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Located in western Cameroon (on the way to the Ekom-Nkam waterfalls), Mount Manengouba is a popular mountain where sports people from Douala like to hike during long weekends. It is famous for its twin lakes inside an enormous crater, a sign of past volcanic activity in the region.
Manengouba, where time has stopped
Making the border between southwest and littoral regions, the volcano is still well preserved from mass tourism (like all Cameroon). As a result, people living on the mountain’s flank have a simple and healthy life, very far from the agitation of the cities (Nkongsamba, Douala).
Mainly farmers or cowherds, the local people mostly live on what nature provides them.
Where nature kept its pristine state
Not far from the main road, but not so close either, Mount Manengouba lakes are only accessible by a few hour hike, making it not easily reachable to the ordinary people. Before the conflict between the French-speaking and English-speaking communities, a road, now unsafe, led directly to the lakes.
Starting at 1400m and climbing until 2160m, you will have the chance to cross several well-preserved ecosystems during your ascension: highlands, rain forests, and pastures, before arriving at the edge of the crater where you will discover if you are lucky, the view on the twin lakes.
Indeed, I am writing “if you are lucky” because the view on Manengouba’s lakes may be obstructed by a thick fog coming up from the crater. As an example of this particular climatic condition, you will have a small overview of that fog in a few seconds on a picture showing me having a break after my trail running training there.
Advice and Recommendations
In Cameroon, it is always a good idea to visit places with an official guide who knows the local traditions and can communicate using the regional dialect. Manengouba makes no exception.
Also, since the area could be safer due to the conflict I mentioned before, it is recommended to travel with a group. Do not go alone. And as the safety situation can evolve fast, ask your embassy a few days before your trip there if the region is safe to travel to.
Recommendations for the hike
You better start hiking pretty early in the morning. Usually, I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to start climbing around 5:15. Leaving at an early hour will make you arrive before the fog comes up from the crater. At this time of the day, it is still very dark so remember your torch light and warm clothes, as the altitude and wet air will make you feel cold. The temperature contrast with Douala’s weather is very pronounced.
With your day just starting, your body is still cold when you will begin hiking, and the first three kilometers are the toughest. So take your time. Refrain from over-pushing yourself; otherwise, you will feel tired and not enjoy the rest of this beautiful day starting.
Wear good shoes with a good grip. The soil is slippery there, especially in the morning, with the condensation from the night. According to what you are used to, you may prefer trail running shoes or big hiking shoes protecting your ankle. It is up to you. I do not have recommendations on this point.
Food & Water
Take your picnic with you and wait (if you can) until you reach the lakes. There you will find two “houses” where you can hide from the sun or the rain. Also, you will drop your packing and go down to the shore of the biggest lake.
I was about to forget to tell you to take a lot of water. Dehydration is a problem you should take seriously, especially in Africa. You must talk to your guide if you feel headaches or dizziness while hiking. He is supposed to know how to react in most situations. He will tell you what to do.
Drones & Cameras
If you are a photographer, instagramer, or influencer and strong enough to carry all your gear with you, I firmly push you to do so! The view along the Manengouba hiking path is gorgeous, and you will surely want to keep photographic memories of your day.
Consider asking people before taking portraits photographs or scenery involving them. It is more polite, and they will be thankful you ask.
Also, if you plan to fly the drone, there is no restriction over the area. Nevertheless, be careful of the strong wind and always keep a good battery level. The Return to Home function and time estimation to return to the starting point may be wrong if you have to fly back facing the wind … I had to do an emergency landing several times there and was even about to crash the drone in the lake once.