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Yaoundé

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Earth : Africa : West Africa : Cameroon : South Cameroon Plateau : Yaoundé
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Yaoundé is the capital city of Cameroon, and the country's second-largest city.

Yaoundé plays a vital role in the continental region due to its importance as a diplomatic hub. Many foreign entities, embassies and organisations (such as UNICEF) have offices in Yaoundé from which they operate throughout parts of Central Africa.

Understand[edit]

Yaoundé is a predominantly French speaking city and although many people speak English fluently, and at the least speak some English, it does help to have some key French phrases to hand when navigating the city.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The flight schedules to Yaoundé and Europe have been reduced in the past few years, and today there are only direct flights to Paris, Brussels, Istanbul. Most flights to and from Europe first descend in Douala. These flights frequently continue on to Yaounde and do not require passengers to disembark. Alternately, one could get off in Douala and take one of the numerous bus or train services to reach Yaounde (a 3-4 hour ride).

By train[edit]

Trains are usually used to move cargo from the southern provinces to the northern provinces. There are passenger services that run daily from Yaounde to the Adamawa province.

By car[edit]

There is a road connecting Yaoundé with Douala. Whilst there is a project currently underway to build a new highway connecting the two cities, the existing road consists of only two lanes. Traffic is heavy on this road and it is subsequently a frequent host for car accidents. Many locals will hire a driver to avoid the stress of driving this journey, and so this is an advisable solution to visitors.

Typically the drive from Douala to Yaoundé takes around 3-4 hours.

By bus[edit]

It's really worth getting the 'prestige' service if you're coming from Douala. If for no other reason than the seatbealts, it's worth the splurge, but take a jumper incase they crank the air-con.

Get around[edit]

City busses do exist, but shared taxis are the way to go. They will slow down for you to call your destination, and beep to say yes. The price is fixed at 200CFA, unless you're travelling a long way, or if you're not going far, you can try calling "cent francs" and your destination.

The driving can be quite eratic and daunting for most visitors, so a good solution to renting a car is to hire a car with a driver.

This can be quite expensive, so the best solution is to arrange a set hourly or daily fee with a taxi driver (usually around CFA 10,000 per hour).

The best place to locate a reputable taxi driver to hire on an hourly/daily basis (rather than a yellow taxi) is opposite the Hilton Hotel. You will see a number of them parked on the patch of land opposite.

See[edit][add listing]

The city's not really set up for tourists, but some fun things to see are the Mvog Betsi zoo (primates and lions, with a kids' playground), the Mokolo market (very big and in-your-face), Mont Febe, or maybe the swimming pools of some of the hotels.

The city centre houses government offices, some hotels, and the central market. The Bastos neighbourhood, with most homes owned by Cameroonians, is home to foreign embassies and the expatriate European community (drawn mainly from the diplomatic corps). The presidential palace and compound is in the Etoudi neighborhood.

Also found in Yaoundé are:

  • The Cathédrale Notre Dame des Victoires, the seat of the Archdiocese of Yaoundé
  • The Basilique Marie-Reine-des-Apôtres, built on the site of the first missionary church in Cameroon
  • The Cameroon Art Museum (located in a former Benedictine monastery)
  • The Cameroon National Museum (located in the former presidential palace)
  • The Afhemi Museum
  • The Palais du Sport
  • Reunification Monument - very cool design with stairs that can be climbed, giving a fantastic view over part of Yaoundé

There is a small zoo in the Mvog-Betsi neighbourhood. Yaoundé has a small assortment of nightclubs and restaurants.

Do[edit][add listing]

Although not set up with tourists directly in mind, Yaoundé still offers a lot for visitors to do.

The city is very vibrant, with swathes of markets and street-level retail, bars, and restaurants throughout most parts of the city. Most of these are open and filled with locals well into the night, so a walking exploration of some of these areas can be rewarding.

There are also a number of great outdoor activities to do, all the way from Golf to relaxing by the pool. The Mont Febe hotel is located towards the top of one of Yaoundé's several hills and vantage points, so the pool area is a great location for some drinks with a view.

Learn[edit]

Work[edit]

If you're volunteering with an NGO, make sure that you've verified its credibility with an independent source. A good way can be to look at the NGO's partner organisations; if it has any big ones (ie. UN etc.), they will probably have checked it out. It is sad to see eager and well intentioned volunteers have their time and money wasted (and their benevolent zeal diminished!).

Buy[edit][add listing]

If you need CFA, there are a handful of ATMs at banks around the city, as well as one in the Hilton in the center of Yaounde. There are also many people on the street who will change money, e.g. at the airport, outside the Hilton, and at the Casino supermarket. Money changers on the street can be recognized by seeing them rub their thumb and middle finger together at you (not a rude gesture, just a sign). They will generally accept Euros but some may also accept dollars. Know the conversion rate before you go in case you need to haggle, but the group of people who change money outside the Casino give a good rate without haggling (650 CFA per Euro, vs. a 656 CFA per Euro official rate).

