Sunday Spotlight – Kribi (Cameroon)
You may never have heard of Kribi, it’s a small seaside town in Cameroon, a few hours south of Douala. But let me tell you, when it came to my trip in 2011 I came to Cameroon pretty exhausted from Central Asia, a quick day and a half in London and then a long flight to Cameroon via Zurich. After two nights and one day in busy Douala, it was time to take the bus (always an experience anywhere in West Africa) down to Kribi, a quiet little spot.
I had a seaside room. Not a great seaside room, but a seaside room nonetheless. I met some interesting folk, I went for walks, I read as the waves crashed the beach 40 metres away, and for five days I relaxed and recharged. Did I mention I relaxed? Why is that often so hard to do when on a big trip? My 2011 trip became go, go go go go GO! Somewhere new every few days. Ok for a short trip, for a year-long adventure it’s not sustainable.
There’s nothing amazing about Kribi. It’s not luxurious, it’s not chock-full of sites, it’s not a party town. It was cloudy every day and only about 25 degrees. But Kribi was a little tonic for my weary body. Here’s how I saw it in Short Journeys: Cameroon, my ebook about my experiences in this great country in West Africa.
Look, let’s cut to the chase, Cameroon doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower or a Colosseum. Cameroon rewards the visitor in other ways, as did Kribi. We stayed five or six nights after planning on 2 or 3. Why? Because it’s a really chilled place. You could often hear African beats and music being played, the people were relaxed, and so were we. Sometimes you need a bit of that. Having said that there were some falls not far away from where we were staying, and local tribes to visit. The beach was beautiful and sandy, and not populated by hundreds of tourists either. It was a great place to read a book, breath the air and think about life. It was a place away from the worries and hassles of daily life.
The town, a kilometre or three from the coast, did have a bit going on. Motorbikes whizzing around, taxis and the like. We didn’t use a bank there and I’d think that was a good thing. We tried an internet cafe, but it was so frustratingly slow I’d suggest forgetting about the internet whilst you are in Kribi. The streets were dusty, few stores had little of interest apart from the supermarket. You don’t want to spend much time in town though when there’s a beautiful beach nearby!
If you follow the main road southwards you get to a sort of port/marina area and many fishing boats and fishermen who’ve braved the ocean to bring back their catch. It’s really a lovely area to wander around, you could walk for the whole day and see so much life – there really is no better way to spend a day. We walked along the road, along the beach. The beautiful tranquil beach, where we saw… a man herding cattle!
Over a bridge over the Kienké River, the Catholic church above and to the left, the ‘marina’ of sorts to the right. A really special place on the map.
Les Chutes Lobés
Billed as the major attraction of Kribi… they really aren’t that major. Les Chutes Lobés, or the Lope Waterfalls, are south of Kribi by a few kilometres. We took a moto there – two of us on the back of a motorbike (sitting behind the owner). We were surprised that it was so easy in fact. Quite roomy!
We arrived and walked down to the beach there – the waterfalls are at the mouth of a river, plunging into the ocean, but they really aren’t all that high at all. So don’t be expecting anything spectacular, however it is a very beautiful area. Fishing boats lined the sand at the inlet, and they take people up the river to what they called a ‘Pygmy’ village.
We clambered onto quite a small boat, sitting on wooden planks which do nothing for the comfort of your bum, and off we went up the river. It’s quite an impressive river, the Lobé river. It’s a very wide river, and I really felt like this was the jungle, the real Africa. Away from ‘civilisation’ (however you may like to define it, I’m talking cars and internet cafes) in the heart of a place shut off from the rest of the world.
Of course, it really isn’t. It’s only 8 kilometres from central Kribi after all! But being on a small wooden pirogue, looking up at trees over 20 metres tall at a guess, with strange sounds emanating of various different animals, I realised this was a unique experience. One I had never had before and may never have again.
Then, well, the village. There was no real village. There were only around 8 villagers who posed for photos with us in a clearing 200 metres from the side of the Lobé River. But that didn’t really matter. The location was everything, and this was a very special location indeed.
And that is a little, awesome place called Kribi. Do consider Cameroon as a destination if you’re looking for a great country that’s not at all touristy in Africa. I loved the place. What’s cooking for the next Sunday Spotlight? Hmmm I am thinking Georgia…..