Crossing the border from Nigeria into Cameroon takes a while, but in the end we manage to get through without any problems. We found Nigeria rather crowded and somewhat aggressive at times, albeit verbally, not physically. Entering Cameroon is a true relief: the atmosphere is relaxed, people are cheerful, dancing and singing all the time. We’re welcomed by the checkpoint officers holding a beer or even a whisky-cola, asking if they can be our friend. They are keen on leaving with us on an adventure, but they absolutely need to be home on time tonight! J
Even more than the people, the absolutely stunning environment takes our breath away. Cameroon is green and has rainforest all over. There’s the amazingly beautiful beaches, there’s the tea-, rubber- and palm plantations and there’s a little refreshing rain every now and then. The cities seem less crowded compared to other African countries we passed through on this trip and that’s a good thing.
The Cameroonian kitchen is pretty much the same as the West African one and that is pretty monotonous. But at least there is some alternatives here: a cold burger by the side of the road tastes way better than the chewy grilled meat they sell all over the place. We stroll around on the market in Kumba, chat with the locals and joke around with some crazy wig seller. It doesn’t take long before we discover Cameroonians like to party… a lot! But luckily the hotel owner, a great guy who is more than happy to receive two bike travelers, gives us a room in a somewhat more quiet location.
We are heading to Buéa, where mount Cameroon, the highest mountain of the country, is waiting for us. The peak is about 4000 m high and it is surrounded by mysterious fog. As we enter the town, we arrange for a 3 day guided climb. A few days off the bike, being able to stretch our legs, will do us good. But the tour is far from cheap and we negotiate a better price. That is a price without the ‘porters’ who were supposed to take some of our luggage. If the lady behind the desk could climb the mountain – she must have weighed over 130 kgs for sure – we should definitely be able to climb it with a little extra luggage on the back, no? Well… that little luggage turns out to be a little more luggage in the end… It contains tent, matrasses, water and food for 3 days, cooking equipment and a whole lot more… The backpacks are pretty heavy, but we’re quite confident about the whole adventure and start our climb the very next morning together with our guide Robinson – what’s in a name?
But it doesn’t take long before we realize the whole climb is just too heavy: Toms foot fracture is only two months old and the salmonella infection, which costed both of us a few kilos of body weight, clearly had an impact on our physical abilities. All the weight of the backpack makes it all even worse. We regret to say but we can’t but to give up. After only 5 hours of hiking, we are back in the center of Buéa. Later on we learn that the secretary just plain lied to us about having climbed the mountain. We should have taken the porters after all. If only we had known…
The fresh air and the pristine environment has given us new energy for the weeks to come. A small tar road takes us along amazingly beautiful tea plantations to the coastal town of Limbé. Beaches are just amazingly beautiful here. Moreover they are pretty clean and it has been a while since we’ve last seen that. We meet Xaï again, a French overlander we saw in Morocco for the first time. The waypoint he gave us has proven to be the ideal spot to ride on the beach with that magnificent view over the ocean.
But we need to move on to Douala, the biggest city in Cameroon. We have a nearing deadline for articles and pictures and the English speaking provinces were cut off from the internet because of some political troubles between the French and the English speaking community. Our stay in Douala was far from a punishment to say the least. Traffic and smog are pretty bearable and the city seems to be a lively place with plenty of nice restaurants and cosy bars with nice terraces on every corner of the street.
After a three days stay, we trade the city life for the beautiful beaches of Kribi, the place to be for Cameroonians spending a spare weekend at the seaside. It takes a while but we manage to find a cheap place to stay with that superb view over the Atlantic Ocean, albeit without luxury nor running water. What else could we wish for here? We discover the lively nightlife together with Federico, an Italian guy we met earlier in Buéa. Beer is abundant and night clubs are crowded by crazy dancing Africans. A truly great atmosphere!