In the heart of the quiet, calm and peaceful city of Osogbo is a ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ known as the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. The grove is located along the banks of the Osun River in Osogbo, the Osun state capital.
Visiting the grove from within or outside the state is not a herculean task due to its location which can easily be accessed directly from the city centre.
From Olaiya flyover bridge (the city centre) or wherever you are within Osogbo, you won’t have a hard time getting a commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada to commute you to the grove which is located at Isale-Osun, very close to the palace of the city’s traditional ruler, the Ata-Oja of Osogbo.
Osun-Osogbo Grove boasts of a rainforest vegetation that covers an area of 75 hectares surrounding it. It is on a raised percel about 350 metres above sea level. This is breathtaking organically enveloped cultural landscape.
Inside the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, you’d come in contact with amazing and enigmatic traditional artefacts scattered within the forest. Also located within the forest is the first palace in Osogbo, a suspended bridge, a shrine for Osun devotees and a rest point for tourists.
One of the most fascinating moments for most tourists at the grove whenever they visit is the fun-moment with the over a thousand monkeys that live inside the forest. Visitors have made it a tradition of giving bananas to the monkeys; hence the monkeys there are always excited and expectant when they see tourists around.
The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is not just a place for adventure for tourists but also for research and religious worship; especially the devotees of Osun, the river goddess. The Grove is today managed by the National Commission for Museums and Monument who have an office at the entrance to the grove.
Entrance fee to the grove is 200 Naira. However, you’ll have to pay an extra (negotiable) fee if you are going in with your mobile phone or any other device for the purpose of taking pictures. I.e 1,000 Naira for smart phones and 3,000 Naira for digital cameras. These prices are negotiable.
After paying the required fees, (at your request), a tour guide will take you round the grove and explain the religious and historical meaning and relevance of all aspects of the grove. Though it is not mandatory to pay the tour guides but, most tourists show appreciation to them (tour guides) in monetary terms.
At the shrine inside the grove, you’ll find the Osun worshipers who have made it a tradition of demanding money from visitors before allowing them to enter the shrine-whether for sight-seeing or religious supplications. Don’t be surprised if they reject your 200 Naira and insist you drop at least a thousand Naira inside their offering box.
For a more exciting experience, the best time to visit the grove is usually during the weekends. But, if you’d want to fall in love with and better appreciate what the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove represents, visit during the annual Osun-Osogbo Festival which is usually held in August.
The annual festival usually attract thousands of tourists from within the country and across the world who do come either to just witness the festival or pay homage to the river goddess, Osun.