I had never been hiking before in my life and as someone who suffers from acute hay fever, I had good reason. But when a friend mentioned going hiking in Idanre Hills in Ondo State with the Nigerian Field Society (“NFS”), I guess I must have mellowed because I decided to give it a go. Idanre is a town located in Ondo State, about 20km southeast of Akure. The town is famous for its beautiful hills, which are known locally as “Oke Idanre” and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List (Cultural category) since 2007. Being that this was my first trip with the NFS, I was quite excited, but nervous and I just hoped that I would be fit enough to keep up with the rest of the pack!
The adventure began with the group meeting at Lekki Conservation Centre at 7.15am. After checking we had everyone, sorting out everyone’s parking situation and a slight false start with us heading down the Lekki Epe Expressway in the wrong direction (!), we were finally headed to Idanre round about 7.30am. The journey to Idanre is long. That is not an exaggeration or a criticism but simply a statement of fact. It is at least 6 hours by road and that is in good weather conditions and without traffic. Thankfully, our group leader had forewarned us to each bring packed lunches and snacks for the journey and with a planned toilet break in Ore, we were good to go.We made our arrival in Idanre roughly 6.5 hours after our departure from LCC and checked in to the Rock Valley Hotel, simple but sufficient accommodation for our purposes. After getting settled into our rooms and ordering dinner, we headed back into the bus to drive through the town. Due to a lorry that had broken down in the middle of the main road, we could only go so far with our bus, and instead opted to walk the rest of the way through the town. Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened for us – driving through and looking through the windows is no substitute for walking through the town and engaging with the locals. We got to sample some cocoa beans drying out in the sun, whilst engaging in a lively debate with the locals regarding a specific type of rock. It was kind of handy having a geophysicist as our group leader – there was so much to learn about the genesis of the rock formations of Idanre. After a refreshing walk round the town inclusive of multiple photo opportunities, it was time to return to the hotel for drinks, dinner and finally lights out. We needed to be on form for the planned hike through the legendary hills the next morning. p.s. if you’re going for a leisurely stroll like this (and when I say leisurely, I am being soooooo sarcastic!!), make sure to wear trainers – my feet got badly cut-up by my super-cute but completely impractical flip flops. Oops!