Cameroon

Written by admin on February 28th, 2010

Sunday 24 January

We crossed into Cameroon yesterday, obtaining our visas at the border and travelling from Oyem to Yaounde (the capital of Cameroon) in an easy day’s drive.  Once we entered Cameroon there were many stops along the way; police, immigration, customs and road tolls.  Most officials waved us on with a minimum of fuss.  However, just outside Yaounde one policeman decided he was going to take exception to our steering wheel being on the right, which was against a law passed in July 2009.  We accepted that this may be the case, but suggested that if it was “interdit” it should have been pointed out before we were allowed in to the country and asked what we could do about it right now. However, he insisted we could not continue, should step down from the vehicle, he said he was confiscating our passports and that we did not understand what he was trying to explain to us in French.

We stepped down, agreed our steering wheel was on the right and not the left and made it pretty clear that we were prepared to wait, ignoring locals who suggested we just give him a few thousand to carry on.  Fortunately, at the same time, a car driving in the opposite direction annoyed him enough that he needed to rush over waving his gun at them.  The female police chief then came over, so we apologised again and agreed that next time we came to Cameroon the steering wheel would be on the left.  She smiled and let us carry on!

At the Mission in Yaounde we met the first overlanders on our return leg apart from one Land Rover we had passed on the road in Gabon.  In the morning we went in search of a big open air Mass we had read about in the book, open to all, with drumming dancing and singing.  However, arriving at the parish church the priest said he had been the priest there for years and had never heard of it.  We wandered around town a little and then headed back to the Mission to exchange details with the German guys.  Sat in the grounds of the mission another English couple then arrived, then a Dutch couple and finally an English guy on his motorbike; it felt a bit of a culture shock and being the only couple heading north our brains were picked and we noted a couple of places recommended by them, obviously over a few beers.

Monday 25 January

We made the relatively short drive on good roads to Limbe, a small fishing town in the South West.  We parked up at the Park Hotel Miramar and then went off to explore the town.  We wandered around the Wildlife Centre, home to a lot of rescued primates and then stopped for a beer at the fish market beside the black sand beach.  It is quite a nice little port town, but the most significant landmark is the oilrig just a few hundred metres from shore in the middle of the bay - you can’t help but stare and wonder at it!  We had a good finish dinner at a restaurant set on the hill beside the hotel.

Wednesday 27 January

Yesterday, after a quick swim, we drove the few kms to Buea via a scenic dirt track through the hills, set up camp by the Presbyterian Synod Office Rest House, and stopped by the Wildlife Office to book our hike up Mount Cameroon. 

First thing today we had to go to the Nigerian Embassy to apply for our visas and after an interview and a bit of a wait they were issued the same day.  We set off up the mountain in the early afternoon, later than planned, but pleased to already have our visas back.

Friday 29 January

We really enjoyed the hike up Mount Cameroon, which took us through varied terrain and landscape.  On Wednesday we climbed pretty steeply through the forest and then bare slopes of volcanic rock.  We arrived just before dark at the hut we were to sleep at. The guides immediately called it a night and went off to sleep in their room/section of the hut.  The huts were very basic and there were a lot of mice running around inside, one of which ran up Felicity’s leg. We decided to set our tent up on the sleeping platform and sat inside, whipping up delicious egg with curry paste sandwiches followed by a chocloate bar for dinner!

Yesterday, we trekked about 4 hours to the peak with the high altitude starting to take its toll, leaving Felicity not feeling the greatest!  It was rewarding to reach the summit, but pretty cold and very windy, so after a few quick photos we began the descent.  It was quite a long day of hiking, past caldera and over vast lava flows from previous eruptions to the forest, where about 10 hours later we arrived at the camp.  We had time to build a fire this evening and so cooked up a tuna and tomato pasta.

Today we walked the last few hours through thick forest back to Buea to a welcome shower, cold Pampelmousse and the incredible spectacle of the enormous, but identical blisters on each of Felicity’s big toes!

Saturday 30 January

We headed for Bamenda today, stopping to camp at Awing Crater Lake about 20 km before.  We found a lady who, in exchange for a lift, directed us down the dirt track to a deserted spot overlooking the beautiful lake.  There werea few basic huts and shelters and apparently usually a guard, but he was away at the moment.

We opened a bottle of wine and were then joined by two young kids who found us very interesting and offered to camp by the car all night, take us horse riding the next day and kill and bring us a monkey; each of which we politely declined on this occasion.

Sunday 31 January

When we reached Bamenda we first got one of Bob’s UJs changed.  Then we spent quite a while driving around, back and forth trying to find somoene who would let us camp.  Eventually we found someone to help us at the Presbyterian and were directed to a nice spot on the lawn in the middle of the centre.

Keen to get a bit of meat we decided to go out for dinner and at Dreamland Felicity ordered chicken and Marc a steak.  Unfortunately, steak was not possible, as they had to buy it from the market.  Opting for a burger he was told, “no, you can have that tomorrow”, then fish “no”!  When we asked what was available the reply was “chicken”.  Then, as a bit of an after thought, fried beef with sauce was also offered.  It would have been best to have gone with the chicken!

Tuesday 2 February

We set off anti-clockwise around the scenic ring road yesterday and made it to Kumbo in less time than expected.  We stopped at a hotel for a drink where a very friendly guy on a motorbike pulled up and chatted to us about the community projects that his organisation ran.  He then led us to a cheap hotel with a good view where we could camp for the night. 

We realised we had left our USB key at the internet place in Bamenda, so decided to drive back and get it first thing today, as the drive had not been that long.  We then carried on clockwise towards Wum to see the Metchum Falls.  When we felt we may be getting close we stopped from time to time to ask how far to the Falls.  However, they seemed to be always just 2-3km further on.  After several 2-3 kms we reached them and were quite impressed, as we had started to imagine a small ripple in the river.  We opted to head back and overnight at Bamenda, as the road was quite bad and the scenery had been better on the eastern side.  

Thursday 4 February

Yesterday we drove the short distance to Mamfe, which was relatively slow going on dirt road winding through the hills.  We camped outside the Data Club Hotel and the friendly manager took us to see an old German suspension footbridge nearby, high over the Cross River - walking across it felt very precarious!

Today we continued to the border town of Ekok.  The dirt road was again quite slow going, but as it was dry was not too bad.  As we drove through big trenches in the road, the walls of which were almost the height of the car on each side it was easy to imagine what this quite infamous stretch would be like in the rains!  We left Cameroon and crossed the river to Nigeria where we were greeted by a very smiley policeman, “Welcome to Nigeria, the safest country in Africa!”.

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