Overlanding Cameroon – Travel Blog. The Cameroonian leg of our Oasis Overland ‘Accra to Cape Town’ trip. From Limbe to Kribi and on to the capital, Yaounde.
Our morning started early as we left our hotel in Ikom, Nigeria to reach the border crossing at Mfum as quickly as possible. We reached the exit point within an hour and after the usual runaround at the Nigerian immigration, we were stamped out.
At the time, Cameroon was experiencing political tensions (the so-called ‘Anglophone Crisis’) which had often turned violent and as a result, the border we were crossing often closed at very short notice. As we were waiting for our passports to be returned with our exit stamps, there was suddenly a lot of commotion. Loads of cars from Cameroon were charging onto the bridge and people were scrambling across by foot. There was chaos for a good thirty minutes, with cars trying to enter Cameroon being forced to turn around and the cars entering Nigeria pushing their way through the chaos. We were then told that officials had closed the border in Cameroon, as there were reports of fighting and gunshots just across the border. We were all told to sit tight as the Nigerian officials tried to establish what exactly was going on. After a further hour of waiting, the border was reopened and we were escorted over to Cameroon border crossing of Ekok. Entering Cameroon took a long time, so long in fact, that we managed to set up lunch, eat and pack everything away before procedures were even finished. Eventually, we were all stamped in and free to go.
The first thing we noticed when we entered Cameroon, was the vast military presence. There were armed police everywhere. We were stopped at ten checkpoints on our drive to Mamfe, a small town only a couple of hours from the border. The police checks were serious, no jokes or selfies there, they meant business and checked our passports and the truck each time. Annoying as it was to be stopped every ten minutes, it was good to see officials doing their job thoroughly.
The second thing we noticed, were the roads and the landscape. The roads were the best we had encountered to date and sliced through the thick, lush green jungle, which made our drive a breeze. The temperature had dropped however the humidity was high, so we were still hot!
Our first night in Cameroon was spent camping within the grounds of a catholic mission. Mamfe was a peaceful town, however, there had been a history of violent outbreaks and serious shoot ups, all politically motivated and directed at the police and military in the past. We had all seen how serious the military had been and if we were to continue on and bush camp the night, things may not have gone down so well if the military found us camping. If they did see us, they would probably have insisted that we stay with them and seeing as all of the violence had been directed at them, they were the last people we wanted to be stuck with. So, camping in the ground of gods place was the safest place for us to stay. We must say, there’s nothing quite like being served a room temperature beer by a Catholic nun!
The following day we pushed on to Limbe, a coastal town and the gateway to Mount Cameroon. We weren’t expecting to reach Limbe in a day, but despite the ten checkpoints we were stopped at, the roads were so good that we got to the campsite before 5 pm. We were staying inside a hotel complex which featured a large pool, bar and cold beers. Exactly what we needed as the humidity was rife and we couldn’t stop sweating.
We had been really looking forward to climbing Mount Cameroon, during our time in Limbe. However, after learning that the 3d/2n hike was going to cost almost double what we had budgeted for, along with seeing the incredible haze and rain that covered the entire mountain as we passed it en-route to the campsite, we reluctantly decided against it.
Instead, we had four free days in Limbe to do as we pleased. Normally, that would have been great, however, there wasn’t a whole lot to do and see in the town and surrounding area. We visited the Botanical Gardens where we found some beautiful Woodland Kingfishers, which we chased around photographing for a while.
There were also some black Weaver Birds building nests in a tree near the river and some massive Moabi trees and some cool grasshoppers!. We also spent a lot of time in the pool and drinking beer!
We left Limbe eagerly, having been there for 4 uneventful days. It was a relatively short drive to Kribi, via Douala for a quick food shop. As we drove along the coast to Kribi we noticed straight away that these beaches looked far cleaner than any we had seen on the tour to date. It was also the first time on the trip where the haze had cleared and we saw blue sky and clouds. When we pulled into the campsite it took over an hour for the staff to position the truck in a spot that everyone was happy with.
