High in the sky soars the tranquil Iyake Lake, also known as Ado-Awaye Lake, reposed graciously at the peak of Oke-Ado Mountain in Oyo State, southwest Nigeria. These mountains spread from Ado-Awaye town into the surrounding plains, standing imposingly above the verdant rainforests; and they hold numerous natural, cultural and historical attractions which are of great spiritual significance to the Ado-Awaye people.
Ado-Awaye town itself is a small enclave with its own unique but interesting history. In ancient time, Ado and Awaye settlements existed separately. The ancestors of the Adó people were forced to migrate from Awori land to settle at the top of Oke-Ado Mountain because of the Dahomey war. The ancestors of the Ado people found favour in the eyes of the gods of the mountain and were kept safe till the war subsided. When the Ado people later descended the mountain to settle at its foothill, the nearby Àwáyè people also decided to settle with them, and hence the name Adó-Àwáyè by which the town is called till this day.
While the Ado people lived on the mountain, they worshiped the mountain and revered the various unique natural formations they found on the mountain. It was said that barren women among the people at the time were able to give birth due to their devotion to the worship of the mountain. The tranquil Iyake Lake is one of the most revered attractions on the mountain. The ancestors of the Ado people believe that the lake is so powerful that whatever prayer is made with its water will yield supernatural results. It is also said that there are sixteen (16) gods on the Oke-Ado Mountain. These gods are embodied in specific natural landmarks on the mountain. Each of these landmarks constitute tourist attractions on the mountain, lined up along the path which leads up the mountain.
The first of all the landmarks is the Ìshàgé Rock, which is a large elongate boulder of rock, balanced and standing upright on one of its small edges. The fact that this boulder has not fallen off the steep mountain side on which it rests remains a mystery to the Ado-Awaye people and tourists visiting the mountain. Ishage Rock is regarded as one of the most powerful among the gods on the mountain. It is said that it grants the wishes of people who prays at its foot. It was also said that whenever there is sever drought in the land, the chief priest of the mountain will visit the mountain and wrap a white cloth around the ‘waist’ of Ishage rock; rain will fall heavily upon the land that night and the Ishage Rock will drop off the white cloth.
Another attraction on the mountain is Ìyá-Aláró Lake, which is one of the numerous lakes on the mountain. The lake was named after an old woman in the Ado-Awaye village, who specializes in dying of clothes. It is said that the old woman, known as “Iya Alaro”, worships the lakes and sacrifices to it at specific times during the year. The lake is characterized by a gloomy depth which underscores its association with Iya Alaro and its surface and surrounding is bedecked with a lush overgrowth of colourful vegetation.
Ìyàké Lake is the largest and the most popular attraction on the mountain. Unlike other lakes on the mountain, Iyake is known for its clearness, neatness, size and spiritual significance. It is said to be the main god of fertility of the Mountain. It is however, a taboo to bath or swim in Iyake Lake. It was said that whoever swims in the lake will drown and the person’s body will never be seen again. The villagers believe that beneath the lake exists another world that looks like the earth, and whoever transits into that world by diving into the lake will never be able to return to our own world again. There is a small hole (also filled with water) about two meters away from the edge of Iyake Lake which the people call Agbómofúnyàké. It is said that if anyone dips his feet into the small hole, the person will be sucked through the rock into the bottom of the bigger Iyake Lake.
The Elephant Tree is another fascinating attraction on the Mountain. It is composed of the tangled trunk or root of a fallen tree which dramatically takes the form of the head and trunk of an elephant. The eyes of the elephant are also well represented on the formation. Hikers on the mountain are often tempted to climb the formation and sit on the ‘elephant’s head’ while posing for photos.
Esè kan Aiyé Esè kan Òrun is a wide and deep chasm on the mountain which separates one part of the mountain from the other part which hosts the peak of the mountain. Only brave mountain climbers dare cross this valley as the rock slopes steeply along the valley walls. Only a narrow, very steep and slippery path across the valley, links the two parts of the mountain. At a corner of the valley wall exists a small crevice which the locals refer to as Màje kànkàn Shrine. The floor of the shrine is relatively flat and is covered in soft brown sand. It is said that whenever a new king is crowned in Ado-Awaye village, he must come to the shrine to prostrate and roll on its floor, in obeisance to the gods of the mountain.
Another important lake on the lake is Ìyá Onírú Lake, which although is shallow, never dries up all the year round. The lake is located on the part of the mountain which hosts the peak. On this part of the mountain also lies a dramatic cluster of about a hundred foot-sized depressions set along the rock surface , which the locals refer to as Esè àwon Àgbà which translates as “the footprint of the elders”.
Also, broken pieces of potsherds can be seen littering different forested areas on mountain, which underscores the archeological potentials of the mountain. It indicates a pre-existing human habitation on the mountain.
All these attractions and more, along with the mind-blowing and endless sprawl of forest-coated gently-rolling plains extending outwards from the foot of the Oke-Ado Mountains, constitute an irresistible pull for tourists to Ado-Awaye land.
…whenever there is sever drought in the land, the chief priest of the mountain will visit the mountain and wrap a white cloth around the ‘waist’ of Ishage rock; rain will fall heavily upon the land that night and the Ishage Rock will drop off the white cloth.
– The charming Ìyàké Lake
– Clear waters of Ìyàké Lake
– Tree graffiti on Elephant Tree by previous hikers and visitors to the mountain.
– The ‘flat’ floor of Màje kànkàn Shrine.
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 email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.