Ngwo pine forest (more like trees) and cave is about 20 minutes from the centre of Enugu which makes me wonder why I waited until now to visit. We got a cab from town that took us through the old Ngwo road up to the pine forest. For some reason, our driver decided to be our guide down the valley to the cave; apparently, he went to a secondary school close to the pine forest and cave. This was a very very bad idea. Don’t be this daft, pay one of the village guides.
We saw two village guides at the forest when we arrived but decided to go with the driver. Well, it was obviously going to cost less going with the driver. Please don’t say penny wise pound foolish. We went past cow dung and I was thinking to myself “we better not come across any Fulani herdsmen; I can’t come and die in a village in Enugu.”
The driver finally got us to the top of the waterfall. By then we had discovered that the dude hadn’t been to the cave in ages. Dude was just swinging it with us in tow. Listening to the sound of falling water got us to the entrance of the cave which was blocked by crisscrossed bamboo. It looked to me like rain and wind was the source of the damage. Someone else (not calling any names) thought it might be something fetish. The driver was already thinking of turning back as he was worried about us running into Fulani herdsmen.
Having been to the source of the river Ethiope in Umuaja and seen worshippers sacrificing goats and chicken, I was feeling pretty confident that that couldn’t be surpassed so I decided to push on. Then I remembered the driver talking about being afraid of us crossing paths with Fulani herdsmen. I mentioned this to the oldest in our group and he decided the safest thing to do was to head back. Bummer. Being so close but yet so far.
We headed back to the top and met the two villagers we had seen earlier. They informed us that rain was the cause of the bamboo trunks we saw blocking the entrance to the cave, not some village juju. They also said that although they do have Fulani herdsmen in the area (their camp can be seen from the top of the valley), they have never had any problems with them. Just great.
We decided to give it another shot. This time we left our bags in the car to lighten the load and went with one of the villagers instead of the driver. Like I said, don’t be daft.
The journey back from the cave the second time was hell though. I don’t remember ever being that tired in my entire life. My legs felt like they were about to give way. I really should exercise more before going on another hike.
To the big question: should you visit Ngwo? Are you kidding me? Of course yes. For the umpteenth time, Enugu has the cheapest good hotels out of all the cities I’ve been to in Nigeria. A hotel with a standard 10k room in Enugu is posh. N4500 is like the standard here; and the pine forest is about 20 minutes from the centre of the town. The cave isn’t as far from the road as the one in Awhum. You don’t have to wade through water, well at least in November you don’t. You don’t have to write a letter asking for permission first. It’s free. I’m sure you get the point by now. Just go.