Kingdoms of Cameroon
Kingdoms of Cameroon
Cameroon stands at a crossroads, absorbing elements of both West and central Africa but with a charming character all of its own. Home to some of the most traditional societies on the continent, in much of Cameroon the word of the local chief or sultan still holds more weight than that of the government, and visitors here find themselves transported back to a time when the land was divided into numerous separate kingdoms. This tour spends time in two different regions of the country. In the highlands area we explore the traditional chieftaincies of Bafoussam, Bamenda and Foumban, incredibly colourful places with fascinating histories and packed full of tradition. We spend time in a small village to soak up the rhythms of rural Cameroon, and then head east, through thick rainforests to the homelands of the Ba’Aka. We spend a couple of days as guests of a local community, learning about their forest lifestyle and how they have maintained their unique traditions – this is a chance to meet one of Africa’s most interesting ethnic groups. Finally we head to the coast at Kribi, before returning to Douala. Cameroon is often ignored by travellers, but its amazing variety of landscape and people place it among Africa’s most spectacular countries.
Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●○○○○
- Relish the verdant beauty of the Cameroon countryside
- Meet the amazing peoples who call Cameroon home, including those of Okpwa, and Dja Reserve
- Immerse yourself in the histories and traditions of the ancient chieftaincies
- Finish the tour by the wonderful beaches of Kribi
Accommodation: Mix of Comfortable hotels, guesthouse and camping
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum 12
Start Point: Douala
End Point: Douala
Transport: Private minibuses- because of the terrain, and availability of vehicles locally, it is not possible to provide Air Conditioned minibuses on this tour.
Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.
Day 1 – Douala
On arrival in Douala you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore this lively city. Overnight at Aquarius Hotel or similar.
Douala is Cameroon’s largest city, although it is not the official capital – this honour falls to Yaoundé. A large, brash and vibrant city, Douala can be a rather blunt introduction to the country, but there is no better way to get to grips with modern Cameroon. Lacking in conventional sights,Douala makes up for it with excellent nightlife and restaurants, and a zest for life which can be intoxicating. The city was originally born out of the small settlements established by Portuguese traders who arrived in the 15th century, and went on from humble beginnings, to become an important port and the economic powerhouse of Cameroon. Although not the most attractive of African cities, in the right light the tropical ambience of Douala can be rather pleasant.
Day 2 - Bafoussam
Drive through rubber, banana and coffee plantations on the road to Bafoussam. We visit a tropical flower plantation as well as the beautiful Ekom Waterfalls. Later we stop at Baham to visit the palace of a traditional Bamileke chief. At the end of the day we arrive in Bafoussam. Overnight at Hotel Altitel or similar. (BD)
Bafoussam is a stronghold of the Bamileke people, known for their rich cultural traditions and ceremonial arts. The people here are renowned as excellent traders, deriving their prosperity from coffee grown in the surrounding region, and as a Bamileke tradition prohibits selling land the city is quite culturally homogenous. Bafoussam is home to a chief’s palace and a lively market which is held every four days.
Day 3 - Bamenda
After breakfast we leave for Bamenda, visiting the sacred Mectchie waterfalls en route, where local Bamileke people come to make sacrifices in the hope that their wishes will be granted. On arrival in Bamenda we visit the local market which is laid out in a different style to others we visit. We continue to the very impressive chief’s palace at nearby Bafut, where we see traditional dancing by the princes. Overnight at Ayaba Hotel or similar. (BD)
Bamenda is the capital of North West Province and is situated amidst beautiful scenery, with scores of traditional chiefdoms within easy reach, making it an excellent base for exploring the vibrant local culture of Cameroon’s highlands. It was originally an amalgamation of three villages and its principal ethnic group are the Tihar people. In contrast to Bafoussam, Bamenda is principally English speaking, and is the base of Cameroon’s main opposition party the SDF, who demand greater rights for Anglophone Cameroonians.
