I think it’s pretty obvious by now, if you read my travel blog, that I am rarely in the same opinion of the majority of travellers. In Cameroon, that has come up again. I was told by countless travellers on the road that I’d really enjoy Yaounde, and that the city has a really nice vibe to it. But to be honest, I thought it was a pretty mix of rich foreign expats and embassy workers, for the most part. That being said, that massive international community in Yaounde means that you can find things not otherwise found in Central Africa. I can see why certain people would enjoy Yaounde, but for me it doesn’t scream “Africa”. I guess, too, that when you’re stuck in a city for over a week waiting on visas from inept African embassies, it doesn’t make it better. I’d go back to Yaounde, I met some really interesting people there. However, I’m not in a rush to lead people here on a vacation.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: 40USD a day
Things to do in Yaounde
- Yaounde Zoo: I know that you’re probably cringing when you think of a zoo in Africa. However, the zoo in Yaounde is actually fairly good. Moreover, they work in conjunction with national parks to attempt to release lots of the animals, when possible.
- Mefou National Park: It’s a bit of a trek to get out to Mefou on public transport, but if you have a car, or can rent one, it’s well worth visiting this primate sanctuary. You’ll get a nice close-up look at Chimpanzees and Gorillas as well as a number of other primates.
- The National Museum: For me, it was a bit boring, but housed in the old presidential palace makes it worth a visit.
- Visa Hunting: If you’re like me, you’re probably spending all your time hunting for visas. Don’t bother with the Gabonese visa if you’re going overland. They’re so inept and rude at that embassy, it’s not worth it. You can get your visa for Gabon at the border without issue.
Where to Eat in Yaounde
I think what most people like most about Yaounde is the ability to get just about every type of food. With so many international embassies in the capital of Cameroon, there are restaurants from just about everywhere.
- Cafe Istanbul: If you go to the Turkish Airlines office, there is a cafe outside that serves proper Turkish food. It’s pretty legit, and very good. The don’t serve any alcohol though, so forget about ordering a beer.
- Cafe Wou: Great Chinese Food including a buffet on Sunday at lunchtime. The prices are really high, though. Expect a bill of about 10-15,000 CFA ($20-30USD)
- Salsa: This place is known for having the best pizzas in Yaounde.
- Maquis: There are lots of maquis and street stalls on the roundabouts. This is where you’ll get the real Cameroonian grub.
- Bakeries: You won’t spend more than 5 minutes walking in any direction before you find a bakery. There are lots of them, and most are really good.
Where to Stay in Yaounde
There isn’t terrible selection in Yaounde when it comes to accommodation. However, your options are a bit limited if you’re on a budget.
- Hotel Ideal: Just off the roundabout, this simple hotel is great for backpackers. Although it’s a bit dirty-ish, the service is great, the rooms are big, and you have a little balcony too. Rooms run for between 8,000CFA to about 15,000.
- Catholic Mission: Just up the hill from the roundabout and Hotel Ideal, the Catholic Mission is where most overlanders stay. However, when I went up there, the people were complaining about the manager being completely rude. It seemed like a nice quiet place to camp out though.
Getting out of Town
Yaounde is pretty well connected and is often regarded as the hub of Central Africa. You can get nearly anywhere in the region overland, and there are international flights to Europe and all over Africa as well.
- Air: If you’re landing at the airport, it’s a fair distance from the city. I think it’s best to just jump in a private taxi and spend the money and save the hassle. However, you can try to grab one of the local buses, but you’ll likely have to walk down to the highway. It’ll take you 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic to get into downtown. There are lots of international carriers travelling to Europe from Yaounde.
- Bus: There is lots of public transportation to Douala, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a ride. From there you can go onward to places like Limbe and Buea. In the other direction, there aren’t extremely frequent rides to Gabon. However, you can get to Ebolowa, and then find transport from there if you have to.
- Train: There is only a cargo train, as far as I know in Cameroon. If there is a train in operation still for passengers, I imagine it would be incredible slow.
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