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Cameroon

Welcome to Cameroon!!! This West African country is full of surprises: with its equatorial forests and nature reserves, Cameroon is the favorite destination of nature lovers. While its natural parks are renowned for fauna observation, the Mount Cameroon, the highest in West Africa, is very appreciated by hikers. Along the coast, the loneliness amateurs come to relax and recharge batteries on the long isolated beaches. Going north, the savanna and dry lands dominate. In addition to this amazing natural wealth, Cameroon assembles a multitude of ethnic groups still living with their traditions. Marked by its Franco-British colonial past, the country is inhabited by more than 130 ethnic groups speaking dozens of different languages. Islam and Christianity are the two main religions but Animism is still practiced by a minority of people.

 

Key facts

  • Capital City: Yaoundé
  • Languages: French and English (official languages), 24 African languages
  • Time difference: GMT/UTC + 1h
  • Entry requirements: Everyone must have a visa before entering Cameroon. You must have a return ticket also before applying for a visa. The tourist visa is valid 1 month, and the business visa is valid 12 months
  • Power outlet: 110/220 V, 50 Hz
  • Area Code: + 237
  • Heath: Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory before entering the territory. Shots for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and B, and meningococcal meningitis are advised. Be wary of malaria, dengue, and the bird flu. Do bring mosquito nets, mosquito repellents, and anti-malaria medications. Wash your hands frequently, never drink tap water, and always peel the fruit before eating it.

Money

General information: High end accommodation with European food will cost you between 150 – 200 USD per day. If you are on average budget, eat local food, use mainly minivans for your transportation, you will spend between 50 – 100 USD daily. If you want to spend between 25 – 50 USD daily, you have to eat only local food, drink only water (sodas and alcoholic drinks are expensive) and rent cheap rooms (you will have to take your bath with a bucket of water)

Currency: CFA franc (XAF)

Daily Budget food

  • Low budget: < 800 CFA
  • Average budget: 800-3 000 CFA
  • High budget : > 3 000 CFA

Daily Budget accomodation

  • Low budget: < 10 000 CFA
  • Average budget: 10 000-40 000 CFA
  • High budget: > 40 000 CFA

Best time to travel and weather

Best time to go: When to go to Cameroon? The dry and cool season, from November to February is the perfect time to visit Cameroon. The only downside is the dry and dusty Harmattan wind (from December to February). Sometimes, the Harmattan dust can reduce visibility to less than 1 km, and flights are often delayed or canceled ruining the excursions plans. The rainy season starts from May to November and the country becomes full of water and mud making your trips very difficult

Feasts and festivals: Just after New Year, the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope (televised footrace held at Mount Cameroon in the Southwest Province of Cameroon) is the main event of the year. Known as a difficult race, the race is 27km long and has a difference in elevation of 3000m. Eid-al-Fitr (end of Ramadan) is celebrated in the whole country. At Foumban, this Muslim festival is celebrated with horse racing, processions and dancing. Muslims in the north and the west of the country also celebrate the Tabaski with a parade of “marabouts”. National Day is celebrated on 20 May, and is very spectacular particularly in Maroua. Finally, during the Nso cultural week (mid-November), Kumbo in the West of the country hosts several horse races in the streets of the city.

Climate: Levels of rainfall vary substantially from region to region throughout the country. There is just enough rain in the north to irrigate the crops, but in south-west, close to Mont Cameroon, the rainfalls amounts frequently exceed 500 cm per year. In the north, the rainy season starts in June to end in September. In the south, small rains start in March and April, and from May to November torrential rains begin to fall. Humidity reaches the highest levels in July and August. From March to May, the average temperature is about 30°C in Yaoundé. Douala climate is cool but humid. In the same period, temperatures reach 40°C in the north.

Transportation

How to go there: Most of European airlines companies serve only Douala. Air France has direct flights from Paris to Yaoundé. Swissair flies from Zurich and Geneva to Yaoundé and Douala. The departure tax on international flights is US$15. There only one rail link with the Central African Republic. The train reaches Belabo, which is 200km north-east of Yaoundé. Bush taxis and minibuses are the best mode of transportation to get in the country by land. The most common crossing points are Mora (if you going to Chad), Mamfé (on your way to Nigeria), and Ambam (when travelling to Gabon or Equatorial Guinea). Douala is a large commercial port trading mostly with Europe, and is frequented by vessels connecting Oron (Nigeria) to Idenao (close to Limbe in Cameroon). Outboards make the trip in 4 hours.

Moving around in the country : For short trips, use bush taxis or minivans (cheap and fast – sometimes too fast!!). But if you are going to Yaoundé from Douala, Bafoussam, Bemenda, Foumban or Dschang, we recommend you to take the bus. To go north of the country, taking a train can be a good choice. Pretty cheap, the train going north (La Gazelle du Nord) is faster than a car or bush taxi, and is very comfortable. The train operates daily between Yaoundé and N’Gaoundéré. The train is also serving the capital city Yaoundé and Douala. The airline company, Camair-Co, organizes many flights daily between Douala and Yaoundé. Unitair serves Maroua, Garoua, N’Gaoundéré and few other cities. But taking the plane will cost you more money, even more so you will have to pay a departure tax on all your domestic flights. If you are afraid of the fast driving of the bush taxis, you can always rent your own car. But keep in mind that even though the gas is cheap, rental car companies are very expensive. You will find rental car companies in Yaoundé and Douala and other major cities. Your country’s driving license is accepted but we recommend you to bring your international driving license as well.

