This trip is not for the faint hearted! Okay. You Ready?
We had heard all about the Ogbunike Caves and decided we just had to see it but we never “hezperred” the adventure we got into. We took a 50 minutes’ drive from Best Western Hotel in Asaba after a nice breakfast and drove across the Niger Bridge into Anambra to the caves.
We arrive and there’s nothing. Nothing but a small building and a sign saying Ogbunike Caves with instructions of Dos and Don’ts for the tour. Number 4 and 7 gave us a laugh. We met local tour guides and were charged an upkeep fee of N1000 and N1000 for the tour guide. Not sure we weren’t ripped off since none of us spoke fluent Igbo but the guide was great so it was worth it. We paid and proceeded with our tour, eager to see the caves.
The tour guide lead us through a sandy path and brings us to the beginning of a loooong flight of stairs-over 300 he said-to the entrance of the caves. Going down…no problem!! We hurried off down the flight of stairs surrounded by trees till we got to the point where we could see the entrance of the caves. One more flight down to enter. We were eager to go. But No! We couldn’t. Not yet anyway, the tour guide said. He had to do some incantations first to make it safe for us to enter. He then asked for money for him to do the incantations. We handed him a N1000 note and he starts to pace about singing. We were too busy taking pictures in the meantime. It was an impressive sight from where we stood-a large suspended opening in the earth, surrounded by trees and creepers.
We finally got the all clear to come down into the cave. It was large and cool. It was open only on the entrance side which was its only source of light but everywhere else was earth and dark with different dark openings in the earth. We had been asked if we had torchlights for the tour when we arrived but we thought nothing of it. We had flashlights on our phones anyway so if we needed them we’d be okay. And yes we needed them. Remember the dark openings in the earth we mentioned earlier? That was our passageway to explore the caves. We thought the entrance area had to be it or there was some other place to see. No! We were going into the dark tunnels. Before much was said our tour guide had slipped off into what looked like the smallest hole. He hurried us to come in before we had time to hesitate and make better judgement.
It was small-a really small, dark, pitch black dark tunnel. It was so small we had to walk crouched and nearly crawl in certain areas. The floor was sandy and we could only see a little way ahead with the flashlight from our phones. Some of us got a claustrophobic panic and wanted to head back but when the tour guide said we could get lost if we separated, we all decided to brave it and keep going.
We walked crouched for a while before we got to a large opening in the caves where we could finally stand and before we could sigh in relief from being out of the confined space of the tunnel, we heard them even before we could see them. A colony of bats! The tour guide then said we were in the dining room of the bats. Why couldn’t he have said this before we got in? You know when they say “the bat cave” you don’t really think it through when you decide to visit a cave.
The bats were everywhere but they just went about their business so after a moment of internal freaking out we proceeded. It really was quite remarkable when we settled our fears and explored the caves. There were so many tunnels. The tour guide was right, you could get lost. Different rock formations hanging from the cave ceiling and the coming up from the floors created a maze in what was an extensive area of a hole in the earth.
We walked through water in some parts of the cave. That’s probably one of the reasons they said no shoes in the caves. We were going to explore a bit more of the caves when the tour guide mentioned something about taking us to see the oldest tortoise and some area with the word “python” in its name. Oh no! Not in the dark caves with tunnels you can’t stand in. No No! We asked for the quickest way out. The tour guide navigated us out of the caves to the edge of a rock which had no path across, so back into the cave we went to clamber up through it and out through a narrow hole in the earth.
Sunlight! Air! We were finally out. Whoop! Mama we made it! Lol. We were sweaty and tired from all the activity but we had to see the Ogba River and wash off some of the dirt we’d gotten from crawling and climbing all over the place. We hiked back to the entry point of the cave and then further on through the woods to the Ogba River. Again, another incantation was needed. We were positive they were just using this to get money from us but it was all part of the fun. He barely did anything this time though and told us we could proceed to take pictures and get in the river.
The river was quaint with a wind running stream and a small waterfall perfectly perched in the woods. The water was cool and refreshing to soak our tired feet in. We got the mud off our legs, enjoyed the scenery, took a ton of pictures and finally called it a day. But wait, the stairs. We had to go up over 300 steps!! We definitely got our work out for the month and the sunset on the drive back brought a soothing end to an adventurous day.