FEATURES: A Day With Nature At Ikogosi Warm Spring

February 21, 2013

In the last one decade, I have always stayed indoors sleeping most of the time on Christmas Day. I did the same thing during last year’s Christmas season. As I was dozing off, my two sons, four and two years respectively, sauntered into the room excitedly. They shouted, Daddy! Daddy!! Mummy said we are going to Ikogosi tomorrow!
I just told them I have heard so that they would allow me to enjoy my sleep. When I woke up, I asked their mother when they decided to go to Ikogosi. She told me that it was the decision of the children; including my younger brother, his wife and children. She told me we should go and see the place the government has spent so much on. So, I agreed.
I have gone there a couple of times officially to see the level of work done but not as a tourist. The following day, December 26 was Boxing Day. We set out around 12 noon in a convoy of three vehicles (one of them a space bus) with some of our cousins and some family friends who visited. We took off from Ado-Ekiti; passing through Ilawe Road to Erijiyan and finally to Ikogosi. The journey, which took us about 30 minutes, was smooth because the roads have been resurfaced by the Fayemi administration. Another route that leads to Ikogosi is the Efon-Ipole-Iloro-Ikogosi Road which has also been resurfaced.
We were astounded by the crowd we met at Ikogosi. There was no packing space left at the expansive newly constructed parking lot. There were many tourists from far and near and this included foreigners who have come to see the newly transformed Ikogosi Warm Springs Resorts on which much has been written about in the media; especially on the social media.
It is a wonderful and unique site because hot and cold water co-exist side by side and flow on separate paths even though both met at a point. Also, a palm tree and an ordinary tree shared the same root and grew together. The folklore of the town has it that the warm and cold water were wives of a man. The hot water is the troublesome wife while the cold water is the gentle and peace-loving wife.
 The hot water is believed to have healing powers and its efficacy is attested to by the natives of the Ikogosi Community. The water is reputed to be a good cure for hypertension, arthritis and barrenness. The water has been bottled for commercial purposes by United African Company (UAC) in conjunction with the state government under the brand name of ‘Gossy Water.’
The word Gossy is an acronym from the town Ikogosi. The hot water is piped directly from the source to the company located about 1 km to the site.
 There were two entrances to the spring area. The first was the main gate which is the traditional entrance before the transformation while the second is the natural pathway made of strong wood constructed right from the new chalets straight into the warm spring area.
The chalets are almost ready and this contains about 100 rooms. There is a large field in the newly designed and reconstructed resort centre which is also a playground for children. There are 30 and 60-seater halls for meetings and functions; a newly-constructed adult swimming pool and another for children with a modern changing room. The warm water in the swimming pools was piped directly from the source of the warm spring. There is restaurant and bar to cater for the needs of those who came for camping. There is arts and craft centre. It is a beautiful sight to behold because of its unusual location.Sandwiched between undulating hills and valleys; the warm and cold spring resort centre is a sight that one sees only in dreams with its picturesque scenery. Close circuit television (CCTV) cameras have been installed as well as the construction of a perimeter fence to ensure security.
Farther into the hills around the resort centre is the site of the first plane crash in Nigeria which happened in 1942. This will also be developed as another tourist site in due course.
 We were 21 in number. The number of fun seekers inside the main centre is estimated to be about 3, 000. I was shocked! This included women, children and foreigners. Many of them were taking turns in touching the warm and the cold water at the point where the two meet. Those who were there for the first time were amazed at the unexplainable wonder of nature.
Both warm and cold water flows side by side and yet each maintained its path and this has been so for centuries. Some of the fun seekers were at the source of the warm water which is high up and they wondered how the water could spring from such a small source and yet it gushes out non-stop all seasons. The source of the water has been redesigned with artistic images which give an impression of a treasured heritage.
Some of the tourists came with 4-litre kegs to fetch the warm water directly from its source. This is because of their belief in its efficacy as an elixir of hypertension, arthritis and infertility. The uniqueness of Ikogosi is underscored by Richard Burke, an Irish Bishop when he visited the place and said: “I believe there is nowhere in the world where cold and warm water meets, except at the Ikogosi Spring. Any other one would be man-made, which is artificial. Ikogosi is a miracle of nature and a sacred place where God exhibited his power of creativity.”Different types of music was blaring from many directions of the centre and many people; especially children, were dancing while the newly-constructed thatched roof huts were all occupied by families who were enjoying themselves. When I looked around, I saw our kids dancing Azonto and D’Banj’s Top of the World with other children under one of the thatched huts. Many of the tourists were posing for pictures while the foreigners there were asking questions about the warm and cold spring; especially at the meeting point.
I saw a group of students from a private University in Ogun State on excursion and it was obvious that they had fun. Like other tourists, we also came with loads of food which we ate under a tree on the open field. We became another centre of attraction to other tourists when I brought out a toy helicopter which I bought for my kids and operated it.
The helicopter is powered by remote control which lifts it from the ground to space and it can fly as high as 10 meters above sea level and could be brought down by the remote but once it is out of the sensor of the remote control, it will crash land which happened several times.
 Many tourists came to the open field with their camera phones to take pictures and record the wonderful toy helicopter and the kids were especially thrilled as they took turns to fly it. We left the resort centre after about five hours of uninterrupted fun.
The volume of tourists that the warm and cold spring recorded shows that the place has been a hidden but untapped gold mine all these years. The centre hosted daily an average of 4, 000 visitors during festive period in 2012 when it opened for test running.
 This means the place is capable of generating unprecedented revenue for the state government if its potential are properly harnessed. The Ikogosi experience on Boxing Day lingers on such that my two-year-old boy told me on the eve of his resumption to school that, Daddy, “I am not going to school tomorrow. I am going to Ikogosi with my helicopter.”
By Hakeem Jamiu
 This article was first published in The Nation

Last modified: February 21, 2013

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