The Mambilla Plateau is a plateau in Sardauna local government area of Taraba State, Nigeria. It stands as a testament to nature’s unparalleled artistry. This hidden gem, often referred to as the “Land of Eternal Spring,” offers a captivating blend of lush landscapes, vibrant flora, and a rich cultural tapestry. The Plateau boasts of panoramic views that will leave you breathless. The undulating hills, sprawling meadows, and mist-kissed mountains create a mesmerizing backdrop that’s perfect for nature enthusiasts and avid photographers alike. The highest plateau in Nigeria is the Mambilla Plateau, which is situated at an average elevation of roughly 1,600 metres (5,249 feet) above sea level. At least 1,828 metres (5,997 feet) above sea level, several of its communities are perched on hills. With an average height of roughly 2,419 metres (7,936 feet) above sea level, Chappal Waddi mountain, also known as Gang, is thought to be the highest point in Nigeria. There are other mountains on the plateau and in the surrounding area that are over 2,000 metres (6,562 feet) high. It is the tallest mountain in West Africa and Nigeria. The Mambilla Plateau is 40 km (25 mi) wide, with a curved length of around 96 km (60 mi). It is bordered by an escarpment that is, in certain spots, approximately 900 m (2,953 ft) high. Over 9,389 square kilometres (3,625 square miles) make up the plateau. Breathtaking panoramic views can be found on the Plateau. This captivating backdrop of rolling hills, expansive meadows, and mist-shrouded mountains is ideal for both nature lovers and serious photographers.
Geography of the Mambilla Plateau
The Mambilla Plateau is under the Sardauna local government area in the southeast of Taraba State, Nigeria. Mambilla is one of Taraba State’s biggest local government areas. The biggest town on the plateau is Gembu, but there are other settlements as well. The eastern and southern escarpments of the plateau are located near the Cameroonian border, while the western slope and the remaining northern escarpment are located in Nigeria. The plateau is completely covered with soil, with sporadic patches of granite. Numerous streams cut over the plateau, including the Taraba River and the Donga River, which both originate on the Mambilla Plateau. The Gashaka/Gumti Game Reserve, Nigeria’s largest game reserve, is situated on the northern edge of the Mambilla Plateau, north of Chappal Waddi. The Mambilla people inhabit a distinct biological zone at an elevation of around 700 metres, where gallery forest and oil palms coexist.
The temperate climate of Mambilla Plateau provides a refreshing escape from the sweltering heat often associated with Nigeria. With temperatures rarely exceeding 25 degrees Celsius (25 °C), it’s an ideal destination for those seeking a cool and invigorating climate. The driest months are from December to January with relative humidity dropping to about 15 per cent while the wet season usually starts from August. Additionally, the plateau is thought to be the coolest part in Nigeria. During the day, there are often strong gusts, and the rainy season runs from the middle of March until the end of November. Due to its location in a tropical setting, the plateau experiences mild weather on a lesser scale despite its high elevation. Due to the steep escarpments of the Mambilla Plateau and orographic activity including moist winds from the South Atlantic Ocean in southern Nigeria, the rainy season on the plateau is marked by heavy and frequent rainfall. Every year, the Mambilla Plateau receives more than 1850 mm of rainfall.
Vegetation in the Mambilla Plateau
Explore the diverse ecosystems of the plateau that range from dense forests to open grasslands. Botanists and wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted by the chance to spot unique species that call Mambilla home. The vegetation comprises predominantly of low grasses, known locally here as “gwur” grass with trees being noticeably absent except for man-made forest trees planted by German colonialists during the period of German administration of the Cameroons and other Nigerian government tree planting programs. It is a significant ceremonial symbol of the native traditional religion. There are numerous tea farms on the plateau, which is the only area in Nigeria where the tea plant is grown extensively, despite the fact that the industry is still mostly undeveloped. It is also the location of the largest national park and protected area in Nigeria, Gashaka Gumti National Park, and the Majang Forest, officially named Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve. Both of these areas are home to rare and endangered endemic West/Central African plant and animal species. Due in large part to its ease of adaptation to the height and cool climate of the plateau, eucalyptus trees predominate in these artificial forests. The plateau’s low, lush green grasses have drawn a lot of cattle, whose introduction during British administration began to alter the area’s ecology. This has led to extensive erosion and overgrazing on the plateau, causing conflict between the Fulanis, who herd cattle, and the Mambila, who are the local population. Additionally, there are no tse-tse flies or mosquitoes on the Mambilla Plateau.
