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Isoetes Biafrana Tour

Isoetes Biafrana Tour Packages
Country: Cameroon
City: Bamenda
Duration: 7 Day(s) - 6 Night(s)
Tour Category: Medical Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99

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Package Itinerary

Soetes Biafrana was described by former Museum scientist Arthur Hugh Alston in 1956, and the type specimen is held in the Museum’s cryptogamic herbarium, as are several other specimens of Isoetes biafrana.It is only found in 2 localities in west Africa in seasonal pools, springs and submerged at lake margins. Like many species in tropical countries, Isoetes biafrana is only known from a very small area.

Now, approximately 50 years after it was first described, it is threatened with extinction. Isoetes is a genus of small, often aquatic, plants collectively known as quillworts because of the hollow base to their leaves, like a quill. They look like short tufts of tough grass, although in fact they are not flowering plants at all, but are the modern-day survivors of a group of plants that were previously more diverse, and much more dominant, many millions of years ago. Isoetes is a genus of small, often aquatic plants collectively known as quillworts because of the hollow base to their leaves, like a quill.

They look like short tufts of tough grass, although in fact they are not flowering plants at all, but are the modern-day survivors of a group of plants that were previously more diverse, and much more dominant, many millions of years ago.

Their fossil record dates back to the Triassic Period, and they are more closely related to the huge Lepidodendron trees which formed the vast swamp forests in the Carboniferous that have created the deposits of coal still being mined and burned, today.


Isoetes are often found in springs, seasonal pools and submerged at lake margins.

Isoetes biafrana is only known from 2 localities in west Africa. They are:

Cameroon (Lake Oku)

Bioko Island (Lake Moka)

It is a submerged aquatic quillwort species found in slowly-shelving montane crater-lakes with a gravel substrate, in water less than 1m deep, at about 1,600m to 2,200m altitude.

Western Cameroon and the Gulf of Guinea region is the richest area of tropical Africa for plant species.


Isoetes biafrana has been assessed as vulnerable (Cheek et al 2000) because only a small fraction of the original rain forest still exists around Lake Oku in Cameroon and this is threatened by increased grazing by goats in the lake's crater. This in turn increases soil erosion around the lake and may cover the gravel bottom, preventing Isoetes biafranum from becoming established since it does not root in mud-bottomed lakes.

Conservation efforts should include stopping forest clearance and livestock grazing, and a thorough survey of population sizes of Isoetes biafranum should be undertaken around the perimeter of the lake.

Several hundred plants were recorded in Lake Oku, below the Baptist Rest House, in November 1996, but there is no record of the number of individuals found in Lake Moka on Bioko. Due to its very restricted range and a number of locations, and the threats are known to occur in the range of Isoetes biafrana, this species has been assigned the category of vulnerable.



Arrival at the Douala International Airport, reception by Camtourventures, transferred to the hotel. A brief tour of the City of Douala which is the Capital of the Littoral Province and it is big and busy, with about 2 million inhabitants. It is also where the major port of Cameroon is and all this together makes it the economic center of Cameroon. Leisure activities, dinner, and night in the hotel.


Breakfast, full day in Bamenda, The tour guide will accompany you and give you ideas of what to do and discover like the Bafut chief Palace, the Markets, the Botanical Garden. In the afternoon have a taste of traditional food for lunch. The town is situated in a ‘pot’ at an altitude of about 1000m. The scenery surrounding Bamenda is beautiful, with steep mountainsides and waterfalls. About 300’000 inhabitants share the streets and buildings and they contribute giving the town a pulse.

There are a lot of entrepreneurs and the market outside the hotel can offer everything during weekdays. Bamenda is also the heart of the English-speaking political opposition and if you visit a small restaurant or a bar you are guaranteed discussions if wanted. Return to hotel, dinner, and night.


Breakfast. It is time to explore the highlands with their rolling hills, waterfalls, and holy crater lakes. The trip will follow the ‘ring road’ which circles the heart of the highland area. The first stop will be the town of Wum, but before reaching this community, you will visit Menchum Falls and also lake Ilum, and Lake Wum. Menchum Falls is a dramatic waterfall digging out the rock about an hour's drive from Bamenda. This will be the first stop and it lies just next to the road.

According to the Bradt guide book one should be aware of the safety railings, they could be dangerous. Dinner and night in Wum. From Wum you will go to Nkambe and along the road, you will visit the infamous Lake Nyos. This lake makes all traditional beliefs about the crater lakes real and understandable. What are the beliefs? There are many stories and legends and the best way of finding out is to ask people you meet and the Tour guide will assist you.

In short, one can say the lakes are holy, magical, or possessed by witchcraft and not to be disturbed. People say that “if you throw a stone into the lake, it will come right back up”. Locals don’t swim or fish in the lakes. They do not fetch water to drink. To do any of this is dangerous, if not deadly. They prefer to stay at a distance. Why is Lake Nyos infamous? In August 1986 the lake-let lose a big cloud of gas. This eruption was very powerful and the trees lining the shores were leveled. The cloud got caught in the wind and passed the village of Su-bum where the suffocating carbon dioxide killed some 1’800 people and countless animals.

Scientists believe a bubble of gas was created at the bottom of the lake. Since the Crater Lake is very deep, the pressure helped to create the size of the cloud and after a while, the water could no longer contain the amount of gas. This is one explanation. Nkambe is like most small communities in the area quite unused to visits.

Except for the transport, nothing along the road is planned for. The area will of course be beautiful. Maybe today is a good day to make plenty of spontaneous stops along the road? The locals will definitely think you are the happening of the month (maybe of the year). Dinner and overnight in Nkambe.


Breakfast, return back to Bamenda via the holy heart of Northwest Region, Mt Oku, and Lake Oku. Mount Oku is the second-highest mountain in Cameroon reaching 3’011m. This region is part of Oku Fondom, a place with rich history and great knowledge of traditional medicine and witchcraft. Mt Oku is climbable, but it will take about seven hours to go up and down and it is good to start early in the morning.

Maybe this is a good exercise before the ascent of Mt Cameroon? If everyone in the group wants to do this, it will be on the group's own accord and expenses and you must follow the local rules. First, you must visit the Fon’s palace and ask for permission, together with a gift (The tour guide will know the most appropriate). Second, you will be offered a guide and it is good to accept this. be respectful of the mountain. This does not just mean to heed local customs, but also to remember the physical aspects. It will most likely be hot. Don’t forget water and some kind of food. Dinner and night in Bamenda town.

Day 7: Departure

Back to Douala and return to Europe.

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