JUSTINA OKPANKU writes on tourists’ expectations as tourism and leisure steadily return as countries ease restrictions after the Coronavirus pandemic
5 months ago/Reposted
It’s no secret that people are aching to travel again and refresh as the Coronavirus pandemic begin ease across the country. Most people have been on lockdown paying attention to government instruction to stay home, but things are changing. According to the newest data from the United Nations Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), 40% of global destinations have now eased restrictions on travel introduced in response to COVID-19. Now, with tourism steadily returning, people need a breath of fresh air. Re-invigoration has never been more important.
Industry operators are taking measures to design tours that will help people to refresh. The experts have paid attention to Idere Hills following the effort of Seven Wonders of Nigeria to identify top attractions in the country that can help boost domestic tourism.
Idere Hills has never had it so good. The Oyo State government tourism team recently visited the Ibarapa region listing Idere in the state’s accredited tourist sites. Idere Hills is situated in Idere Town, Ibarapa Central Local Government Area of Oyo State, about two hours from Ibadan, Oyo State capital, is making waves after it was promoted by the ongoing Nigeria 7Wonders project via Zoom.
“Idere is very rich in tourism generally,” says Mr Olugbenga Sunday, Lead Consultant, Tojum Hospitality & Tours. “Our food, dialect, religion, music, festivals, hills, valleys, mountains, caves and lakes of different sizes, as well as wonderful rock formations, make Idere a must-visit destination.”
Idere is steeped in history, as Sunday told Daily Independent how Idere, which boasts of different rock formations, was once a settlement for people seeking protection from intruders, especially during inter-tribal clashes and wars.
“There are only a few entry points to the town on the rock. Two Obas (kings) reigned there before relocating from the township to the foothill and other places called Idere today. Part of Idere Hills is being used for farming: cocoa, cassava, tomatoes amongst others, but the whole terrain is being planned to become world-class tourism and recreational centre.”
On the historical significance of some of the sites, he said Aroye, a three-layered rock formation, means ‘we can see and understand.’ It is a post/office for the secret police/spy. Areas in front of ‘Yara’ can easily be seen and findings communicated to the guards and palace for coordination.
‘Yara’ Yoruba word for room in the real main gate to the town on the hills proper. The wall on every side is rocky and approximately about 40ft in length, 18ft in height, and about 6ft apart. It served the purpose of a security gate with inlet and outlet, room or office for the guards, and the top to the right (Iho Eja) for the snipers.
Eeyore – is the natural water pool on Idere hills. It is a big indentation with a water storage capacity of approximately 12,000L, which is sufficient to support the community then, even during the dry season. Its water is majorly for household and agricultural purposes.
Kosomonu – an area on Idere hills is about the tallest place. From here the whole township can be viewed. Kosomonu means, ‘ he does not lose the child’ – if somebody is lost, instead of running aimlessly around, they go to Kosomonu section of the hills, locate the child and send to fetch the child. It has a tunnel that also serves as a hideout – narrower and longer than ‘Yara’.
Thousands of tourists, no doubt, visit Idere community to explore the sites and other places of interest and to source for archaeological materials. There is a huge interest in Isoku-Iruku, a place where you have to put the corpse down before you carry it again. While and after coming down from the hills, a section of Idere hill is designated for the burial of members of the royal family. While taking the corpse up there, they get to this place where they have to put the corpse down, climb a step and carry the corpse again otherwise the corpse can’t be carried comfortably. It has become a rite of passage or ritual during royal burials.
Tourists also visit Oja, an open-air market where people used to bring their farm produce and wares to sell. They relax at Atapa water springs, a spring at Atapa hill on the Idere hills. “It never dries, though not much but always there. It served as drinking water for the whole Idere community. Atapa water is also said to be medicinal and curative for many ailments,” Sunday gushes.
Idere boasts good road networks. The site is two hours from Ibadan, Osun State capital and just an hour’s drive from Abeokuta, Ogun State. It is also accessible from Ado Awaye suspended lake on the Lagos-Abeokuta. In fact, the road is tarred to the base of the hills.
Where to stay? Good hotels are available. Fermadex Garden Idere is there among other hospitality centres. Heritage Resorts Igbo–ora is just 7-minute drive to the hills. Efforts to add Idere hills to Google maps are being made and by so doing people can use the map to get to Idere from any destination in the world.
•Source: Daily Independent