Man & Woman Lakes – Hauts Plateaux, Cameroon - Atlas Obscura

Man & Woman Lakes

Hauts Plateaux, Cameroon

Spirits from these lakes are said to produce the local weather and odd phenomena as they bicker between themselves. 


Just a few kilometers outside the town of Bangem, above the smaller town of Mbat is the peak Mount Manengouba, a dormant volcano with an expansive caldera at its peak. In the caldera’s plain are two deep, markedly different crater lakes: Man Lake and Woman Lake.

Even at first glance, the lakes appearances and respective atmospheres provide a solid foundation for the traditional lore espoused by the local Bakossi people, standing as a testament to the ancient and profound bad blood running between Man and Woman Lakes’ spirits.

The larger of the two, Woman Lake’s has a pristine accessible shoreline that provides fish, crab and water for the local herdsmen and their cattle. Woman Lake’s surface glistens in the sunshine as breezes ripple its waters.

Standing in stark contrast is Man Lake. On the same sunny day, Man Lake’s surface remains flat, unreflective and opaque. Daily, its water color oscillates between black, green, and brown depending on the spirit’s mood. Man Lake’s shores are impossibly steep, preventing anyone from reaching its waters without falling. While bathing in Woman Lake is a common occurrence, bathing in man lake is reserved for ceremonies and spiritual men.

Moreover, the spirit is said to protect his waters from disturbance, as nothing floats on the lake’s surface nor can rocks thrown from the rim (no matter how hard or accurately) reach its waters. It’s as if a field deflects all such attempts, though once fallen into, Man Lake’s waters provide no avenue for escape. Why Man Lake should be such a moody, and unforgiving spirit is unclear.

Fights between Man and Woman Lakes’ spirits are said to produce the storms that roll off the mountain, blanketing Bangem and other nearby villages.

Know Before You Go

Moto-taxi drivers for hire in Bangem will deliver you to the summit for a small fee (a few dollars American) in the morning, and pick you up at the time specified in the afternoon/evening after hiking your fill. Due to the steep nature of the climb, each moto-taxi will only be able to carry one passenger, even if one were game for three people on a small motorcycle.

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August 10, 2016

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