Another point to note is that card facilities are not as readily available throughout the city, and even some mid-level restaurants and clothing shops will not accept cards. To mitigate frustrating games of "find an ATM", it's suggestible to withdraw larger amounts of cash from an ATM.

Aside from a few exceptions, for the most part Yaounde is a reasonably priced city. However, like many places in the world, shop owners may look at foreigners and take chances on the prices they quote them. A good way to circumvent this is to take a local with you. A local will be able to benchmark prices and call out the shop owners for inflated prices.

Eat[edit][add listing]

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There is a Casino (a large French supermarket chain) next to the Notre Dame cathedral in the center of town where you can buy typical European brand-name foods. Also the presence of native restoration centers at every turn with a local menu and the many accustomed may provide a unique experience if you care to stop by.

Bewilderingly, "Le Safoutier" (the restaurant at the Hilton hotel) tops most online searches for good restaurants in Yaoundé. The food is distinctly average, and extortionately expensive by any standards (approx. CFA 30,000 per person for a typical, average hotel buffet lunch). There are a number of better alternatives around the city for much better value.

Budget[edit]

Street stalls are everywhere, but a nice place to go is Nlongkak round about. Here there's a bit of a variety, and plenty of places to get a beer. A plate of beans should cost between 200-500CFA, an omlet around 500 (or 1000 if in a resturant with chips), and a plate of spagetti maybe 500CFA. Prices may vary considerably depending on the honesty of your vendor.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Istanbul (Bastos) - Fantastic Turkish restaurant, also open for breakfast. Staff are very friendly. This restaurant is dry however (no alcohol), so keep this in mind if you're planning on having a drink.

Splurge[edit]

  • Cafe Yaoundé, Hippodrome. Pricey (3000-7000 ish) food. Seems to be catering to the expat crowd with a focus on European style cuisine. Nice ambiance with patio seating in a lush garden area. One of the best restaurants in Yaounde  edit
  • Kajazoma (Bastos) - a very chic art gallery/eatery that is defiantly worth checking out for dinner or for drinks. Located in a tranquil, open garden.
  • Cosypool (Bastos) - a Thai-inspired restaurant with a lot of delicious options.
  • Salsa (Bastos) the pizzas are amazing!
  • The Famous (Bastos) - probably one of the most high-end restaurant venues. Very modern, upmarket, with an upbeat vibe. Great mix of food.
  • Socrat - good restaurant serving more traditional French food (horse steaks, frogs legs) alongside good local seafood.

Drink[edit][add listing]

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Yaoundé locals like to enjoy themselves, so there is no shortage of venue to drink in the city.

A wide range of bars and clubs exist which should cater to most tastes.

  • Le Panoramique, Hilton Hotel - this bar is very tired (like most of the hotel), although the staff are very friendly, and the views are a nice backdrop for a drink, as well as providing a good way to orientate oneself of the city's layout.
  • The Famous (Bastos) - very modern, fashionable, high-end bar and restaurant.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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Budget[edit]

  • foyer international de l'eglise presbyterienne has a cheap hostel.
  • Hotel Ideal Double rooms W/ shower are 6,000 CFA($12-$15) Double rooms W/ Tele and shower are 8,000 CFA($16-$20) Suites dble are 15,000 CFA($20-$30) It's on Carrefour Nlongkak, Phone # 22 20 98 52.

Mid-range[edit]

Yaoundé is well served by many mid-range hotels in and around the city-center.

Hotel La Falaise, CFA 55,000, is one of the best of the mid range. Nice rooms, with a pool and gym. Rooms either face the street or the courtyard where the pools is. Courtyard rooms can be a problem if there is a party in one of the halls on the main and second floor which can sometimes go well into the early hours of the morning. Street facing is better choice even if the sound of cars start quite early.

The restaurant is ok, but expensive. There are a few options around the hotel and a cheap cab ride away.

Splurge[edit]

Hilton Yaounde, Boulevard du 20 Mai, Yaounde, Cameroon 11852, ☎ 237-2-223-3646 (fax: 237-2-222-3210),

Contact[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Taxi sharing can be risky, even for Cameroonians, and you may wind up with your cell phone and wallet stolen. It is recommended to hire a private taxi recommended by your hotel or a friend.

Cope[edit]

Embasies and High Commissions[edit]

  • Ca-flag.png Canada, The High Commission of Canada P.O. Box 572 Yaoundé, Cameroon (The High Commission of Canada Immeuble STC-TOM, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville Yaoundé, Cameroon), (+237) 22 23 23 11, [1]. 08:00 – 12:30 and 13:30 – 17:00.  edit
  • Us-flag.png United States, Avenue Rosa Parks P.O. Box 817 Yaounde Cameroon, (237) 2220-1500 (fax: (+237) 2220-1500x4531), [2]. Monday to Thursday: 07:30 to 17:00 Friday: 07:30 to 12:30.  edit
  • Br-flag.png Brazil, Rua, 1828, Derrière du Hotel Azur, Bastos, (+237) 220-1085 (fax: (+237) 220-1087).  edit

Get out[edit]

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