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Published: October 31st 2011
Having some time on my own in Bamenda, capital of Northwest province. Only a few days left before returning to the Netherlands..
I had the most amazing few days climbing Mount Cameroon! It was the one slightly more expensive thing that I chose to do, but it was worth the money.. The hike started from the nice mountain town of Buea, at the root of the mountain. I went with a very knowledgeable guide Samuel and a porter Rudolf. To have a porter is something I'm not so used to, but when going up I thought I was very happy about the trip being organized in such a way.. besides, climbing the mountain is not really possible without going through the Mount-Cameroon Intercommunal Ecotourism Board, which provides the guides and porters.
It was a 3 km vertical difference between the starting point and the summit. We completed it in a bit over two days.. It was like climbing stairs most of the time, and although rather demanding physically going up was more a question of determination.. On the last pit of coming down though I could hardly trust my legs anymore, and even now walking is a bit stiff.
But despite this, I enjoyed every moment of it! Maybe it was the combination of physical exercise, unbelievable landscape and nice people around, that made me just purely happy. It was amazing to see the change in vegetation, from farmed land to mountain rainforest, different types of grassland, tundra-like dwarf vegetation and finally volcanic rocks covered with lichens. There's lots of endemic plants, birds and other animals on the mountain. Samuel the guide could tell a great deal about them, and also about the stories told about the mountain.. There's said to be a mountain god, Ifasamuto, half human half rock, living there. Some sacrifice is needed every now and then to keep him calm.The mountain has erupted a few times during the past 20 or 30 years, with no casualties during the latest eruptions. We visited the crater or 2000 eruption, sulphur gases still swirling in the air.
It was absolutely a great feeling to reach the summit! And reaching Buea again as well, with wobbly legs. Mount CEO are really doing a great work there, and I could recommend climbing the mountain to anyone who likes hiking (up the hill), nature and dreamlike landscapes.
People in Buea
spoke English! They surprised me by it, and had a good laugh as well, for I was very hard trying to make myself understood in French, like I'm kind of used to by now. But that is English speaking area.. They were happy folk.
Actually most people I've met during my time have been friendly and nice. People are usually very helpful in Cameroon. That is something I've really enjoyed.. There's this feel of community around, everywhere I go. People seem to think they want to give a helping hand to each other, since you never know when you yourself will need help from others. In the villages it was especially evident.. If something happened to one family, it seemed to somehow affect the whole village community. And when asking a question or help from someone, if they can't assist themselves, they're happy to find someone else who can. People often speak about sisters and brothers when they actually mean a cousin or a friend. That all always makes me think how important it is that we care about our family and friends, but also others around us.. and what a privilege it is to have those lovely friends
and family members, be able to contact them and have fun with them.
Another thing I've enormously enjoyed is the fact that I've been eating local food most of the time..! When in the villages, it was often plantain, macabo or manioc from people's backyards or plantations that we ate, maybe with fish or meat caught by the themselves or the neighbours.. And the vegetables, often self grown as well. Fruits.. I've loved the fresh, sweet fruits we've had! Mangoes, pineapples, grapes, papaya, corasol, cacao and coconut.. We also met a woman who runs a fair fruit project here in Cameroon, and learned a bit about her work and challenges. Seeing and hearing things from close by like this just makes me feel that I should try more than before to buy and consume locally produced or fair trade products, when in Europe as well.
Finally, one more thing I really value here is the fact that people are quite patient indeed. With public transport, there might be delays of hours or even days at some places, but then people usually just adjust to the situation. When we visited the villages, we sometimes announced ourselves beforehand, but didn't
always define the time of day that we would arrive. Sometimes the men had been sitting there since the morning.. and yet, when we arrived in the afternoon, there was no sign of impatience or dissatisfaction. And once when we were going to the forest, we stopped at a village to find a local guide who could show us the way. We talked to the first man we saw, he thought for a moment, went inside to change a shirt and get a machete and jumped on the motorbike, not knowing us or where exactly we where going, but completely willing to spend his day with us and earn a little money.
It is something to remember and learn from; that not everything has to happen at that exact moment as we wish for, or not exactly as we wish for.. I think during our stay we learned quite well to adjust to different situations and be patient.
However, when we wanted to finally visit the national park of Campo Ma'an for a few days, it didn't seem to work when we just waited patiently for things to happen as people first told us they would. So we
pushed things a bit ourselves, and managed to put together a few day trips. We had eco guards or other guides with us, and during these days we got to discover some beautiful and interesting things in the rainforest. There were lots of monkeys, jumping and going about their family business high in the trees, lots of birds as well, especially hornbills and some parrots, snakes (we almost stepped on a dangerous green mamba twice), insects and weird thingies on the forest floor. They're starting up with gorilla habituation in one sector of the forest, and we got to see and learn a bit how this work is done. At the moment they're purely tracking the animals and trying to figure out their movements and behaviour in the forest. We saw some tracks, gorilla nests and feeding places. One day they wish the groups to be so used to human presence that they could bring tourists to visit the animals.. this would bring some extra support for the conservation of the park.
Time's up in the internet cafe.. No pics included yet, maybe later when I can work on my own computer!
That's all folks, from Cameroon. my love
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