Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sokurella - A Remote Village at the base of the Loma Mountains

Portrait of a Kuranko Woman at Sokurella - March 1970
photo © by Chad Finer

Hiking in to this village from Kurobonla, and the end of the roadway was tedious. It was hot (we started off in fog and actually cool weather) and very humid. The terrain was hilly but not severe, but there was high razor grass that could cut you if you weren't careful. Our guide, obtained from the paramount chief, led the way. From Kurobonla to Sokurella, the last village before heading up the mountain, was a distance of about a dozen miles or so. We had started early in the morning, and by mid-afternoon reached Sokurella. 

Situated at the base of the Loma Mountains in the Northern Province of Sierra Leone, the Kuranko village of Sokurella was a quiet, and small village of perhaps two dozen homes. I hiked here with fellow Peace Corps volunteer Lloyd Ziegler on our March 1970 trek into the mountains. We stayed in the village for two days. In this picture boys from the village play football (soccer) with the inside of a fruit used as the ball. This picture was taken in the late afternoon. 

photo © by Chad Finer
A view from the village (Sokurella) to the Loma Mountains and to the summit - Bintumani which is seen in the distance and in the clouds just to the right of the nearest house. Taken in the morning of our departure to hike on to Bintumani. In this picture to the right of the house on the left are new bales of roofing material to be used in renovating the house roof. 


A mat maker with his apprentice in the village of Sokurella - March 1970

From Sokurella the hike up to the plateau country below the summit of Bintumani was through at first more grassland (with razor grass) and then up through a canopy of forest that gave a wonderful protection from the heat. In the forest it was cool and somewhat damp - but the temperature difference was remarkable as we ascended up the trail. Up on top (still below the summit by perhaps 500 to a thousand feet) there was grassland and spectacular 360ยบ views. The most impressive views were accompanied by the realization that is was cool (for the first time since our arrival in Sierra Leone) and there was a gentle breeze. The hike from Sokurella was perhaps 5 hours or more - but this grassland sloped upward out of the forest and made for expansive views everywhere. The summit sat above us from this point - we made camp here with the plan to head up to the summit later on. Date: March 1970

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