If you are travelling down from Kabala you have 2 options. One is to head to SINEKORO (Grid 586210) on the KOINADUGU road, and start the hike from there. You will need to check ahead of your trip that the road is open all the way to SINEKORO, as sometimes only bikes can passed through. Another option is drive to YIFIN (via FORIA) from KABALA. If the bridge is open at YIFIN you can push on to KONOMBIA and start the walk from there (from the Ranger Station). If the bridge is down at YIFIN you can leave vehicles/bikes there, and use a rope bridge to cross the river and start your hike from there. If water levels are too high during rain season the bridge at YIFIN is impassable. You can then approach the area from the south (through MAKENI, MAGBURAKA, and MABONG on the main road to KONO) and at BAMBAKUNA headed north via KAYIMA and KRUTO to a vilage called KANIA (Gr 561174).
This as far as you will get in our vehicles, so might want to pick up guides/porters there and start the hike (passing on foot through SINEKORO, which is about 4km from KANIA). Regarding routes for the hike, the SINEKORO start point is the best one. If you can get there early enough (say by 1030), and dependant on the fitness of your group, getting to Camp 2 in a day is achievable. On Day 2, an early start will get you from Camp 2 to the Summit and back to SINEKORO by nightfall. If you have time, allocating a third day as a contingency (or to spend more time exploring the plateau/summit) is a good idea. On Day 3 you can summit and then return to you vehicle by nightfall to be able to go back on Day 4. The YIFIN/KONOMBIA start point is a longer and more challenging hike (more ups and downs than the SINEKORO route). Whichever route you take, it is recommended not to do it alone – take someone you know, so that if the worse happens they can help to get you not just off the hill but also back to whoever provides your medical cover.
The Mountain requires a reasonable standard of fitness to get to the summit – it’s very hard work in places. How much kit you take is up to you, but it is recommended that you carry tents, rations, fresh drinking water and personal kit on top of that (camera, cooking stove perhaps, medical kits, bug repellent, sunscreen, spare clothes, head torches etc etc). It is surprsingly cold up there at night, so take sleeping bag and warm kit. It is important to carry water purifiers to top up from streams/rivers at the 2 camps – staying hydrated requires a significant amount of it. Take a map/compass, and GPS if you have it. It is remote up there, and you will be many hours from help if someone gets injured/sick. Amazingly there is some mobile phone coverage, but it’s sporadic. SATPHONES are very useful.
In any case, before you leave your home/work, leave your planned route/timings with a friend/colleague so that if you go completely off-grid, they will know where to start looking! Regardless of how confident you feel about navigation/maps, a local guide is a must. The route is not obvious in places, and if you need to get down quickly a guide will know a much quicker way than you. Apart from that, it’s good for the local economy. If you want to maximise your enjoyment of the hike, it is recommended to take porters. They will be delighted to have the work, and will happily carry anything that you would rather not (eg tents, spare water, rations etc). If you do use them, you will need to provide empty rucksacks for them to carry, a shelter (tarp or tent) and something to eat (rice, condiments, snacks). Regarding finance, you’ll need to consider a payment to the headman of the village you start from, fees for the guide and the porters, and obviously all your travel, food and water expenses. Above all, enjoy the trip – it’s a stunning mountain!
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