Idanre Hills- The City of Caves and Inselbergs

Post 221 of 232


Ascending the hills of Akure and looking south, one is confronted by stupefying vistas of the surrounding inselberg landscape bedecked with an enigmatic skyline of jagged peaks held in place by gigantic mountains smeared in glossy sheens of grey and silver- a cluster of intriguing inselbergs, towering high into the skies at the distant horizon. They are none but the magnificent Idanre Hills.
Idanre is an ancient town located amidst an intricate cluster of inselbergs (hills with steep sides and rounded tops) and located south of Akure, Ondo State capital. Idanre Hills, “The city of inselbergs” sprawls across a land area of about 900km2 and is well known for its repertoire of picturesque landscapes and geo-tourist attractions, as well as the famous Orosun festival- one of the major factors for its consideration for upgrading to the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

www.naijatreks.com The pictureque Orosun peak


According to history, Idanre people used to live high up on the hills, in an area which is now known as Old Oke-Idanre, a major attraction at Idanre Hills Tourist Center. This area consists of old and dilapidated mud buildings roofed in rust-brown iron sheets, set on well laid-out streets. Attesting to the architectural taste of the old Idanre people, the old magistrate court, the first primary school, the Oba’s palace and the market square hold their original place and location at Odeja Village, Old Oke-Idanre. It was recorded that the old Idanre people descended the hills and resettled at the present foothill location of Idanre town. It has also been noted that every street in the new Idanre town has a replica at the Old-Oke Idanre and every family has been allowed to retain ownership of their family houses at the Old enclave. The people are known to be very proud of their heritage in culture and history and these have never ceased to draw tourists of all ramifications to the hilltop site. However, in order to reach the hilltop village site, one will have to ascend 653 steps that leads up the hills.

Orosun festival is held annually, every May, in Idanre. It is a week-long activity during which every family in the enclave including the traditional Oba ascends the hills and lives in their family houses at the Old-Oke Idanre. Indigenes of the town travel down home from far and near to partake of the festival which is packed full of interesting activities which include cultural dances at the Old Oke Idanre, Bat-hunting expeditions to the largest and most dread and revered caves on the hills- Owa and Ojomu caves as well as spiritual cleansing of the ancient town and sacrificial offerings to Orosun- the god of the highest peak on the hills (Orosun peak).
Idanre hills hold the highest elevation in SW Nigeria- the Orosun peak which attains a height of about 3018 metres above sea level and is often seen towering into the sky with an intimidation shroud of gently floating clouds embracing it. Orosun peak is regarded as sacred and it is worshipped by the people of Idanre.

Numerous landmarks abound on the hills. The “Ark of Noah“- an ancient wooden structure made in form of a ship and placed on a relatively flat hilltop. It is often regarded by the ancient people of Idanre as the biblical Ark of Noah; and although Biblical accounts that the ark rested on the Ararat Mountains (Turkey), but this never seem to shake the beliefs of the indigenes as they readily swear by the god of iron (ogun) when a visitor expresses doubt at their claims.

Idanre Hills_Naijatrels  Idanre Town enclosed by massive inselbergs


The Wonderful Mat” is another interesting attraction at the hill tops. It consists of a unique set of cross-etchings on a rock face. Another one is “The Unreadable Letters of the Flood”, which is indigenously known as “Adìye kòwé, Òyìmbó kàátì” inscription which means ‘a white man cannot decipher a chicken’s writing’. It is composed of lines and strokes made on a steep rock at Old Oke-Idanre. The characters are there for people to behold, but no one has come up with convincing interpretations of these letters. In the words of one of the Kabiyesis, he said that through oral history handed down by his great grandfather, the writings can be interpreted thus “We shall be here for a while”; it is believed that the letters are older than Hebrew language, but still waiting to see whoever comes up with any proof.
Of high regard among the most tourist-demanded sites on the hills is the Agboogun foot print, which is described a human foot print naturally carved on a rock surface. The foot print is said to fit the size of any ones feet except that of people with witchcraft spirits. This belief has been used by the indigenes to detect “witches” in the Idanre community.
Also considered to be of great significance is the massive Ojimoba Inselberg. It is considered by the people to have spiritual powers capable of protecting the people in the time of war.
The pristine Arun River exudes from a crevice somewhere far away in the hills and winds its way down the steep and rugged slopes of the hills and its volume bulging forming picturesque rapids as various springs link up to it along its course. It is regard as of high importance in the area as it is one of the very few perennial water channels on the mountains.
Among the countless caves found on the hills, Owa, Ojomu, Omi-Iwo and Olofin caves are about the most outstanding.  Ensconced in an extremely remote area on the hills is the mystifying Owa Cave. It is often said by the people that the cave could accommodate a thousand people. This is especially unbelievable to a visiting tourist as caves of such large extents are rarely formed in granites. Only a visit had cleared such doubts as one is unavoidably held in awe of the dexterous work of nature in crafting the amphitheatre form of the cave. On entering the cave, the visitor is first greeted by the ecstatic calls of its nocturnal tenants as the gloomy recesses swallows him in. With the help of torch lights, the inner features of the cave unfold to reveal guano-coated rock boulders and a crystal-clear spring exuding from the centre of the cave. The cave also has an exit point at its distant end.


