9 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Cameroon
Its vast and diverse terrain has inspired the nickname "land of 10,000 lakes" for its diverse array of lakes and springs that are fed by the fast-moving Niger River. If you visit the capital, Yaoundé, the country's economic and cultural heart, you'll see a delightful city of old colonial architecture and a sparkling lake.
Like much of the country, the western part of Cameroon is semi-arid and fairly barren, but there are excellent wildlife parks, and the coastal north is stunning. You can get an idea of what Cameroon is like by viewing the top attractions in this large, central African nation.
Cameroon has recently experienced conflict between separatists and the government, so travel can be difficult. We recommend planning your trip carefully, avoiding the most remote areas and traveling during off-peak times.
Known as an important meeting place for both pre- and post-colonial periods, the former capital of the German Cameroonian colony Kribi was the location of an infamous massacre carried out by indigenous troops in 1916, when approximately 600 German colonists and a handful of armed colonial administrators were killed. Today, the former colonial mansions and villas have been converted into low-priced hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants, and Kribi is a popular base for day trips, although it still doesn't see many foreign visitors. Despite its remoteness, the beautiful Petits Saut lagoon attracts both regular visitors and nature enthusiasts. The unusually calm water was once an ideal spot for crocodile and alligator hunting. Close by is the turtle reserve which contains the most northern marine turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting colony in West Africa.
Cameroon's largest city, Bamenda, is a bustling town with more than 1.5 million inhabitants. The heart of the city is the town square, on which you'll find the banks, shops and hotels and a lake (Plage de Mbalmayo). The sacred shrine of Nana-Dakuza (Big Chief) Mvoua lies within this square. If you walk around it, you'll see over 1000 beautiful sculptures and carvings of the Big Chief and the mythical figures surrounding him. Also worth a visit is the library, which was originally a storehouse for grains. Today it has a rich collection of books, some of which were copied by hand by several famous scholars from around the world. Bamenda was known as a border town long before the French discovered it. Although it is not exactly a tourist spot, travelers can visit the dam that created the Bassa Shangul, and a few kilometers east of the town you'll find a lookout point that gives you a beautiful view of the dam.
Buea, Cameroon's second-largest city and capital of the southern province, lies on the wide Buea River about 240 km from Yaounde and 250 km from the border with Equatorial Guinea. Buea is a city of palaces and palafittes, sprawling gardens and well-tended markets and you will find much to enjoy here, though the most important site is the royal palace, a regal yellow-and-white edifice overlooking a lake. Other notable sights include the city's famous "street of kilims" (rugs). The market is a weekly event that lasts several days and draws visitors from all over Cameroon. Also worth visiting are the temples of Mbomo and Nkonkwa, the first built about 1100 and the other about 500. They are both located at the north end of the city. They are smaller and less ornate than the vast structures in Yaounde, but very interesting nevertheless. When you have seen as much as you can of Buea's sights, you can rent a car to get out and about in the nearby Buea Volcanic Field, the highest and most active volcano in Cameroon.
Strolling the shops along Rue de la Trinité in the heart of the French Quarter offers a unique experience. Vibrant and well-restored town houses line the narrow, straight, and clean thoroughfare. A popular day trip for travelers, Yaounde has a modern feel in spite of having been founded in 1884, and offers colonial buildings, beautiful scenery, and delicious French food. The market on Place Ekama is a good spot for an afternoon picnic. Don't miss the local coffee shops, which serve wonderful brews. Also worth seeing is the cathedral, designed by the French architect Henri Prost, one of several buildings in the city dating from the French colonial period. The park around it is a pleasant place for an afternoon walk. You can get around the city easily by metro, which runs every few minutes; car rentals are available at the airport or in downtown Yaounde.
Set in a misty and mossy landscape high in the mountains of the north-west, beautiful Limbe lies on the coast, set against a backdrop of mountains and sprawling tropical forests. This mountain town, known for its famous African feather art, is home to beautiful lakes and stunning rocky outcrops, which are ideal for hiking. Some of these natural sights include Waterfalls (Bani Falls), a huge tumbling drop of about 25 meters wide, as well as Roussou Falls (Phudu Falls). It's also possible to climb up the highest point in Cameroon, Tengrèla (2730 m) where you can see for many miles.
Douala is a bustling seaport city in the northwest of Cameroon, situated on the Atlantic coast. Large, industrial factories are centered around the Port of Douala. A large building housing the Azam National Museum and several public art galleries is directly opposite the port. Douala's Roman Catholic Cathedral is another notable building. The beach at Douala is particularly unimpressive, however there are a number of hotels located along the coast which are situated just a few hundred meters from the beach.
Mournful Lake Chad was once the largest inland body of fresh water in Africa. Covering a spectacular 4,900 sq. km of central Africa, it stretched from the Niger River to the Congo River and was the third largest lake in the world. In 1977, the lake was reduced to a fraction of its former size by shifting sands and muds. With a rich and varied fauna and flora, it was known for its wide range of bird species. Rich in history, it was once the western terminus of the legendary Queen of Sheba's southern trade route. One of its most significant human remains are the relics of the ancient city of Teranga. It is a very dry part of Africa. A visit to the region would not be complete without a visit to the Ghanako Royal Palace. Originally built as the residence of the Obo-Odudu family, it now functions as a museum. It displays priceless works of art and artifacts that once belonged to these royal individuals. An island in Lake Chad, Ille Ifni is one of Africa's most unusual attractions. For centuries, the island has attracted pirates, French, English, American and Spanish. A legend has it that a pirate ship would come into the harbor and cast a spell on the island's women who would seduce the pirates and then would lead them back to their ships.
The charming town of Bamboutos in the South Province of Cameroon is the closest village to the Bamenda Highlands and a gateway to other villages, towns and national parks. It's an attractive town with a largely French population. Bamboutos is best known for being the birthplace of the former president of the Republic, Paul Biya. It's best known for its rich history, while the view over the surrounding countryside from the national park has to be one of the best in Cameroon.
Lake Nyos is a deep, circular, salt-water lake, located in southern Cameroon. It is one of the world's deepest lakes at two kilometers deep. Visitors are usually advised not to swim in Lake Nyos as it is rumored to contain a naturally occurring carbon dioxide gas. However, it is said that the lake is not dangerous. There is a small lighthouse, visible from the shores, just past the main boat harbour.