The Benedictine Monastery will be the first on your sightseeing agenda. Built in 1967, it has a great Musee d’Art Cameroonais, which has displays of masks, bowls and Bamoun bronze pipes. The chapel is done up in traditional textiles and crafts.
If you’re there on a Sunday, try and make it to mass in any one of the city’s churches, or better still the open-air mass outside aroisse de N’Djong Melen. The choir, drums, dancing and the joie de vivre are bound to make it a memorable occasion. There are plenty of markets dotting the city with shops selling painted gourds, leather goods, jewellery, grisgris (necklace charms) and millet.
Douala is the largest city and the commercial nerve centre of Cameroon. Mt Cameroon stands as the backdrop to this lively, cosmopolitan and modern port city.
Climbing the mountain (4095m) will at best take you 31/2 days. Buea is at the foot of the mountain and is worth a visit, even if you aren’t attempting the climb, for its cool climes. You need a permit and a guide to scale this mountain and plenty of warm clothes and some rain-wear. The best time to make the climb is mid-November to March - the rest of the year is very rainy. At Douala, check out the Palais du Roi de Douala and the Musee de Douala.
The Palace is not open to public but is worth a visit to see its extremely confused architecture. The Museum again is a disarray of Bamoun and Bamileke crafts but gives you an idea of indigenous arts and crafts. The best place to buy souvenirs is Artisanal Camerounais, an open-air market. Douala is the transport hub to many interesting places in Cameroon such as Kiribi, Limbe and Foumban.
Foumban is a popular destination in the tourist map and an important centre of African art. Check out the seat of the Bamoun tribes, the JB Palais Royal, which houses the Sultan’s Museum. The display contains royal robes, jewellery, statues, masks and bead draped thrones. Close to the Palace is the Musee des Arts des Traditions Bamoun with an exhaustive collection on Bamoun art and history including musical instruments, cooking utensils, masks and statues. Sculptors, basket makers, weavers and wood workers are at work in the Rue des Artisans- if you want the best wood carvings in Africa, this is the place to buy them. Buses and bush taxis will get you to Foumban, 250 km northwest of Yaounde.
Kribi is the ideal place to chill out by the seaside and enjoy great seafood. Nearby villages of Eboundja and Londji do not have hordes of expats and lack tourist infrastructure. They are great places to visit if you wish to enjoy grilled fish and palm wine with the locals. Take a bush taxi from Douala to Kribi - it will take two hours to get there.
Parc National du Waza, reputed to be one of Africa’s better-known wildlife getaways, is well known for its elephants. The Park isn’t particularly scenic - vegetation is mainly scrub and the terrain is flat.
Lions, giraffes, hippos, baboons, monkeys and antelope make up the wildlife spectrum. The best time to visit the Park is March to May when it is very hot and the watering holes are the best spots to gaze at the animals. The best way to get to Waza is to take the train from Douala or Yaounde to N’Gaoundere and then rent a car or bush taxi to get to the Park.
Parc National de Korup is in the rainforest area and what a range of plants, trees and birds! Extremely wet and humid, it is a must on your agenda if you are keen on flora and fauna. The Park is in the western part of Cameroon and is accessible by bush taxi from Douala (150km).