We woke to pleasant sunshine and had a very leisurely morning before heading on a 2 km walk down the beach to Chutes de la Lobe`falls.
But the sunshine didn’t last long! Whilst walking, the grey clouds started to roll in. The falls were spread out into two sections and whilst exploring the cascading left side of the falls we spotted a Malachite Kingfisher, the same type that had eluded the camera over the past month or so. So we spent the next hour running from one side of the falls to the other desperately trying to get a nice shot of it. And finally we got some. FINALLY!
In order to really appreciate the falls, we arranged to cross over to the other side in a local canoe and literally the second we paddled away from shore the rain started. So we quickly took some pictures, before it got too heavy and crossed back over to begin a wet walk down the beach back to camp.
We got back just in time before the heavens really opened and gave us our first heavy rainfall whilst cooking and we were all busy digging trenches to divert the water pouring off the tarp covered cooking area. In a brief interlude between downpours we were given a beautiful golden sunset.
We left early the next morning to head to the capital Yaounde after having had a really nice time in Kribi. We drove through the city up to the lofty positioned Presbyterian Guest House and were greeted by the owners who promptly lay down some strict rules. It was a bit like being back at school. As there was a wedding on the grounds the following day, we were very limited in where we could place our tents.
Come the following morning the wedding venue was having the finishing touches completed and it looked really impressive. It was certainly a lavish affair and we felt bad having our tents and truck in the background, but we were assured that the bride and groom were actually quite happy with the new backdrop, according to a couple of the guests we spoke to. A local photographer and journalist even snapped off pictures of us and were keen to hear about our trip.
The wedding kicked off early with a 10 am ceremony and after watching from afar we left to try and find something to do and fill our time in Yaounde. We along with two others from our group trundled off to try and find the Six Nations in a sports bar. En route, we tried to withdraw cash from an ATM, which after one failed attempt, swallowed our card. Luckily the bank was open and after being told we would have to wait until Tuesday to retrieve our card (it was Saturday), we were sent off and told to return in two hours.
So, we then headed to a sports bar in search of the rugby. With Chris’ basic French we were able to get them to change the channel to rugby, however, that was French club rugby and after flicking through the channels it became apparent we weren’t going to be watching any six nations that day. One positive was the tap beer was icy, icy cold. After a refreshing pint we returned to the bank with very little hope of being reunited with our card. Needless to say, we were very pleased to see a man with our card when we arrived. After being informed that Mastercard was down with the bank, we went over to a different bank’s ATM to finally withdraw some cash.
Sunday morning was another day of killing time and frequenting the tasty bakery just down the hill, where we had indulged in numerous pastries and pizzas. In the afternoon we went to see some live Cameroonian football which Chris had discovered after chatting to one of the guests at the wedding the previous day. We saw Feutcheu v Colombe at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium for a Championnat du Cameroun de football (MTN Elite One) match. It turned out the game wasn’t actually being played in the large Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium we had initially assumed but was being played at the much smaller neighbouring stadium. Even so, it was still a great local experience which ended in a one-all draw, the equaliser being a stunning half-volley from the edge of the box – according to Chris.
When Monday finally came, we were desperate to leave Yaounde. After a rare late morning start, we headed on to Ebolowa, a town just before the border to Gabon. Being a reasonably populated area, there were no obvious areas to bush camp and as a result, we ended up camping in another police compound for the night. No dance lessons this time, but officers at the Ebolowa
Our Oasis Overland Expedition
We travelled with Oasis Overland on the 12 week Accra-Cape Town section of their 42 Week UK-Cairo Trans Africa expedition. Doing an Overland expedition was an epic way to travel through this big and beautiful continent. It took the hassle out of travelling independently through some of most remote parts of the world. Yet, it still provided the challenges and adventures that we as well-travelled backpackers wanted. From free-camping under the stars to sweltering in the dense jungles and driving for days along dusty desolate tracks to haggling in the busy and bustling markets, this expedition had it all. We really did get a little off track!