"The man who goes alone can start today;
But he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready"

-Henry David Thoreau

Waterfalls at Erin Ijesha and the Osun Sacred Groves

Forget what TLC says, we are definitely going to chase waterfalls but before we get ahead of ourselves let’s tell you all about from the top.

Day 1: Mysteries of the Groves

Environmental sanitation meant that we had to hit the road by 6:30am so we would be out of Lagos before the 7am curfew. Our group of travelers couldn’t possibly have full Naija blood because they all got to the meeting point on time. Some even earlier.

We were on our way and in Osun State before 12. First stop: Osun Sacred Groves. There where instructions when we got in. Don’t litter, don’t kill anything…amongst other rules. Basically the 72 hectares was nature’s sanctuary.

We got in with our local tour guide, checked in at the reception and started our tour. PS: there’s an extra charge of N2000 to take your camera along.

We strolled through the paths surrounded by trees, sculptures and intricately embellished walls. Everything was a work of art. It was impressive. We were told how the place holds so much powers and how the people of Osogbo come there to worship their different deities. We learned of the Osun-Osogbo festival held yearly to honor the river deity Osun during which a virgin carries a calabash through the Groves followed by the priestesses. The festival attracts thousands of Osun worshippers from all over the world including Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago. Okay back to our trip.

We were taken to see the shrine where the priests and priestesses worshiped. Tourists were no longer allowed inside but the view of it was like something from an Asian village. Quite charming.

We went on further and came to a bridge suspended over the Osun River. It was so serene and enchanting that we were distracted from the slight sway in the bridge and more focused on photographing it.

Our tour guide took us to see the works of art of Suzanne Wenger within the Groves and then to see her house. Who is Suzanne Wenger you ask? Only the famous Austrian lady who visited Nigeria with her husband way back when and fell in love with the Osun groves and all the spiritual entities within it and decided to make the Groves and Osogbo her home and fought to protect the now UNESCO World Heritage Site we were visiting. She was so enthralled by the art and worship that she married a local and joined various sects of deity worshippers and was revered by the people. She apparently sculpted a lot of the intricate large works of art within the Groves herself. Interesting stuff right?

Next stop: Nike Art Gallery, Osogbo. Pictures aren’t allowed sadly but believe us when we say there were so many forms of art which embodied the traditional art of the area and they were simply amazing. We were famished after we left the art gallery and stopped to grab a bite before heading on to start the Batik Workshop.

We were going to learn how to make our own batik fabric with hot wax and dye and boy were some people getting into it and activating their Picasso mode. It was good fun as well as we each sat in the cool evening drawing traditional patterns on plain cloth with melted wax. We were taught how to mix dye and how to dye fabric and melt off the wax to produce our pretty fabric.

Day 1 was over. We headed to Ile-Ife to check into our hotel, shower and meet up later by the pool for drinks and dinner. We had a good laugh over drinks retired for the night.

Day 2: Chasing Waterfalls

In true cool people fashion we saved the best for last. Today we were going to chase waterfalls regardless of what TLC says.

After breakfast, the group met at the hotel lobby. We checked out, hopped on the bus and hit the road again. We kept having a few glitches with one of the tires on the bus but nothing was stopping us. Tire swapped, we kept moving. PS: Osun roads are not the best so have a spare or two.

We drove an hour till we got to the Oluminrin Waterfalls in Erin Ijesha. As you arrive you see this wall of different patches of green in front of you-a mountain of vegetation. The photos don’t do it justice. It was simply amazing. We arrived, parked and were immediately surrounded by hawkers selling shower caps, bathroom slippers and boxers-all you needed to get wet comfortably..lol. We checked in at the reception, fees paid (N1000 per head) and extras for camera (bargain-able or just hide your cameras).

We started our hike through steps within the dense forest. Nature was in its purest form. Moss grew green and pretty on rocks, water flowed down stones and rocks making little falls here and there, the moisture laden trees and grasses were so green and alive. Butterflies floated happily around us. The sound of running water, the crackling of twigs under our feet and the distant chirping of birds created a serene ambience. It was like the setting of the movie The Avatar. It was just beautifully perfect.

And then there were the waterfalls. In the middle of what was already beautiful, there it was. A rush of water cascading down onto rocks below. Remarkable! We were click-clicking away at our camera and all excited to get close even if that meant getting wet. But that was just level one. Did we mention earlier that there were seven levels of waterfalls? Seven!! How awesome! We kept going.

The hike to level 2 was no small feat. At some point, there were no steps to lead the way so our tour guide lead the way through trees and rocks. This waterfall was so worth risking spraining an ankle for. Gosh!! It was breathtaking. The height of it and the drop to which the water fell made it so striking. We almost couldn’t take our eyes off it. It had gotten cooler too at this level and the water was even cooler still. Oh but it was sooo inviting we couldn’t resist. We all got wet and it was beautifully refreshing especially after the hike. We came prepared to enjoy the most of it and that we did. It took a while to pull everyone away from the waterfall and head back. We were too tired to make it to the third especially since we’d have to climb the same distance down as we would up. Or maybe we were just being lazy. 

It took us about 2 hours to hike up and back down the two levels (including stopping for pictures and getting showered by the waterfall). According to the tour guide, there’s a village at the top of the mountain beyond which is the 7th waterfall and it takes a whole day to get to. Maybe one day we’ll attempt this ultimate feat but it was a wrap for Day 2 of the trip. We changed and departed for Lagos. 

If you've visited and you were more fitfam than us, let us know the level you got to in the comments below. If you haven't been, you absolutely should. Get your friends, give us a shout and we’ll hook you right up. 

Safe travels :)

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