Discovering Cameroon : a colorful country

I have spent 2 weeks in Cameroon for a vacation. It was my first time in Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a great country to begin with as it’s known to be a “miniature Africa” because you can find all the natural environments of Africa (volcanos, tropical forests, beaches, savannah…).

When I arrived in Yaoundé, the thing that stroke me the most was the humid heat and the colorful dresses of the women balancing their baskets on their heads. There were small stalls along the roads and people walking in the middle of the streets – so close to the cars, especially as there is not always sidewalks – but also a lot of people gathering in the street in front of their home to enjoy the “fresh” air of the night (by “fresh” I mean 26 degrees aha 😉 ). Seeing the cars driving on the road is quite a show itself as there are no rules except the klaxon – or the bravest – rule : the one that honk the most – or the one who is the less scared of ruining his car ! – goes first.
This atmosphere reminded me of Dominican Republic (so it brought good memories!) with its heat and the friendliness you immediately feel. I was feeling completely at ease, my vacation was starting well ! 😀
J’ai passé 2 semaines au Cameroun pour des vacances. C’était la première fois que j’allais en Afrique Subsaharienne. C’est un super pays pour commencer car il est connu pou être “l’Afrique en miniature” du fait que l’on y trouve tous les environnements naturels d’Afrique (volcans, forêts tropicales, plages, savane…)
Lorsque je suis arrivée à Yaoundé, la chose qui m’a le plus frappé était la chaleur humide et les robes colorées des femmes qui tenaient leurs paniers en équilibre sur leur tête. Il y avait des petites échoppes le long des rues et les gens marchaient en plein milieu de la route – si proche des voitures vu qu’il n’y a pas vraiment de trottoirs – mais également beaucoup de personnes qui se regroupaient dans la rue devant chez eux pour profiter de la “fraîcheur” de l’air du soir (et par “fraîcheur” j’entend les 26 degrés qu’il faisait à ce moment-là aha 😉 ). Voir les voitures rouler est un spectacle en soi, car il n’y a pas de règles, à part la règle du klaxon – ou du plus courageux – : celui qui klaxonne le plus – ou celui qui a le moins peur d’abimer sa voiture ! – passe en premier. 
Cette atmosphère m’a tout de suite rappelé l’ambiance de la République Dominicaine (et m’a donc rappelé de très bons souvenirs!) avec sa chaleur ainsi que la convivialité que l’on y ressent immédiatement. Je m’y suis donc tout de suite sentie à l’aise, les vacances commençaient bien ! 😀

Yaoundé

We stayed a couple of days in Yaoundé which is the political capital city of Cameroon. While there, we have enjoyed a couple of power cuts as soon as it was raining. But it was okay, it’s part of the discovery ! 😉 People there are prepared and you can see candles in the house to still have light when there’s no power and buckets of water next to the shower in case of a cut in water.

Yaoundé is called “the city of the 7 hills” (I’m not sure how they count 7, I counted 8 or 9 depending on the time of the day but anyway, you can see different hills from the city! 🙂 ) so it’s a really nice city, with a lot of air (which is really pleasant when it’s 40 degrees !). 🙂

Nous sommes restés plusieurs jours à Yaoundé qui est la capitale politique du pays.  Pendant notre séjour à Yaoundé, nous avons pu expérimenter plusieurs coupures d’électricité dès qu’il pleuvait un peu fort. Mais ce n’était pas grave, ça fait partie de la découverte ! 😉 Les gens là-bas sont préparés et vous pouvez voir pleins de bougies dans les maisons pour continuer à avoir de la lumière quand il n’y a pas d’électricité et des seaux d’eau proches de la douche en cas de coupure d’eau. 

Yaoundé est surnommée “la ville aux 7 collines” (je ne sais pas trop comment ils en comptent 7, j’en comptais 8 ou 9 en fonction des jours mais dans tous les cas, il est sûr que vous pouvez voir différentes collines de la ville! 😉 ) et c’est une ville très sympa, avec de l’air (ce qui est très agréable lorsqu’il fait 40 degrés !). 🙂

 

Yaoundé

 

Along the roads, there are a lot of street markets where they sell everything : sofas, doors… But the most beautiful things are the flowers markets as it brightens the streets ! There are also looots of street vendors who hold everything on their heads : from shoes to drinks ! In front of the houses, it’s common to find wood planks because people use it to smoke the meat in order to preserve it without a fridge.

