, and some caged animals – I spotted a donkey or two, monkeys. The staff we came across were good to us. One thing, though: if you’re going to order food be prepared for a long wait. I’m not sure why; maybe they make the food as people order.

At about 11 am the next morning we left for Olumo Rock. On our way we agreed on a name for our travel group: Yellow Mitsubishi, in honour of the little yellow bus we were travelling in. We probably won’t use the same bus again – our muscles ached for days after the journey – but I suppose it holds a special place in our hearts for being our very first carrier.

Olumo rock was spectacular. 

View from the gates

Olumo Rock... best seen in person

We saw a few traditional shrines and gravestones in the rocks, learnt from the museum guide that there still existed people who lived and worshipped amidst the rocks, though we did not get to see any of them. We got to see the inside of one of the rooms that the Egba people lived in while inter-tribal wars raged.

The guide and the grave

Looks like a shrine

Then, of course, we climbed the rock. And here’s a handy tip: if you ever visit Olumo and want to get to the top of the rock, don’t take the boring stairs or elevator (unless maybe if there are kids or the elderly or infirm in your party). Ask to be taken via the ‘Ancient Route’ so you can get an authentic (or as close to it as possible) experience. There were treacherous bits, and some parts where it looked like one might fall, but nobody did. Our guide assured us that no one has ever fallen from Olumo. 

(And this shouldn’t need saying, but if you’re going to climb a rock you should wear comfortable shoes.) 

Going up

View from above

Abeokuta
Happy troopers

Going down, we used the much easier stairs, but we all agreed the Ancient Route was better.

We got back to Lagos in one piece, tired and achy, but happy we’d gone.

What did I learn from this experience? For one, that Nigeria has so much more to offer than I imagined. This wasn’t my first time visiting Badagry, and again I came away feeling like this quiet town should be so much more than it is. Why isn’t it a vibrant, thriving tourist destination instead of the relic it looks like? Olumo Rock seemed better taken care of, like there’s been a deliberate drive to attract visitors. But it could be much better. They could start with something as simple as clean, functional toilets.

For me it’s a worthwhile thing, visiting the places I can in my country, seeing and experiencing these things which, ideally, should not be new to me.

Next trip, Ikogosi Warm Springs in Ekiti State, and then on to Erin Ijesha Waterfalls in Osun State. 

Note: I don't remember how much it cost to get into Olumo (sorry), but it was not a lot; about N1,000 or so per person. It's slightly cheaper for students and NYSC members (with ID), and slightly more expensive if you need parking.

10 comments:

  1. Hmmm.
    Madam world traveller. Hope to be like you when I grow younger o

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  2. Awesome Scenery. Really sixth-sense-lifting. Constrasting with the melancholic understory. Great!

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  3. How am I just seeing this???
    You totally recounted it as I would have. I like it!

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    1. Great. Glad you like it. I plan to do the same for our subsequent trips.

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  4. Great post. Good to see Nigerians taking pride in our tourism. I should plan to visit one of the two on my next trip back home. How long was the journey from Badagry to Abeokuta? How much was the Olumo rock tour?

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    1. Thanks Damola.

      I wasn't too mindful of the time, but I'm guessing we spent maybe two or three hours from Badagry to Abeokuta. I can't say the cost either because we paid as a group. But it shouldn't be more than one thousand naira per person, maybe less.

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  5. It made a beautiful read. Well done Uche.

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