Sunday, February 20, 2011

Y a pas de problèmes?

Okay, we knew this couldn't last forever. Ever since we entered Cameroon, things have been going too smooth. Finding a place to sleep, covering long distances on pistes, visiting the lake, joining other travellers on safari, finding an adaptor for our laptop cable, arranging the obligatory liability insurance,... It has all been too easy. Our lucky streak was bound to end...The only question was: when?

All was still fine when we left Maroua in the afternoon, direction Mokolo and Roumsiki. The beautiful road creeps slowly towards the mountains and the views only get more spectacular when approaching the little touristy village. Giant rocks arising from the earth like raised fingers, picturesque villages and the sun setting above it all. With some effort we get rid of all the self-proclaimed guides and other touts, have dinner at the hotel's restaurant and a pastis across the street, where apparently the French tour group we met in Waza is lodged.

Next day we manage to leave early from Roumsiki, skipping the - for our taste - way too touristy village tour including crab sorcerer. The track is good and easy to follow. After a while we're so soaked with gorgeous mountain views that we continue steadily without even too many picture breaks. A quick cooldown with some sour mangoes doesn't prevent us from reaching Garoua in time for lunch. At this pace we can even continue further down the road to Ngaoundéré, the portal town to the south.

Our copies from Rough Guide mention two attractive accomodation options at roughly 40 and 70 kms from Garoua. No signboard for "Lagon Bleu" though. Maybe we'll have more luck in finding "Campement des Eléphants", which is even indicated on our Michelin map. When there's no sign of it either we ask around. The locals've never heard of it but we bump into foreign hunters by chance, who've been there two years ago. They take us back 20kms to the right side track and make sure we have enough water for the 30minutes to get there. Straight ahead, past the village, should be obvious. Not so much though.

The villagers have to point out the trail, which doesn't seem to have been used by vehicles in ages. The first things we see are broken down machines and rusted containers. There's a pungent sweet smell coming from elephant hides and warthog remains tossed away in one of them. Euhm, is this the place? Further on we find the pillaged ruins of several camp buildings amid burnt grass and cut trees but no signs of life. A short excursion further down the path reveals elephant bones lying around: skull, pelvis and vertebrae. No tusks. The whole atmosphere is very creepy and breaths poaching. Why didn't the villagers tell us? Or the hunters? What happened here?

We feel uncomfortable and don't fancy spending the night on an elephant cemetary. By now it's getting dark so we need to decide quickly. There's probably a very reasonable explanation for all of this, but we're not sticking around to find out. We rush back past the village, along the difficult track through the forest. For the first time Nicolaas has difficulties keeping up with me, in the dark. Once on the main road again, we ride back the 70 kms to Garoua. Tired and beaten we spend the night the same place we reached 6 hours ago...

For more pics see album "Y a pas de problèmes?"

That's where things started to go wrong. Next day we're both suffering from gastroenteritis and particularly Nicolaas feels ill. My engine idling speed doesn't recover after a rough cleaning the air filter. We arrive late in Ngaoundéré, a depressing little town where we have to check out 6 hotels before we find a more or less acceptable but overpriced option.

We stay a day to recover (Nicolaas), visit the Lamido's palace (local Islam ruler), service the bikes (third oil change after 19000 kms and sixth thorough air filter cleaning) and decide what to do with my rear tire, which is wearing faster and unevenly since uncautious Beninese nitwits bent the brake disk. From hereon weather and road conditions could change drastically. We opt to leave the old tire on and reevaluate daily. Hopefully we can make it to Yaoundé, where we'll look for a solution for both brake disk and idling speed problems and prepare for the next and more difficult stage of our journey: into the remote rainforests of Central Africa.


  1. Olifantenkerkhoven enzo klinkt toch maar creepy. Hoop dat de gastroenteritis snel is verdwenen en dat het vervoer het niet laat afweten! Have fun in the rainforest!

  2. In Yaounde, blijf weg van de ´Foyer International de I'Eglaise Presbyterienne´, veel slechte ervaringen gelezen.
    Ik zal vandaag thuiskomen met nog een laatste souvenir van de Marokaanse ferry, gastroenteritis, jaja, uit sympathie met jullie!
    En over jullie moeilijkheden, als het allemaal zo makkelijk was, zou iedereen het doen, en stonden jullie temidden 100-den toeristen. Hou de moed erin, T