Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
One of the major tourist centres in the South West is the Olumirin Waterfalls, otherwise known as Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls. Researchers say it hosts not less than 50,000 tourists every year.
Its location in Erin-Ijesha, Oriade Local Government Area of Osun State, along Ilesa-Akure highway may have added to its popularity. Motorists and travellers often catch a glimpse of the waterfalls.
A recent visit shows that a huge sum of money is made from the tourism centre, contributing to the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state government. This is even as petty traders make their living by selling different items to tourists and visitors.
The water flows through Ekiti, Ondo and Kogi states. It is significant not not only to Osun State, but also the neighbouring states, especially Ondo, considering its proximity to the state.
Mr. Abimbola Daniyan, former chairman, Osun Tourism Board (O’Tourism) said the state invested huge sum of money to develop the waterfalls and make it compete favourably with other tourist centres: “Waterfalls are magnificent works of nature. All over the world, they are known to attract visitors. Olumirin Waterfalls, popularly known as Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls, is known for many things.
“There are many fascinating places one can visit in Nigeria but the Olumirin Waterfalls is unique. That is why the state government committed huge sum of money into its development. It is today one of the most visited tourist centres in the state.”
Located in a serene environment with impressive aura, the Olumirin Waterfalls, said an indigene of the town, Ayo Obasola, “is located within the of Erin-Oke, Erin-Ijesha, and Erinmo. Its water spreads to other parts of the country.
“Olumirin, which means ‘another deity’, was discovered in 1140 AD by Akinla, a granddaughter of Oduduwa, when the people of Ife were migrating to Erin-Ijesha. Akinla was also known to have founded Erin-Ijesha where the source of Olumirin River is located.
“Natives regard the waterfalls as a sacred site and a means of purifying their souls. They also believe that the waterfalls flows from a big pot located at the top of the rocks that surround the river
“Olumirin has seven falls, each one providing a new and different perspective. The waterfalls forms a large pool of water on the ground, surrounded by vegetation. The steps needed to reach a next level are not specified. Climbing them may be a daunting task, but it is a rewarding one as it gives an inspiring experience.
“As most people begin to climb the waterfalls, they begin the numbering from the base to the top, whereas it is the other way round. The first waterfall is the one at the top. The second is the largest, with water gushing down from the rock.
“The level of water is constant all through the year. The crisp air and fresh atmosphere, the serenity, calm, the adventure of climbing, seeing and discovering are only some of the reasons that make Olumirin Waterfalls an ideal tourist site.
“There are hotels situated near the waterfalls, so one can spend as much time as they want, basking in the presence of nature. The waterfalls is said to have medicinal properties and people come from all over to drink from the it and be healed.”
A tourist, Kabiru Eniola, said: “A visit to Osun State, is not complete for a tourist without a visit to Erin-Ijesa. Here you see the works of nature at its best and enjoy the blessings of nature. I have at different times climbed the waterfalls to the fifth level out of its seven levels and I hope to get to the peak one day.
“The breeze at the waterfalls is cool and refreshing. The whole scenery is fascinating and idyllic. What I saw at the Olumirin Waterfalls is like the collection of seven cascades, which pour over a cliff creating an impressive seven-part waterfall.”
A tourist guard, Oluwole, explained that when the waterfalls was first discovered, no one dared move near it for fear of being swallowed up: “It was believed to be a living spirit through whose several mouths water gushed out; a very tall and huge spirit whose height reached the high heavens. The inhabitants therefore named it Olumirin.
“The waterfalls, a whole new exciting and awe inspiring experience with nature. Each step of the waterfalls has a flowing fountain that marks the mystical nature of the place. We were told that the water flows from Erin-Ijesha here to other parts of the country. The water is said to have therapeutic effects and many people confirmed this. That is why spiritualists and religious people visit the waterfalls regularly.
“The waterfall is a stunning assemblage of seven unique levels, with each level providing a whole new outlook when compared to the previous level. The waterfalls, exudes a therapeutic ambiance which only something natural can produce.
A fun seeker, Odeyinka Abiola, said: “Climbing the levels of the waterfalls is quiet a daunting one but really exciting and worth the effort. The first level is so beautiful and astonishing; I have never seen anything like it before in my life. The water flows with a rhythm and just watching it gives you a soothing feeling. It was so inviting I couldn’t stop myself from having a feel of it. I needed to feel the water on my skin.
“Climbing further through the curves and stones that garnished the elevated landscape, my friend and the tour guide made jest of how I placed my legs on the stairs and they kept asking if I would want to continue. I tried to get to the top to see how the water is flowing but, I was cautioned by the guide. It was quite exciting and interesting.”
Another fun seeker, Bayo, said: “The second level was a beauty in itself. I thought the first was the most amazing thing I have ever seen but seeing the second I had a change of mind. The water snaked lazily through the height as it picks up its velocity.
“Yet again I went in to have a feel; the water slapped my flesh excitingly, pumping out like an imprisoned rebel through the thickness of the woods. This time I willingly left the water to see what the third fall has to offer.
“On getting to the third, it was already dark and we couldn’t make much out of it. Our guide cautioned us not to go further to avoid any accident. As we made our way down, I marveled at the magnificent craft of supreme architecture. God is awesome as evident in what I saw at the Olumirin Waterfalls”
Indigenes also attested to the healing powers of Olumirin. Folake Oguntoye testified: “A woman who drank the water delivered a baby after she had been pregnant for three years. She had visited different hospitals and traditionalists. It is not a doubt that there is power in the water. The waterfalls has also popularised the town as people visit from all parts of the world.”
It was learnt that efforts are being made by the six governors of the South West to develop tourist centres in the zone with a view to improving its revenue drive. Former Commissioner for Regional Integration in Osun State, Mr. Bola Ilori, said the former administration made efforts to develop its tourist centres:
“There are efforts to bring all the states in the South West together for development of tourism and to make the region stands above others in the country.”