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February 3, 2013 / samwilson60

Muanenguba Lakes

The following morning we’d meant to stop at the bank and the internet café before hitting the road proper but neither presented themselves and we were confident there would be other opportunities so spent our last pennies on a couple of baguettes and made our way south to Melong, in search of waterfalls and lakes.

Checkpoint of the day: a pair of off-duty gendarmes drove past us at “Prevention Routiere” barrier, waited down the road, did improvised check and asked for invites to England/Switzerland/anywhere they could think of, then stalked us till we pulled in at a garage to shake the tail.

Once in Melong, we did two laps of town in search of a bank but saw nothing and resorted to asking at the garage. Embarrassingly but quite conveniently, the attendant pointed to the ATM across the road. We now had money but were not 100% about where we were taking our new-found wealth. The most appealing thing in the guide book was a pair of crater lakes you could hike to and camp at near Bangem, so we continued in that direction, despite the fact that a three-hour climb, armed with tent, bedding, food and drink, would be a little ambitious at this stage in the day.


The piste we had to drive just to get to Bangem was sketchy enough, and we weren’t sure we could get out the other side. This meant either doing the hike fully laden, without any guarantees about what we’d find at the other end, or pointlessly retracing our steps and coming up with another plan. The area was beautiful, so we were reluctant to leave, and since the guide book was written an inn has established itself in Bangem town (village, really). It was very cute and had lots of promising grass for the tent, so we called in, hoping we could squat for the night and hike up to the lakes the following morning. Camping was a no-go, as so often in Cameroon it seems (the manager was adamant he’d not sleep a wink if he knew we were risking our lives in the great outdoors), but again he was flexible on his rates and when the storm hit we were actually very glad of the room. We are allegedly in the heart of the dry season but the weather seems to have gone as squiffy here as elsewhere. The intensity with which it rained that night was both alarming and exciting – and almost certainly just a small taster of what awaits us the other side of the equator.



Before the rain, we’d been told we could actually drive up to the Muanenguba Lakes (aka Man Lake and Woman Lake) but we had our hearts set on a hike, so the next morning we cooked up some pasta, packed up our wet weather gear and trudged off, sweating buckets within minutes but in awe of our surrounds. We walked a total of 20km, gaining 800 metres in altitude, and never once had to pull out the waterproofs.






Sunburnt and strained, but happy, we limped back into Bangem just as the sky was clouding over. Our hotel was at the other end of the street but we were done in and stopped at the first bar we saw. After five minutes’ respite, we heard cries of “The rain is coming!” and cowered inside the tiny, tin-roofed bar with half the village. Rain was one thing, and there was plenty of that, but the hail stones were the real kicker – it sounded very much like the sky was falling, but we were basically dry, we had beer and we were still on a high from our exertions, so, much to everyone else’s amusement, we spent most of the storm halfway out the doorway, photographing and videoing the effects.




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