TRAVEL EXPERIENCE IN ALANTIKA MOUNTAINS (NORTH CAMEROON)
Travelling to Cameroon is like travelling around the entire African Continent. Cameroon’s geographical situation, between Lake Chad and the Equatorial Forests, allows the traveller to admire all kinds of flora, fauna, and cultural groups in one sole country. Middle-Africa is a travel agency specialised in Cameroon travel and is based in Douala. Since 2004 we have been operating in Cameroon and neighbouring countries. Middle Africa has seen the great potentials of Cameroon as a travel destination for tourists that appreciate countries that receive little tourism and can offer great experiences.
One of Cameroon’s most attractive natural and cultural areas is the region of Alantika Mountains and Faro Valley in North Cameroon. The Alantika Mountains are in the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. Alantika means where ‘Allah hasn’t yet arrived’ in the Kanuri language. The explanation for this is the fact that the Koma tribal people living in the Alantika Mountains keep their Animistic religion and their ancient traditions despite being surrounded by Islamic societies in the nearby Faro Valley. The Koma are divided between two different clans: the Koma Kadam (East side) and the Koma Kompana (West side), and all their villages are controlled by the Lamido or Emir of Wangay (Cameroon side) and the Emir of Nassarao (Nigerian side) who profess the Islamic religion. The Koma have to pay taxes (in species) to the landlords of the Alantika Mountains. In the last 20 years some Christian missionaries have constructed missions in the Alantika Mountains but there are few conversions till this day.
In Middle-Africa we closely work with the Koma communities and the Kingdom of Wangay so that the region preserves in natural beauty and its cultural diversity. Most of Middle-Africa’s team is composed of Anthropologists who believe that responsible tourism can help preserve the Koma culture and ameliorate their daily lives. We are working hard so that the Alantika Mountains and Faro valley do not suffer the negative effects of massive tourism like it has happened in other tribal regions of the world.
This area can be reached either from Ngaounderé (train station- 213 kms./3h) or from Garoua (airport – 136kms. / 2h20). The capital of the region is Poli, with some shops, a simple hostel, two missions, and a petrol station owned by the Cameroonian army. From Poli you can drive to Tchamba (56kms./1h) during the dry season (Nov.-May) but you’ll have to leave your 4x4 car on one side of the Faro, since there is no bridge, or you can drive to Wangay (70kms./1h30) via Voko along Faro National Park (lions, elephants, and antelopes among other species).
TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS OF THE ALANTIKA MOUNTAINS AND FARO VALLEY
-Great trekkings along the Alantika Mountains during all year around. The Koma people love partying and you’ll be able to participate in their local dances (initiation, funerals, agricultural ceremonies, etc.). Most festivities are accompanied by abundant quantities of ‘Bil-Bil’ the local millet beer!
-The remote Koma villages and the Koma people, keepers of ancient traditions long-lost in Africa. There are 21 Koma villages in the Cameroonian side of the Alantika Mountains and 17 villages on the Nigerian side. The trekker can easily visit villages from one country or the other. Some of the most beautiful Koma villages are: Librou, Nagamalo, Bimlerou le Haut, Koilo, Bakiba, Louga, and Somlari. In Deglo and Sassi villages there are ‘fetish shrines’ where sacrifices occur and some houses are decorated with bull skulls
-The Chamba people, and their Buffalo masquerades, in the mountain villages of Balkossa, Koubi, Yeli, and Guenou Bimba.
-Visit the Veré villages (east). The Veré are an Islamized mountain people closely related to the Koma
-Safari in the wild Faro National Park (3.300 km²) to observe animals (best season from December to May). Faro National Park is still very virgin but has a great eco-tourist potential together with the neighboring protected mountain areas of Tchabal Mbabo and Gashaka Gumti (Nigeria).
-Navigating long the Faro River (best season from June to October) and visiting the Bata fishing villages.
-Discovering the nomadic life of the tattooed Mbororo herders in the Faro Valley. You can spend a couple of nights in one of their mobile camps composed of ‘igloo-style’ huts- the experience is highly rewarding! Always go with a Fulfulde speaking guide since the Mbororos do not speak French or English. In Béka, the biggest village in the Alantika-Faro area an annual Gerewol or Darkwol is celebrated by the local Mbororo young men and women. The participants paint their faces with bright colors and decorated their hair.
-The colorful markets of Gouna (Tuesday), Poli (Saturday), Wangay (Thursday), Tchamba (Monday), or Katsala Boma (Friday).
-Horse riding in Wangay and Faro Valley. You can also admire the decorated horses of the Wangay nobility during special occasions.
-Friday’s Islamic ceremonies outside the palace of Wangay. The Lamido or Emir leaves the palace’s premises to enter the central mosque with all his court following him while the royal Griot doesn’t stop playing the traditional flute.
-On your way to the Alantika Mountains you will cross Poli and the beautiful the Faro Valley. Before Poli, there is a smaller range of Mountains known as the Poli Mountains, where the Dupá and Papé tribes live. Like the Koma people, these ethnic groups keep most of their Animistic traditional and it’s worth visiting them in their mountain villages. Another interesting group in the Faro Valley is the Dowayo tribe, lengthily studied by the English Anthropologist Nigel Barley in the 1980s. The Dowayo villages are like adobe mazes, really beautiful!
ORGANISING YOUR TRIP TO ALANTIKA MOUNTAINS (NORTH CAMEROON)
From our offices in Douala we organise travel tours to every corner of Cameroon all year around. The Alantika Mountains in Cameroon are beautiful during the rainy season, from June to October and during the dry season, from November to May. Please feel free to contact us at any time.