The gigantic rock sitting right in the heart of Abeokuta is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Nigeria today. It records hundreds of visits from tourists and visitors from across the world, especially on notable holidays. It is fondly called Olumo Rock.
According to history, the massive work of nature is fully pronounced as “Oluwa fimo” which literally means ‘God has puts an end to our wandering, or simply translated ‘God molded it’.
In the old days, Olumo rock was a pillar of strength and pillar for the Egba people because it provided them a vantage position to see their enemies from several kilometers away and allow them to properly strategize. They also used the rock and the caves as protective shields against their enemies.
Olumo has some interesting historical sites and accounts that makes tourists and visitors want to visit almost every year. Some of the reasons you should spend time with your loved ones this Valentine season in the ancient city of Abeokuta and have a splendid experience on the rock.
Olumo Shrine which is accessible only during the celebration of the god of stone in August every year. Those allowed into the mystical shrine are the chief priest and the Alake of Egba, the royal ruler of Egbaland. Also, you will find a number of caves and shrine as you explore around the rock.
To relive the historical experience of the people of Egba, the Egba War Time Hide Out is an important part of the rock to see. The Egba War Time Hide Out was where the warriors hid their families, protected them from the raging war. The hide out, a big room and five other smaller rooms, housed the families of Egba warriors.
Six dugouts that can be seen on the floor in the hideout were for domestic use such as pounding yam and grinding pepper.
Climbing through the cave routes leading to the top of the mountain, you come across cave chambers within the rock which comprise of a large chamber of about 20 feet long and 25 feet wide which served as a protection to the Egba people
The museum, located at the base of Olumo Rock is another place to visit. Artefacts are displayed there for visitors to learn more about the history of the Egba people.
Standing atop the rock, one will see the entire town, complete with the corrugated rusted brown roofs, buildings made of thick mud walls and finished with painted cement plasters. This is a good spot to take memorable pictures of the world below and of course the landscape.
Right at that top, there is a very large and prominent iroko tree (Milicia excels) standing tall from the middle of the rock. The tree has grown taller than the peak of the rock giving the rock an additional height.
For a quick and stress free experience, an elevator has been provided for tourist who just want to get to the top and see the beautiful ambience the rock has to offer. The interesting part of the tour however lies in climbing through the cave; it provides the opportunity to see and hear historical accounts of the famous Rock.
The medicinal spring water that continually flows out near the crown tree and all the way down the rock base. The water was said to have sustained and healed the Egba people in their solitary days within the rock.
A mystical giant stone in the image of a snake that was said to have transformed from a real giant snake laid stiff on top a round rock in an obvious attempt to slither its way across the rock surface. From a distance it looked like some thick root of a tree sticking out but a closer look shows that it is actually a snake with its mouth partially open. A part of the mouth seemed to have broken probably due to long time exposure.
The first question that comes to mind on sighting this stone image is if this could have been a work of art. After all, men carved images out of mountains like the gigantic ancient Egyptian Sphinx (which is the carving of a man’s head on a lion’s body). But considering dangerous angle of its location, it would have been risky for anyone to carve something there. Moreso, only part of this snake was hanging outside while the remaining part of the snake can be seen with good lighting going inside the crevices of the large immovable stone. This would have been practically impossible for anybody to manipulate.
Out of curiosity, you might want to ask the tourist guide about the existence of this mystical stone snake, but you would be disappointed by their shallow and multifarious accounts of the history of the stone snake. It is believed that the earliest guardians died with true account of the story surrounding the stone snake.
Some said the snake had somehow crawled onto the rock which was somewhat a taboo or an offence for such an animal and so the deity of the rock in anger turned the snake into stone. Another version said it was some powerful enemy of the indigenes who turned into a snake and climbed the rock with the hope of discovering where the people were hiding. The Rock deity in defense of the people then struck the snake with lightening and the snake turned into stone. Whatever the case maybe, it must be a very sacred story judging by the restriction sign to that particular side of the site.
Rock Climbing Tips
If you have decided on an Olumo Rock visit with that special someone or those special people, you will need some climbing tips.
Make sure to wear light clothing that will aid easy movement if you plan to climb the rock through the stairway. Wear flat-soled footwear that is not heavy. Climbing can be very challenging for the elderly, so if you must climb, make sure to be in good health condition. You don’t have to rush – take moments to breathe or rest by the rocks on your way to the top. Climbing is much more fun but the elevator option is equally good for those who can’t climb for one reason or the other.
You don’t need to wait till you have something doing in Abeokuta before visiting this historic place. Why not make judicious use of this Valentine season and give that special one a historic celebration.