This weekend my fellow volunteers were out climbing Mt. Cameroon (the largest mountain in Cameroon and West-Africa), so this was a good opportunity for me to trek to the nearby Tea Plantation in Ndawara.
I initially expected a poor excuse for a tea plantation, since here in Cameroon they like to use fancy words for well.. less then fancy things. For example the "Fon's Palace" conjures up all kinds of Taj Mahal kind of images in my mind, only to find out that the palace is usually a mud brick house that has fallen into disrepair.Part of the Ndwara tea estate (with mosque on the right)
So imagine my surprise when I found that the Ndwara Tea Plantation was actually a very efficiently run miniature city with a real estate house, huge plantations, huge ranches, a hotel, a bakery, a nursery, a hospital, a petrol station, a giant factory, a church, a mosque, a stadium, a police station, etc. All owned by one muslim man that made his forture over the last 15 years.
At the estate there are around 1800 people working and living, picking and processing tea or doing peripheral tasks, including a fair amount of Indian immigrants. Turns out that the owner is a big animal lover, so he built his own bird houses that include all kinds of birds including a large set of Ostriches. Checking out the Ostriches...in Cameroon.
After visiting the birds we took a trip into the tea fields:
To end up in the factory where they showed how they process the tea leaves into ready to ship packages.a bag of raw tealeaves being transported into the factory
the end of the line... (I conveniently stripped out the entire process in between)
The 4 hour trek back to Belo took us through the Tea Tycoons vast ranches filled with tons of cows but also around 1000 wild horses. Mid way, Joshua wanted to check in with what he calles "The RUDEC family" to thank them for the early days where they allowed him to collect manure on the ranch to fertilize his fields.
These are not actually the wild horses, since I forgot to bring that pic..
At the end of the day both the Tea Estate and the vast ranches surrounding it were a pleasure to see. Joshua and I are looking into setting up a Tourism project for the Belo region and this place will definitely be on the top of the list :)