Cameroon travel guide
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 here, in this enticing and eclectic land.
The beautiful south is characterised by tropical rainforests and deserted golden beaches, which would be chock full of bathers in a more developed destination. There’s a hearty appetite for independence in the English-speaking south, but, despite the best efforts of local pressure groups, it has yet to break free from the rest of the country.
In contrast to the south, the dramatic landscapes of northern Cameroon are dominated by great expanses of desert, lakes and savannah. Traditional villages still cling on in this unforgiving land, which is perhaps the most culturally diverse region in Cameroon, home as it is to some 50 ethnic groups. Though largely peaceful, the region has been rocked by attacks from extremists in recent years. Keep abreast of the latest news.
Pack your hiking gear if you’re heading to western Cameroon, which is dominated by volcanic mountains. Looking out across these rugged ranges you could be forgiven for thinking you were on Mars, such is their otherworldly appearance. It’s not all about the landscapes, though. Scattered across the country are a handful of game reserves, which offer ample opportunity to observe impressive wildlife, including elephants and lions.
Cameroon really should be one of Africa’s leading destinations, but poverty blights much of its infrastructure, meaning transport and accommodation are chronically underdeveloped. Outstanding border disputes haven’t helped, either – travellers are advised to steer clear of the frontiers with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic, which are considered unstable.
Aside from certain no-go areas, Cameroon has much to offer adventurous travellers. From its verdant rainforests to its iconic wildlife, the country is bursting with life. Go and you shall be handsomely rewarded.
475,442 sq km (183,569 sq miles).
23,924,407 (UN estimate 2016).
49.9 per sq km.
President Paul Biya since 1982.
Prime Minister Philémon Yang since 2009.
Last updated: 11 December 2018
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.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:
- Far North region
- within 40km of the border with Nigeria
- within 40km of the border with Chad
- within 40km of the border with the Central African Republic (CAR)
- the Bakassi Peninsula
- Ndian division in South West Region
The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:
- Buea, Muyuka and Tiko in Fako division
- Kupe Muanenguba, Lebialem, Manyu and Meme divisions in South West region
- the rest of North, North West and Adamawa regions
Kidnaps have been reported in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. A Tunisian road technician was killed in a rescue operation in March 2018 in the South West. Recently, there have been an increased number of kidnappings, particularly of school children, in the North West region. A large number of school children and their teachers were kidnapped by armed separatists in Bamenda on 5 November 2018. They were released on 7 November. You should remain vigilant and monitor developments in these regions through local media.
On 22 October 2018, Paul Biya was announced winner of the 7 October presidential election. He was sworn into office on 6 November. You should be vigilant and avoid political demonstrations.
There were reports of deaths in some towns and villages in the Anglophone (North West and South West) regions on 7 October and the days after, as a result of clashes between separatists and government security forces. These general strikes (or ‘ghost towns’) are called for each Monday and can become violent. You should be vigilant, avoid large gatherings and monitor local media.
In mid-June, armed Anglophone separatist groups erected barricades on several spots along the Buea – Muyuka – Kumba road in the South West Region for several days. Travelers were stranded. The army clashed with separatists and cleared the road. There were casualties. Spontaneous road blocks recur.
Armed groups are operating in the area. A security checkpoint was attacked at Mutengene (Tiko) in June. Other clashes occurred in Bolifamba (Mile 16) and Muea.
There were violent and deadly clashes between demonstrators and the Cameroonian security forces in the North West and South West regions in September and October 2017. Restrictions including night curfews, a ban on public meetings and others remain in place. A general strike is observed in parts of the two regions on some days. If you’re in these regions, you should remain vigilant and keep in touch with developments through local media.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Cameroon. The terrorist group Boko Haram is active in the Far North region but attacks could occur anywhere including major towns and cities such as Yaoundé and Douala. There have been numerous suicide attacks since 2016 which have resulted in over 200 dead in the Far North region. Key targets have been large open markets, hotels, parks and sporting venues. There have also been hostages taken and heavy gunfights reported in Babouang and Mbarang in Adamawa region (Cameroon).
