written by Obinna Emelike
Imagine a terrain so high that those at the bottom go about their daily living as if they are in another planet, a setting surrounded by picturesque hills that envelope the inhabitants from incursions and scorching of the sun, while visitors savour a bit of its magnificence and panoramic view from afar.
The terrain is no dreamland or imagery of sort, Idanre Hills is a breathing landscape that also provides a window to the town’s colourful history. From a few kilometres to the town centre, a first time visitor will not cease to marvel at the aesthetics, architecture and thoroughness employed by nature in the assemblage of hills of various shapes and sizes at Idanre, also called ‘Oke Idanre’ by the locals.
The evergreen landscape surrounding the hills provides fellowship with nature’s best. The peacefulness that pervades the atmosphere, the blossoming civilisation that existed on the hills, the rigours of climbing, a refreshing swim in Arun River, all make the Idanre Hills a wonderful place to visit.
If you are adventurous enough, the tallest of the hills rises about 300ft above sea level, challenges you to a climbing game. Those who successfully dare the peak are rewarded with the very rare panoramic view of the topography at bird’s eye, which is a unique fortitude for ancient residents.
However, you need a little background of the people and their protective hills to better appreciate the nature that adorn the Idanre setting. The people of Idanre had existed on the hills for at least 800 years.
Features on the hills lend proof to this assertion as they suggest that the security that the hills provided for the people of Idanre was responsible for their choice of the hills as their home.
There is actually no dull moment at Idanre.
The action starts with the Great 460 Steps. Climbing THE 460 steps to Oke Idanre is truly a physical challenge. But the six resting points will refresh you before taking you to the hill top. But after these steps, a short walk will take one to the ancient town of Idanre – with evidence of a civilisation that long was.
There are mud and concrete houses, the Owa Palace, residents for chiefs and the king’s wives, burial mounds, a cemetery, a prison yard, court rooms, a school and an incubator for prematurely born babies. The people of Idanre left the hills in 1923.
Again, ‘Omi Opaara,’ a narrow stream on one of the hills, is thrill for visitors. Myth has it that the stream gushed out when lightning struck the hills as a result of a bitter feud between two powerful chiefs. Some visitors make effort to drink from the hill water believed to have healing powers.
The excitement takes you further atop of the hills to the Arun River, a small river on the hill. It is believed that a swim in the middle of the river “will result in an eerie, fuzzy feeling.” Arun River is crystal clear and one can see crabs and a few other aquatic animals, and adjudge the water’s friendly depths.
The more adventurous can also dare the Agboogun Footprints, a more difficult track up the hill and atop the hill because it takes a lot of efforts to get these footprints.
he fact that the footprints can size visitors’ legs no matter how big or small makes the footprints magical.
Yet, a tortuous climb will further move you to a plain where you see a carving on one of the hills that looks like an ark. Due to its semblance of an ark, the carving is nicknamed Noah’s Ark.
If you visit during festivals, you will be home to one of the richest African cultural heritages.
In recent times, MARE festival, a sports/tourism initiative courtesy of Motherland Beckons have being attracting global tourists, investors and world mountain climbers converge at the foot of the hill to dare the towering height in a prized-contest.
Apart from the festivals, the flora and fauna of the hills are also unique. There, special specie of tailless animal called Hyrax will surprise you. Monkeys are also sported near Orosun hills.
The hill also serves as home to a group of bats, as the people hold a unique festival of bats every year.
You may also spot a group of scientists and field researchers, especially now that there is effort at enlisting the hill in World Heritage Site.
Why wait to visit this destination that offers visitors so much on a single visit.
The hill is located in Idanre Town in Ondo State, a 15-20 minutes drive from Akure the state capital. It is about five hours drive from Lagos and about six hours from Abuja. It is better to go on a four-wheel drive, especially during rainy season because the roads are not to smooth.