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A Gap Year in Cameroon

Why go backpacking in Cameroon?

Cameroon is widely known for its national football team, but there is much more to this West African country than the World Cup. Backpackers can hike up the volcanic Mount Cameroon, search for elephants in the savannahs, and relax on some of Africa’s most remarkable beaches.

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Things to Do

Spot animals at the Bénoué National Park, a designated Biosphere Reserve. Stretching over nearly 450,000 acres, the park is home to a range of diverse wildlife. There is a small population of endangered West African lions which can be spotted here, as well as elephants, warthogs, antelope and monkeys. Plunging in to rivers are crocodiles and magnificent colonies of hippos. No skinny dipping here!

For a different terrain, head to the Korup National Park which displays a large dense forest, and the chance to walk across a rickety bridge over a fast flowing river. You may need to take a spare pair of underwear. Thought to be one of the oldest rainforests in Africa, this National Park is home to an incredible number of animals, birds, insects, amphibians… basically any wild creature you can imagine.

Relaxing on the sands of the Plage de Grand Batanga beach is the perfect way to work some ‘me’ time into your trip. There isn’t much more to do here than doze in a hammock, go for a swim in the sea, and eat meals prepared by the locals. Bliss.

Things to See

Get an incredible view from the top of the Mount Cameroon volcano, which reaches just over 13,000 ft. You’ll need a guide to take you, some level of fitness, and plenty of food and water. Looming over the town of Bueau, Mount Cameroon, and hikers can choose to hike to the first ‘hut’, which have evolved into a hikers check point, or go further and use the other huts as a home for the night. To enjoy the full experience, scenery, and forests of the mountain, a time frame of two days up and two days down is recommended.

Take a boat to the Chutes de La Lobe, to see a rare sight  of waterfalls flowing into the sea. You can hike up the side of the falls, walk along the beach, or jump on a wooden canoe with the locals. People living in the area offer a boat tour to nearby pygmy villages; although the authenticity of these villages have become somewhat debatable, but it still makes for a fun trip. Fake village, or no fake village, you can spend your evenings eating barbecued shrimp, drinking a beer underneath, palm trees and listening to the waterfall as the sunsets into the sea.

To see some waterfalls on a greater scale, make your way to the Ekom-Kkam Waterfalls. Surrounded by rainforests, and a flowing of muddy brown water, the falls offer a pretty awesome view. Here you can hike from the bottom of the waterfalls to the top, although make sure to pack some spare clothes as you’re likely to get drenched.

Wandering around the architecturally-intriguing town of Foumban is a great way to see the influence of Cameroon’s heritage. The Palace of Sultan of Bamoun is a particularly awesome sight, with its orange exterior camouflaging into the muddy ground. What was once the capital city of The Baumon Dynasty in the 1300s – 1400s, has now become a busy town fileld with culture, history, colourful markets and art.

Health & Safety

Cameroon generally has low crime rate and is fairly safe. Unfortunately, due to unrest in Chad and Nigeria, which sit either side of Cameroon, travel to certain areas is no longer advised.

Travel Gov are currently advising against all travel to the north of Cameroon. This is mostly due to terrorism groups crossing the borders in this area. All travel within 40km of the Nigerian and Chad border is not recommended either. This is down to recent kidnappings in the area, threats from extreme terrorist groups, and military action.

Towards the south, the Bakassi Peninsula is off limits too due to tensions with Nigeria.

Poor medical facilities within Cameroon have led to a high level of diseases. It is extremely important to make sure you receive all your vaccinations before your visit and are covered by travel insurance.

There was a recent outbreak of cholera in Cameroon, so make sure to not drink the water and be aware of food that may be contaminated.

Make sure to keep up to date with any diseases which may have broken out in Cameroon before you leave. This can be done by looking online or contacting your GP. The most recent threat of disease is Ebola, which has already affected people in Cameroon’s neighbouring country, Nigeria.

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