Cameroon is a country that was discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1480. The event took place near the Wouri River, which flows in Central Africa. Travelers did not think long about the name. After they had seen lots of shrimp in the river waters, the name came right away — Rio dos Camarões. It was later transformed into "Cameroon", which literally means "the River of Shrimps". Today it is a major tourist center, which attracts by the fact that here you can see all the natural areas of Africa: evergreen forests, savannahs, and semi-deserts. Anyone who has visited Cameroon believes that this country is called Africa in a miniature. The locals love their guests and welcome them with pleasure. You will be told about ancient crafts and the love of football. They will show you the palaces of kings and sultans. They will also feed you with a delicious national dish called ndolé (stewed fish or beef with bitter herbs and nuts). You can only taste it in Cameroon. After visiting this country, the impressions are bright and ambiguous, just like Africa itself.
From the end of the XIX century until the end of the First World War (1918), Cameroon was a German colony. After the war, it was divided into two mandated territories, which were under British and French administration. In 1960, Cameroon became an independent state. It has two official languages, English and French. At the same time, there are at least a hundred dialects of local residents. The capital of the country is Yaoundé. The largest city is Douala. The population of Cameroon is approaching the mark of 25 million.
What to see and where
Douala. It is the largest city in the country with the status of economic capital. It combines the beauty of ancient buildings with the luxury of modern constructions. Walk down Douala's main street, Boulevard De La Republique. Visit the picturesque promenade and bustling with urban vibrancy Craft Market in the Bonanjo district. The city has a Chinese Pagoda. It is building from the beginning of the XX century. You have to go to Government Square to see it. The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, which was built in 1936, is considered to be the decoration of the city. The largest market in Cameroon — Eco Market — is also located here, and you can do great shopping.
Buea. This is a city with unique landscapes, 80 km from Douala. From here, you can climb Mount Cameroon (4095 m high). The excursion usually lasts for 3-4 days, but it is worth it. According to many people, this mountain is the main attraction in the country.
Bafoussam. That's the city where you can get acquainted with representatives of Bamileke people. They are divided into groups, each controlled by a headman. The world's Bamileke population exceeds two million people. Traditionally, these people are considered to be masters in the production of wooden utensils, including figurines and calebasses. The center of the diocese of the Roman Catholic Church is located in Bafoussam.
Maroua. There is a beautiful Waza National Park in the vicinity of this city. This place was glorified by poet Nikolay Gumilev ("Giraffe", "Lake Chad"). Here, in the area of 1700 km², buffalos, gazelles, warthogs, lions, leopards, hyenas, elephants, giraffes, antelopes live. Besides, you will see ostriches, cranes, ibises, owls, griffins. Moreover, all these animals inhabit the reserve in huge numbers. For example, it's no surprise to find a herd of 1,500 elephants here. All of this is against the backdrop of amazing nature and unique vegetation.
Bamenda. It's a big village where you can meet African handicrafts. All you have to do is visit a pottery factory. You will see how real masterpieces are born in the hands of artisans, from ordinary sand and black clay. The town of Bafut is located 20 km away from this settlement. It is a paradise for admirers of English naturalist Gerald Durrell. Here you will also find the Royal Palace with a guest house, where Darrell stayed during his expedition to pick up rare animals. Later he described these places in his works "A Zoo in My Luggage" and "Bafut Beagles". On the territory of the palace, one can also see one of the oldest buildings in Africa — Achum Shrine (it is over 600 years old). It is a place of prayer for the king and his entourage, as well as for his "beloved" wife.
Foumban. A tourist center where museums and shops are concentrated. It is located 200 km from the capital of Cameroon. Visit the Sultan Museum to see royal clothing, a collection of weapons, masks, and jewelry. The Museum of Arts also deserves a visit. There you will find items of national life. Craftsmen's stalls are nearby, where you can buy handmade souvenirs. Products made of wood are especially valued.
Kribi. This town has won fame as the best sea resort in the country. The distance to it from Yaounde is 270 km. Tourists are attracted by dozens of kilometers of golden and white sand, as well as many entertainment facilities on the Atlantic coast.
Limbe. This is another beach oasis surrounded by coconut palms on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Get ready to see the black sand. The reason for this unexpected phenomenon is Cameroon Volcano, located near the city. It is itself a spectacular sight.
Things to consider when going to Cameroon
- Take care of your health before you go to Cameroon. Get a yellow fever vaccination and international health insurance. To avoid the gastrointestinal infections that are common in this area, you should wash fruits and vegetables before eating and skin them. Drink only bottled water.
- There are hundreds of African dialects in the country. Therefore, frequently, even locals use English or French to understand each other.
- Be careful on the roads. There are two reasons for concern in this country: the poor condition of the majority of highways (only toll roads are suitable for regular driving) and the fact that there are practically no traffic rules. The notions of "traffic lights", "road sign", "oncoming lane", "marking" are unknown to local drivers. Everyone orient towards someone who beeps louder and blinks headlights actively. They have right-hand traffic. Fortunately, the speed of driving in cities, mainly, does not exceed 40 km/h.
- Buses are the most common type of transport. But take into account that drivers are waiting for the salon to fill up, so failures in the schedule happen all the time. As an alternative, you can use a private taxi "clando", which can be used at any time of day and night. Make sure you negotiate the payment in advance, as taxi drivers like to inflate the cost of their services.
- Don't forget about the railway transport. It's convenient to use it in the evening. The safest and most expensive are airplanes. The international class airport is in Yaoundé.
- Do not miss the opportunity to stock up on "delicious" souvenirs. They are sold at local markets. African Cameroonian honey is especially popular. It is absolutely special in its consistency and aroma. Allspice oil, snake fat, and powders for joint pains will also be appropriate. Here you can also get acquainted with Cameroonian healers, who come to the market to replenish the supply of potions.
- The traditional memorable souvenirs worth buying include embroidered fabrics and clothes, calabash gourds (vessels for mate), ritual decorations made of beads, ceramics, leather goods, and wooden masks.
- When checking into a hotel, note that luxury establishments are only in Yaoundé and Douala. However, there is no star classification in Cameroon. The owners assign a status to the rooms they rent. That's probably why renting houses and apartments is common in the country.
- Internet access in Cameroon is only available in major cities. You can access the Internet at an Internet cafe. However, the connection speed is often low.
- Please note that in Cameroonian reserves, all animals are protected by the state. You will be fined a large sum for causing them harm, even if it is unintentional.
Cities in Cameroon
The best time to visit Cameroon
The national holiday in Cameroon holds a special, honorable place. And the main one is National Day. It is celebrated on May 20 in the city of Maroua. It hosts the Cameroon National Festival, which brings together guests from all over the country. The "highlight" of the festival is folk dances, during which dancers convey emotions and thoughts, demonstrating amazing plasticity.
Don't miss the Eid al-Fitr Festival (June), which ends with 30-day fasting and Ramadan starts. Traditional dishes and sweets are the main ingredients of the event. You can meet "marabout" in the streets at this time. They are the fortune-tellers.