Cameroon – I haven’t written about it in a while, so I thought I’d write a little about this beautiful West African nation over the next week or so. Nestled under Nigeria and above Gabon, it’s a very tropical country which doesn’t see many western tourists, but does have a lot to offer the visitor. Warning number one though – it’s not for the bargain basement backpacker. It’s not monstrously expensive but has very few cheap hotels to stay at and when you do get something 30-40 Euro, it’s generally VERY disappointing for the price. However, the hotel I stayed at in Bamenda was actually great value.
My itinerary worked pretty well, I had just over two weeks – could have done with a few more days on the same itinerary. I went in July, there is a period here where the rain isn’t as bad as it is for the rest of the rainy season, and I only lost one day I think to rain which was good. But boy did it rain that day! One advantage of going at that time was the weather – it was much cooler than my previous time in West Africa, always being between 24 and 28 degrees.
I started off in Douala. The main city but not the capital. Flights coming in from Europe will service either the capital Yaoundé, or Douala which has the bigger airport. So my itinerary was based on flying into one and out of the other. I flew with Swiss Air.
Douala is okay for a day or two but bereft of tourist attractions. There is some of the country’s best eating there and as an ex-French (and British in the north) colony you can find decent French food if you so desire it. There are clubs and so forth in Douala, and it’s the place to go to get money changed (warning – don’t bother with Traveller’s cheques you can’t change them) and get things in order. Harder to change Dollars and Euros (which are best) outside of Douala and Yaounde.
Southwards I went to the town Kribi. It’s a quiet little spot, and I stayed on the beach front and did some serious chilling for a few days. I also took a boat up the river to meet a local tribe and this was probably the time (out of all my visits to Africa) I really felt I was in the jungle. The Gabonese border isn’t too far away either (about 60km).
From there it was back up the coast (not that I saw any of it!) to Douala and then into a share taxi heading north to another coastal town, that of Limbe. Still, I found the country to be so green! Here it pelted down with rain for 24 hours. The seaside hotel was okay, but the view was one of rocks and out further at sea, an oil rig.
But there was also interesting Botanical Gardens and the Limbe Wildlife Centre – a great place to see primates, albeit they are behind wire. But they do appear to be looked after and they are apes that have been saved from poachers and the like.
Also from here you can plan a hike up Mt Cameroon, the highest West-African peak and a volcano to boot.
Next by a couple of taxis to Bamenda and an area that is known as ‘the Ring Road’. Here I met royalty at a small village called Bali and learnt about the local land and culture. The region is great to explore, there’s a bit of hiking, a wonderful craft centre, and if you’re really keen you could try and take on the whole ring road – you’d need a few days and want more than a week.
From there it was down for a too brief stay at the capital, Yaounde. The capital has some ‘out there’ buildings and is actually very pleasantly located across a number of hill tops. There’s an open air museum, some nice colonial architecture and decent food! What more could you want?
Buses and share-taxis were the go all the way around. Sometimes they take far longer than you are told, but that’s West Africa for you! It’s an adventure, that’s for sure!
Yes, there’s a lot more to Cameroon, but for a short 17 day-stay, this itinerary worked okay. 20 days and the same itinerary and it would have been perfect! You probably haven’t considered Cameroon for your travels, it’s not got safaris or historical buildings, but it is an enjoyable, if bumpy place to visit! May the Journey Never End!