Thursday, December 20, 2012

RUDEC and Eco-Tourism

There are many beautiful natural sights to see around the RUDEC offices’ home base of Belo. Unfortunately there are very few visitors who come to this area of Northwest Cameroon and the places remain largely unvisited. RUDEC would like to promote eco-tourism in the area and help to facilitate tourists’ visits to the region. Northwest Cameroon is not geared up to mass tourism but more suited to the independent intrepid traveller.

There were two such visitors in town the last two days and they enlisted the services of Joshua and RUDEC to show them some local beauty spots. On Day one we took a scenic and exciting motorbike ride cross country to lake Oku. Lake Oku is a crater lake at 2200m altitude and it’s seen as sacred by local people and it’s waters are believed to have healing properties, indeed both of our bike drivers took home a bottle full!

The ride was through mountainous scenery with small villages, open farmland, dense forest, banana plantations; all extremely diverse and very interesting. The track ranged from wide dirt road, to steep rocky inclines and small footpaths through grasslands, we were very lucky to have two very experienced drivers who handled the ride well, whatever surprises the road threw at them. All along the way we were greeted by friendly locals with smiles and waves.

On day two we went trekking up the Baingo cliffs, another breathtakingly scenic area. The beginning is quite a steep climb but then you are rewarded with fantastic views as you walk along the edge of the cliffs. 360 degree panoramas, wild flowers and waterfalls are abundant. The trek down is through local villages and once again the greetings and smiles come readily. For the adventurous you can climb down into the river and swim up to the waterfall, although it does require making your own “trail” and using vines to kind of abseil down! A lunchtime picnic overlooking the beautiful Cameroonian landscape is a real highlight.

The next question is how to promote these “tours” and this area to visitors to Cameroon. The remote location is both a hindrance and a draw; it’s challenging to get here but once you arrive you will experience the real Cameroon, unspoilt, diverse and welcoming. Hopefully RUDEC can work on a way to help the community and people benefit from its stunning location in the future.

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