Visiting Ogbunike Cave has always been one of my desires having missed two opportunities of going to one of the most popular tourist attractions in eastern Nigeria. So when the third opportunity came through the Yolar Tribe Awka, I knew I wasn’t going to miss it for anything.
The morning of my trip was filled with so much excitement. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’d look forward to that day for so long, I couldn’t wait to get it over with. Together with other members of the Tribe, we set on our way. Being one of the most popular places in Anambra State, it was not difficult to locate the place.
Note: If you’re visiting from Awka, simply take a bus going to Onitsha, stop at Ogbunike town and enter a motor cycle to the Cave.
Getting to the cave, we could hear the excited noise of children swimming and screaming inside the cave. We expected to see a tour guide at the entrance, but there was none, so we walked in; the beautiful sound of children playing was enough encouragement. As we walked in through the long stairs that has been whispered to be more than 500, our tour guide came to join us and we we’re set to begin our adventure.
The Cave had a warm atmosphere. The environment was green and beautiful – it made you just want to sit on one of the rocks and admire the beauty of nature. The breeze was gentle, cool and fresh – the waving trees made sure of it.
The cave was smaller than I had imagined so we had to literally crawl in. Few minutes into our tour, I started hearing sounds that got me very restless. That was when I noticed the bats hanging on the walls of the cave. The tour guide made my anxiety a little bit worse by stating we still had to crawl for more than an hour in the cave. At that moment, I stopped. My torchlight pointed straight to the bats and taking cue, they started flying. My heart almost jumped out of my mouth.
I turned to my friend, “I can’t be here for the next hour…”
I was about to turn around when the tour guide told us that the law prohibits people from turning back. Sweat trickled frantically out of my body. I had to continue; that last thing you want to do is get in trouble in a land where understand neither their rules nor their gods.
We then pleaded with the guide to please take us through the shortest route and amazingly within ten minutes, we were out of the cave. The Tour guide gave a knowing smile and told us, “Assuming you turned back, you would have gotten missing.”
We finally got to know that the cave had a million and one openings and no one ever leaves through the same entrance that led them in.
Our guide kept talking about the different sections in the cave including the Python and Crocodile Section. These seemed a little bit exaggerated and made me doubt some of the other rules. Maybe they just want people to be scared. Well, we can’t really tell since promised to show us the Sections another time.
The most interesting part of the cave was the Ogba River. A part of it was warm and the other cold and amazingly they didn’t mix up. The tour guide made us understand that one of the water flowed from the cave while the other flowed from a stream in another village.
At the river, we didn’t prepare to swim but the water felt so refreshing on our feet as we walked around the different shallow sections and washed our hands and shoes which had been smeared with the mud from the soil. I also saw a cock walking around the water and the tour guide explained that some people come in there to sacrifice things through the water.
Ogbunike Cave is really a beautiful place to visit but one thing I found worrisome was the 4th rule at the entrance, “Women in their periods are prohibited”.
These brought a lot of questions, a part of me believes that these are remnants of the traditions that subjugated women while another part of me believes that it is to prevent women from swimming in the water while they are on their period as people wash in the water and use it for other reasons.
I hope to visit the cave another time. It’s really budget friendly and the next time I visit, it will definitely be more interesting. Have you been to the Cave? What was your experience?