Must see

The best of Cameroon and the places of interest to visit (curiosities, cities, historical sites and buildings)

 Yaoundé: Once a sleepy colonial town, Yaoundé, the capital city has changed into a modern and lively metropolis composed of a tangle of streets winding across the hills. The city, which has a very temperate climate, possesses fascinating museums, and in other aspect, has the best grilled chicken in the country. The Kennedy Avenue is the main commercial street, leading to the Kennedy Place and the Artisanal center (huge tent where local craftsmen come to sell their creations). Very crowded, Mesa, Mokolo and Briqueterie neighbourhoods located a few km northeast are full of small restaurants preparing the best grilled chicken of the country. Don’t miss the visit of the Cameroon Art Museum in the Benedictine monastery located a few miles going north from downtown. Although relatively small, the museum hosts among the world best pieces of Cameroons’ artwork (Bamun masks, bronze bowls and smoking pipes). Nearby the Fébé Mount, the monastery can be reached by bus or taxi from downtown. A few miles from downtown going west, Melen neighborhood houses the African Negro Art Museum stores and displaysBamun smoking pipes from northwest of the country, Baoules fabics from Ivory Coast, and Congolese masks, and art objects ranging from Algeria to Ethiopia. The Melen district houses also the parish of N’Djong Melen; a church where an open air mass is celebrated every Sunday morning. The office in Ewondo language, usually lasts for 2 hours and is accompanied by drums beating, dancing, and songs.

Douala: Overwhelmed by a humid heat, Douala, with its ordinary architecture and high crime rate does not offer much to see. The only good thing about Douala is that the city is close to many outstanding sites such as Kribi, Limbe and the Mont Cameroon (just one hour drive). A few buildings are worthwhile to see: Akwa Palace Hotel in the middle of town, the Douala Museum (free entrance), and the Artisanal Centre of Douala (open space market halfway between the Akwa Palace Hotel and the City Hall.

Foumban: Although a touristic city, Foumban is also an important Centre of African traditional Art. The pride of the city is the Royal Palace (seat of Bamoun power). Ancestry of the Bamoun kingship goes back to more than 600 years (since 1394). The construction of the royal palace completed in 1917, is built with turrets reminding us a medieval castle. The castle contains a Royal Museum, where are exposed royal adornments, royal emblems, music instruments, stunning sculptures, jewelry, masks, and royal thrones richly decorated and sculpted.

Buea and Mont Cameroon: After one hour drive from Douala, going northwest, you will reach Buea which is the departing point for Mont Cameroon climbing (4094m). In the past, the city experienced its greatest hours of glory. The city was the capital of the German protectorate in 1901 and knew 8 glorious years. Right after the country gained its independence, Buea became the capital city of the Federal State of Western Cameroon for 11 years. When the Federal State of Western Cameroon became the Republic of Cameroon, Yaoundé emerged as the unique capital city of the republic. This sleeping city is a must see before climbing the Mont Cameroon. Single original aspect of the city is the Mountain Hotel with its old English fashion style. Just go to this nice hotel and enjoy a nice drink before climbing the Mont Cameroon. The mountain trails cross thick equatorial forests and vast subalpine pastures. Climbing the mount is pretty easy. Going back and forth (27km) can be done in one day. But most of the hikers spend the night in a chalet situated at 2000m altitude. Don’t forget that temperatures can easily go under 0 degrees at the top of the mountain and bring adequate equipment. Bush taxis connect regularly Buea and Douala.

Waza national Park: Located in a flat and bushy area without a particular character, the Waza National Park is among the most spectacular in Central Africa. Hundreds of elephants congregate frequently around the famous « mare aux éléphants » (elephants pool). We sometimes meet lions, giraffes, hippos, antelopes, colobus monkeys, baboons, and other monkeys. You will also cross the road of hornbills, ostriches, black crowned crane, herons, or storks. The best period to watch these amazing animals would be between March and May (hot season). You will need 3 hours’ drive to reach the elephants pool. The pool is located at the north of the country at the west border of Niger, and east border of Chad. To get there, we recommend the train from Douala or Yaoundé to N’Gaoundéré (journey will take respectively 12 and 18 h). Then, rent a car or take a bush taxi to complete the journey. Accommodation is available at Waza.

Kribi: The resort of Kribi with its white sand beaches is very appreciated by expats. However there are only few restaurants and one nightclub. Go visit the small villages of fishermen around Kribi. They serve delicious seafood. Stop by Eboundia (20km south) and Londji (24km north). There is no accommodation available but you will surely enjoy a few hours of absolute peace and heavenly setting, while enjoying grilled fish with a glass of palm wine with locals. From Douala, you can reach Kribi within 2 hours in a bush taxi.

Korup National Park: This park is the latest among national parks of Cameroon. It covers the most ancient and most diversified area of the equatorial forest of the country. Besides the impressive quantity of species of primates and birds living in the park, there is also an exceptional diversity of flora and fauna (new species were discovered very recently). You will admire swarms of multicolored butterflies lit by rays of light through the trees, while monkeys jump tranquilly from branch to another. Keep in mind the park is very humid and bring adequate equipment. The park is located at the very west of the country, at the border of the Niger border near Mundemba. You will reach the park after driving 150km North West from Douala.

Mora: Capital of the Wandalas, Mora is the place for very animated markets where different types of ethnic groups of the region gather all dressed up with theirs most beautiful clothing (particularly the Kirdis who are animists). They sell painted bowls, leathered articles, jewelry, gris-gris, vegetables, millet and animals (donkeys etc…). Mora is located at 30km going north nearby the Niger border. Bush taxis go from N’Gaoundéré to Mora in one day.

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