There is a heightened threat of kidnap to western nationals in the north of Cameroon, including in the major cities and along the border between the Far North region and Nigeria. Boko Haram has publicly threatened Cameroon with attacks and further kidnappings due to Cameroon’s involvement in the regional fight to counter Boko Haram.
There have been reports of criminality including large armed gangs and highway bandits, stopping travellers, taking hostages and demanding payment, particularly in the east of Cameroon, close to the Central African Republic (CAR) border. There are frequent instances of violence in CAR spilling across the border to Cameroon.
Criminality by large gangs and hostage taking for ransom are also a threat more widely in Adamawa region. In January 2017, an armed group attacked a UN border monitoring team near the Nigerian border killing 5 people.
Nigerian military operations in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in Nigeria could have an impact across the border in Cameroon.
UK health authorities have classified Cameroon as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
There are increased reports of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Take great care when travelling in coastal waters, including the coastline of Cameroon and the Doula port. Despite the high crime levels, most visits to Cameroon are trouble-free. Only a few British nationals needed consular assistance in the past year.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Safety and security
Mugging and armed banditry are a problem throughout Cameroon but particularly in Yaoundé, Douala, Ngaoundere and Bafoussam.
Avoid isolated or poorer areas of towns; for example in Yaoundé: - La Briquetterie and Mokolo market; and in Douala: Nkololun, New Bell - 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 and hotels. 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, kidnappings 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 Yaounde-Garoua Boulai-Ngaoundere roads.
There have been incidents of kidnapping and hostage taking in the Far North, North, Adamawa, East, North West and South West regions of Cameroon over the past year. 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. Advance fee scams are common in Cameroon. 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.
If you need to contact the Police, call 117. If you have been a victim of fraud from a police official, you should call 1500. If you need to contact the fire service, please call 118.
There is an increased risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into the Far North region following the declarations of a state of emergency in Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states. An increased presence of Nigerian extremists in Far North region 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 region, you should leave.
There is also a risk of displacement of Nigeria-based extremists into Cameroon’s North and Adamawa regions which border Nigeria’s Adamawa state. The ability of the High Commission to offer consular services in the Far North, North and Adamawa provinces is limited.
The FCO advise against all travel to within 40 km of the border with Chad because of armed banditry, including poachers in Bouba Ndjida National Park in the North region.
The FCO advise against all 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 and kidnapping remains a risk. Numerous kidnappings have occurred in the period March to July 2015.
The FCO advise against all travel to the Bakassi Peninsula. Piracy is a threat in the Gulf of Guinea and particularly in the waters around the Niger Delta and the 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 FCO advise against all travel to Ndian division in the South West. Armed groups operate in this area. Clashes between the army and armed separatists have led to casualties. There is a high threat of kidnapping in the division. The Korup National Park falls inside the area to which the FCO advise against all travel.
Take great care if you travel to the northern regions 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 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.
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.
There is only one local airline operating between a few of the major cities, Camair-co. Scheduled flights are subject to frequent delays and cancellations. Several international airlines fly into Cameroon.
There is a railway from Douala-Yaounde-Ngaoundere. On Friday 21 October 2016, a train leaving Yaoundé en route to Douala derailed at Eseka (120km from Yaounde and 160km from Douala). Official sources in Cameroon confirmed the death of at least 80 people with over 500 injured. Passenger travel between Yaounde and Douala has been suspended following the train derailment. Travel between Ngaoundere and Yaounde by train is still possible.
There are occasional isolated incidents of political unrest around the country. Be vigilant at all times, and avoid political demonstrations and rallies.
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Cameroon particularly in the Far North region and the eastern border with Central African Republic. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
Following the terrorist attacks at the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali, and the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, both of which led to sieges in which a number of hotel guests were killed, it’s possible that terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Ansaru will try to carry out similar attacks on hotels or public venues in Cameroon including the capital Yaoundé. In 2016 and 2017, there were numerous suicide attacks which have resulted in over 200 dead in the Far North region.
