Oyo State is one of the five states of the south-western Nigeria, and Ibadan is its capital. Predominantly a Yoruba state, Oyo State is largely made up of Yoruba-speaking people from Oyo, Ibadan, Ibarapa, Oke-Ogun and Ogbomoso areas. Notable town and cities in the states are Oyo, Iseyin, Ogbomosho, Okeho, Kishi, Saki, Lanlate, Eruwa, Sepeteri, Ilora, Awe, Igboho, Igbeti, Ilero, Igbo-Ora, and of course Ibadan.
Oyo state was created from the old Western State in 1976, but Osun State got carved out of the state in 1991. The state has 33 LGAs and is situated on about 28,454 square kilometers of land, and with a landscape featuring rocks and hills in several points of the state, its main rivers are Ogun, Oba, Otin, Oyan, Sasa, Oni, Ogunpa, Erinle, Ofiki, and Osun rivers.
Oyo State is rich in tourist attractions, and has a lot of travel destinations that would prove a fascinating delight to tourists and outdoor lovers. Here are some of them.
1. IITA Forest Reserve
The IITA Forest Reserve is owned by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and is managed by its Natural Resource Management department. It is located in Ibadan, between Ojoo and Moniya town. The forest reserve covers 350 hectares out of the 1,000 hectares owned by IITA, and the forest reserve is highly wooded and has natural landscaping features like wetlands, farmlands, a reservoir, and eight lakes and ponds.
The forested reserve is highly diversified and rich in exotic plants and birds and butterflies. There are over 200 bird species living in the reserve and over 220 butterfly species, with 440 plants that are largely used for medicinal purposes throughout West Africa. The rainforest also has sporting facilities like a 9-hole golf course, badminton court, swimming pool, football pitch, and a lawn tennis court among others.
2. Bower Memorial Tower, Oke Aare
Bower’s Tower can be seen at the top of Oke-Are in Ibadan. It is an historic monument put up to honour Captain Robert Lister Bower in 1936 – he was the first British Resident in Ibadan, and appointed by the British government to administer the ancient city, which he did between 1893 and 1897.
The Bower’s Tower was designed by Taffy Jones, the engineer that designed Mapo Hall. The tower is 60 feet high and 11 feet square with two entrances and a spiral staircase that leads to the top of the tower. From the summit of the tower, you can see Ibadan round about sprawling before you and appreciate the pre-historicity of the town. The Bower Tower is someplace to check out if you happen to be in Ibadan.
3. Agodi Botanical Gardens
The Agodi Botanical Gardens is located close to the Government Secretariat in Ibadan, and just got renovated earlier this year by the state government. The tourist center is located over 13 acres of land, and can be used for forestry, recreational, and entertainment purposes. It has a botanical garden and plant nursery for rare plants, a mini zoo and Animal Park, and an arboretum. It is a place that must be visited for vacation purposes during social festivities or during cultural events and holidays.
4. Old Oyo National Park
The Old Oyo National Park covers about 2,500 square kilometers at the north-western axis of the state. Just 160 kilometers from Ibadan, it is a wooded forest with hills and a wide variety of wildlife; it used as the habitat for the endangered African wild dog, lion, western kob, roan antelope, western hartebeest, Grimm’s duiker, oribi, crested porcupine, anubis baboon, patas monkey, tantalus monkey, buffalo, red river hog, gaboon viper, spotted hyena, nile crocodile, rock python, land tortoise, waterbuck, bushbuck, warthog, guinea fowl, hammer kop, African fish eagle, bush fowl, Senegal parrot, grey heron, grey hornbill, white-headed plover, yellow mantled whydah etc. among other rare animals.
Over 30 bird species have been seen within the forestry, and these include the Guinea Fowl, Hammer Kops, White headed Plover, African fish eagle (Cucumber vociferous), Yellow mantled Whydah (Euplectesspp), Bush fowl (Francolinusbicalcaratus), Senegal Fire-finch (Lagonosticasenegalus), Grey Hornbill (Tockusnasitus) Grey Heron (Ardeacinerea) Bannerman’s Weaver (Ploceusbannermani) crossley’s Ground, Thrush (Zootheracrossleyi).
5. University of Ibadan Zoological Garden
Located at the Department of Zoology of the University of Ibadan, the UI Zoological Garden is a beehive of activities during festive periods. It a zoo that ranks among the best in Nigeria, even though it cannot really be compared to the wildlife parks in Jos, Bauchi, Obudu and others – but it remains the best zoo within an academic institution in Nigeria.
Thousands of people visit the zoo during holiday and festive periods – although it is always open the year round for everybody. You pay a token of N200 for a gate-pass to access the zoo, and here you can the lions, gorillas, monkeys, baboons, duiker, crocodiles, alligators, ostriches, gazelles, antelopes, eagles, snakes, tortoises, giraffes and other wild animals.
The zoo recently underwent huge renovations through the contributions of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, corporate organizations, and well-placed individuals within the society. So the zoo is now much more attractive and safer to visit than ever before – according to the zoo’s director, Dr. Olajumoke Morenikeji, who took the VC and Pastor Enoch Adeboye round the zoo for an official opening of the upgraded facilities last January.