The Mambilla Plateau is a culturally vibrant region in addition to its natural beauties. Interact with the local populations to learn about their distinctive customs, legends, and handicrafts. Your visit is made even more charming by the Mambilla people’s warmth and hospitality. The Mambilla people are the main, indigenous, and dominant population on the Mambilla Plateau. When the majority of Bantu speakers left the area, there has been evidence of “the Bantu who stayed back” remaining. Other ethnic groups have immigrated, such as the Hausa, Banso, Yamba, Fulani, and Igbo communities. Only the Yamba immigrated and founded about four old communities. The remaining newcomers are business or occupational migrants without any old or ancestral villages of their own, and they do not claim any ancestral lands. There are only Banso and Kambu (Wimbum) settlements in the Cameroon Republic, some of which are located quite a distance from the border with Nigeria. The Mambilla language, a blend of related languages and dialects, is spoken as the first language by the great majority of people living in the Mambilla Plateau. Although Fulfulde is spoken, English is currently the official language. Present-day major world faiths are Islam and Christianity. Few people still follow the Mambilla Traditional Religion, which is based on the Suu system, but Christianity and Islam are gradually replacing it. Before the arrival of Islam and Christianity, this old Mambilla religion predominated. The main ceremonial emblem of the regional traditional religion is the vegetation found in the Mambilla forest. Particularly after the 1960s, these new religions gained prominence.
There are lodging options that offer a nice stay without compromising the surrounding natural environment, even if the Mambilla Plateau is still mostly unexplored by tourists. Experience the joy of waking up to stunning views and the sounds of nature.
Accessibility of Mambilla Plateau
Mambilla Plateau has become more convenient in recent years. A serpentine road leads from the mountain’s base to the summit, providing a scenic 30-minute drive to Mambilla. Utility vehicles are advised due to the plateau’s isolated location and the absence of properly paved roads, which are still being built. Accessibility of Local transportation options, including roads and air travel, make this hidden paradise more reachable for travelers seeking a unique and off-the-beaten-path experience.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or a laid-back traveler, Mambilla Plateau has something for everyone. Hike through picturesque trails, embark on a bird-watching expedition, or simply revel in the serenity of the plateau. The Gashaka-Gumti National Park, situated nearby, offers additional opportunities for eco-tourism. The stunning water fall, the plain green scenery, and the mountain range are the plateau’s main points of interest. Next is Ndumyaji Cave, a well-known cave in Mbamnga that is a historic landmark. There’s the enormous footprint of an ancient warrior on the rock at Kabri, the footprint of a horse on the rock at Hienary, and the ancient blacksmith’s historic site at Killa Yang, which predates the current one. It also boasts of the world’s second-largest tea plantation, after the one in India. On the plateau, animals such as cows, goats, sheep, and other uncommon birds flourish. Additionally, there are natural forests like the Ndum-yaji and Ngel Yaki mountain forests that are home to extremely rare kinds of trees and birds and have drawn numerous international scholars.
Mambilla Plateau stands as an evidence to the natural beauty and cultural richness that Nigeria has to offer. This destination promises an unforgettable experience despite whatever your purpose of visiting might be; adventurous seeking, tranquility, or a cultural immersion. Embrace the allure of Mambilla Plateau, where every vista tells a story and every moment is a celebration of nature’s grandeur.