When it comes to dates, I am not one to kiss and tell but I’ll make an exception, just this one time. Yes, I went on my 4th
date tour with Unravelling Nigeria. Honestly, at this point, I think I should stop counting.
But yeah, Nigeria celebrated her 57th birthday on the 1st of October, graciously giving us a 3-day weekend to sober up and reflect on the state of our country at 57 or gallivant around. Since everyday is basically sober reflection day, I chose to gallivant! So when Unravelling Nigeria asked me out on a date to explore some parts of Kwara state, I could not refuse. Technically, they asked everybody out but let’s just go with flow here, okay?
Like every datée, I counted down days to the trip and when it finally came, I could barely contain my excitement. As soon as I arrived at the takeoff point, I was given a welcome pack. This included a Jansport backpack and several branded items like an ankara satchel, hiking shorts and a throw pillow. (The throw pillow was so handy during this trip). My bag also contained ginger to help me combat my motion sickness.
After waiting for a while for an unraveller to show up, we finally began our trip to Kwara state. We arrived at our hotel after a pretty long but comfortable drive and got checked into our rooms. By some stroke of luck, I had my room to myself, which also meant that I had the TV to myself. Pride and Prejudice – one of my all time favorite movies was showing when I got in and I refused to leave my room until it ended.
The next day, we set out to explore our first major stop of the trip – Oowu Falls. Because we got up to quite a lot of things for a 3-day period, I’ll be writing about this trip in a two-posts series and here’s an overview of day one.
Day One: Oowu Falls, Oba’s Palace, University of Ilorin Zoological Garden
After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we hopped on the bus and drove about two hours to where our hike would begin. The entire hike to the fall from the starting point is 10km (each way). Honestly, after reading this article about the benefits of hiking, I was feeling very pumped up to do the entire stretch. I was like 20km? Small thing! But then we decided to do 4km instead to save time and I could have sworn it was 1000km! Clearly, I am very much out of shape!
The sound of the waterfall as we got closer brought a much needed respite from the hike and when we got even closer, I was blown away! Like literally. The force of the fall swept my hair in all directions. Even from a distance, the water began to drench us. I have been to a few waterfalls in Nigeria, this one, yet so simple, seems to be the most spectacular.
After spending some time here, we walked another 2km back to the bus. Then we visited the Oba’s palace. There, we got an exciting oral account of the history of Oowu waterfall. The representative of the community also spoke to us about the lack of government interest in developing this place as a tourist attraction. It was very disheartening to hear, even more so on our Independence day.
I feel hope slipping away each time a conversation such as this is brought up again. But regardless of the doom and gloom, we had a lovely time here.
We got back into the bus and went to our final stop of the day. The University of Ilorin Zoological Garden. This was a surprise stop on this trip as it was not listed in our itinerary and what a pleasant surprise it was! By Nigerian standards, this zoo was well kept. Although, I think some animals, especially the birds they locked up in tiny cages could be treated better.
When I say birds, I mean hawks and an eagle! They put an eagle in a cage barley large enough for it to even stretch its wings. I felt so sad for the poor bird.
The zoo also has a canopy walkway – which was a bit scary looking but not as scary as the one at the Lekki Conservation Center. And it has a bypass too – which is great for people who don’t want to do the entire thing.
After our time at the zoo, we ended the day with a late lunch/dinner at ‘Iya Yusuf’ restaurant. Everyone went traditional. We didn’t come all the way to Ilorin to eat rice! The food was great, the company was even better. We rounded off day one tired but excited for a day well spent in Kwara state.
Have you ever been to Kwara? What was your experience like? And if you haven’t, does this sound like your next vacation? haha!