The Abandoned Cliff Village of Niansogoni

From the plains of Niansogoni, a monolith juts from the ground. Winding up a path that is quickly disappearing, being reclaimed by nature, you find remains of a culture now gone. Rock lines delineate past walls, fields. Scrapes in the stones, form mortars used to grind grain. Eventually, the regrowth forest gives way as the mountain curls back creating a roof, and you find yourself standing in the middle of an ancient village nestled in the alcove of the cliff. Only granaries and dwellings now remain, providing a glimpse of what once was. This was the village of the Wa, the Panther People.

The cliff village is tucked away, which provided protection to the Wa. Additional protection was gained by building large stone walls on the side of the mountain, blocking the numerous paths. When warring tribes approached, they were slowed by the walls and further slowed when the Wa would banded together and push over the stone walls, sending an avalanche of stones careening down the mountainside. If rocks raining down wasn’t enough of a determinant, the Wa would blanket the enemy in poison tipped arrows.

The Wa lived in the cliffs for protection, but the security they gained from the cliffs was not without a cost. For the majority of the year, water is unavailable on the mountain. Each day, the Wa women would climb down the cliff, walk to the several kilometers to a nearby stream, collect water, and hike water back to their cliff-nestled dwellings. The cliffs also provided little land suitable for crop production, so the men of the village worked the plains below the cliff and carried their harvest up the mountain to be stored in clay grain silos. Even the clay used to build the Wa homes and granaries had to be carried from the cliff-shadowed grassland.

The cliff village of Niansogoni dates back to the 14th century. While it appears that you’ve stumbled upon long lost ruins, the village was only just abandoned in 1980. After a war with a neighboring tribe, the Wa decided to leave their traditional cliff village and move down to the plains. They felt that their old way of living was no longer practical, relocated, and now make up the population of Niansogoni.