Yes we did!
Camping in Nigeria isn’t a regular occurrence and when our travel “cousin”, Unravelling Nigeria had planned a camping trip to the Omo Forest Reserve, Ogun state we were estatic. It was too much of an adventurous trip and Naija Nomads just had to be there!
One of the perks of being a Naija Nomad is getting to go on awesome trips like these (no vacancy for my job position, thank you!). I packed my bags and ignored a possible fever. Off to this experience of a lifetime, baybay!
It really was a smooth ride through Epe to Ijebu. I was last to arrive on the bus and the first to sleep off. Woke at the start-of-the-stop of civilisation; I heard the female tour guide say “From this point there is no network oh! so you can’t make or receive phone-calls, you can’t do anything with your phone!” First thing I thought about was my parents!! They’d be worried sick and the whole of CASA Nomads as well.
[P.S: If you ever go camping at Omo Forest, be sure to say “I’ve arrived” before you leave home. LoL! NO TELECOMS NETWORK WORKS THERE. There’s NO ELECTRICITY, either].
It was another long drive down to the location of our camping site. “Is this where we are going to camp? Do you have a bathroom? Are there snakes around?” So many questions were flying in the air but after a plate of Jollof rice and chicken, we felt better. We were given a brief lecture about the Forest; It’s past, present and expected future, it’s dos and don’ts. We saw photos of species of animals that used to occupy the forest (till they migrated). There was also a touching story of a mother and baby elephant killed by some hunter a while ago and the lecture-house building (an office actually) was dedicated in memory of these elephants. It was so heartbreaking *sobs*
It is interesting to note that the Omo Forest Reserve is actually, originally, the Omo-Shasha-Oluwa Forest and cuts across three states- Ogun, Osun and Ondo states respectively. It’s such a huge forest and home to lots and lots of animals- elephants, buffalos, chimpazees, dukar, several species of birds and more but unfortunately, these animals have been hunted down by locals for many years. This has driven them to near extinction/migration from the Forest. The Omo Forest part of the trio has been taken over by the Government and they are trying hard to discourage hunting activities, focusing on preservation of the animals. However, hunting activities still take place by the locals and of course the Shasha-Oluwa part is still largely open to hunting; hopefully, the Governments of these states will bulge and the entire forest can be converted to preservation of wildlife.
There’s also a strong resistance from the locals themselves. They argue that hunting is a generational trade and it cannot be stopped! This is one of the biggest issues the workers at Omo reserve deal with. Sigh! It’s a long story but I just thought to educate you briefly and if you are about that animal life i.e., interested in working/interning at the reserve for a bit or maybe you are an interested biologist, they are really looking for you too! Be sure to holla at us and we’d def hook you up! #ForTheLoveOfCountry hehe
So back to my waka. After many minutes of figuring how it works, tents were all set up and we were ready for the first part of our adventure! One of the parts I looooved the most was when we got to see videos of elephants in the Forest! My God, it was priceless! So the workers had set up hidden cameras in the Forest sometime in December, 2016 and lots of elephants- huge, super huge and baby elephants were caught passing through on camera! Haha! boy it felt soooo good to know elephants actually pass through my country *safari potential mayne* LoL! One of the lone-workers on a weekend in January also saw buffaloes live (and he himself became the hidden camera that couldn’t take photos for the love of his own life).
ADVENTURE DAY I
It was already some minutes past 4pm. The plan was to hike round “not-too-deep” parts of the reserve and also to do some bird watching. Basically, just to get familiar with the environment and to “see”. I was one of the behind-people LoL! and the first “nice thing” we did was to get a bunch of plantain from one of the farmers around for free! haha! well, it did feel good. We came across abandoned buildings. A non-functional decayed guesthouse as well as some abandoned buildings/bridges.
I and my behind-gang were lagging behind so the next thing we heard was a voice.. over the walkie-talkie (haha did you think it was something creepy?) “Group 3,where are you? we turned left.” We are coming, we replied! “over and out! Roger that!!” Jack Bauer did teach us some skills in 24 the series.
So we met the rest of the team at a school- PLANTATION HIGH SCHOOL. There were students playing football inside the school building and they all ran out to say hello to the “tourists” hehe that oyinbo-in-village feeling . Just kidding! There was a message on a rusty billboard in-front of the school. Maybe I should have taken a photo but it read: SAY NO TO UNPROTECTED SEX. YOU CAN GET HIV/AIDS OR UNWANTED PREGNANCY. Use A CONDOM OR ABSTAIN FROM PRE-MARITAL SEX. [Got the memo? LoL].
Next stop was at a fish pond. The people of Omo ate more of fish than beef because they didn’t even have access to beef. How ironic, in a forest! There were lots of bird watching activities on the way.
Our last stop was at the spot where they held the Gulder Ultimate Search VII. Of course my long legs and I had to take a “The Ultimate” photo. hehe..
It was already about 6:30/7pm-ish when we got back. Time to start preparation for the bonfire and grills. We collected lots of fell wood, charcoal, a pan and setting up the fire began. [I must also chip in here that lots of timber-collection takes place in that Forest].
We roasted marshmallows over the fire while munching on barbecue, sausages, potatoes and kebab. BidsinGraceland taught us a new game- Mafia and we played CON-CEN-TRA-TION. Haha! Love the game! It was so much fun! By Past 10, I retired to my tent. Some other campers stayed up till late but by 12pm-ish, everyone was back.
Goodnight everyone! We’re setting out by 5:30am…or are we?
Abimbola Oladapo is our super duper intern at CASA Nomads. She’s a happy-go-lucky girl ready to take on the world one city at a time.