Le long des routes de Yaoundé vous avez pleins de marchés en plein air où l’on vend de tout : des canapés, des portes… Mais ce qui reste le plus joli ce sont les marchés aux fleurs car cela égaye les routes !  Il y a également beaucoup de vendeurs ambulants qui tiennent tout sur leurs têtes : des chaussures aux boissons ! Devant les maisons, il est courant de voir des planches de bois car les personnes les utilisent pour fumer la viande afin de la conserver sans frigo. 

I loved the Reunification Square, celebrating, well… the reunification of the country (the name is pretty well chosen, right ? 😉 ) in 1976 as the architecture is pretty impressive… from the front, from above and from the top as you can have an overview of the city !

J’ai adoré la Place de la Réunification, qui célèbre, eh bien… la réunification du pays en 1976 (le nom est plutôt parlant, non ? 😉 ) car son architecture est assez impressionnante… de face, du dessous mais également du haut car on peut voir toute la ville ! 

We also went to the Febe Mount where you can have the best view of all the city : it was impressive !

Nous sommes allés au Mont Febe où l’on peut admirer la meilleure vue de toute la ville : c’était impressionnant ! 
 
If you’re looking for local food, you will find easily a lot of stalls selling delicious fritters, braised meat, fried plantain bananas, fresh fruits… And if you’re craving for a pizza, you can go to Alfresco, a famous pizzeria there. Their pizzas are pretty good (and not so expensive – as everything in the country!) but you’ll have to live the experience at the local way as there is no line so you have to shout louder than everyone else in order to have your order taken, and you have to wait. A lot. 😉

Si vous voulez manger de la nourriture locale, vous trouverez facilement pleins de petites échoppes qui vendent de délicieux beignets, de la viande braisée, des bananes plantains frites, des fruits frais… Et si vous avez envie d’une pizza, vous pouvez allez à Alfresco, une pizzeria réputée de la ville. Leurs pizzas sont plutôt bonnes (et pas chères – comme tout dans le pays!) mais elles se méritent car vous aurez à vivre une expérience à la locale : il n’y a pas de queue et donc il faut crier plus fort que les autres pour que sa commande soit prise, et il faut attendre. Longtemps. 😉
 

Makénéné Village

We went to the Makénéné Village, at 3 hours drive (or 4 depending the trafic !) from Yaoundé. We drove past the Sanaga, which is a largest river crossing Cameroon. It was really beautiful to see those contrasting colors : with the grey of the water, the red earth and the green vegetation.

Nous sommes allés au Village de Makénéné, à 3 heures de route (ou 4 selon le trafic!) de Yaoundé. Nous avons traversé la Sanaga, qui est le fleuve le plus long parcourant le Cameroun. C’était magnifique de voir ces contrastes de couleurs : avec le gris de l’eau, la terre rouge et la végétation verdoyante. 
It was really hot that day. When we arrived, everyone noticed me as the people in that village are not used to have foreigners coming there. They live in huts made of earth which keeps the inside quite fresh. They don’t have a lot, but they don’t complain. No matter their age, they work, cultivating the fields or cooking, and the few food they have, they want to share it with you because they want you to feel welcomed. It was a nice moment, but more than a moment, it was a real life lesson. 
Il faisait très chaud ce jour-là. Quand nous sommes arrivés, tout le monde me remarquait car les gens ne sont pas habitués de voir des étrangers venir là-bas. Ils vivent dans des cases faites en terre battue, ce qui garde l’intérieur assez frais. Ils n’ont pas beaucoup, mais ils ne se plaignent pas. Peu importe leur âge, ils travaillent tous, cultivant les champs ou cuisinant, et le peu de nourriture qu’ils ont, ils veulent le partager avec toi car ils veulent que tu te sentes accueilli. C’était un bon moment, mais plus qu’un moment c’était une véritable leçon de vie. 

