Cameroon Travels So Far!

I’ve now been in hot and interesting Cameroon for 2 weeks, apparently, and the time has flown by! I started in busy Douala, the country’s economic capital and largest city, located on the Wouri River estuary. It’s busy and noisy with motorbikes whizzing everywhere simultaneously, bumping over the pot-hole rough streets! Walking about blind, is not easy in Douala, or Cameroon itself for that matter. I stayed 3 nights at the Hotel Astoria, a reasonably priced establishment and took a taxi tour of the central area of the city on both of my main two days there. I visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Doual’art, an building that showcases local artists and is located in La Pagode neighbourhood. A nice local lady attempted to describe one of the main exhibitions on displayed. Something to do with the survival of both nature and women, although, I didn’t entirely understand! Next I headed down the coast for 2 nights in touristy Kribi, on the Atlantic coast for some beach time and to visit Lobé Falls (Chutes de Lobé), some 7 km south of town. I stayed in a small apartment run by a nice, friendly local couple and took motorbike taxis everywhere for about 1Euro per journey. I found a nice bar-restaurant at Lara Beach, ate an expensive but tasty fish and went across the beach to hear the waves crashing against the hot sand. The following day a guide took me to Lobé Falls on a motorbike, and I had a very short and expensive ride in a small wooden boat with engine out along the Lobé River to hear the large waterfalls. It comprises of several rivers that come together to plunge over a cascade directly into the Atlantic Ocean below. That rumbling sound was wonderful. Sadly, the experience was way too short. From Kribi, I took a very early bus back to Douala, meeting a nice Cameroonian guy named Steve, who spoke good English and helped me buy a beget filled with boiled eggs – tasty and cheap! 4 bumpy and hot hours later, I arrived back in Douala, where I jumped on yet another moto-taxi and for 3Euros, was dropped at the shared taxi stand for a 2-hour ride to Limbé. This is another touristy beach town on the atlantic Ocean, but in the heart of the southwest Angophone region of Cameroon. It is potentially in the country’s dangerous southwest region, where there is an ongoing violent struggle between Cameroon and Ambazonian separatists who want to gain independence. However, apart from the town having to lock-down on Mondays, it seems peaceful. Limbé has the motto: “A Town of Friendship” and its people are very friendly and speak good English. Unfortunately, my first day in Limbé was a Monday, so I simply relaxed and listened to the wild ocean crash onto the black sandy beach at the delightful Fini Hotel – a 15 min drive out of town. On my second day I went on a city sightseeing tour with a lovely guide named Mia, and his driver. We took the unbelievably bumpy road to Bimbia, a former Central African slave port. Once there and, after a 30 minute wait for the manager to arrive and open the gate, we wandered around the large sight of overgrown grass and rough stoney trails, heading towards the sea, where the former slave port and slave auction area was located. Various metal signs along the downwards sloping trail offer fascinating information on large metal boards, about the slave port, how many slaves were transported to various Caribbean islands and the Americas, and by which European nations. Once at the sight, after clambering down many rough, rock steps, cut into the trail and climbing over many loose stones, I was able to touch some of the few remaining structures that were left in ruins. There were several large and tall stone columns, covered in moss, where slaves were chained, in the sun, to await deportation. More information was given, telling about the various goods that were exchanged between Europeans and African chiefs for slaves. Items such as sugar, guns, gunpower, knives, food, and many other items. Another information board listed the names of various ships from different European nations that waited off-shore to take slaves to the Caribbean and elsewhere. I touched a big door; the ‘Door of No Return’ where slaves were transported in small boats along a tiny river out to the waiting ships. It was a cruel and brutal trade that lasted until the mid 19th century. I highly recommend visiting, but a guide/car is needed as the place is quite isolated. Once back in Limbé, we briefly visited the botanical garden, where a grave sight to former French soldiers is located and also stopped at the wildlife centre to hear chimpanzees fight and scream with one another! The centre also has monkeys and some reptiles. The last stop was at a large volcanic lava flow, some 20 min drive north of Limbé. The larva has solidified into a huge rock formation, some 17 km long and 3 km wide. Climbing up onto it was tough going. We, eventually, reached a small wooden platform where photos were taken, before clambering down and heading back to my hotel. An excellent day’s exploring. On Wednesday, 8 March, with help, I returned, yet again, to Douala by taxi, then took a shared taxi closed to a town called Melong 2. I was dropped at the Bare police checkpoint, from where I took a short motorbike ride to a Franciscan monastery and stayed for a night. This placed had been recommended to me by a fellow traveller, Bart from the Netherlands. The monks were very friendly. Some of them spoke English and made me very welcome. After a short rest and chat with one of the monks, I took another motor taxi to Ekom Waterfall, one of the main tourist sights in that region. A roughly 20 minute ride along a very rocky road brought us to the park. I paid around 6Euros for the entrance and to take photos. Then the motorbike driver, kindly escorted me along a grassy and gravel track and down several long steps to a platform that the waterfall could be viewed from. A good place to see and hear the falls, but I wanted to get closer. I managed to persuade my guide to help me down the steps. There were a hell of a lot, and many were rough and slippery. Some 20 mins later, we reach the bottom, and I heard the waterfall crashing in its full cacophony! A fantastic sound of tumbling water. Eventually, we ascended the hundreds of rock steps, I stopping many times to catch my breath. At the monastery, I joined the monks for evening prayers and took dinner with them. The following morning I join again for morning prayers, spoken in French with hymns sung in Latin before a tasty breakfast was taken. An hour later, I was back on the road, this time on a large hot bus for a 7 hour journey to Yaoundé, Cameroons large and buzzling capital. From there, I began my tour of the north with a local guide named Jude. At present, I am in the northern city of Ngaoundere. Cheers, more updates coming soon. Douala photos now on website and Facebook. Thanks for follow. Tony :).