Ogbunike cave is one of Nigeria’s top tourist destinations with thousands of people from across the world trooping there to behold one of the wonders of nature. The cave is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites in Nigeria you should really visit. You may have heard about the cave or even gone there on a stray visit. Whether you’ve been there before or not, this personal experience piece by Emmanuella Ezeifeka will make you want to rush down to that cave immediately. The narration is thrilling and captivating, with details arousing an unusual desire to experience fear and fun put together. Read her exciting experience in the cave of many tunnels where the brave graciously dare through while the faint-hearted strive to panic through.
Ogbunike Cave! The Beautiful Fear You Should Experience
The very first time I heard of Ogbunike cave, I was in junior secondary school. A friend of mine who was from Ogbunike told us a story about it but because I was a child who didn’t understand the value of “natural heritage” so I discarded the idea of visiting it even if it was in my state. Few years later, I am sitting here with so much excitement in my heart as I write about my experience in the cave about a week ago. Visiting Ogbunike cave was never in my 2018 agenda or wishlist but somehow it got on it few days before the year came to an end because my mother who is a geographer insisted on going there while we were in my hometown, Igboukwu for the Christmas vacation.
On that faithful day we visited the cave, I was unexcited because after all, “what does an ancient cave have to offer to a city babe like myself?” I went because I didn’t want to offend my mum. She said I should go along with her and my father and although I had a choice, I couldn’t turn down the offer as a true and obedient African child.
The Ogbunike cave is Located at ugwu ogba in ogbunike town of Oyi Local Government Area, Anambra State which is about an hour from my home in igboukwu so we got there in no time. On our entry to the straight, tarred road that leads to the cave, we met a flock of youths who were walking, singing and dancing through the same route as though it was a kind of street carnival. It was later on we discovered that it was a tradition for the Ogbunike youths to flood the cave as a group on a yearly basis as a respect and celebration of the cave which saved their ancestors during times of war and perils.
On getting to the cave, we were greeted with a big and black signboard which had a welcome message and 9 rules written conspicuously in white ink. The first rule stated that only the cave manager and his assistants are allowed to operate in the cave. One would wonder why until they observe that the cave is made up of a lot of tunnels which can be really confusing and lead to different exists. Its safe to say someone can actually get lost in that cave without a guide because of its complexity. The 2nd rule states that people are duty bound to pay for the upkeep of the cave. Although we didn’t pay because that day was an important day in the land, it was said that a gate fee is usually collected at the entrance of the cave by the cave managers. The 3rd rule states the official visiting hours which is from 8am to 5pm and the scary thing about that particular rule is that it stated clearly that visitors outside these official hours are on their own risk and one would wonder, what could possibly happen outside these official hours? I guess you would never know until you break the rule but either ways, you have been warned. While the 4th rule talks about the prohibition of women on their menstruation for no obvious reason, the 5th rule admonishes thieves about stealing within or around the cave. The 6th rule states that deforestation of the caves environment attracts a fine of 5000 naira and the 7th rule advises visitors not to abuse the drinking water at the entrance of the cave which is clean and believed to have certain healing powers. The 8th rule says that all items for sacrificial purposes MUST be dropped in the Ogba River. At this point I gulped and said to myself “sacrifice?? well, clearly, a lot of things go down here”. I read the very last rule which warns people of the 5000 naira fine that is attached to fighting. After reading the regulations, I put myself together and started my adventure. It’s just a cave right?
We approached a staircase leading downwards which consists of over 300 stairs. 300 stairs look and sound easy until you are climbing back to the top.
At the bottom of the staircase was an Open space where guests are received and because it was a special day for youths, there were quite a number of people at this entrance. My mum and I were asked to remove our shoes before stepping into the cave and we did so. I nearly shrieked when I stepped into the cave because the ground was almost as cold as ice but I won’t deny that it still felt good. I walked round the entrance and discovered there were several tunnels into the cave. I began to slowly and carefully examine all the tunnels to see if I could take up the task of crawling through either of them, while asking questions to find out which of them had the shortest route. I really didn’t want to be stuck in a cave with bats which greeted us at the entrance. Something in me recalled that vampires mostly turn into bats at times and deep down; I really didn’t want my blood consumed by vampires in the form of bats. I had heard a lot of strange and scary stories outside about the cave so it was normal for my mind to play some tricks on me.
I finally picked a tunnel. This one was the most populated and I told myself that this kind of adventure required a crowd just in case any of the emergencies I was calculating in my head decided to occur. It was time for me to get into the tunnel and I became enveloped with so much fear that my heart began to race. What was I scared of? the stories? The bats? or the perhaps the fact that something was telling me that I wouldn’t make it out alive (LOL). My mother who was very much excited asked me to go in assuring me that she would follow me closely behind. I declined.
“Mummy this isn’t a good idea, let’s not go into that place, it’s scary”
“What do you mean? Well, I’m going in, you can wait here if you want. bye” she replied.
I picked up my nerves and crawled behind her. Four steps into the cave and I heard myself saying out loud “mummy I can’t breathe, I’m dying” when I was actually breathing and nothing close to dying.
Certainly the nerves I picked up were playing a fast one on me. I tried to calm myself down and calculate how to turn around but that was impossible as that part of tunnel was very narrow and a whole trail of people were already behind me. Again, I put myself together and crawled forward. Only cowards give up and I knew deep down that cowardice was extremely far from me. As we went further, the journey got more interesting and exciting; people made good and bad jokes and we laughed almost through the journey.
There were times when we had to help each other jump or ascend and descend to higher and lower ground levels, times when we saw various sizes of bats hanging pretty on the walls of other routes and times when we had to deep our pretty feet into muddy water, sandy water as well as clean water.
In less than 10 minutes, the adventurous journey was finally over and I couldn’t even believe that fear could’ve made me miss such a beautiful experience. We climbed a hill which led us out of the cave to a route that took us back to the staircase of over 300 stairs, another heavy task but of course I survived it. One week later and my calves still hurt.
Have you been to OGBUNIKE CAVE or heard about it? Share your stories and experiences with us in the comment section below.