Old Oke idanre village_Naijatreks  Old Oke-Idanre

Olofin cave is another awe-inspiring cave situated at an highly inaccessible location on the hills and as a result it is rarely visited by tourists. It is said to be the burial site of Olofin, Oduduwa’s son, who was the first Oba of Old Oke-Idanre. It was also said that special spiritual rites have to be performed for the cave to be opened up for tourist visits.
Omi-Iho cave is a picturesque but smaller cave located at the base of a massive outcrop within the present foothill Idanre Town. It has a spring emanating from within it which is said to possess therapeutic powers. People travel down to Idanre to obtain water from this spring for medical purposes. The villagers reiterated that the water can also be used for healing purposes if taken at dawn (just before 6am).
The eye-catching Aghagha inselberg is another site worth seeing on the hills.

As much as the rainy season is not the best time to go visiting the hills as the route to most of the attractions becomes highly inaccessible, it might also be the appropriate time for waterfall-lovers to go exploring the hills as the hilltop waterfall constitutes an exciting attraction at Old Oke-Idanre.
Nevertheless, the tourist center is not in a good shape presently as the hilltop tourist chalets are dilapidated and facilities such as paved paths and signs leading to the attractions on the hills, detailed maps, hotels, wildlife reserve etc. are lacking at the hill tourist centre. The construction of a world-class golf resort was started off at a Alade-Idanre, a location just about 2 kilometers from the hills and from which views of the hilly landscape would have been a great advantage; nevertheless, political instability hindered the success of the project as nothing had been heard of it again since then. If the government will do something reasonable about this wonderful and promising haven of natural wonder, the economy of the state and the country at large will definitely receive a significant boost and the external image of the country will be made better.


Directions to Idanre:
Akure » Idanre

Lagos » Ibadan » Ilesha » Akure » Idanre

Abuja » Lokoja » Okenne » Owo » Akure » Idanre


Idanre Steps_Naijatreks – 653 steps leading up the hills, to the site of Old Oke-Idanre village.


– Climbing up the stairs.

Idanre Steps2_Naijatreks – Waste bin and resting point along the winding and soaring steps.

Resting point Idanre_Naijatreks
– Another resting point along the steps.

Chalets Idanre_Naijatreks

– Tourist chalets on the Hills (In need of serious refurbishment).

Chalets Idanre2_Naijatreks

Idanre6 – Charcoal graffiti at one of chalets on the hills.

Orosun festival_naijatreks.com The chief priest leading the sacrificial procession at Old-Oke Idanre during orosun festival.

Orosun festival Old oke idanre_naijatreks.com Orosun festival at Old Oke-Idanre.

 Idanre old Magistrate court_Naijatreks – Old Magistrate court at Old Oke-Idanre.


Idanre magistrate court_Naijatreks – Inside the Old Magistrate court at Old Oke-Idanre.

Old market square at Old Oke idanre_Naijatreks
– Old market square at Old Oke idanre.

Old Palace Idanre_Naijatreks
– Ancient Oba’s Palace at Old Oke-Idanre.

Wonderful mat Idanre_Naijatreks  “The Wonderful Mat” rock inscription at Old Oke-Idanre


Ifa inscription Adiye kowe_Naijatreks‘Adie kowe, oyinbo kaati’ rock inscription at Old Oke-Idanre.


Idanre Ifa Inscription Adiye kowe2_naijatreks  ‘Adie kowe oyinbo kaati’ rock inscription [close-up].


www.naijatreks.com Entrance to Owa Cave


www.naijatreks.com Inside Owa Cave. Bat Hunters taking a break.


www.naijatreks.com Entrance to Omi Iwo Cave


www.naijatreks.com Inside Omi Iwo Cave


www.naijatreks.com First Primary school in Old Oke-Idanre.


www.naijatreks.com Tourists swimming at the Idanre hilltop waterfall.


www.naijatreks.com Tourists swimming at the plunge pool of the Idanre hilltop waterfall


www.naijatreks.com The shrine of “Idi-Ajani”, the god of the ancient Oba’s Palace, Old Oke-idanre




www.naijatreks.com Arun River, Idanre Hills


www.naijatreks.com 3D Satellite image (DEM) of Idanre Hills. (1- Old Oke-Idanre; 2- Ojimoba Inselberg; 3- Orosun Peak; 4- Arun River)

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This article was written by Folarin Kolawole

