Omo Forest Reserve, the path we hiked
Quick Fact: Omo Forest Reserve is home to over 200 types of trees and 125 species of birds and mammal, including endangered elephants, white-throated guenon monkeys, and chimpanzees.
The noisiness of Lagos can be quite overwhelming and Omo Forest seemed like the best place to escape into the calmness of nature and gather myself and thoughts together while hiking about 20 km through the forest.
The drive from Lagos to Omo Forest Reserve in Ogun state started with a bit of trepidation on my end. I was about to go on a travel adventure with a group of mostly strangers and as a solo traveller and someone that has never travelled locally in a tour group, my mind was bogged down with way too many unfounded what ifs.
I heard about the trip from my friends at @NothingToDoInLagos, an insanely popular Instagram account that highlights fun activities for Lagosians to get up to when looking for fun activities. In this case, @NothingToDoInLagos had a day trip collaboration with a local travel tour company, TVP Adventures, to take us on a hike to Omo Forest Reserve.
En route to Omo Forest Reserve we had a light serving of cold-pressed juice and snacks, a bit of ‘get to know each other’ games with the twenty-other people on the bus and got a brief on what to expect on the trail. Long story short, approximately four hours round trip trek through the reserve, with hopes to see some imprints of the elephants that live there along with other animals. The reality was something else entirely.
The plan was to trek for approximately four hours round trip through the forest, with hopes to see some imprints of the elephants that live there along with other animals. The reality was something else entirely.
We started our hike through the forest at 10:45 am towards the elephant’s grove with TVP provided backpacks filled with snacks and a couple of bottled water. Our moods were pretty light and while we had zero expectations to see elephants traipsing through the forest, we were more so excited to get out of the noisy bustle of Lagos and into the canopies of nature, serenity and so much beauty around us. There were so many colourful butterflies here and for bird watchers, Omo Forest needs to be on your must-visit list.
The first one hour of the hike was filled with getting to know our fellow travel mates while taking in the beauty around us and attempting to walk at a decent pace for a group of beginner hikers. At the second hour into our trek, it felt like the sun was right on our necks and the path we were on had barely enough shades to shield us from the heat.
Tip: If you are planning on hiking this path, hike as early as six in the morning to experience its beauty and the animal activities without the sun beating down heavily on you. Some travel companies like Unraveling Nigeria offer over-night camp stay for the adventurous.
Watch Zainob’s adventure below:
By the third hour into our hike, the individual grumblings became a unified chorus. The sun was not letting up, most of us had finished the two bottles of water we packed for the hike, and we were just halfway to our destination. The hike was a round trip one, so we still had to figure out how to get our legs to cooperate and get us to the destination before making a U-turn and trekking back the same way to the bus. I love to hike, but I was not about to take another step towards our destination. The planned four hours round trip trek had just become six hours and we had not reached our halfway point at the Elephant’s grove.
Tip: Plan 6 – 7 hours round trip of the entire hike with a bag filled with water and a good device to take some amazing shots of nature. For those not keen on hiking for too long, hire a local bike to the Elephant’s grove, and then hike the way back. The hike while taking in the music from the birds chirping, the rustles of leaves, and the music of nature is part of the amazing experience Omo Forest Reserve has to offer.
Once the worry of time and getting to the elephant grove was no longer a focus, I was able to appreciate the amazing beauty I was surrounded by. From the colourful butterflies to attempting to whistle to the chirpings of the birds to the overwhelming number of trees and flowers I walked by, Omo forest was exactly what the doctor ordered. Even in my physically exhausted state, I wished I had more time to take in its beauty and properly explore the magic it had to offer. I will definitely give the forest a revisit and plan for a longer hiking time or maybe even a camp stay for the night.
Tip: For those that love watching animals in their natural habitat, Omo Forest Reserve has a team of local guides on the ground to help track the endangered animals safely.
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