This afternoon we got back from our four day hiking trip on Mount Cameroon. It was lovely, although a bit of a slog in parts. Much more about it all once I get back to Abuja.
Hope everyone enjoys their New Year celebrations. I’ll be in Opobo Town with Pete, Mary and Charles.
During a long night of tossing and turning, made complicated by being pressed up against Pete and Amy, I heard the pre-dawn departure of the two two-day tour groups. Few of us seem to have got much sleep, although Indar and Jonathan managed a fair bit of snoring.
We had tea and croissants for breakfast and set off at around 7.30am. It was a hard slog again, although some parts were easier than yesterday the air was getting thinner (hut 2 is at 2850m 9350 ft). The landscape above hut 2 looked almost mediterranean in the morning sun, just much colder! We were still stopped to rest more frequently than the guides wanted to.
I started my day with a swim before breakfast and a trip up to the supermarket to buy some phone credit. On my return I discovered chaos among our group, Jenny and Karin had decided they would climb the mountain after all. I kept out of the way while they discussed what would need to be reorganised and decided to head for the market to buy boots.
The first group left for the beach only slightly late as a result, with me guiding them to Mile 11 beach. I phoned home, gloated a little bit about basking on the beach while everyone in Scotland was freezing and got a call from my granny in Norfolk. The beach was much busier than when we had scouted but was still lovely, warm water crashing over the chocolate-coloured sand. We had lunch, chatted, read and swam. Everyone enjoyed the Christmas cake that had made it all the way from granny to Limbe.
We wanted to be back before dark, so we left the hotel and waited for a taxi with the crowd on the Limbe road. The hotel security guard wasn’t keen to have a large group of white people hanging around on the road, so he phoned for two taxis and we got to skip the queue (again).
Dinner was back at the Miramare, I had their very nice pepper steak and then retired to my room to pack for our departure up the mountain.
After breakfast Charles organised the Grand Shopping Expedition. We had to buy all the supplies we’d need for our four days on Mount Cameroon. I was inclining more towards light weight food but the others preferred nice meals. We put in an order with the local 24-hour bakery for pizzas, quiches and bread then moved on to the nearby supermarket. Charles stood in the middle of the supermarket with the list, despatching us to find items. After that we went back to the market and Charlie’s shop for fresh fruit and vegetables and a few things we couldn’t get elsewhere.
I joined Pete and Mary for lunch at “L’Estaminet de Limbe”, next door to the bakery. It’s a nice little bar and the place where I ate snake for the first time, boa in a delicious sauce after a fish soup starter that would have done as a main course. After a quick return to the supermarket I had my personal supply of snacks for the mountain trip, Cameroonian chocolate and biscuits.
I spent most of the afternoon sitting and reading in the bar or by the pool. Jenny, Jonathan, Kay, Karin, Chantal and Irma arrived in the late afternoon after their speedboat journey from Calabar. They checked in to the hotel and joined us in the bar. Karin was still unsure about whether to join us for Mount Cameroon and hadn’t brought any equipment with her.
In the morning Amy and I walked along the road to the Limbe Wildlife Park. It used to be the Limbe Zoo and was apparently very run down and unpleasant. These days it’s a collaboration between Pandrillus (who we visited in Calabar) and the Cameroonian government. It has several large enclosures in a beautiful setting on the edge of town. I really enjoyed wandering around and looking at the gorillas, chimpanzees (complete with signs warning about them throwing rocks), drills, mangabeys and various other animals.
The next activity for the day was heading west with Charles to check out the beaches in preparation for Christmas day. First stop was Mile 6 beach, no charge for visiting it but also no bar and a fine view of the neighbouring oil refinery. Next we stopped at Mile 8, which is managed by a local hotel and they charge XAF 1000 to use the beach, which you can see Charles walking along in the leftmost picture below. In the end we decided on Mile 11 beach, by the New Seme Beach Hotel, it has a beautiful long beach with little table, a bar and your XAF 1000 fee is deducted from your bar bill.
Got up and wandered down to the restaurant for breakfast, pancakes, nice baguette with butter and jam and real coffee!
The main activity was a trip through to Buea to book the Mount Cameroon trek. We took a drop to Mile 4 motor park and then bought tickets for a bus to Buea. The motor parks actually have ticket offices, unfortunately the man at the Buea window was a bit aggressive. The standard of driving in Cameroon seems to be higher than in Nigeria, fewer mad overtaking manoeuvres and generally less aggressive drivers.
A quick update as I’m in an internet cafe.
We travelled from Calabar to Limbe in Cameroon by overnight ferry, tedious but relatively safe and comfortable. Arrived yesterday, checked into the Park Hotel Miramar, fantastic view of the bay and good food.
Today we took a bus to Buea and booked the Mount Cameroon trip, we’ll be going up the Guinness trail and back down via Mann Spring.
More (with pictures) on my return to Abuja.
Happy Christmas to everyone.