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Cameroon

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Africa : West Africa : Cameroon
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[[File:noframe|250px|frameless|Cameroon]]
Location
[[File:noframe|250px|frameless]]
Flag
[[File:Cm-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Yaounde
Government Unitary republic; multiparty presidential regime (opposition parties legalized in 1990)
Currency Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Area 475,440 sq km
Population 17,340,702 (July 2006 est.)
Language 4 major African language groups, English (official), French (official)
Religion indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

Cameroon is located in West Africa. It borders Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south.

While Cameroon is not the largest country in Africa, in some ways it's as large as Africa itself. Known as "Africa in miniature" it features French and English speaking portions, Muslim and Christian dominated regions, the tallest mountain in West Africa and terrain that includes rain forest, desert plains, mountains and high plateau.

Regions

Cities

Map of Cameroon

Other destinations

Understand

Cameroon is a diverse and multi ethnic country . While western tourism is rare. Most of the countries tourist come from Europe predominantly Belgium

Get in

By plane

Cameroon can be reached via:

By train

By car

By bus

By boat

Get around

There are tour operator if you intend to get around Cameroon.

By plane

The quickest and safest way to the north is by air. Cameroon Airways provides flights to most major centres for reasonable fares.

By train

Train service exists from the capital, Yaoundé, to the port city of Douala and the northern city of Ngaoundéré. While bus service is quicker and more reliable to Douala, the overnight train is the best mode of ground transport to the north. Check for current schedules and pricing.

By bus

Between the major cities you can get a ride on modern, comfortable buses, sometimes with Air Conditioning. Away from the larger centres you will most likely end up on the ever present Toyota bush taxis. These are slightly elongated Toyota minivans that can hold up to 20 people (or more if necessary) along with their luggage piled up on top. Safety can be a concern with dangerous roads, overworked/drunk/hungover drivers and poorly maintained vehicles the norm. However, other than extending your stay an extra day or 2 in bad weather your options are limited.

Note that buses rarely leave at a set time. Instead, they wait until they are full and then depart. For buses later in the day, sometimes they never fill up. When this happens, the operator will normally set you up with a bush taxi to take you to your destination. If you do not want to take the bush taxi and are persistent enough, the operator will normally refund your money. The point is that you should leave plenty of time to get to your destination, because sometimes the wait will take hours and you are never guaranteed a departure.

By car

Rental cars are available although very expensive. As paved roads are rare away from the major cities of the west and northwest areas of the country, a 4 x 4 is a necessity when travelling to the east or central areas of Cameroon. The roads in the north are paved between cities and even the dirt roads tend to be in decent condition due to the lack of rain.


Talk

French and English are the official languages in Cameroon although there are over 276 recognized languages in Cameroon.


The Northwest and Southwest provinces are English speaking although in some areas pidgin English is more common. The rest of the country is predominantly francophone although almost all areas will also have local languages.

Buy

Local handicraft in Marche de Fleurs (Douala - Bonapriso quarter)

Fresh fish and prawns in Youppe village close to Douala (early morning!)

Costs

Unless you are in stores and restaurants, you must bargain everything and offer at most 20% of the price requested.

Eat

There are plenty of good restaurants:

  • Bonapriso quarter: Sorento, Bistrot Latin, Peche Mignon, Oriental Garden (chinese), Alladin (lebanese), Paradise (nice English bar), Piccolla Venezia (italian), Ovalie (classy, expensive), Le Bouchon Lyonaise (French), Le BOJ (French), Le Cabanon
  • Bonanjo quarter: Chez Wou (chinese), La Cigalle
  • Akwa quarter: Le Senat (great jazz in the evening), White House (local), Mediterrannee (greek, good pizzas), La Fourchette (French), Le Foyer du Marin aka German Seamen's Club (german)
  • by the waterfront: Le Mangrove (fresh fish & prawns), Le Dernier Comptoire Colonial (last sclaves trading post)

If you are on a very low budget, try Chez Kali in Bonapriso (towards the Energy Club - fitness). Safe food at very low price.

Drink

Hut in the small village of Bana

Avoid drinking tap water, even in restaurants. Bottled water can be found most anywhere at reasonable prices. Expect to pay 250 cfa for 1.5l in the major cities, more in more remote areas.

Coca-Cola is available everywhere. For something different try one of the flavourful TOP sodas. They are much sweeter than most European or North American sodas but they are very tasty.

Cameroon is rich with choice when it comes to good beer due to its past as a German and later French colony. Bottled Guinness can be found everywhere although in the heat, try one of the excellent lighter beers such as Castel, Beaufort, Mützig, Isenbeck, Satzenbrau or 33. These are inexpensive and excellent in the heat. Outside of the cities you will sometimes be hard pressed to find them chilled (due to a lack of electricity).

Sleep

Hotels in the major cities will range from 6000 cfa up to and in excess of 50 000 cfa. Clean and safe rooms can usually be found for under 11 000 cfa.

In more rural areas prices cary wildly depending on demand and local economy. It is not uncommon to find comfortable accommodations for 2000-3000 cfa per night.

Camping:

Unless you are with a guide on a trek it is not recommended that you camp due to security concerns.

Learn

American School of Douala

Lycee Dominique Savio

Saint Joseph's College (SJC) Sasse, Buea

Work

Stay safe

Sadly, like most countries in Africa, explicitly take into account the effects due to AIDS.

Also, banditry can be an issue, especially while traveling on overnight buses. Although many people take overnight buses for long routes without incident (and they are often much more comfortable than the buses during the day), bandits are known to target and ambush them on parts of roads that are more secluded. This is a growing problem in the Southwest province on the route from Bamenda to Buea. Violence is rare, but just be smart about wearing any jewelry or anything else that would make you stand apart from the rest of the bus.

Stay healthy

Yellow Fever certificates are required for travel to Cameroon.

Malaria is common, especially in the central and southern parts of the country. The risk is much lower in the mountains of the Northwest Province and the arid areas on the Extreme North. Prophylactics are recommended because of the severity of some strains of malaria in the country.

Other tropical diseases are also common, including dysentery, bilharzia, hepatitis, and giardia occur. There are occasional outbreaks of cholera in Yaounde and Douala, but rarely affect travelers.

There are several good quality hospitals in the country. Most are located in Douala or Yaounde, but Kumbo has two very good private hospitals as well.

Respect


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