Cameroon Travel Guide
The variety of landscapes and cultures found within its borders has led many to conclude that Cameroon is Africa in miniature. Between its steaming jungles and interior highlands, citizens that speak French, English, and a mélange of indigenous languages, and the usual sort of controlled chaos that reigns throughout much of the continent, it is hard to disagree with that assessment.
When traveling to Cameroon, though, it is important to listen to the advice of local authorities, as certain regions in the north and land within 40 kilometers of the border with the Central African Republic may pose a threat to foreigners.
With that necessary proviso out of the way, it is likely that your visit to Cameroon will have you coming away with a better appreciation for what life is like in Central Africa.
Currency: Central African CFA Francs
Languages: French, English, various indigenous languages
What To Do
Learn more about Cameroon’s history by paying a visit to the National Museum of Yaounde. Situated in the former presidential palace, its past as the former abode of the most powerful person in the country is evident, as the property is immaculate in its appearance, inside and out.
Inside this institution, you will find a number of statues, photographs, and paintings depicting former members of royalty, as well as various political leaders and luminaries in Cameroonian society.
In addition to the works of art found inside, the garden out back contains many plants that are endemic to Cameroon and other countries within Central and Western Africa.
Next, make time to see the Benedictine Museum of Mont-Febe. Located just outside Yaounde, this monastery hosts an extensive private collection of art and tribal artifacts that have been collected from many parts of the country.
Although the overall size of the museum is on the small side, the quality of the items contained within make a trip out here well worth your time. If you find the quiet of this special place attractive, you will be happy to know that there is a hotel on-site with rooms and dorms, complete with hot water.
Given the noise and chaos that often reigns on the streets of many African cities, staying here a few days may be the restorative cure you are looking for.
One of the best markets in Cameroon can be visited in Douala, Cameroon’s largest city. Although the name Marche des Fleurs would indicate that this is a market that strictly deals in tropical blooms, there are a number of other goods up for sale that makes this place a must see.
With figurines, jewelry, tribal masks, and other handicrafts available for purchase, a visit to this market will be a great opportunity to shop for souvenirs to take home to your family and friends.
A word to the wise, however: the merchants that work this marketplace are well-trained in the art of haggling, and seeing how this is one of the more popular tourist attractions in the country they are adept at dealing with those that passively accept the first price they are given.
Know that the initial price that merchants will quote you will be radically inflated over its actual value. Don’t be afraid to lowball; over a lively haggling session, work your way up to about one-third of the first price that the merchant gives you.
When you are ready to head out into the countryside of Cameroon, make your way to Mefou National Park. Known for being home to a rehabilitation center for apes, those wishing to come into contact with these special primates will have a golden opportunity to do so here.
In addition to the main attraction, you will also find gorillas, chimpanzees, and a colorful primate known as a mandrill here. Despite its status as a national park, there are no official hotels or camping grounds here, although it has been reported that you can set up camp on its grounds in exchange for a donation to the Ape Action Center.
Additionally, there is little in the way of hospitality facilities: except for a small bar that serves a selection of drinks, there is no food available here, so be sure to pack some in from a nearby village.
If you are a fan of waterfalls, make your way south along the coast of Cameroon until you reach Chutes de la Lobe. While it is not the tallest waterfall you will ever see, it makes up for its lack of vertical prominence by the fact that it flows directly into the Atlantic Ocean.
Alongside the waterfalls, there are beaches that are known nesting sites for sea turtles. This gives visiting tourists the opportunity to aid with conservation efforts that work to ensure a good long-term prognosis for this threatened sea creature.
What to Eat
If you are looking to try some of Cameroon’s native foods, start by having some Eru. A soup made with the shredded leaves of the Eru plant, along with watercress, spinach, palm oil and your choice of meat (anything from fish to beef), it is a great option for those looking for a light meal.
If you would prefer something just a bit heavier, be sure to reach for some Soya. A type of brochette with a Cameroon twist, this skewered meat treat is made by brushing the cut with a spicy peanut sauce.
Grilled in the streets of Cameroon, the smells of this street food become so heavenly that anyone with the slightest appetite finds it hard to resist reaching for their wallet once confronted with its aroma.
At dinner, try the official dish of Cameroon by ordering some Ndolé. Made with the bitter leaves of the Ndolé plant, along with stewed nuts, fish, and other types of meat, it has a distinctive taste that you will have a hard time finding elsewhere in Africa.