Igbo Olodumare is a lush and pristine rain forest tucked away in southwest Nigeria. Its name translates to ‘The Forest of the Almighty’ and it is simply mystifying. The forest was first brought to light by two novels, Ògbójú ode nínú Igbó írúnmolè and Igbó Olódùmarè written by one of Nigeria’s most excellent story tellers, D. O. Fagunwa. These two novels were later translated to English language by the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and describes a forest of witches, wizards, giant snails, crabs and other mysterious things. He wrote of creatures that makes one wonder and spark the fire of wanderlust in the belly of anyone who attempts to read the book. This mystical forest exists in Fagunwa’s native village of Oke-Igbo within Ile Oluji-Oke Igbo local government area, Ondo State in south west Nigeria.
The forest is a two-hour journey from the state capital of Akure and about twenty minutes to the forest entrance is a small, sleepy village regarded as the age-old ‘guard’ of the ancient forest. Igbo-Olodumare has a rugged terrain, densely dotted with beautiful granitic inselbergs soaring high and above the tree canopies.
The first attraction of the forest is the picturesque Ògèrìwèsé stream. The people believe the stream possesses the spiritual ability to prevent evil creatures from entering into the village and also has the power to neutralize any form of magical power in an evil-minded person.
Beyond the Ògèrìwèsé stream, deeper into the forest are two paths to Òkè-Lángbòdò and Ìsálú Òrun. It is said that Ìsálú Òrun is not a place for visitors because it is believed to be the residence of the spirits. The entrance to Òkè-Lángbòdò is marked by a small opening beneath a large granite rock where prayers are made before proceeding. Also at the entrance is a sculptured figure of an ancient hunter which Faguwa described in his novel as being magically turned into statue. Upon exploration, the terrain is hilly and hiking is often challenging due to its steep and slippery slopes. However, a visit to the forest will not be completely gratifying without an ascent of the hill to take in the panoramic views of the entire forest and enchanting landscapes. There you will find ewé àkokòa, a rare plant typically used for the coronation of a new king in the land.
Another important attraction is the forest of absolute silence, Aginjù Ìdákéróró. It is said that the silence is so palpable that even a whisper is fearfully loud. Another popular attraction at Igbo-Olodumare forest is the mythic ‘Bottomless Hole’, which has contradicting beliefs that the hole is filled with mysterious creatures. Nevertheless, a visit to Igbo Olodumare, the forest of a thousand demons, keeps you craving for more adventure, breaking the limits of fear and wonder.
Credit: The Project