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Discover Nigeria > Heritage and Culture > Mambilla Plateau

Mambilla Plateau

Mambilla Plateau is a plateau in the Taraba State, Nigeria. The plateau is Nigeria's northern continuation of the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon. It has an average elevation of about 1,600 metres above sea level, making it the highest plateau in Nigeria. Some of its villages are situated on hills that must be at least 1,828 metres high above sea level, which makes it the highest habitable settlement above sea level in the country. Its highest peak is Mount Gang (Chappai Wandi Mountain).

The plateau has its south and eastern escarpments standing along the Cameroonian border, while the remainder of its giant northern escarpment and its western slope are in Nigeria.It is hilly with deep gorges and travelers move from one panoramic view to the other. The plateau is entirely covered by soil with occasional occurrence of granite and some mountains around it are over 6,562 ft. high. It is the highest mountain in Nigeria and the second highest mountain in West Africa after Cameroon's Mount Cameroon.

This amazing wonder of nature is under Sardauna Local Government Area of Nigeria and is close to the largest game reserve in Nigeria, the Gashaka Gumpti Game Reserve. There are various towns on the plateau with a population of more than 20,ooo people. Some of these towns are Gembu, Kakara, Nguroje, Maisamari, Warwar  Mbamnga, Yerrmaru, Nguroje, Mayo Ndaga and many others.

The plateau developed on basement complex rocks and it embodies tertiary basalts, which are mostly formed by trachytic lavas and extensive basalts, occurring around Nguroje. The Mambilla Plateau measures about 96 km along its curved length; it is 40 km wide and is bounded by an escarpment of about 900 metres high in some places; it also covers an area of over 9,389 square kilometres.

The crops found in the Plateau include banana, plantain, pineapple, yellow pepper, kola nut, red and white carrots, peas, cassava, cocoa yam, sweet potatoes, Irish Potatoes, Coffee Arabica, and lots of other fruits. In addition, three or four types of berries grow there. It also has the second largest tea plantation in the world second to the one in India. Livestock like cow, goats, sheep and other rare birds thrive on the plateau. There are also natural forests like the Ngel Yaki mountain forest and the Ndum-yaji forest that are home to very rare species of birds and trees which have attracted lots of researchers from around the world.

The major tourism attraction sites on the plateau are: The mountain chain, the plain green view, and a magnificent water fall. Then there is the historic site which is the Ndumyaji Cave. There is the rock with a giant foot print of an ancient warrior at Kabri, the rock with a horse foot print at Hienary, the historic site of the ancient blacksmith that existed before the modern one at Killa yang. There is also the historic rock of the Mbar people that looks like a woman and her daughter. The Mambilla Plateau is richly blessed with fertile land, and various crops grow well there. It is also dissected by many streams and rivers and Donga River and Taraba River get their sources from the Mambilla Plateau.

The journey to Mambilla starts on a snake-like road from the foot of the mountain to the top, about 25 to 30 minutes drive where you start savouring the beauty of the plateau. There are rolling hills, backdropped with exotic flora and fauna. It has a lot of scenic views to behold, which while watching the mountain chain and the curvacious valleys you will have a breath of fresh air that is uncommon in many other parts of Nigeria.

As a result of its high elevation, the plateau experiences temperate weather conditions but on a smaller scale due to its location in a tropical environment. The climate  is comparatively cold and daytime temperature hardly exceeds 25 °C, thereby making it the coolest region in Nigeria. The rainy season is associated with frequent and heavy rainfall due to orographic activities on the plateau involving moist winds from the south. It receives over 1850 millimetres of rainfall annually.  Surprisingly, it is Mosquito and Tse-Tse Fly free.

Vegetation on the plateau comprises low grasses with trees being noticeably absent except for man-made forest planted by German colonialist during the period of German administration of the Cameroons and other Nigerian government tree planting programs. It is  the only region of Nigeria that grows the tea plant on a large scale, and there are several tea farms, although the sector remains mostly underdeveloped.

It is the home to the Gashaka Gumti National Park, which is the largest national park and protected area in all of Nigeria, as well as the Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve, both of which harbour rare and endangered West/Central African plant and animal species endemic to the area.

The eucalyptus tree is the dominant tree is these man made forest as a result of the easily adaptability of the tree to the harsh climatic conditions on the plateau. The abundance of low lush green grasses on the plateau has attracted a large number of cattle, whose advent begiining during British rule affected the plateau's vegetation. This has resulted in overgrazing of the plateau and has created problems between the cattle herders, referred to as the fulanis, and the indigenous people, the Mambila.

The major ethnic groups on the plateau, include the; Mambila, Fulani, Kaka, Panso and Kambu, with the Mambilla being the Majority. The Mambilla language is an amalgam of dialects and related languages and the people are welcoming and so hospitable.

At an altitude of some 700m, these villagers live in a different ecological zone where oil palms grow and gallery forest is found.

The plateau has one of the coolest climatic condition in Nigeria with daytime temperatures sometimes reaching around 40C.The driest months are from December to January with relative humidity dropping to about 15 percent while the wet season usually starts from August till September.

Mambilla Plateau would give you a uniquely magnificent and adventurous experience