Top events in Cameroon

December
01

The Ngondo Festival takes place in the first week of December in Douala and showcases the culture of the Sawa, the country's coastal dwellers....

January
01

The annual Nyem-Nyem Festival in the city of Ngaoundéré in the Adamawa Region celebrates the local resistance against German control in the...

Cameroon
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Cameroon

© Creative Commons / Radio Nederland Wereldomroep's

Cameroon Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

475,442 sq km (183,569 sq miles).

Population

22.5 million (2013).

Population density

47.3 per sq km.

Capital

Yaoundé.

Government

Republic. Gained independence in 1961.

Head of state

President Paul Biya since 1982.

Head of government

Prime Minister Philemon Yang since 2009.

Electricity

110/220 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

While referring to Cameroon as 'Africa in miniature' has become a bit of a cliché, this statement certainly rings true: everything you would expect from the African continent seems to be consolidated in this diverse slice of land. The south boasts tropical rainforests and deserted golden beaches; the northern parts are awash with great expanses of desert, lakes and savannah; volcanic mountains dominate the southwest and northwest, and game-viewing areas scattered throughout the country offer ample opportunity to observe impressive wildlife, including elephants and lions.

Poverty blights much of Cameroon's infrastructure, meaning transport and accommodation are underdeveloped. Outstanding border disputes with Cameroon's powerful neighbour Nigeria (linked in part with control of the oil-rich Niger delta) mean relations are somewhat awkward. While a key dispute, involving the Bakassi Peninsula, has been officially resolved, the border region is still considered unsafe. The areas bordering Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) are also unstable.

Aside from certain no-go areas, Cameroon offers a wealth of activities and beautiful destinations to keep the adventurous traveller enthralled. From its verdant rainforests to its powerful creatures, this country is bursting with life; go, before it becomes 'discovered'.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 28 February 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Mugging and armed banditry are a problem throughout Cameroon but particularly in Yaoundé, Douala, Limbé, Buea and Tiko.

Avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns; for example in Yaoundé, La Briquetterie and Mokolo; and in Douala, Akwa, Bonaberi and Village. Avoid walking around at night, particularly alone.

Be vigilant in public places. Trouble can flare up unexpectedly (eg at football matches). Make sure car doors are locked when driving around. Avoid wearing jewellery and only carry small amounts of cash and valuables.

Close and lock all doors and windows, particularly at night. Make sure burglar proof metal bars are installed. Identify callers through spy holes before opening doors, especially late at night.

Petty theft is common on trains, coaches and bush taxis and around bus stations. Taxis in cities operate like buses, picking up passengers while there is still room in the car. They often take indirect routes and many don’t meet basic safety requirements. There have been reports of violent assaults and robberies on taxi passengers. Only use trusted taxis and preferably book one from your hotel or restaurant.

Car-jackings and armed robberies have occurred along roads close to the borders with Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria, and along the Bamenda-Banyo, Bafoussam-Banyo, Bafoussam-Doula and Bafoussam-Yaounde roads. Thefts from vehicles have occurred in the towns of Limbé, Douala, Yaoundé, Kribi, and Maroua.

There have been incidents of kidnapping and hostage taking in the North and Far North of Cameroon. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

Foreign visitors and residents are often targets of scam artists. The scams come in many forms, and can cause significant financial loss. Scammers also target individuals and companies in the UK via websites, chat-rooms and by email. Cases involving the alleged adoption of children have been reported. Be very cautious about sending money or travelling to Cameroon to adopt a child where the information has come from a website or through emails. Cameroon does not have adoption agencies. Many victims are persuaded to pay large amounts of money before they suspect anything.

Local travel

There is an increased risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into the Far North province following the declarations of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states. An increased presence of Nigerian extremists in Far North province had already been observed before the declaration, and there is also a general threat of kidnapping and armed banditry. If you’re in the Far North Province, you should leave.

There is also a risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into Cameroon’s North and Adamaoua provinces which border Nigeria’s Adamawa state. The ability of the High Commission to offer consular services in the Far North, North and Adamaoua provinces is limited.

The FCO advises against all travel to within 40 km of the border with Chad because of armed banditry, including poachers in Bouba Ndjidda National Park in the North Province.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to within 40km of the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). There have been incursions by armed men from CAR and there have been fatalities. Armed banditry remains a risk.

The FCO advise against all travel to the Bakassi Peninsula, as shown on the map. Piracy is a threat in the Gulf of Guinea and particularly in the waters around the Niger Delta which includes Bakassi Peninsula. Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR) patrol the waters. The ferry that operates between Limbe/Tiko in Cameroon and Calabar in Nigeria passes through areas where pirates operate. The Bakassi Peninsula is made up of mangrove forests and isolated islands that are difficult to police. Mariners should seek professional security advice and take appropriate precautions. The Korup National Park falls outside the area to which the FCO advise against all travel.

Take great care if you travel to the northern provinces of Cameroon by road. The eastern route via Garoua-Boulai and Meiganga involves driving close to the border with CAR. The western route requires travel along the Bamenda-Banyo axis. The central route via Yoko requires travel on very poorly maintained roads through largely uninhabited areas, crossing a number of bridges in a poor state of repair. There is no fuel available on the route. If you must attempt this drive, carry plenty of water, sufficient fuel to enable you to turn back if necessary, a spare tyre and a satellite phone or VHF radio to summon assistance if required.

Lake Nyos

Lake Nyos in the North West Province emitted carbon dioxide suffocating about 1,700 people in 1986. There were no warning signs that this would happen and it could happen again at any time. There is also a concern that the wall of the dam holding back Lake Nyos is not sufficiently strong. Nearby Lake Mounoun is also saturated with CO2.

Road travel

Avoid all travel by road at night in rural areas, particularly on the Yaoundé-Douala trunk road, where accidents are common. Plan your journey carefully and travel in convoy, where possible. As mobile phone coverage is limited you should consider taking a VHF radio or satellite phone.

You can drive using a UK driving licence or International Driving Permit on first arrival, but you should obtain a Cameroonian licence from the Delegation of Transport as soon as possible.

Make sure any car you hire is adequately insured, preferably by written confirmation from the insurance company (rather than the car hire firm). If you are hiring a driver and car, make sure you are not liable for any accident or damage.

Apart from the major routes, roads in Cameroon are generally in poor condition. Many are badly pot-holed. Street lighting, where it exists, is poor. Pedestrians and stray animals on roads are a hazard. Many vehicles are poorly lit and badly driven.

Roadblocks set up by the police or gendarmerie, are common throughout Cameroon. You may be asked to show your passport, driving licence or vehicle registration documents. There are regular reports of uniformed members of the security forces stopping motorists on the pretext of minor or non-existent violations of local vehicle regulations in order to extort small bribes. Don’t pay bribes; ask the officer to provide a ticket, setting out the alleged offence so that you can pay at a local court.

Air travel

There are doubts about the reliability and safety of some Cameroonian-registered aircraft operating flights within Cameroon. However, the airline Camair-Co has flights to Paris as well as internal flights and is not subject to any EU operating restrictions Several regional and continental airlines fly into Cameroon including Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Asky Airlines.

Rail travel

Much of the track and many of the trains in Cameroon are in poor condition.

Political situation

There are occasional isolated incidents of political unrest around the country, particularly in Douala and Bamenda. Be vigilant at all times, and avoid political demonstrations and rallies.

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