The Village: Rhumsiki (with pit stops in Mokolo, Kossehone, and Mogode)


My friend who had recently traveled here had recommended a guide for Megan and I for when we traveled. We had made arrangements while we were in Garoua and scheduled two days and one night in Rhumsiki hiking through the Mandara Mountains. We met our guide, Charles and our driver, Njida, Sunday afternoon to ask questions, get ourselves acquainted and discus details of the trip. We were scheduled to leave at 7am (whiteman time) Monday, but didn’t get on the road until 8am! There was hardly anything open so Megan and I had a hard time finding food. When we finally found some and headed back to the hotel, our guides had left to go fill up with petrol.


The drive from Maroua to Mokolo was short and sweet! Although it was only an hour on a newly paved road, we still managed to get a flat tire. As Njida changed the tire the three of us decided to stroll through the village on foot.

Millet is a major crop in this region. It is literally EVERYWHERE – if its not growing in the fields it is drying on top of a roof, in storage or being eaten. There are several kinds of millet and they grow in different seasons. While we were there, red millet had just finished and yellow millet was growing in the fields.

 Photos from the drive:

Because we had had a flat tire, we stopped in Mokolo so Njida could get it patched before we got on the ‘bush road’ heading from Mokolo to Rhumsiki. Charles, Megan and I walked around the small town until it was fixed. We had heard of this ‘bili-bili’ drink and wanted to try it. Charels took us near the market and we found a mami who brewed her own bili-bili, a millet beer. She poured it from a massive ceramic pot into a small calabash for the two of us to share. I was happy to try it, but nothing to write home about. (See photos below)

We managed to get another flat tire in Kossehone, a small village that wash hosting its weekly market which we stopped by to see. After munching on some sugar cane, we were all ready to go when all of a sudden POP the tire just blew. So we munched a bit more on sugar cane and waited for the tire to be changed, again.

Soon we arrived in Rhumsiki! The entire drive was one of the most picturesque drives I had ever been on in my life. The only other drive I can think of that matches it would be the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California. The view from out room was absolutely stunning.

We ordered the local traditional meal, Folere. Folere is actually the name of the green plant which is then put with a groundnut sauce and meat or fish. Then you use couscous (which is french for fofo) to dip in the sauce. It was phenomenal!


The following day we worke up extremely early to watch the sunrise on top of a large hill near our hostel.

Trying to keep warm waiting for the sunrise.

Then we hiked around for 5-7 hours visiting surrounding villages. We met some local craftsmen and women who carved statues, made necklaces, dolls, pottery, mini guitars and much much more.

Photos from the two hikes:

This little girl was selling her hand made doll for just 100cfa (20cents)
I couldnt resist buying it!

Traditional Houses

A fortune tell her who uses a crab to see the future.

A woman who makes amazing pottery


Jujub berry bush

Face in the tree

Last Two Nights in Maroua:

At first, I was a bit intimidated and slightly concerned about how Megan and I would be perceived in the North and especially Extreme North considering all of the ruckus hat has been happening over the last year or so. Several robberies, kidnappings etc. And, just in general – it’s a very conservative Muslim population and we are two White westerners not all that familiar with their customs. I hope you all will be happy to hear that that worrying was all for nothing. We were received in the North with an abundance of hospitality just as if we were their next of kin.


We noticed that many women in these three regions had hennas! They were ‘beautified’ (as the locals say) for the New Year. It is a Muslim tradition here in Cameroon, and other parts of West Africa, for a woman to draw henna for any special holiday or festivity. Megan and I loved the designs so we went on a hunt to get one ourselves! This was a challenge in and of itself because neither of us knew the word for henna in French. So after using body language and describing it best we could in French, we finally found someone who knew where we could go to get one. We hopped on his bike and next thing you know we were in some family’s compound waiting. Soon, Ayissa Tu arrived, the woman who would be doing our hennas. We explained what we wanted and then suddenly got the idea to have her also cook her traditional meal (folere) because that was what we wanted to eat anyways. We agreed on a price and made a date for later that night.



The night started out by eating folere!

Work in progress.

Like most families in the North, Ayissa Tu had tons of siblings from several different wives and one father. Her brothers and sisters crowded around the door as Megan and I took turns getting our bodies pained with what seemed to look like black Chinese hair dye.

Megan, Ayissa Tu (the artist) and me.

The outcome was fabulous! I just wish the would last longer, it has been less than a week and mine is fading fast.

This is just a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to be where I am doing what I am doing and not back in Wisconsin stuck in the blizzard!

Major Differences Noted:

  • We saw a lot less albinos. In Southern Cameroon, I see at least two a day and even up to five. They are just more common. The entire time North I saw two total.
  • Dry, dry, dry dry soooo very dry! It was so hot but you didn’t even sweat because it was so dry!
  • The insane amount of dust surely contributes to the low life expectancy.
  • The north is seriously less developed than the rest of the country. To be honest, it was like two entirely different countries. I took the time to ask one calabash vender why he thought that was. He went on a huge rant about the President and how he doesn’t care about the North or put any money into developing it. Paul Biya has been in office for over three decades.
  • The country is divided with major religions – statistic varies but about 50% Christian, 40% Muslim and 10% Animists. Where I live, and most places in the South – it is like 90% Christian because they majority of the Muslims are in the North.
  • Nearly everyone was wearing traditional wear (the African printed fabric, the long flowing Islamic robes calle boubous) as opposed to the more Western dress of the South (jeans and tshirts).
  • Nearly every single man that we met had multiple wives. We all know that polygamy is sometimes practiced in Islam, but I was surprised to see it was that common.