Cameroon or Rios dos Camarões (Shrimps Rivers) as it was named by Portuguese explorers. It is the country of scenery, natural bounty and diversity. From the coast line, mountain rangers, rain forest, savannah and desert. This geography variation create the diversity of people as well as cultures. The country habour many euthenics groups ranging from Nilotic (fulans), Bantus to Pygmy, leave the territory with about 200 different languages.
It have been quite a while since I cycle in the mountains, arrived in Limbe I was welcomed with climbings before decent to the coast again in Douala. It was a great chance to visit the mid west of the country, these highland are scenic and has pleasant weather.
Thank for the visit of Anton and Hélène. I’m now supplied with new equipments which hopeful will help to tackle the coming stretch of Congos. The visit come with invitation to hike Mt. Cameroon. The invitation to change the kind of challenge, to use different kind of muscles from one I’m now accustomed, to hike the highest point of West and Central Africa.This was good chance to change the weather, from 30 celsius to 0 celsius.
We drive from Doula to Buea (Buya) town on the foothills of the Mt.Cameroon, about 1500-1900m. It is nice weather compare to the heat and humidity of low lands, it is not ease to get clear view of the mountain as clouds hide it for the most of the time.
There are couple of clubs/organizations which facilitate the hiking. The price vary from $250 -300 for 2 days for two people. Probably is not so ease to sell a trip to someone who sell trips. When I did calculation I couldn’t find out why we have to pay all this money which doesn’t include food just guide which is $20 per day and park fees $10 per day. We try to find private guide but end up in the club again but this time we had to pay only $110, buy and cary our food and equipments.
The hike start in the edge of the town where there are former colonial building varying from German to British a common picture of Cameroon, in other city like Douala there is still three architecture; German and French.
We peak John who is the porter to be our guide. He point out some train in the forest and say it is wild animal trackers path. I was surprised with this information, trackers in the national park?
Well, I just find out later that Mt. Cameroon National Park was official established as early as 2009. Financed and supported with German Cooperation (GIZ) and World Wildlife Funds (WWF). This for me was shocking information, a home of forest elephants and moutain Gorillas!
These are the challenges of conservation I have seen from the southern part of Senegal to here. The efforts of conservation of environment and eco systems haven’t peak significant pace. Although conservation and sustainability can be noticed in the daily life of the pupation in this region. It seem like there is conflict with growing urbanization, population and poverty. Big scale economic projects such us palm oil production, oil, gas and mineral mining, etc seem to have lot of effects on environment and less sustainable. Huge part of population still in the poverty relay on this very environment for their less developed means of food production which increase encroachment to new areas and degradation. As I have mentioned several time before with no sufficient protein or meet production population is depending on the wild animals, a great challenge for the protection of fauna.
Cameroon is experience the something, majority are still substance farmers. In this kind of practice farmers are likely to advance in the new and fertile lands; mountains, forest, etc.
The hike to first hut about 3 hours though the tropical rain forest was quite but full of birds chantings. Although now we were 2000m +, were still sweeting from humidity. The hut here is of wood, with park rangers to check permits. Before the intimidate hut we caught up with rain but it wasn’t such cold. The intimidate hut is corrugated iron with wooden plunk which I guess to put your mattress on and sleep. The floor is rock and dust but carpeted with dry grass. The sealing board inside the hut all are full of signatures and autobiography, seem like favorite of locals who make it up here.
The hike to hut two was more challenging, the trail seem like it follow what used to be water fall path. It is steep loose rock track, for about 1 hour the walk was like counting steeps. I wonder how is the runner have to run in this section. I was told that this is most difficult part, what is known is they go down hill with their batts.
We camped at hut two 2800m, the corrugated iron hut is party burn down, thanks for that we could sleep in our tens. We brought charcoal for cooking, not best good option but the other group venture to chop down the remain bushes for fire wood. I try to tell them that is not goo idea since in this altitude it will take too long for plant to reach that point so it is great harm for the eco system an diversity. But this guys not only argue that the trees grown every season where they management seem to set unneeded and un managed wildfire. They also block they understanding. We also had discussion of trash especial plastic which little the trail and huts. Crew doesn’t seem like they used to take their trash back, most of the trash in the trail seem to be local products of packet waters and so on. John and one of his friend try to brain storm on how they could clean the trail. They claim that runners left lot of water bottles behind. I told them to go after the race sponsors; Guinness beer, Orange mobil company, etc. Our conversation smoothed with fire burn in the middle as we sit around. Brono, another hiker we team up, tell the story of his involve in supporting small enterprise in Africa while Patrick another hiker give use insight of geopolitical of Anglophone and Francophone Cameroon which is his study here in Cameroon.
In the next morning after breakfast we hike for two hours to reach third hut 3800m, which seem rarely used because porters don’t like the cold up here. Half an hour from this hut we battle with strong wind which force us to hold one another in some points we reached the 4200m (if my device was correct). John said the next summit is ‘German summit’ 4600m, with that sort of weather it would be quite difficult to reach it.
We made our way down, this wasn’t ease and pleasant part. It seem like we put too much pressure in the leg last day, half way down we start feel the pain of tendons. I think it was ambition to take this mountains for two day but route doesn’t offer much because even for 3 days trip one has to make to second hut in one day. The down side I think is decent in the same route, the price is to massage legs for couple of days.
With still sour legs I cycle off Douala towards Yaounde. This was pleasant ride in the rain forest with rolling hills which brought me to 700m.
For 240km the only big urban was Edea, a village of Cameroon football striker Samuel Etoo. On the road it only small villages till 15km to Yaounde. It didn’t feel like I was entering the capital. The downside of this road is trucks and buses rushing from Douala port to the capital and in the neighbor countries.
I attempt to get Equatorial Guinea visa but the reception was like ‘don’t bother us’. I try to push to see general consulate but I was threaten that they will call police.
Gabon visa also prove to be too difficult or far expensive to get invitation latter which now I’m told will not even guarantee me visa. I made up the plan now is to head in both Congo since Central Africa Republic is still in chaos. The plan is to cross to Republic of Congo from Cameroon then follow river congo to Brazzaville. From here will cross to Kinshasa then head east to either Rwanda or Burundi.