Traveling the Bamenda Highlands in Cameroon
The countryside in Northwest Province is lush and beautiful, with great mountain vistas, waterfalls, and quiet little villages. The Highlands are mostly grasslands where native Fulanis live and graze their cattle. The weather in the moutains is extremely pleasant, with temperatures normally between 10 and 25C! It does rain though, almost continuously during the rainy season. Travel on the road is limited or prohibited when it is raining. Raingates close the road at each villiage to all truck traffic.
Dining is touch and go on the road. In restaurants, if you find one, I do not think they actually have any food on hand. They go out and buy it after you order. Stick to bottled water! Rice and fufu are standard faire, greens and small amounts of meat -which may not be fresh. Roadside eateries are inadvisable for non-natives. You will likely meet microbes your gut has never seen before.
The small village of Rhumsiki is set in a lunar landscape of extraordinary volcanic plugs and basalt outcrops surrounded by a series of imposing peaks.
The mountains are dotted with little thatched houses huddling against the rocks and looking almost if they had simply grown rather than been constructed.
I took this shot during harmattan period: a wind bringing sahara sand in suspension giving the idea of a foggy atmosphere.
SUN SET AT RHUMSIKI
The Rhumsiki villages, with their traditional round mud compounds are a sight in themselves. The constructions by the “mountain heathens”, as German colonial official called the Kapsiki, stand out from the buildings by the mostly Muslim lowland Fulanis (Foulbe). For first-time visitors to rural Africa, these villages live up to expectations and clichés.
Several of the smaller villages of the area are even more fascinating, carved into the hillsides as if each and every house was a small fortress. The Mandara, Matakam and Podoro people of these mountains all had to defend themselves from the Fulani invaders, arriving in the 1820s, hunting down non-Muslims as slaves. Only Mali’s famous Dogon area is comparable.
Most visitors limit their visit to Rhumsiki village, from where they do shorter walks into the landscapes, filling the memory cards of their camera. But if you want to do some African trekking, Rhumsiki is the perfect base for tours into one of the continent’s most exciting destinations; the Mandara Mountains.
Rhumsiki can offer no luxury, although accommodation at the Campement is very acceptable given its remote location. A pension, camping and several restaurants are also to be found.
LODGING IN RHUMSIKI
Comfortable lodging facilities and good meals in three-star hotels (local standards) and camps in parks and at Rhumsiki.
THE MBAM HIGH LAND OF CAMEROON
Bamenda Grassfields is a region of Cameroon characterised by high relief, cool temperatures, heavy rainfall, andSavana vegetation.