The waterfalls and beaches of Cameroon (March-April 2014)


The following morning was spent once again on Bamenda’s delightful market where we haggled over plenty of fresh vegetables and freshly cut beef filet. Stocked up to the roof we drove south and descended for about 1000m on a pass after the former German mountain town of Dschang. For 40 series Land Cruiser enthusiasts Cameroon is a heaven and we sneaked into many backyards just to spot another one of them still doing its deeds on the fields and mountainous tracks of the highlands.

In the late afternoon we arrived at the Ekom Falls, now being in French speaking Cameroon opposed to its Anglophone west. Heavy negotiations followed at the entry gate as we wanted to spend the night without any annoying securities who wanted to be paid to sleep next to us. Eventually we succeeded and headed for the magnificent falls. They might not be the largest or most spectacular we have ever seen but are located in beautiful rainforest surroundings and you are free to scramble around freely at the top and bottom. After setting up camp a person appeared out of the dark, dripping wet. He turned out to be a fisher men just returning from the base of the falls with his catch. We bought 4 very different looking fishes of him which made for a delightful dinner would it not have been for the thousands of insects attracted by every tiny source of light. It was not until Marc switched on the auxiliary lights on the Land Rover until we had some peace – and the Land Rover was covered in crawling insects.

Breakfast was about the same story with hundreds of sometimes biting creatures around us. We left the falls after another photo session and drove over some very rough tracks towards the town of Kumba where we wanted to see one of Cameroon’s largest crater lakes. Obviously there was a fee to be paid at the turnoff and we were told that the drive would take about 5 minutes – what a bad joke. Before heading off we loaded the car up with luggage and groceries of some villagers who lived on the other side of the lake. We found ourselves on a steep and extremely muddy track with a sheer drop down the hill just half a meter to our left. So we ploughed through the mud, Landy first and Land Cruiser following until we were brought to a sudden halt. No movement forward, none backwards. The Landy got through due to its larger tires and suspension lift so Marc turned around and we tried to winch ourselves out but to no avail. A quick assessment of the situation led to the conclusion that we would have to lift the car up with the Hi-Lift jack and place sand boards underneath. Well that was the plan at least until more and more locals arrived. The women, who thought that a winch would be useless and tried to push us out of the ditch instead, quickly lost their patience so we unloaded their luggage and off they went. The newly arrived men were one more manly and clever than the other and all had their own idea of how to recover the Land Cruiser. All fine if it would have been possible to discuss a solution in a civil manner but instead everybody went to follow his own plan and shouted for Fabian’s attention. To cut a long story short, white men are useless in Africa and don’t know how to drive, shaking the car left and right does not do anything, Jasmine getting caught up in an argument with half the guys didn’t lead anywhere and in the end we resolved to our initial solution of lifting the car. Note to ourselves here – lubricate the Hi-Lift more often! Both Marc’s and ours were pretty much stuffed due to months of dust, water and mud being thrown at them. With some heavy lifting of Marc, many shouted instructions so the guys would not push the Land Cruiser down the hill and 4 sand boards we eventually roared out of the mud. We gave out a round of beer and were on our way again after two interesting hours.

After eventually arriving at the lake we enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful place until it was time to head back the same track to find a bush camp before it got completely dark. Somebody tied a goat to the Land Cruiser so we had to wait shortly until it was freed, did some minor adjustments to the track to get through more smoothly and came out the other end, muddy and exhausted. To our joy Mount Cameroon decided to lift its blanket of clouds and showed itself in front of a beautiful evening sky as we sped along on welcome tarmac. The night was spent in one of the many rubber plantations on the way.

The next day we arrived in Limbé and put up camp at the Seme Beach Hotel with its amazing natural pool filled by a cold spring – a heaven after enduring the coasts humidity all day. We spent several days catching up with internet stuff, servicing and repairing the cars and enjoying the black volcanic beach until it was time to head along the coast towards Kribi. We got a little bit off track in Cameroon’s largest city Douala and had a long and fruitless discussion with a police officer on the way there. He was convinced that driving a right hand drive vehicle was a grave offence and wanted us to drive with him back the way we came from to see his superior so he could receive congratulations for catching us terrible criminals. Fabian pulled every trick that one learns by driving through Africa for many months but the guy stayed stubborn. The last resort was getting seriously angry and starting to shout at him, which worked wonders as the police officer shouted back that we should leave immediately as we were giving him a headache.

In Kribi we enjoyed the beautiful beaches, had some nice seafood dinner and some of the best pizza in Africa, caught up with more internet stuff, visited the Lopé Falls, some of the few water falls in the world that end in the sea, forgot our laptop charger which was a real pita as we could not do any write ups anymore nor organize photos and eventually drove on a smooth piste inland to Ebolowa and headed south to the border with Gabon. We were allowed to camp on a large tarmac area right at the border and were surprised by a heavy thunderstorm with an awesome lighting show and enduring rains.

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