"Nigeria is a great country blessed with abundance of nature's wonder pieces. I have traveled to about sixteen countries of the World but I have not seen a place where cold and hot water meet. I am seeing it live here and it is real. This is wonderful".
That was the comment of Mr. Bimbo Aduroja, a tourist while savoring nature's gift at the place where cold and warm water meet in Ikogosi Spring Resort, Ikogosi in Ekiti State.
Many like Aduroja were spell bound to see "wonder of God" for the first time but those who have visited before are grateful to the transformation that had taken place in a site that was deserted despite its importance due to lack of accessible road.
To Pa Simeon Ademiju, the warm spring means many things to many people. To many, it a place to relax and get closer to nature but to others like him, it is curative as it has been proven to have cure strange deceases over the years. The water is also therapeutic.
"My coming here is not to see the trees and listen to beautiful songs from birds but to come here and pray to our forefathers and take home the water to be used for combating various deceases. This is our own 'holy water' and it has been very effective in curing deseases," said Ademiju, an octogenarian.
The meeting of the warm and cold water could be a pull to tourists, but to some the myth behind it could be a pull to others as tourists visit attractions for varied reasons.
There are a few legends surrounding the origin and discovery of the Warm Spring and have been passed down generations for centuries. One such myth says that the warm and cold springs were the two wives of a great hunter. One of his wives was said to be temperamental while the other was a quiet woman. One day, the two wives had a fight and after being rebuked by their husband, the temperamental wife changed to the warm spring while the quiet one turned to the cold spring.
Another legend has it that a powerful hunter, while hunting for animals in the forest, first found the warm spring. After the discovery, he went to town with the story and the townspeople on learning about curative powers of the spring, started to worship the spring.
Whatever is the true situation remains to be found out as the story of the Ikogosi Warm Spring is told elsewhere and nothing might be compared to taking a trip to this serene place to see things for oneself.
Taking a peep
Ikogosi Warm Spring, tucked away in the rustic and serene town of Ikogosi-Ekiti, is one of the tourist attractions that this country could be proud of because of the history and myth behind the attraction. What is mysterious about the Ikogosi Warm Spring is the fact that, flowing side by side the warm spring, is another spring, a cold one.
The warm and cold springs of Ikogosi originate from a close proximity; come to a meeting point, and flow onward together with each spring retaining its thermal identity. The warm spring has a temperature of up to 70oC at the source and 37oC after meeting the cold spring. The meeting point of the warm and cold springs is a unique attraction to tourists.
The warm water which oozes out from the hill is believed to have therapeutic power and visitors to the place buy bottles to take away the 'strange' water for healing and probably spiritual purposes. The spring is not about the warm water alone, but cold water also flows from another source and the two bodies of water with contrasting temperatures meet at a point and maintain their different temperatures until they finally become cold at a point and flow peacefully out of the resort.
Another mystery at the meeting point of both waters is a palm tree and a tree growing from the same source. The two different species of trees share the same root and they both thrive.
The serenity at the entrance of the resort which ushers in visitors to the spring is charming, especially as one escapes from the bustling of the city to the garden of peace.
A popular water factory situated at the outskirt of Ikogosi town faces the stream which flows out of the resort where kids showcase their swimming skills. It also serves various purposes to the people of the town. With tall trees on both sides of the road and well-mowed carpet of lush vegetation, the beautiful landscape which meets visitor at the resort's entrance is an indicator that the tourism potential of the small quiet town called Ikogosi is now being explored.
The warm spring, which residents of the town said was once a dreaded forest which could only be assessed by brave hunters and herbalists was discovered to be a good tourist centre by a Baptist missionary in the 1950s. The missionary identified as McGee had made the place a relaxation spot. Other people soon joined McGee to benefit from nature's work.
But despite the opportunities the spring possesses with the chalets and conference hall, it suffered neglect as wild animals like antelopes and snakes took over the facility while mosquitoes chased away a few tourists who dared visit. Succour came the way of nature's deposit when former Governor, Kayode Fayemi, transformed the resort, bringing back its glory.
To make visits to the flagship of tourist centre in Ekiti State memorable, the chalets were renovated and new ones were added to the existing ones. A new conference hall was also built and furnished. There are roads car parks that could take over 300 vehicles. A swimming pool, mart and restaurant are some of the facilities that attract people to the resort. No wonder it is always fully booked every weekend, thereby boosting the Internally Generated Revenue of the state government.
Visitors need not labour to climb the rough surface to locate the warm and cold water meeting point; from their chalets, a wooden bridge of about 400 meters lead them to the point.
Apart from serving its tourism purposes, Ikogosi Warm Spring is also a fountain of knowledge, with students of various tertiary institutions, as well as pupils of primary and secondary schools, with supervision from a tour guide, visiting to learn new things about nature. After acquiring knowledge, they spend more time relaxing and feeling the ambience of the resort.
For those townspeople who formed the first domestic tourists to the site it was tortuous for them to reach the attraction and so it has been for modern day domestic and international tourists as it was hardly accessible; the roads leading to the warm springs were decrepit.
Accessibility, which had been a problem in the past, is now a thing of the past as the roads leading to the resort have been fixed. The road re-rehabilitation formed part of the larger plan to transform the resort to a destination that can attract tourists.
A drive into the resort was an eye opener to the transformation that has taken place in the resort.
The architectural design of the entrance gate against the landscaping of the over 116-hectare resort was a reminder of the scenic beauty of Obudu resort from the base. With the security check done with, a drive into the resort reveal eye catching newly built chalets and a reception building. The major surprise was the landscaping of the resort matched with beautifully manicured flowers being tended to by gardeners.
Behind the reception is the newly constructed 1000 capacity amphitheater, arts and crafts centre. As you moved towards the meeting point of the cold and warm water, you cannot but marveled at the ingenuity that has been brought to play with the construction of a walk trail. In the past, tourists wade through dirty paths and bush to get to the meeting point as well as the tiny source from which the warm and cold water spring forth.
A walk on the trail envelops one with that tranquility one gets walking a nature trail as all you hear is the chirpings of birds and the coolness of a thick forest through which you walk through. Ikogosi resort could pass for an eco- tourism destination because of the preservation of the flora and fauna there.
Tucked within the forest, as one passes through the former zoo in the resort, is the newly constructed swimming pool with a cozy bar and an eatery for tourists to relax after a visit to the spring.
Great efforts had gone into making the star attraction at the resort, the meeting point of the cold and warm water as well as the source of both to remain clean. Workers were seen removing dirt and other particles from the spring.