A suspended lake is a body of stagnant water located on a mountain. There are only two suspended lakes in the world:
(1). Hanging Lake in Colorado, USA and
(2). Ado Awaye Suspended Lake in Oyo State, Nigeria.
The Hanging Lake in Colorado is located at The Canyon, about 11 km east of Glenwood springs. Ado Awaye Suspended Lake is located in Ado Awaye, 20 km out of Iseyin, HQ of Iseyin LGA in Oke Ogun area of Oyo State.
That Ado Awaye is one of the only two Suspended Lakes in the whole world makes it potentially a prime destination for tourists. The other suspended lake, Hanging Lake in Colorado attracts a minimum 131,000 tourists per year.
Upsurge in number of tourists in the 3 years preceding 2014 forced the American Forestry Authority to embark on various strategies to reduce the number of tourists thronging the location, because the flood of visitors was having negative impact on the ecosystem of the Suspended Lake.
However, the one in Ado Awaye remains merely a potential tourist destination / revenue puller for government, and potential driver for development of the area. Ado Awaye Suspended Lake is located on the Iyake Mountains that sprawl around the sleepy town of Ado Awaye, in Iseyin Local Government Area of Oyo State.
The journey to the lake on the mountain is not for the faint hearted. A staircase of 369 steps leads through a bush path to the plains on the mountain top. A litany of artefacts and earth shards are evidence of past human habitation of the mountains. It takes about one hour of rigorous climbing to get to the mountain top.
Local accounts claim the mountains were homes to immigrant Awori dwellers that chose the mountain top as refuge from rampaging Dahomey armies in the 19th century. They were the Ado people. As the account goes, when they relocated to the base of the mountain after the wars, they met the inhabitants of Awaye. The two communities chose to live together hence the compound name of the town, Ado Awaye.
Yorubaland was a theatre of war in the 18th and 19th centuries, as Yoruba kingdoms fought internecine wars of supremacy, fuelled by search for war captives to sell into the international slave market. Aworis today populate Lagos and Ogun States in Nigeria while territories previously in Dahomey form part of present day Republic of Benin, some distance across the Nigerian border from Ado Awaye.
The first major tourist site on the mountains is the Shagi Rock or Ishage Rock, a spectacular rock formation. Locals believe it is home to a god that answers prayers; the advent of Christianity and Islam changed all that.
Iyake Lake is the most prominent attraction on the mountains. It is a semi-circular shaped lake with clean turquoise colour water. No one knows the depth of the lake though local folklore claims some foreign tourists who attempted to establish its depth lost their lives in the process.
Many folktales surround the lake. It is believed the lake leads to another world. The lake is also credited with mysterious powers to solve personal and health problems. No wonder religious bodies throng the venue for prayers. Many visitors go away with bottles of the water which they believe contains medicinal properties and magical powers.
About two metres away from the lake is a spectacular hole called Agbomofunyake. It is a foot- like formation which accounts claimed was accessible to the Iyake Lake. Anyone who is pulled into the hollow formation ends up in the lake.
The elephant tree is a plant formation that is a replica of the face of an elephant. Tourists who are amused by the formation take turns to snap pictures with it. The formation has no mystical account of its formation.
There are other attractions like the Iya Oniru Lake, located around the peak of the mountain. It never goes dry all through the year. There is the Esè àwon àgbà “footprints of the elders”, foot sized depressions which were believed to be footprints of the ancestors of the community and broken pieces of potsherds that litter the mountains.
The Suspended Lake of Ado Awaye is one of the resources Oyo State can exploit to improve revenue, create jobs for youths, attract foreign investors and create wealth for local communities.