Douala is the largest city and the commercial centre of Cameroon.
Douala is a large, sprawling city with several districts. Akwa is the most important central district, where all the business, commercial, and diplomatic life concentrates. Boulevard de la Liberté is the throbbing heart of the city with many shops and restaurants.
The Douala International Airport (IATA: DLA) serves as the main entrance point in the country. Camair-Co (national carrier) is the main service provider to the city of Douala. Two other airlines also fly to Europe - Air France (Paris) and Brussels Airlines (Brussels). Turkish Airlines also has direct flights to Douala from Istanbul. Several airlines provide links to African destinations.
Flights to Douala with major airlines are not available daily, hence a flexible schedule and a timely reservation is required.
Arrive at the airport about 3 hours before departure, as it often tends to be crowded, and long queues might prevent you from comfortably reaching your flights. Prepare for thorough checks at the custums and by the airport police authorities. Avoid confrontation with the authorities, but be firm and request to talk to their superiors if they ask you to pay a bribe.
Getting around in Douala is easiest by shared taxis. Shared Toyota taxi-cabs (yellow) are available throughout the city in daytime, while getting one late at night might be more difficult. You will only be given a ride if your fellow-passengers are also traveling in the same direction as you. Taxis carrying no passengers will stop and even turn back for you, and you may also request them not to take other passengers while you are in the taxi. In this case, you will be charged more the ride. Sharing a taxi is cheap (around 500-700 CFA for even longer rides), while taking one alone might cost up to 2000-2500 CFA for longer rides. Sedan taxis will readily take 5-6 passengers at a time, so beware of pickpockets. Considering the general condition and the average age of the taxis, make sure you securely close the door as they tend to open easily during the vehicle is in motion.
Hiring a chauffeur to take you out of town is possible and is the safest way. Make sure you hire your chauffeur if he is recommended to you by a friend or a business partner whom you know well. Check-points from Douala to Buea and other cities are common. European travelers would be pulled over frequently and asked to pay a bribe (1000-2000 CFA). Always have your passport on you when you travel (the original document). Always be polite and very patient with the police. Some knowledge of French in Douala is useful for such cases. English is spoken only in two provinces in the Southwest Region.
When in Douala, the closest beach to go to is Limbe. Limbe (formerly Victoria, after Queen Victoria of England) is a seaside city in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. Limbe has some nice streches of beach for sunbathing. Facilities are basic, water currents might be very strong. Be cautious, and ask the locals whether the ocean is safe for swimming or not. Excellent fish restaurants are widely available in Limbe.
Hotels and other amenities can be found here: http://camtourventures.org
List of hotels recommended for European travelers:
Mile 11 Route d Idenau Best deal 49,624 Ft
Sur la Route de la Sonara
Seme New Beach Hotel
Bakinguili Mile 11
Park Hotel Miramar
Jardin Bontanique BP 827
Savoy Palmz Hotel
Handicrafts, painted masks, beads, headscarfs, local chocolate, coffee. Look for them in Limbe, where these things tend to be much cheaper. Ask your local friend to buy it for you to get real value for money.
Mediterranee (Greek and Pizza),
Saga Africa (an excellent, yet a bit pricey choice),
La Sorento (Italian pizzas),
Le dernier Comptoir Colonial (Fish, Prawn)
Several excellent restaurants can be found along Boulvard de la Liberté, Douala's main avenue. Local eateries are cheap (1000-2000 CFA / dish). Try the local beers (33 Export. Mützig, Castel, etc.). Soft drinks come in 0.7 deciliter bottles and are very refreshing.
Vallée des Princes Hotel,
The Douala Gingerbrook Hotel,
Violent crime in Douala is rare (as opposed to other West African cities). Pickpocketing and bag-snatching are the only real dangers concerning one's physical safety. Do not walk around with valuables (phone, camera, jewelry, expensive clothes). Use only a cheap phone when you are touring the city. Credit card scams are very frequest. Pay in cash wherever you can, and leave your credit card in the safe box of your hotel. If you have local friends, make sure they accompany you to the places where you wish to go. Always watch your step, as the city is full of potholes and septic sewage pipes. Douala is very poorly lit at night, so carry a small flashlight, especially when it rains. Avoid riding a taxi when it rains. Traffic is generally considered dangerous. Watch out for motorbikes.
When you are driving outside the city, ask your driver to drive carefully and do not pass large trucks in blind curves. Trucks carrying logs of wood are accident-prone. Do not drive behind them. There are many speed bumps outside town. You will see many broken cars along the road, which represent a potential danger at night.
HIV/AIDS is on the rise. Avoid making any contact with sex workers, and always use a contraceptive condom before engaging in any sexual activity.