Sometimes, the unexpected can turn out to be special, and this certainly goes for our excursion to Mount Eloundem. On our first day in the Cameroonian capital, we had applied for a visa to neighbouring Gabon, and had found the museum we had wanted to visit, closed. A friendly guy in the street approached us, walked us to the Municipal Lake, and proposed to go to Mount Eloundem the next day, instead of another, harder to reach destination. We agreed to meet the next morning, found our new friend with a big smile on his face, and after waiting a while, boarded a bus to the outskirts of Yaoundé. Part of the fun of traveling in Africa is that you can often see where the vehicles have lived their first life; like quite a few buses in the city, this one was from our home country - the original destination was still displayed on the front of the bus. We got off at the end, took a short ride on a motorbike, and started hiking from there. At once, we had left the city behind, we crossed a rickety wooden bridge for pedestrians across a stream of water, and walked through plantations until we reached a couple of houses. Ahead of us, we could see the summit of Mount Eloundem towering above the thick vegetation.
From here, we entered a denser, wilder vegetation. We still saw some plantations, and worked our way up through a tropical forest. The climb was a little steep at times, but easy all the while, and before long, we reached a small platform, a clearing in the forest. We had a break here, enjoyed the views towards the east, and the sea of dwellings in the distance reminded us that we were still close to Yaoundé. From here, the summit was within easy reach, and after we drank water, we continued on a sometimes steeper path to the top of Mount Eloundem at a little over 1,000 metres. From a distance, we heard chanting, and when we came closer, I noticed a man dressed in a red shirt singing religious songs all alone in the forest. Apparently, the mountain is a place for people to retreat; our new friend told us that people stay overnight here to find solitude away from the daily bustle of Cameroonian life.
On the way down, we could catch glimpses of a lake in the distance, but the forest around us prevented us from having a really good look. Women were working the plantations we had seen in the morning. We were happy we were on our way down: where the morning had seen a grey sky, we now walked under a sun that was squeezing our body fluids out. Our guide climbed trees to find us guavas, which came in very welcome. Some of the trees were full with small bird nests, with up to ten nests per branch. More people were using the trail now: women going to the market, men with carts stuffed with wood. When we crossed the bridge again, we knew we were close to the road, and we had reached the outskirts of Yaoundé again. By now, we were so thirsty, we sat down in the first bar we saw to rehydrate ourselves after a pleasant morning on Mount Eloundem.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mount Eloundem (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mount Eloundem.
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