Old Oyo National Park: Old Oyo is the site of a large city deserted in about 1837 A.D. The old palace compound and a past water reservoir lie within the 200 ha area enclosed by a 7.5 km long wall. Two concentric outer walls with ditches, l 8 and 28 km long, enclose nearly 3,000 ha: one third of this is covered by the ruins of past mud buildings and one third by sherd scatters presumed to have occurred under more ephemeral housing. Guard houses in the wall gateways, wells, cisterns and grinding hollows provide parallel evidence of a very extensive past settlement. The mud-block construction of the old walls is best exemplified on a 16 km long wall loop, which encloses a further 2.000 ha.
Old Oyo National Park (OONP) is considered as a mixed heritage site with outstanding natural and cultural values that if explored could serve as basis for its enlistment on the UNESCO world heritage list as the first mixed heritage site in Nigeria. OONP is a landscape that serves various purposes which include recreational site, gene pool of immensurable biodiversity and research laboratory for students and researchers in the field of archeology, anthropology, ecotourism, wildlife, botany, zoology, ethnobotany and wildlife.
National parks and other protected areas have become popular destinations for nature tourism and ecotourism, both of which are rapidly becoming important components of the international tourism industry.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) ecotourism generated revenue of about US$20 billion a year and, in combination with nature tourism, contributed to 20% of global international travel.
Landscape is about the relationship between people and place. It provides the setting for our day-to-day lives. It results from the way that different components of our environment – both natural (the influences of geology, soils, climate, flora and fauna) and cultural (the historical and current impact of land use, settlement, enclosure and other human interventions) – interact together and are perceived by human being.
Subjective and objective methods of landscape assessment are good tools to be adopted in aesthetic values assessment. These methods referred to as public preference and expert judgment, respectively.
The Old Oyo National Park derives its name from the ruins of Oyo-Ile (Old Oyo) the ancient political capital of Yoruba Empire. The Park is made up of two previous Native Administrative forest Reserves, the Upper Ogun (1936) and Oyo-ile (1941) Forest Reserves. These unique ecosystem and historical relics were converted to Game Reserves in 1952 and finally upgraded to the present status of a National Parks.
The Park has total land mass of 2,512km2 and is located in south West park of Nigeria, specifically Northern Oyo State at latitude 8o 15’ and 9o 00’N and longitude 3o 35’ and 4o 42’ E. The location has inevitably placed the Park at a vantage position of abundance land area as well as diverse wildlife and cultural/historical settings.
Eleven (11) Local Government areas out of which Ten (10) falls within Oyo State and one (1) in Kwara State surround it. The Administrative Head Office is located in Oyo, Isokun area along Oyo-Iseyin road, where necessary information and booking could be made. The landscaping and organized space within the large yard has made the facility very endearing to the public.
The topography of the whole area covered by the Park has a beautiful uniqueness as most of the Park lie in plain lowland between 330 and 508 meters above the sea level and continues with a gentle slope along the Ogun River valleys. Outcrops of granite characterize the North Eastern Zone of the Park especially at Oyo-ile.
The central part of the Park has isolated hills and ridges of numerous rock outcrops. The extreme Northern part on its own has caves as well as rock shelters dominating the axis.
The drainage system is also interesting as the Park is well drained by rivers Ogun, Owu, Owe and their tributaries in the central and southern parts, while river Tessi drains the North-East part of the Park. For Eco-tourism development the inventory list with cognizance to the topography of the Park, inevitable include the rock out-crops (for mountaineering), Ikere Gorge Dam/River Ogun (for water recreation) and the archaeological endowments of Oyo-Ile (for Cultural/Historical).
Best time to visit Old Oyo National Park
The most suitable time to visit the park is during the dry season between December and April.
Entrance into the Old Oyo National Park
Visitors are required to obtain entry permits from the Park Office.
To do or to see
Here is a list of some of the fun things to do at the Old Oyo National Park:
- Explore the northern end of the park, where you can find various attraction of historic and archaeological value like; the relics of the old city walls of Oyo Ile, the great Agbaku cave which has evidence of Stone Age, the “Kosomonu” hill, the old Akesan Market, alaafin’s Palaces and crucibles of pottery used centuries ago.
- A bird watcher’s haven as it boasts of over 30 bird species.
- Spot various wildlife species on the southern end of the park; the Nile crocodile, rock python, lion, antelope, buffalo and land tortoise are just a few of the many animals you can find.
- Go sports fishing or lake cruising on Ikere Gorge Lake.
- Check out the wildlife museum at Akoto base camp.
- Enjoy mountaineering activities in the central part of the park.