We have only two suspended lakes in the world which are: The hanging lake in Colorado, U.S.A and Ado- Awaye suspended lake in Oyo State, Nigeria. Ado Awaye lake is called a suspended lake because it is a body of stagnant water on the mountains and not that the lake is suspended in air (LOL) just in case you were deceived by the word “suspended”.
Rich in history and culture, Ado-Awaye is quickly becoming the tourist’s paradise. From its formation to its mountains and plains, everything about the small town in Oyo state is a wonder.
We learnt that the town was formed in 1500 AD. The Alaafin of Oyo’s crown prince, Koyi, who was supposed to become the Alaafin was denied and his younger brother, Onigbogi, took over. In anger, he left Oyo with one of his father’s crowns and decided to go and settle in Otta, his mother’s town. However, he went through plain grounds until he got a foot of the Ado Hill, where he saw a cloud of smoke. He climbed the mountain and there, he met some escapees from the Dahomey war. Having agreed and discussed with them, they decided to make him King of Ado.
Below are the tourist attractions that make Ado-Awaye a wonder to behold
- Iyake Lake
Iyake Lake is the only recognized suspended/hanging lake in Africa – one of the only two in the world after the Hanging Lake in Colorado. It has been named as one of the fascinating sites to visit in Nigeria as well as one of the seven wonders of Nigeria. It is said to be bottomless and have swallowed those who have tried to measure its depth. Till today, whoever enters the lake never comes out of it. It is said to be the main god of fertility of the Mountain. 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.
Agbómofúnyàké literally means “collects child and gives to iyake”. This little hole is located just beside the iyake lake. It is believed that, whenever the hole has water in it, whoever puts his leg into it gets dragged to the bottom of iyake lake.
3. Ìyá-Aláró Lake
It is also 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 that underscores its association with Iya Alaro and its surface and surrounding is bedecked with a lush overgrowth of colourful vegetation.
4. Oke Ishage (Ishage Rock)
Ishage Rock is the bringer of rain for the Ado-Awaye people. It is a large elongated boulder of rock, balanced and standing upright on one of its small edges. The fact that this boulder has not fallen off the steep mountainside on which it rests remains a mystery to the Ado-Awaye people and tourists visiting the mountain.
Whenever it doesn’t rain and rain is needed, the chief priest goes to the rock, covers the “waist” of the rock with a white cloth, then rainfalls for 3-4 days straight.
5. Esè àwon Àgbà
Esè àwon Àgbà translates to “the footprint of the elders”. It is a cluster of large “footprints” found all over the mountain. It is believed that the gods once walked over the mountain to protect the locals during the time the locals stayed up the mountain.
6. The Elephant Tree
This 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.
7. Esè kan Aiyé Esè kan Òrun
This 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.
After a 34-year vacancy on the seat of office, a newly installed Alado of Ado-Awaye, Oyo State, Oba Ademola Folakanmi, Makuledoye II, speaks to the Tribune on tourism in the town. He says:
“All these places are amusing and should have attracted tourists from all over the world if they had been given attention. Unfortunately, the governments both at the state and federal levels have not been able to harness the tourism potential of the country. We started Nigeria with agriculture; now, cocoa and groundnut are gone. We switched to crude oil and oil will go too. But tourism will last forever; so I encourage the government to develop the tourism potential of Ado-Awaye.”
Ado-Awaye Lake is the most prominent and revered lake on the mountain. It is known as the god of fertility and there is a history of barren women who have visited the lake for prayers. It is also highly esteemed for its spiritual significance as people who had visited the lake to get its water to treat various health problems. It is believed to be a taboo for anyone to swim or bathe in the lake, and anyone who does it will never be seen again. Legend also has it that a white man who once challenged this lake disappeared and his body was never found again.