When it comes to travel to Africa, everyone dreams about hitting spots like South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. However, with 54 countries on the continent, there’s so much more of Mama Africa to explore. EBONY.com caught up with sisters Eposi and Lee Litumbe in their adopted home of California, to bring you firsthand tips on exploring their native homeland, the vibrant country of Cameroon.
Nicknamed “Africa in miniature,” the French and English speaking country of Cameroon offers everything–an active volcanic mountain, lush jungles (the 1984 adaptation of Tarzan was filmed there), white and black sand beaches, a myriad of wildlife, historical sites and, perhaps most importantly, a people with extremely diverse cultural backgrounds. It’s safe to say there’s something for everyone in Cameroon, from the leisure lounger to the adventurous thrill seeker.
As native Cameroonians, here are a few recommendations we personally chose to make the most of your time while visiting.
HIKE MOUNT CAMEROON
Mount Cameroon, or Mount Fako as it is called locally, is the tallest mountain in Central/West Africa at roughly 4,000 meters high, with an active volcano located in the South-West region of the country. Hiking up this colossal mountain is no easy feat. It is broken up into 3 trails (known as Huts 1, 2, and 3) and can normally be ascended within 5 days. Visitors begin the trek in the small, quaint town of Buea, and then gradually make their way toward Upper Farms, an area where inmates from a local prison tend to small corn, avocado, and banana farms. Due to the steep nature of the first trail, most find the hike to be quite challenging (we’ve never actually made it past Hut 1!) and it’s best done under the guidance of a porter and local guide. Those who are successful in getting past Hut 1 (kudos to you!) have a great chance of seeing elephants and an abundance of other wildlife, as well as natural springs, and the scenic views of the surrounding areas below.
VISIT BAFUT PALACE
The home of the Fon, head of the Fondom (Kingdom) of Bafut, the Palace has a museum that houses the cultural artifacts of the Bafut people, holy and traditional sites, royal palace dancers and the opportunity to be shown the palace grounds by a Queen. Definitely a must see on your visit.
EAT LOCAL CUISINE AT IYA BUEA
Be sure to stop by Iya Buea, a restaurant and cultural center, for a taste of a modern Cameroonian cuisine and culture. The ambiance is wildly chic and unapologetically Pan African, while the food is a celebration of several Cameroonian traditional dishes, and the ingredients that are locally sourced.
SHOP LOCAL AT MARCHE DES FLEURS
An art and flower market, Marche des Fleurs, is located within the city of Douala and boasts an abundance of beautiful flower arrangements, artwork, jewelry, and other artifacts handmade by local artisans. As with all markets in Cameroon, you must haggle: tell the vendors the price you are willing to pay and stick to it. And don’t be afraid to walk away from the vendor if necessary. Items for sale are normally marked up exponentially for unsuspecting, wide-eyed tourists. It is best to go with someone who is fluent in French or Pidgin English (an English based creole).
GRAB A COFFEE AT LE MOULIN DE FRANCE
After conquering the markets, celebrate your success with some coffee and pastries at this local favorite. With locations in both Douala and Yaoundé, Le Moulin is a quiet haven in the midst of the electric business districts. Come here for some free (and strong!) wifi, fresh pastries, a fully stocked bar, and an upscale environment to take the edge off.
EXPLORE KRIBI AND THE LOBE RIVER & WATERFALLS
While Kribi is known for its waterfalls and beaches, we’d recommend you go the road less traveled and take a 45-minute canoe ride into the deep forest to visit with the Baka people: hunter-gatherers (formerly known as pygmies). They are said to be the original inhabitants of Cameroon, and the serene canoe ride, crisp air, still waters, and, if you’re lucky, small monkeys swinging from the treetops are worth your while. Be sure to stop by a local shop to buy gifts (food and supplies) to present to the tribe in appreciation for the immersive opportunity. and they will sing, dance and play drums, inviting you into their cultural festivities.
VISIT BIMBIA, A FORMER SLAVE TRADE SITE
For history buffs, or anyone who has traced their heritage back to Cameroon, you will find in Bimbia the remains of the last stop in this region where captives of war, theft or trade were forcefully kept, before the long journey to the Americas or Europe. Local guides take you on one of the forest paths captives were led through, recounting the process of how human beings were bought and sold. Villagers in the area called it “The Door of No Return,” because anyone who walked through it never came back.
GET LOST IN THE TOLE TEA FIELDS
Tea is a major export from Cameroon, and the stunning tea fields in Tole are on rolling hills that seem to go on forever. After ownership of the Estate went private, recent controversy with Tea farmers organizing non-violent sit ins in protest to unfair pay is an example of how some marginalized people stood up to unfair treatment. Be mindful, and prepared to have to negotiate to get any pictures in the fields.
EXPLORE LIMBE AND ITS BLACK SAND BEACHES
Limbe has the laid-back vibe most beach towns are known for. Ride horseback or walk along the black sands of Sonara Beach Club and Seme Beach to get some of the best views of Mount Cameroon. Afterwards, find a local restaurant in Down Beach and order some Poisson Braise, freshly caught roast fish seasoned to perfection. It is literally fished from the ocean and made to order! Be sure to visit the Wildlife Center and Botanical Gardens, which are also great attractions around Limbe.
-As told to Danielle Pointdujour
Danielle T. Pointdujour is a Brooklynite living the passport life to the fullest. With over 70 countries under her belt, you can always find Danielle traveling the globe in search of new experiences and the hottest luxury hotels. You can follow her writing, musings and global adventures on her blog Hotel Whisperer and on Twitter and Instagram.