Cameroon, often referred to as the heart of Africa, is a buzzing country with life and soul in abundance. The large and industrious cities here are complemented by vast areas of mountains, rainforest and beaches. The terrain here is as varied as the language with over 230 local languages complementing the English and French speaking regions.
The variety of wildlife at the large number of natural parks in the country provide nature lovers with plenty of chances to spot rare and exotic creatures. Gorillas are common in the south of the country in the Campo Ma’an National Park and elephants, hyenas and giraffes make an appearance at other parks.
Hiring and driving your own vehicle here is much easier than in other parts of Africa due to the good road conditions. The public transport is also better than in many other African countries meaning that you will never be stuck in one place in the country.
Overall the mix of music, epic terrain and more culture than you can possibly hope to soak up, makes Cameroon a great place to visit in Africa and it is immediately clear that you are at the very epicenter of this fascinating continent.
Lets explore the best places to visit in Cameroon:
West Africa may not be known for beautiful cities but Cameroon’s capital Yaounde certainly is one. The city is immaculately planned to be spread over seven hills meaning that the numerous buildings in the city are separated by stretches of lush green and rising terrain. In addition to its layout, the city is clean and safe with plenty of points of interest. The 1970’s government buildings here will appeal to culture buffs and are unusual looking to say the least. Given the central location of Yaounde it is also a perfect city to include in any tour of the country.
Nowhere near as lush and green, Maroua still has an appeal of its own. The streets are remarkably red, sandy and dusty and the buildings are a dull beige colour but the colours of the locals clothing brings plenty of colour to the city. Maroua is a great place to experience the culture of Cameroon and its bustling markets are some of the best in the country. The city is also a great base for travllers wishing to visit the Mandara Mountains in the north of the country.
Occupying the slopes of Mount Cameroon, an active volcanic mountain, Limbe is a city that acts as a great base for travellers who are looking to explore the beauty of the area. The botanical gardens in the city are a great place to learn about the nature and plants in the area before exploring the nearby waterfalls and national park. The mountain itself has a summit height of over 4,000m and is therefore a serious challenge but walks for novices are still possible around the base of the mountain without making a full ascent. If you are a lover of nature and wildlife then this is the place for you in Cameroon.
Douala has a reputation for being a bit grimey and insalubrious but this should not put you off visiting. This is the major city in Cameroon in most aspects; the airport is the biggest in the country, as is the port and the business centre here is the main one in the country. All of these hubs result in a chaotic and overactive feel and it is likely that you will not relax much whilst you are here. With that being said however the city is a great place to witness modern Cameroon and the few charms it offers.
5. Waza National Park
About 180 miles to the north of Maroua is Waza National Park. This park looks very different during the four seasons but is always a good place to witness some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife including elephants, giraffes and hyenas. Self-drive vehicles are allowed to explore the park but you will need a guide. This is not necarasilly a bad thing as you are much more likely to see the wildlife with a local guide that knows their stuff.
Bamenda holds the title of being the capital of Cameroon’s north-west and is a large city with all the amenities and facilities needed by travellers. The city of Bamenda is not likely to keep you interested for more than a day or two but Bamenda is a great place to reach the country’s highlands which offer beautiful lush scenery and hidden villages. The surrounding landscape is a great place for mountain biking, hiking and finding some off the radar guesthouses and restaurants.
For art lovers, Foumban is a must-see city in Cameroon. The city has its roots in arts, music and architecture. It is also the city in Cameroon with the largest Muslim population. The city is much like a blend of North and West Africa with its Islamic influences. The Royal Palace and its adjoining museum is the main attraction here although the city’s mosque is also worth a visit while you are here.
Although at first glance this city can seem busy and uninspiring, it will reward those who choose to explore. The people here are very friendly and welcoming to tourists and the palace here is a great, if not the best, example of a Royal Palace in Cameroon. The accommodation in the city is affordable and there are some true hidden gems to be found. The main tourist attraction is the tribal museum in the city which is part of the “Four Museums of Cameroon” project.
This is the home of paradise in Cameroon. The beaches here are stunning with white sand, blue sea and fresh fish served from the restaurants lining the seafront. There are plenty of hotels in the Kribi area and most are reasonably priced. If after lounging by the beach all day you are looking for something different to do, the Chutes de la Lobe waterfalls are just 8km due south from the town. The waterfalls cascade directly into the sea forming a truly memorable sight.
10. Korup National Park
Korup National Park is a vast area, comprising 126,000 hectares of evergreen forest. The park is well maintained with resident scientists and well-marked trails. Many species of birds can be found in the park including hornbills and the extremely rare red headed rockfowl. Visitors to the park may even be lucky enough to see elephants or chimps although these are rare. The road access to the park can be tricky especially in the wet months when the road conditions deteriorate. It is worth noting that the Chimpanzee camp is a 7 mile hike from the Mana foot bridge, so come prepared.
11. Dja Faunal Reserve
The Dja Faunal Reserve is one of the largest areas of protected rainforest in Africa. 90% of the reserve consists of unspoiled and protected forest marked out by the Dja River which acts as a natural border for the area. The reserve is home to 107 mammals including a large variety of primates, for which the reserve is best known. The area is not too easy to access and a local guide is advisable.
12. Mefou National Park
Mefou is a project run by volunteers just outside of Yaounde. The park is a rehabilitation centre for apes including chimps and gorillas. The staff at the national park are very helpful and can arrange a guided tour of the facilities if requested. The park is easily reached if you have your own vehicle. Just be sure to take enough food and drink for the day as the park’s facilities are limited in this respect.
This city, located in the West province of Cameroon, is growing quickly and the population has increased tenfold in the past 20 years. The main attractions in the city are the Museum of Civilization, which explores the history of Cameroon through its tribes and cultures, and the Center le Cinematique which, as it sounds is a museum centered around film. The latter of these two attractions seems to have been neglected in recent years but the Museum of Civilization is still a great learning experience for visitors to Cameroon.
Garoua, the capital of the North, is located on the banks of the Benue River. The city is a hive of industry and thrives as a river port exporting everything from petroleum to animal hides. Several game reserves in the area mean that tourists often stay within Garoua and use the city as a base. The city itself has few attractions but does have amenities, guesthouses and restaurants making it a worthy place to stay when visiting the local game reserves.
15. Campo Ma’an National Park
This massive national park covers an area of 264,000 hectares. The landscapes confined within this massive area are as diverse as you would expect. From mountains to rainforest, the diverse landscape is home to mammals, birds and even sea turtles which make their nests on the beaches here. Having your own vehicle is the best way to see the area and the few basic hostels in the park are fine for a few nights stay. In total, there are more than 80 species of mammals at the park and more than 300 bird species pop up here throughout the year. The National Park is funded by the WWF and is supported further by timber and palm oil plantations in the area.