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Elvira Claude
Elvira Claude
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Mt Cameroon's Ascension

Mt Cameroon's Ascension

Here is an activity that appeals to big fans of adventure and challenges.

I had the opportunity, during one of my trips to the country, to participate in this great adventure which is climbing the Mt Cameroon. Although I am from Cameroon, I thought for a long time that this activity was restricted to only high level competitions, without suspecting that it is also accessible to tourists. Indeed, the Cameroon Athletics Federation organizes every year in the month of February an race-ascent of Mt Cameroon, called the "Race of Hope". A bit like the Tour de France. It's an endurance race of about 40 km, with 2500 m of altitude. The best riders reach the summit in about 4 hours and return at the bottom of the mountain before nightfall.

Because of my father’s taste of adventure and tourism, I had the chance to experience this wonder of my dear country. Unfortunately, few of my compatriots know the beauty of this area and tourism is not really developed there.

A bit of history and geography to get started:

Located in the southwestern region of Cameroon, Mt Cameroon is the highest peak of Cameroon; it culminates at 4100m altitude. It is a still active volcano, the only and the last of the country. The last volcanic eruption was in February 2012 and there was 9 eruptions during the 20th century. The southwestern region is characterized by its black and rich soil, due to the presence of an active volcano. The sand of nearby beaches (including Limbe) is very fine and black. Nearby you can find the pumice: a piece of granite, oval, with a porous surface, which is usually used to clean the feet. You should buy some during the trip because they are at very good prices in that region. They are usually sold on makeshift stalls on the floor, beside the road.

To access the Mount Cameroon:

The easiest and shortest way for getting to Mount Cameroon is to start from Buea (read "Boya"). Take the direction of Upper Town and the old palace of the governor Von Puttkammer. The access trail begins near the 21th Infantry Battalion and the stele of Bismarck. Buea is located about 70km from the city of Douala. It takes 1h30.

You don't climb the Mt Cameroon alone: ​​experienced guides accompany you throughout your journey and carry your heavy bags if necessary. You must, as far as possible, avoid going there during the rainy season because the road is so slippery. I went during the month of June, the beginning of the rainy season in Cameroon and I can tell you that the descent was very difficult (and funny too). We were dressed in loose sportswear and were adequately covered to avoid getting bitten in the legs or arms. This was not necessarily helpful because there's few insects and no dangerous animals. Each of us was fitted of a backpack containing a large bottle of water, paper towels, chocolate chips and a sandwich. Each of us had a guide. So it is possible to abandon the ascent at any level and be accompanied back by your escort guide. The guides have their own supplies if needed but they can help climbers to wear some of their provisions.

The ascent is done in several steps. Three shelters have been built at different levels to allow climbers to rest: the first is at 1875m above sea level and source of water is available; the second to 2860m and the latter is 3740m. For my part, I have not climbed to the top. Being a basic average sports (I like jogging or 2 a week), I arrived at the first shelter in 4h time. We teed off at 8 am and arrived around noon. It was time for us to climb gently, enjoy the scenery and take pictures. At the heart of nature, a soft and cool, surrounded by lush flora, we constantly marveled at the flowers in shimmering colors, shapes bizarre plants and century-old massive trees. It was more important for us to enjoy the scenery rather than arriving at the shelter. The soothing sounds and the smell of freshly wet earth (in rainy season) are the best memories I have left of this adventure. I also remember the kindness and the reliability of our guides, who on the way instructing us on the species of trees and plants, and the history of the people living on the flanks of the mountain.

When we arrived at the first shelter, we refueled and left our footsteps as all climbers do before leaving. On a large wall that was once white, hundreds of signatures, dates and names were next to each other. We were pleasantly surprised by the multitude of signatures and above all by the age of the listed dates. I thought that the ascent of Mt Cameroon was not quite known as a tourist activity but I discovered that for more than 30 years, lots of tourists like me have been there (I do not count the locals nor the athletes). It was a great discovery which makes me want to talk about my experience so that more people go to meet this mountain.

After resting 2 hours, we headed to the foot of the mountain. The descent lasted about 3 hours. So it was a busy day.

It seems to me that climbing to the top of the Mountain and returning back down is not possible in a day (except for competitive athletes) but this can be done in a weekend or three days, if you walk by a good step. So you will need enough food to refuel for 2/3 days. It also seems that as we approach the summit, the landscape is less wooded and offers much more extensive short grass and dry land (the fire of the volcano has been there!). It is much colder (between 0 and 10 ° C) and there may be a lot of wind (40km / h). So warm clothing (hats, gloves, scarves, blankets) are strongly recommended, and all that might be required for a minimal personal comfort.

I hope my story and especially the pictures make you want to try this adventure.

Good luck and above all enjoy it to the max!