There’s a heightened threat of kidnap to western nationals in the north of Cameroon, including in the major cities and along the border between the Far North region and Nigeria. Boko Haram has publicly threatened Cameroon with attacks and further kidnappings due to Cameroon’s involvement in the regional fight to counter Boko Haram.
Terrorist groups operating in Cameroon
Boko Haram or Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad (JASDJ) is an Islamist terrorist group operating in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The group aspire to establish a Sharia State in Nigeria and West Africa, de-stabilise the Nigerian government and remove western influence from the country.
The group was formerly linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On 12 March 2015, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) accepted a pledge of allegiance by Boko Haram. In August 2016, the group split into 2 factions: Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and JASDJ or Boko Haram. ISWA is affiliated with ISIS core in Iraq and Syria and has expressed an intention to target Nigerian government, Christian and western interests.
The terrorist threat in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin
There is a very high threat of kidnapping by terrorist groups operating in the Sahel region. A number of western nationals including tourists, NGO workers and diplomats have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last ten years, and several are still being held. Some, including several British nationals, have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.
There are a number of terrorist groups active in the region. These include Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Murabitoun, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram. These groups are capable of carrying out attacks and kidnaps over long distances. Kidnapping for ransom is the primary source of finance for Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM). Criminal gangs also carry out kidnapping for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards.
Read more about the threat from terrorism in the Sahel region.
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. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
Local laws and customs
Carry identification at all times (either a residence permit or a certified copy of your passport showing a valid visa). Failure to produce ID can lead to detention by the police.
Homosexuality is not widely accepted in central African society and sexual acts between members of the same sex are illegal in Cameroon. There were arrests and prosecutions of homosexuals in the past. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Penalties for the use and possession of drugs are severe and usually include a prison sentence.
Photographing military sites, government buildings, airports and ports is forbidden. While photography elsewhere is not illegal, communities can be sensitive to people taking photos and may ask for money in return. Officials may also ask you to pay for a ‘permits’ to photograph certain places.
It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade its parts without a licence. Cameroon is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which bans trade in ivory. If you’re caught buying or trafficking these goods you’ll be prosecuted and could receive a prison sentence or a fine.
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
To visit Cameroon, you will need to apply for a visa from the High Commission for Cameroon in London.
If you have a query about your immigration status while in Cameroon, contact the General Delegation for National Security in Yaoundé (telephone: +237 22221 2884).
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of your visa application.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry into Cameroon, provided they include the necessary visa.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
Medical facilities in Cameroon are poor. Emergency facilities are extremely limited. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa will be necessary. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.
UK health authorities have classified Cameroon as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.
In May 2016, the Cameroon Ministry of Livestock Fisheries and Animal Industries confirmed an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) at a government owned poultry complex at Mvog-Betsi, a suburb on the outskirts of Yaoundé. You should follow NHS advice on bird flu.
There is a high risk of malaria in Cameroon. There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in all areas of Cameroon. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
There is a cholera outbreak in Cameroon, mainly in the Far North but cases have also been confirmed in Douala.
All land, air and maritime restrictions between Cameroon and Ebola affected countries have been lifted. On arrival to Yaounde-Nsimalen Airport (NSI), the Cameroonian Health Authorities use thermal sensors to monitor the temperatures of all passengers arriving into the country. This is done at distance and is non-invasive.
In the 2015 the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated 620,000 people in Cameroon living with HIV of which 580,000 are aged 15 or over; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 4.5 of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.25%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV and AIDS.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 112 or 113 or 119 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Sterling travellers’ cheques are difficult to exchange throughout Cameroon. Many banks will only allow you to exchange travellers’ cheques if you hold an account with that bank. Euros and US Dollars are the most widely accepted foreign currency.
Cameroon is primarily a cash economy. Payment by credit card is possible in main supermarkets and petrol stations but less acceptable in smaller shops and restaurants; Visa is the most widely accepted. Confirm in advance with your hotel if you plan to settle a bill by credit card.
Some ATMs outside banks in Yaoundé, Douala and other major towns, including at petrol stations, will accept major UK credit cards and supply local currency.
Money transfer agencies can be found throughout Cameroon.
Travel advice help and support
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCO travel advice
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.