Douala

Douala is the economical capital and the biggest city of Cameroon. There, the air is less breathable than in Yaoundé as there’s a lot of pollution and not a lof of wind. The trafic is really dense. Indeed, Douala is known for its “benskins” who are drivers of motor-taxis who drive without rules. They got their names from the brand of the first motorcycles they used, as their raised seat gave the passenger a position similar to the dancers of “Bend-skin” (a Cameroonian music). You have to be careful when driving as they can drive in the opposite direction, or cross a roundabout by lifting their motorcycle (true story!). By the way, hey have a special pavilion in the hospital as they can have a lot of accidents.

Douala est la capitale économique et la plus grande ville du Cameroun. Là-bas, l’air y est moins respirable qu’à Yaoundé car il y a beaucoup de pollution et peu de vent. Le trafic est très dense. En effet, Douala est connu pour ses “benskins” qui sont des chauffeurs de mototaxis qui conduisent sans règles. Ils ont pris leur nom des premières marques de motos utilisées par ceux-ci, car les sièges surélevés donnait aux passagers une position similaire à celle des danseurs de “Bend-skin” (un type de musique Camerounais). Vous devez donc faire attention quand vous conduisez car ils peuvent rouler à contre-sens, ou même traverser un rond-point en soulevant leurs motos (histoire vécue!). Ils ont d’ailleurs un pavillon spécial à l’hôpital car ils ont pas mal d’accidents.
 

The South-West region

From Douala, we went to Buéa/Limbé, in the South-West of the country. This region is part of the English Cameroon so everyone there speak English. As most of the country speaks French they usually speak both English and French and mix the languages in their sentences !

De Douala, nous sommes allées à Buéa/Limbé, au Sud-Ouest du pays. Cette région fait partie du Cameroun anglophone et tout le monde y parle donc anglais. Comme la plupart du pays parle Français, ils parlent ces 2 langues et les mix souvent dans une phrase !

Buéa

The area is really beautiful and lush and the roads are much more well-maintained. There, you have the Tea Road which offers amazing perspectives of green landscapes and views of the Cameroon Mount. At that time, there was no Internet connection because the government had cut the Internet access for this region because of political problems between the French and the English parts of Cameroon. So I had a real break during those couple days 😉

We have been to the local market where we tried grated and fried coconut – a typical food from this region- and it was delicious (because as I have already told you here, I looove cocounut 😉 ). We also tried a typical meal which was mash tarot (a purple vegetable) with meat and red palm oil. That was… special, if I may say !

La région est très belle et verdoyante, et les routes sont mieux entretenues. Là-bas, vous avez également la Route du Thé qui offre de magnifiques vues d’étendues vertes et du Mont Cameroun. A ce moment, il n’y avait pas de connexion Internet car le gouvernement avait coupé l’accès à Internet pour tout région à cause de problèmes politiques entre le Cameroun anglophone et le Cameroun francophone. Cela m’a donc fait une bonne coupure pendant ces quelques jours 😉

Nous sommes allés au marché local, où nous avons goûté une spécialité de la région, à savoir de la noix de coco râpée et frite, et c’était délicieux (car comme je vous l’ai déjà dit ici, j’adoooore la noix de coco 😉 ). Nous avons également testé un plat typique qui se compose de purée de tarot (un légume violet) avec de la viande à l’huile de palme rouge. C’était… spécial, disons !

Limbé

In Limbé, we went to the Botanical Garden, which is a really nice and green garden. We went then to The Lodge, a nice guesthouse (with a pool !) perched on a hill, in the Sokolo village, that offered an impressive view.

A Limbé, nous sommes allés au Jardin Botanique, qui est un jardin très joli et très vert. Nous sommes ensuite allés au Lodge, une jolie guesthouse (avec piscine) perchée sur une colline, dans le village de Sokolo, qui offrait une vue impressionnante.

Seme Beach

On the next day, we went to Seme beach which is a huge black-sand beach, where you can swim of course, in the transparent water, but also meet some horses ! 😉 We stayed until sunset and we admired one of the most beautiful sunset I had the chance to see in my life.

