Travel - Leisure
Your secret African travel destinations:
Rhumsiki mountain village, northern Cameroon
Cameroon stretches from dreamlike tropical beaches in the south, through rainforests, savannas and the dry steppes at the Sahara's border in the north. No other country can show to a wider span in cultures and climate zones, including snow-capped mountains, modern and lively cities and genuine African villages.
An insiders' tip to an exiting trip to real Africa therefore is the overland journey from Cameroon's south, arriving at Douala international airport, up to the far north, where the Rhumsiki mountain villages make up a brilliant climax.
At the Campement de Rhumsiki, small round bungalows in a modernised indigenous style provide tired travellers a good rest after the uncomfortable overland trip on poor roads from the northern city of Maroua (which has an airport and direct flights to Yaoundé).
Rhumsiki, which on older maps is written Roumsiki or Rumsiki, has exiting history, culture and landscapes to offer the visitor. And the three attractions are closely interwoven, as the Kapsiki people escaped Muslim and German conquerors by moving into almost impregnable mountain fortresses and was left to develop their animist culture in isolation.
The Kapsiki Peak, facing Rhumsiki village, is the most spectacular of these mountain fortresses. The naked peak standing out among other peaks and valleys, also has a role in the worshipping of the Kapsiki people - a small people with its own language confined to a part of the Mandara Mountains.
Travellers will be a
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.
Hospitality is often unlimited in Cameroon, and a very friendly welcome is also given the visitor in the Mandara Mountains. However, Rhumsiki villagers have had their negative experiences with travellers, sadly encouraging many children to beg and guides and other service providers to charge exaggerated prices.
But a guided tour into the mountains nevertheless is worth it. Starting in Rhumsiki, there are plenty of trekking routes into the breathtaking landscape, including smaller excursions, week-long walks and advanced mountain climbing. Rhumsiki Peak (1274 metres) is a rewarding technical climb and guided
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.
The journey to Rhumsiki is tiring, although rewarding. From southern Cameroon, you could take the train to Ngaoundéré, appreciating the changing landscapes. From here, bush taxis or sometimes buses go to Garoua and Maroua in the north. Although there is public transport to Mokolo, it is mostly recommended that you hire (or even rent) a car to take you directly to Rhumsiki from Maroua.
Having less time, you can of course fly to Maroua from Yaoundé. Maroua in itself is also a lively market city, worth a day's visit, and a good base for further excursions to the Waza Game Park (one of the best in the region but incomparable to those of Southern and East Africa) and to Chad's capital N'djamena.
Your secret African travel destinations series
This article is one in an afrol News series dedicated to the many genuine and "undiscovered" travel destinations in Africa, published daily throughout the (northern) summer of 2010. Click here to get more inspiration and new ideas for travelling to the great and welcoming continent of Africa.
By staff writers
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