Tag Archive | "Nigeria Tourist sites"

Idanre Hills: a natural wonder in Nigeria

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.

Posted in Nigerian News, TourismComments (0)

Sukur Kingdom: The forgotten treasure

written by Obinna Emelike

If you are looking for magnificent scenery such as those that can only be imagined or seen on travel magazines or wildlife populated by rare species, a rich avifauna, a fascinating botany and most importantly, a real physical challenge against nature, Sukur Kingdom may be just what you are looking for.

Stuck far away atop one of the highest plains on Mandara Mountains in Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria, the Sukur Kingdom is something to behold. It is the first Nigerian landmark to be listed on the World Heritage Sites, while Osun Osogbo Grove made the list later in 2005.

The cultural landscape with its palace, terraced fields with ritual features and villages whose unchanged settings have survived for many centuries will engaged your strong leisure spirit. These are the features that hyped and made the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to notice and granted World Heritage Status (WHS) to the site in 1999.

The site is among the over 1, 300 sites, including historic buildings, archaeological sites as well as works of “monumental sculpture or painting” have been granted WHS status across the globe.

But it is regrettable that as outstanding as the site is, it is so neglected and unvisited till date.

Despite the fact that making it into the WHS list is a tough job; the host nation is expected to file a dossier spelling out, among others, the “outstanding universal value” of the prospective site as well as a comprehensive plan of how the WHS will be managed in the event that it became one.

Also, a national legislation is usually supposed to back relevant contents of the dossier.

This year, 2011, marks 12 years since Sukur Kingdom was designated a World Heritage Site. Sadly, since over a decade now, the Nigerian delegation (which included Boni Haruna, the then Governor of Adamawa State, top federal politicians, and the Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments ‘NCMM’ technocrats) to the UNESCO conference in the Moroccan resort city of Marrakech where it was designated WHS in 1999, seem to have forgotten the promise they made and effort at improving and sustaining the WHS status of the Sukur.

Surprisingly, this Africa’s trailblazer in the “Cultural Landscape” category has not been formally launched by Nigerian authorities. The launch is necessary to usher in management, maintenance and promotions that will attract the world to visit and spend their money in the locality.

As it stands, the breathtaking landscape may not be officially commissioned in years to come as a joint management committee supposed to work towards the launch as well as other matters relating to proper maintenance of this WHS has not yet been formed. The joint management committee’s composition is supposed to include representatives of the NCMM, Adamawa State authorities, Madagali LGA council, the indigenous community, among others.

Of course, less will be achieved in the towering ambition of boosting Nigeria’s tourist arrival with more visits to this somewhat virgin locality, without constituting the joint management committee.

The worse, according to Yaji Ambu, a culture enthusiast and lawyer from Yola, is that the NCMM whose responsibility it is to care for the site is pursuing shadows. “If up till now, the generating set bought with grant sent by UNESCO to lit up the village and the site is not yet installed then when will it work,” he queries. The situation, according to him, questions what the NCMM is doing with UNESCO grants meant for the development and maintenance of Sukur.

In February 2008, a possible inauguration planned for Sukur Tourist Haven, Rugudum was aborted because of lack of political will, while again in 2009 a similar attempt was nipped at the bud because Jibrin Gada, the then minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, did not show up.

These unsuccessful attempts query the calibre, qualification and commitment of these government personnel at delivering the tourism mandate placed on their care.

It also calls for more participation of the private sector as Olubode Martins, a tourism practitioner, notes that government grip on tourism is bane of tourism development in the country. “Go and learn how South Africa churns out dollars from its World Heritage Sites. They contract out its management, promotion, maintenance to the private sector that has competence on such issues,” he discloses.

In defense of government bureaucracy that has held down the site from making marks, Joseph Eboreime, one time director general of NCMM, says that comfortable relaxation spots will have to be thrown in, and the guesthouse under construction in Sukur Kingdom by Nigeria’s NCMM’ authorities completed before this WHS could be formally opened. But since his retirement in 2009, the site is still as it was when the comments were fresh, some stakeholders in the tourism industry argue.

More also, it takes an average of two hours to climb the 3,040 feet above sea level to get atop Sukur Kingdom. The towering height and the stress of climbing call for infrastructure like lift. But no electricity yet to power any climbing facilities as the locality is yet to be electrified.

The worse hit is the Sukur community. The expected revenue from tourists that will be used to bring modernity to the kingdom is nowhere. Social infrastructure, especially electricity, is still a promise, while educational and health facilities a joke.

It is no longer images but realities of neglect everywhere in Sukur. And abandoning this site to rot, considering the trouble, the time, money and energy the country exerted in getting it enlisted into UNESCO WHS list, every hand should be on deck to get things rolling for tourists to flow in their millions.

But if the situation persists, Nigeria may not be able to push for another site to be enlisted in WHS because the country is yet to maintain the two already existing sites.


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