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Cameroon

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Revision as of 22:05, 13 February 2009

[[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%
Country code +237
Internet TLD .cm

Cameroon [1] 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.

Understand

Cameroon is a diverse and multi ethnic country. Western tourism is rare; most of the country's tourists come from Europe (predominantly Belgium).

History

People

Climate

If you are going during the summer, plan on lots of rain every day. It might be cold up in the mountains, especially at nights.

Holidays

January 1 New Year's Day January 1 Independence Day February 11 Youth Day May 1 Labor Day May 20 National Day August 15 Assumption October 1 Unification Day December 25 Christmas Day

Regions

Cities

Map of Cameroon

Other destinations

Get in

Apply for a visa and complete vaccinations early.

By plane

Cameroon can be reached via:

Sometimes airport staff is trying to help with the luggage in order to get extra euros/dollars from travellers.

There is also an official airport tax (10.000 CFA) for outgoing flights.

By train

By car

By bus

By boat

Get around

Tour Operators in Cameroon:

  • Heritage Tours Cameroon [2]: Heritage Tours offers experienced guides and activities that range from eco-tourism to safari-tourism to cultural tourism and to volunteer activities and homestays. Heritage Tours can arrange tours through Cameroon’s equatorial rainforests in search of the pygmies and gorillas, through the plantations and cultural manifestations of Cameroon diverse ethnic groups to the north to explore Cameroon pristine Safari parks. Heritage Tours offers free tourist information: Heritage Tours holds a database of local information with up to date prices, opening and closing times, seasonal activities etc.
  • Equatorial Tours [3] -Cameroonian based enterprise

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!)

ATM's - Visa ATM withdrawals are possible in many banks, for example SGBC which can be found in most major cities. ATMs to the Mastercard/Maestro/Cirrus network are nonexistant(!!). Cash advances are NOT available(!!!)(Dec 2007).

Costs

Unless you are in stores and restaurants, you must bargain for everything. Offer 20-50% of the first 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. Mont Febe, Hilton Hotel and hotel le depute in Yaounde, Atlantic Beach Hotel, Mirama hotel, Guest House hotel and Park hotel in Limbe, 3813 in Tiko, Miss Bright in Buea and Meridien hotel Douala.

Drink

Hut in the small village of Bana

Always check “best before” when buying a bottle - some drinks are way out of date.

Avoid drinking tap water, even in restaurants. Bottled water can be found most anywhere at reasonable prices. Expect to pay 400 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. Castel Milk Stout is an excellent choise for those who like darner beer. 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.

Schools and Universities

University of Buea campus

Douala

American School of Douala

Lycee Joss

College Libermann

College Alfred Saker

Lycee Dominique Savio

University of Douala

Yaounde

The American School of Yaounde

College Vogt

University of Yaounde

Buea

Baptist High School, Great Soppo

Bishop Rogan College

Saint Joseph's College (SJC) Sasse

University of Buea

Limbe

Saker Baptist College

Bamenda

Our Lady of Lordes

Mankon

Sacret Heart College

Ngaoundere

University of Ngaoundere

Work

Volunteer opportunities

Stay safe

Violence is rare, but just be smart about wearing any jewelry or anything else that would make you stand apart from the rest.

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.

Contact

Internet access point

To make local and international calls you need to buy a pre-paid SIM card. Check if your cell phone has a compatible GSM standard (Africa/Europe) - if not, in addition to a SIM card you probably need to buy a new phone. "MTN" and "Orange" are two major telephone companies in Cameroon.

You can find Internet access all over the place, but the speed might be slow.

National post service is considered to be unreliable.

  • Cameroon Tourism (Montréal) [4] -Tourism office in North America.

Respect


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