The Mambilla plateau is one of the natural tourist attractions with which the Taraba people are blessed, and prides itself on being the nature’s gift to the nation. It is located at Gembu in Sardauna local government area of the state.
The Mambilla plateau is a highly grass land plateau with an average elevation of about 1,524 metres (5,000 ft.) above the sea level, making it the highest plateau in Nigeria. Tourism provides for cultural pride, greater awareness of natural environmental endowment and its economic values, a sense of ownership and reduction in vulnerability of the poor through income diversification. Today, tourism is seen as a goldmine which any nation, state or community endowed with such natural attraction can generate abundant foreign and direct income every year.
The world tourism day is celebrated on the Mambilla plateau on 28th September of every year. The people in the area use the occasion to showcase some of the rich cultural heritage and eco-tourism potential of the state. Government officials and politicians in the state are invited and long speeches and promises are made.
The Mambilla plateau has a distinct amiable climate with its temperature element making it a prime destination for lovers of mild weather. The Mambilla plateau has variously been described as the little Europe in Nigeria. It is no wonder that many high profile individuals in the country have acquired properties on the plateau. The plateau is a resource frontier zone filled with abundant natural resources such as agricultural crops, diverse mineral resources, wildlife, beautiful scenery and lots more that far outweigh many other plateau in the country. Unlike Obudu plateau, the Mambilla plateau has far more land area and many towns that are developed. It has been referred to by many as the mountain of death; this is solely because of the height and steep nature of the slope.
The immediate past President, Goodluck Jonathan during his administration pledged to build a presidential resort on the Mambilla plateau to serve as holiday camp for African presidents, mirroring Camp David in the United State if re-elected. Mambilla plateau is located on a high altitude making it one of the coolest points in the country. The President said, when the holiday camp is completed, the project would generate 3050 mega watts of electricity, provide water for irrigation and create job opportunities for the residents of the area.
The Mambilla plateau has one of the best weather conditions in the country which is cool and always accommodating all year round, unlike other parts of the country where there are temperature extremes during the day and night. The Mambilla plateau is free of mosquitoes and tsetse flies. Daytime temperature hardly exceed 25ᵒC, the driest months are from late November until early march with relative humidity dropping to about 15% while the wet season usually starts at its peak from August. The Mambilla plateau is inhabited by five major ethnic groups with different cultural heritage. These ethnic groups are Mambilla, kaka, Fulani, Panso and kambu. Just as the weather is accommodating so are the people of the Mambilla plateau, welcoming and so hospitable. The Mambilla language is a combination of different dialects and related languages. 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. It has a lot of scenic views to behold, which while watching the mountain chain and the curvaceous valleys you will have a breath of fresh air that is uncommon in many other parts of Nigeria.
The major tourist attraction sites on the plateau are the mountain chain, the plain green view and a magnificent water fall. Then there is the historic site, the famous cave in mbamnga Ndumyaji. 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. Livestock such as cow, goat, sheep and other rare birds thrive on the plateau. There are also natural forest 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. Due to the remote location and the undulating nature of the plateau and lack of properly tarred roads which are still under construction, the use of utility vehicles are recommended and visitors should make sure that essential camping equipment and food are included in their journey list to achieve maximum comfort and sightseeing adventure.
By: Mercy Kukah