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Cameroon is among the blessed countries in Africa often called ‘Africa miniature’, as it contains the diversity of all of Africa within its borders. Its varied terrain, cultural diversity and modernity make it a veritable traveller’s destination – in fact, it is said that if you haven’t been to Cameroon, you haven’t been to Africa. Here are just nine reasons to visit this unique country .
Central Africa might not be famous for its cities, but Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, and commercial capital, Douala, are worth a day or two of sightseeing. Yaounde is immaculately planned to be spread over seven hills, meaning that the numerous buildings are separated by stretches of lush green and rising terrain. In addition to its layout, the city is clean and safe, with several places to visit, including ancient monuments and museums. Coastal Douala is a great place to visit to experience modern Cameroon and has a lively dining and nightlife scene.
According to Cameroon’s Ministry of Wildlife and Nature Protection, the country has over 900 species of birds, over 300 species of animals and is among the richest countries in Africa in terms of biodiversity. As a result, if you are passionate about ecology and wildlife, there is a wide range of attractions that will satisfy your needs.
Cameroon cuisine is one of the most varied in Africa, as the country sits between north, west, and the centre of the continent, and thanks to a strong French influence, a legacy of the colonial era. Local cuisines vary by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on maize, millet, cassava, plantains, potatoes, rice, or yams. Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.
Have you ever wondered where your tea comes from? Wonder no more as you take a tour of the tea plantations located in Limbe (which also has a botanical garden) and the Ndawara Highlands in Bamenda. Set amid acres of manicured tea bushes, against a remarkable mountainous backdrop, you can watch as the tea leaves get sorted, ground and then dried. At the end of the tour, you’re rewarded with a cup of tea and biscuits.
If a beach trip is on your itinerary, then rest assured, as Cameroon has some of the best, featuring fabulous, crystal-clear waters and fine, sparkling-white or black volcanic sand. If you’re looking for some of the best beaches in Africa, then Kribi in the South region and Limbe in the Southwest region are two of the best places to go.
This tribe of pygmies has lived virtually the same way in the southern rainforests of Cameroon since paleolithic times. Visitors can meet the Baka and learn about their cultural and medicinal traditions on organised tours.
The Limbe Wildlife Centre is a wonderful example of an animal sanctuary done well. Jointly run by the Ministry of the Environment and Nature Protection and the primate charity Pandrillus, it contains rescued chimpanzees, gorillas, drills and other primates, all housed in large enclosures so you can get up close and observe these amazing animals. Here you’ll also find lots of interesting information about local conservation issues.
Buea is the capital of the Southwest region, and home to Mount Cameroon, a spectacular, active volcano standing 4023 metres (13,000 feet) above sea level. Mount Cameroon is one of the largest volcanoes in Africa, the highest peak in West Africa, and the fourth-highest peak in all of Africa. Eruptions at the volcano date all the way back to the 5th century BC, and you can climb it if you want – just be aware that it still erupts every 10 to 20 years.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, there are over 500 hotels in Cameroon and, if you decide to visit a particular place, you will always find a cheap hotel to cater to your accommodation needs. The main airport is the Douala International Airport, while there is also the Yaounde International Airport and secondary airports in towns like Bafoussam in the West region, Garoua in the North region, and Bamenda in the Northwest region. With reasonable infrastructure, travel is a lot easier than many parts of Africa, so hiring and driving your own car won’t be an issue. Cash withdrawals are possible at many banks, as Visa and MasterCard cash machines are in all cities, and getting local currency for all your spending needs is easy. Internet is largely accessible in Cameroon and there are several telecommunication companies offering mobile data bundles, so you can keep in touch with your friends and family while visiting this fascinating country.