Hikers have always loved the challenge of climbing Mount Fako to explore the active volcano’s rich biodiversity and follow the path of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. Huts mounted at strategic points along the trail provide shelter for those who enjoy sleeping in the wild, and tour guides will help you do your best to conquer the tallest peak in West Africa.
Apart from a few days during the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope, hikers can access the mountain throughout the year. The best period, however, is between November and April, when the skies open up to the expansive scenery. Hikers must ensure they register with tour guides who possess government-issued permits. Rates range from £75 to £600 depending on the number of hikers, the days spent on the mountain and the number of escorts and porters. Most agencies have organised their tour to fit the demands of their clients and give them access to a number of different features, and the time spent on the mountain varies accordingly.
The beautiful town of Buea is where hikers start their ascent to the peak of Mount Fako. Located on the slopes of the mountain, the university town has many good hotels and plenty of attractions to keep hikers entertained before and after their mission. It’s possible to book hotels in advance online, or register with guides who will arrange accommodation and pick their clients up at any of Cameroon’s airports. Solid shoes, warm clothing and climbing gear are all necessary but can be provided by the tour guides.
Hikers who choose this tour will climb for about three hours through the rainforest to Hut 1, and another one and a half hours into the savannah that starts around the Intermediate Hut. This tour is perfect for those who can’t reach the summit but want to experience some of the beauty of the mountain. They should be able to reach a height of 2,275 metres (7,464 feet).
It takes fitness and grit to complete this gruelling tour, which covers the full Mount Cameroon Race of Hope track. The good news is that this can be completed over more than one day. The hike starts from Upper Farms, at 1,000 metres (3,281 feet), from where you will hike to the peak, at 4,095 metres (13,435 feet); you will return down the same path.
For some hikers, the best part about this tour is camping in one of the lodges at Hut 2 or sleeping in a tent. There is basic kitchenware in the huts so tour guides can make simple meals for the team. Those who spend the night can continue their ascent the next day via Hut 3 to the summit. It takes about three hours to Hut 3 and 45 minutes to the summit. It’s extremely cold and windy at the top, but on clear days this is the best place to look around and see how far you’ve come. Hikers can observe lava tracks and small craters and athletes training on the mountain.
With more time spent on the mountain, hikers are able to see craters and observe lava tracks that have formed over thousands of years. There’s also time to enjoy the landscapes and spend the night at Mann Spring, another campsite on the mountain. On day three of this tour, hikers descend by a different track in the forest to the farmlands of Bokwango, where there’s a chance you will spot the Mona monkey and various other animals.
For wildlife lovers, spending four days in the mountain rainforest increases the chances of spotting animals. At Crater Lake, lucky hikers might spot the forest elephant, Preuss’s monkey, chimpanzee and bushbuck. Campers then descend to Drinking Garri camp, where they will spend the night in tents. The tour ends on the beaches of Bakingili, 40 minutes from the coastal town of Limbe.
Pro tip: Tip your crew, and celebrate your achievement in Buea or Limbe.