Founder of Naijatreks, Nigerian-born Folarin Kolawole is a geologist, travel writer and researcher. When not at work, he travels the length and breadth of Nigeria, exploring, taking photos and writing about her numerous hidden tourist potentials.   'Naijatreks' is a product name registered under the Ntreks brand, which is also duly registered by Nigeria's Federal Corporate Affairs Commission. The contents on this blog are re-usable. However, it must be ensured that it is linked back to this blog, and correctly attributed to Naijatreks or the author. Please do not edit, rewrite or commercialize the original works on this blog without direct and written permission from the Founder (Folarin Kolawole). For inquiries and advert placement on the blog, kindly contact us at info@naijatreks.com or naijatreks@gmail.com.


wp-plugin@twitoaster.com' feeldflowJanuary 16, 2011 at 3:34 amReply

Check out photos of the City of Caves and Inselbergs http://www.naijatreks.com/2011/01/a-vent… via naijatreks.com

wp-plugin@twitoaster.com' yettyobitsJanuary 16, 2011 at 7:33 amReply

RT @feeldflow: Check out photos of the City of Caves and Inselbergs http://www.naijatreks.com/2011/01/a-vent… via naijatreks.com

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babbyplay4real@yahoo.com' ipaye abiodun A,January 21, 2011 at 10:19 amReply

we have a lot of work 2 do , in the area of development of tourism in Nigeria .

Folarin KolawoleJanuary 21, 2011 at 6:14 pmReply

@ Ipaye… yes, “to whom much is given, much is expected”.

suzan@kivuliholidays.com' SuzanJanuary 25, 2011 at 10:07 amReply

WOW! Such beauty!

bluedust68@live.com' SophiaFebruary 8, 2011 at 6:52 pmReply

Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others. I fink you you are good.

Folarin KolawoleFebruary 11, 2011 at 1:12 amReply

@ Sophia..thanks

Reaper@gmail.com' TejuFebruary 19, 2011 at 3:59 pmReply

found ur blog on google today and really liked it.. i ve bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later

nwokedi.onyinye@yahoo.ca' AdaMay 4, 2011 at 12:12 pmReply

Your blog is absolutely amazing, pity most nigerians know nothing about the beauty of their own country

Folarin KolawoleMay 5, 2011 at 3:53 pmReply

@Ada…Thanks for dropping-by and thanks for the compliments too… Yeah, that’s why we’re here to make known the wonderous potentials our dear nation is blessed with.

ruddydott2000@yahoo.co.uk' DotunSeptember 26, 2011 at 7:18 amReply

Your blog is the future of informative tourism in naija and i’m proud of it as we(A-Blazers) all are

Folarin KolawoleSeptember 29, 2011 at 1:44 pmReply

@ Dotun…thanks a lot for the encouragement…I make sure Naijatreks keeps get’s better.

Engulfed by the Rich Belly of Iho-Eleeru Cave, Ondo State | NaijatreksMay 8, 2012 at 11:21 pmReply

[…] Presently, the cave and its surroundings is still very much in a pristine state and has numerous potentials for archaeology, history and tourism if properly and creatively harnessed. Still buried within the silt sands flooring the cave are hundreds of left over potsherds, cutting tools (flints) used by ancient man who dwelt at the cave as well as congealed reddish material used as paint by prehistoric man (the Yoruba people call it “apaparobo”). Also, on one of the big rocks surrounding the cave, a long Ifa inscription is engraved which bears similarity with the one found at Old Oke-Idanre (known as “adiye kowe oyinbo kaati” inscription). […]

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rindeodeyemi@yahoo.com' Rinde OdeyemiOctober 4, 2012 at 12:08 pmReply

I’m loving this. Great beauty it really is.

NaijatreksOctober 5, 2012 at 6:26 amReply

@rindeodeyemi…yes, Idanre Hills is indeed an awesome place to be…thanks for the comment brov

dolapoapata@yahoo.com' dolrocOctober 26, 2012 at 5:41 pmReply

I love this blog. Its informative, bold, fresh and exciting. The manner of writing is interesting and lovely. The style of diction is unparalleled In fact the posts on this blog are technically sophisticated. There is hope for Nigeria and Nigerian Tourism with people like you.Thank you for your blog.

NaijatreksOctober 28, 2012 at 9:22 pmReply

@dolroc…thanks for all the plenty plenty compliments oh…we really appreciate…and don’t worry, Naijatreks won’t die..we’ll keep doing more. 🙂

dolapoapata@yahoo.com' dolrocOctober 26, 2012 at 5:43 pmReply

I am awed by the painstaking effort you put into your work. All I want to tell you guys is that this blog must not die!!!!!

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[…] Idanre Hills- The City of Caves and Inselbergs  […]

toksyjoe@yahoo.co.uk' ToksyjoeDecember 17, 2012 at 7:54 pmReply

Great location of historical significance for particularly the people of Idanre and now Ekiti state.

NaijatreksJanuary 11, 2013 at 5:53 pmReply

@Toksyjoe…yeah, Idanre Hills is surely an amazing destination.

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