Le jour suivant, nous sommes allés à Seme beach, qui est une immense plage de sable noir, où vous pouvez vous baigner dans l’eau transparente, bien-sûr, mais également rencontrer des chevaux ! 😉 Nous sommes restés jusqu’au coucher du soleil et nous avons pu admirer l’un des plus beaux couchers de soleil que j’ai eu la chance de voir dans ma vie.

 

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Have you ever been to Cameroon ? If not, I hope this article will have given the idea of putting that wonderful country on your bucket list ! 😉

If you want to see more of Cameroon, you can check the video I’ve made here 🙂

Etes-vous déjà allés au Cameroun ? Si non, j’espère que cet article vous aura donné envie d’ajouter ce magnifique pays sur votre liste ! 😉

Si vous voulez voir plus de paysages du Cameroun, vous pouvez regarder ici la vidéo que j’ai faite 🙂

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21 thoughts on “Discovering Cameroon : a colorful country

  1. Wow this sounds like a very fun trip! I love seeing a lot of cultural traditions when I visit a new place as well as the sightseeing! This would definitely be something I’d be interested in seeing some day! You are so very lucky that you’ve been able to travel here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your pictures are beautiful. The markets and the beach are amazing! Thailand is the same when you are in a vehicle, there seemed like there were no rules but no one hit each other, I had to close my eyes most of the time, lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you !! Haha, yes, it was the same too in Dominican Republic, but at least, in Cameroon they had doors in their cars :p

      Like

    1. Thank you !! And I’m glad if I helped you discover that amazing country 😀 Don’t hesitate if you have any questions 🙂

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    1. Thank you Cassie ! And yes, I had an amazing experience there 🙂 If you go to Africa, I hope you’ll go to Cameroon ! 😉

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    1. Thanks a lot for your nice comment !! 🙂 And I’m glad to have helped you know more about that amazing country !
      But don’t be anxious, I had no problem while being there ! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, how did you know I was anxious 😉? My hubs and I have traveled a lot in Europe but very anxious to go to Africa and also South America–those places require a bit more gusto I think, but learning from travelers like you is just what I need!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Exactly! And one day, you’ll dare and I’m pretty sure none of you will regret it ! 😉
          But daring doesn’t mean do anything aha, of course, even when travelling you should keep your common sense 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        2. If I may so Kindly add, Tourism is a major export of many african countries. That means there is alot of effort made to ensure that infrastructure exists to make it a pleasant experience. Countries like Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, to name a few offer especially exquisite travel packages. It is true that many of them are optimized for the wealthiest tourists so that backpackers have some reason to be a little anxious. But that anxiety is assuaged by common-sense safety precautions ie; not walking about at night in nondescript neighbourhoods or areas; connecting with locals who can give you a tour without the hefty fees. The luxury tourist will himself jet into the country, be chaufferedin large safari vans or SUVs to his 4-5 star hotel, enjoy the beach, safari in national parks, be served local dishes as prepared by some of the very best chefs, and be spoiled to any caprices imaginable. The backpacker on the other hand relies on the goodwill of the locals – and there is alot of good will to go around-. Many locals living in tourist areas are awake to the fact that they should present the best of their nation; awake to the importance of tourism as a source of income, and so will be very helpful.

          Psych yourself up; get to listening to some music from a nation or region that interests you, and then make the plunge! As Cindy Mottellet says you will not regret it.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Thank you Emmanuel. We will definitely go for it. We follow those common sense rules all over the world and I would assume as you say they work in Africa as well. I will tell you, my true hesitation has just been the planning and price and logistics. Europe is so easy to get from place to place. We have gone over for 3 weeks and been to 3-4 different countries with vastly different cultures. Africa is just SO far away, that I want to make sure when we make the trip, we really have the time to spend there and the money to cover all the logistics of travel within the continent as well. I hope I will get to travel to Africa more than once in my lifetime, but if I don’t, I want to do it right! I really appreciate your guidance and input. As well as Cindy’s and yours encouragement. Thanks again.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. You’re welcome ! And good luck with the planning, sure, it takes time and money but for me preparing is also part of the journey ! Travel lasts before you go by preparing but also after with all the memories you’ve made there ! And you’ll see it’s truly worth it ! And me too, I’d love to go back to Africa to discover other countries as well ! But as I’ve mentioned it, I think Cameroon is a great country to begin with 🙂

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