Wow. A photographer’s paradise. One could spend weeks here traveling through the remote villages of Cameroon and leave with a treasure trove of digital gold. Everywhere I turned, I thought, “Darn, wish I could’ve taken a picture of that”.
In 1472, Portugese explorers sailed up the Wouri River and named it the Rio de Camerones (shrimp) and the name stuck. The country was largely settled by people living in the bush, who were escaping the Dutch, Portugese and British slave traders. Like most of Africa, it was colonized by one of the major European powers … however Cameroon has the distinction of being colonized by 3 … the British, German … but mainly the French.
There are 250 cultural groups here with over 300 languages spoken, all in a country of just 25 million people. Think about that for a minute. The United States has just 2 languages … mostly English and occasional Spanish.
This is not your “normal” small African country – – it’s a POWERHOUSE. Blessed with fertile soils, it’s the bread basket for much of central Africa. While most of Africa is capable of feeding their own, Cameroon is one of the few countries doing so. Even Nigeria, its neighbor to the north, while dwarfing this tiny country, it imports food from Cameroon. Coffee and cocoa are it Cameroon’s most famous exports, but its timber is prized.
If you meet a Cameroonian, and want to make them smile, ask about their football (soccer) team. They’re very proud to have won the African Cup five times, and were the first team to make it to the World Cup quarter finals.
Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon (Younde is the political capital), is hustling-bustling, and the population has outgrown its infrastructure. There is little to see here, and the city offers little for tourists. For those needing a pre or post flight hotel stay, the Pullman Douala is the best and only option. Only a 10 minute ride from the airport, this 3 star hotel, while in need of renovation, does the trick. It has 3 restaurant options, a formal dining room, a poolside bar/restaurant, and all-you-can-eat at the bar while watching football on the big screen. The service is mostly efficient and friendly.
What to do in Cameroon? If you’re up for an adventure, try the following:
- Take a trip to visit the Bagyeli Pygmi Tribe, about 3.5 hours from Douala, near the coastal city of Kribi and into the bush. The Bagyeli live entirely off the land and don’t use technology. The men hunt with spears and spend the day hunting for food. We were fortunate to catch a rat mole (the size of a cat) and was eaten for lunch that day!
- Cameroon has the world’s largest frog species, the Goliath frog, which can weigh up to 10 kilos. We traveled to the northwestern part of Cameroon to visit the hunters who catch them. Legend has it that they’re best caught on moonless nights and their croaks sound like primal screams. And, on land, man can they move, covering 12 feet in one jump!