Olumo rock, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nigeria,
West Africa, sits in the ancient city center of Abeokuta – a name
which means “Under the rock”. Abeokuta was originally inhabited by the
egba people who found refuge at the Olumo rock during inter-tribal
wars in the 19th century. The rock provided sanctuary
Olumo Rock - An African Tourist Destination

to the people as well as a vantage point to monitor the enemy’s
advance leading to eventual triumph in war. The town of Abeokuta
eventually grew as these new settlers spread out from this location.

Abeokuta is just about an hours drive from the bustling metropolitan
city of Lagos providing convenient access to an array of hotels,
restaurants, clubs, casinos and various nightlife activities. Lagos is
also home to the closest airport to Abeokuta, the Murtala Muhammed
International Airport. Hotels in Abeokuta within minutes drive from
the rock include Gateway Hotel and Olumo Guest House.

Tourists to Africa definitely need to consider putting Olumo rock on
their travel plans. New renovations completed early 2006 upgraded the
infrastructure of the site to include a new museum, restaurants, water
fountain and an elevator that will provide even the
climbing-challenged a wonderful view of the surrounding city

The ancient Itoku market where local artisans and traders enjoy to
haggle over price just as much as the customers like to find a bargain
ies just outside the Olumo rock premises and is a must-see. The market
is the center of the indigenous Abeokuta industry of tie-and-dye,
locally known as adire. Adire crafters, usually women, both old and
young show off their designs in sheds alongside the roads. Behind
these sheds are buildings where many of these crafters live and work
and their parents before them. In places where the plaster has cracked
off the walls, you may see traces of the mud bricks used in the
original construction. The locals are very friendly and if asked, will
often give tourists and visitors informal tours of the dyeing
processes. Other popular items to watch out for include local beads,
bracelets, sculptures and musical instruments like the sekere and
talking drum.

A trip to Olumo rock usually commences with a climb up the man-made
stairs carved into the rock. While this sounds easy enough, it leaves
many breathless and ready to take a break to rest on the benches under
the trees growing from the rock and enjoy some clean breeze. The
journey continues with climbs on irregularly sized rocks (or ladders
which are now thankfully provided) through a narrow corridor that
leads to the top of the rock. All along the way, catch sights of
carvings in the rock, cowrie-studded statues and the ancient abode of
the priestesses who live in huts on the rock. And yes, it is not
uncommon to catch a sight of the very aged women who live there and
mutter greetings or blessings as people make their way through.

It is often helpful to enlist the services of a guide who possess vast
knowledge of the history of the rock and the culture of the people.
This makes for an interesting climb as every twist and turn will
reveal a significant story making the trip a truly memorable one.

On the way back down the rock, the sight of the Ogun river running
like a silver chain amidst a forest of aged red corrugated roofs
bordered by thick green forests which melt into the horizon is

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