Day 4 – Wum - Okpwa
We continue on the ‘Ring Road’ to Wum, visiting Menchum Falls along the way. The scenery of this area is quite beautiful, with meadows, mountains and lakes, punctuated with Fulani herders tending their livestock. At Wum we set off on foot to reach the village of Okpwa, our base for the next two nights. You should ensure that your legs are covered as there are brambles and bushes along the way. The walk takes around 2 hours but you can reach the village by car if you prefer. Overnight camping in the village. (BD)
Day 5 - Okpwa
We spend today in Okpwa, settling into the rhythm of village life and learning about the traditions and customs of the Bororo people that live here. We will take a walk through the surrounding area to visit other villages and you should ensure your legs are covered as there are bushes and brambles along the way. This is an insight into the intricacies of life in rural Cameroon and one of the highlights of the trip. Overnight camping in the village. (BLD)
Day 6 – Wum – Bamenda – Babungo
We say goodbye to our hosts and drive back to Wum via the nearby crater lake. From there we continue to Bamenda and before heading to Babungo. On the way we visit the museum at the Fon’s palace, home to more than 3000 traditional masks. Overnight at the KwaKwa guesthouses. (BLD)
Day 7 – Babungo - Foumban
This morning we visit some of the projects of the Babungo Foundation, a village community initiative which includes a pig farm, a clinic offering traditional and modern treatments and a school. We then drive to Foumban. The town is renowned for its excellent traditional crafts and is rich in history, with good museums and a superb royal palace, and we spend time exploring the town’s key sites. Overnight at Paradise Hotel Koutaba or similar. (BLD)
Foumban is an important centre for African art and one of Cameroon’s most culturally rich towns. The centrepiece of the town is the sultan’s palace, which resembles a medieval chateau and is the seat of power for the Bamoun people. Foumban’s museums hold excellent examples of Bamoun arts and crafts as well as exhibits on local history, masks, traditional dress and everyday items that have been used in Bamoun life. The Rue des Artisans is home to all manner of small shops and workshops and is one of the best places in Central Africa to buy wood carvings. Foumban is a predominantly Moslem town and one of the oldest in Cameroon.
Day 8 – Yaounde
Drive to Yaounde via Bafoussam and Makenene, where we stop at the small market. Overnight at Merina Hotel or similar. (BD)
Cameroon’s official capital city is smaller and more pleasant than its rival Douala, which remains the most important city of the country – although the pace of life here can still be hectic, it feels slightly more relaxed and its location on a series of leafy hills makes the climate here more conducive to exploring. Although it does not have too many specific attractions, there is an interesting museum of Cameroonian arts and crafts situated in a Benedictine monastery atop one of the hills, with some superb examples of masks from the many ethnic groups of the country.
Day 9 – Abongbang – Lomie
Leave Yaounde and drive to Lomie, via Ayos and Abongbang. This is a long drive which cuts through thick equatorial rainforest and passes picturesque Ba’Aka and Bantu villages. Overnight at Raphia hotel or similar (BD)
Days 10-11 – Dja Reserve
Drive to the village of Djoamedjo at the entrance of the Dja Reserve. From here continue on foot to the Ba’Aka village of Matisson. We are welcomed by the community and spend these days immersing ourselves in their unique and complex culture, taking walks in the forest, learning about traditional hunting techniques, discovering local folklore and more. A superb opportunity to spend time with a fascinating people. Overnight camping in the village. (BLD)
Ba’Aka (Pygmy) People
The Ba’aka people are the original inhabitants of this region, having lived here for centuries before the great Bantu migrations, which saw them eventually reduced to minority status in their traditional lands. Typically their villages are located in the forest, close to the flora and fauna that they hunt and gather by age old methods. The villages are usually constructed from materials found in the jungle, with houses being simple affairs made from branches, leaves and animal hides. They are expert hunters and organise group hunts for animals as large as forest elephants, although with the encroachment of logging and mining firms into their lands, wildlife is becoming less plentiful than in previous years. The term Pygmy is not used by the people themselves, who derive their names according to their particular ethnic group, such as Batwa or Ba’aka. They have been systematically marginalised in all of the nations of Central Africa where they live, and there have even been reports of soldiers in Eastern DRC hunting and killing them for food. In some areas Pygmy populations still live as virtual slaves to Bantu overlords. In recent years Pygmy groups have become more organised and have sent representatives to the UN and the World Bank in order to lobby and defend their rights, and be allowed to maintain their traditional lifestyles.
Day 12 – Yaounde
After bidding farewell to our Ba’Aka hosts we begin the drive back to Yaounde. Overnight at Merina Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 13 – Kribi
Today sees us head to the coastal town of Kribi. In the afternoon we view the Lobe Falls take a boat ride on the Lobe River. Overnight at Tara Plage Hotel or similar. (BD)
Day 14 – Douala
A relaxing morning before visiting the fishing village of Londji in the afternoon. Later, transfer back to Douala, for your onward flight. (B)
Arrival and departure transfers at the beginning and end of the tour
Transport throughout the tour in private minibuses.
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Any airport taxes