I thought it would be important for me to post some relevant information on how you, or anyone, can visit me, or anyone else, in Africa, namely Cameroon.
Visiting Cameroon: Letter to Family and Friends
The following points of information and advice have been compiled from various sources (previous visitors, former Volunteers, staff, etc.) for people planning to visit Peace Corps Volunteers in Cameroon. Visitors and Volunteers have learned that advance planning, communication between the volunteer and visitor, and flexibility are very important aspects of a successful and satisfying trip. We hope that the suggestions and information below will be helpful. You may also wish to consult various travel books such as the Lonely Planet's Africa on a Shoestring and West Africa on a Shoestring or the Rough guide.
Remember: Visitors are not permitted during a Volunteer's pre-service training or during the first three months at post. The best time for visits are after a Volunteer has spent at least six months at post.
- Flight Check-in
- Arrival in Douala / Yaounde
Start planning at least six months before departure since several things have to be done sequentially which can add up to several weeks/months. Keep in mind that communication takes a long time, so arranging the logistics through the mail will require a lot of lead-time. Make sure that the timing of your visit is convenient for the Volunteer you are visiting. A Volunteer's primary obligation is to his/her assignment, so be sure that your visit will not disrupt any work plans. We recommend visits at some point during the second year.
If you do not already have a passport, obtain a passport application and application instructions from a post office or your travel agent. To apply for a passport, you will need the completed application with two passport photos (with your signature on the back of each photo) and the application fee.
To apply for a visa to Cameroon, obtain two application forms from the Cameroonian embassy, 2349 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 or over the Net; the phone number at the embassy is (202) 265-8790 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 265-8790 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. After completing the applications, send them to the embassy with your passport, two passport photos, W.H.O. records showing the required yellow fever shot (see below), the application fee, and a copy of either your tickets or your detailed flight itinerary, and a bank statement. You may also need to submit a letter of invitation from your Volunteer family member. Peace Corps Cameroon will also provide you with a letter supporting your visa application if your volunteer provides the offices with the details of your visit. You will be issued a single entry visa only, unless you specifically request multiple entry. You must have multiple entry if you plan to leave the country and return during the period of the visa's validity. Be sure to call the Embassy and verify with them that procedures have not changed.
It is our understanding that the Embassy will not return your passport to you unless you send a pre-paid express mail envelope. If you are in the D.C. area, you can pick it up at the embassy.
Separate visas are required for almost all African countries you may plan to visit, except for intermediate stops where you will not go outside the terminal while en route to or from Cameroon. Each embassy requires that you send your passport with the visa application, so you can only apply for one visa at a time.
You can consolidate and expedite your passport and visa applications if necessary by going through a private company that handles it for you for an additional fee of approximately $30 per visa or passport. (Ask a travel agent for details).
A yellow fever vaccination is required. This immunization must be logged in a World Health Organization (W. H. O.) International Certificate of Vaccination. For more information on what additional vaccines, antimalarials or medications are required or recommended, contact your local health board or the Division of Immunization at the Centers for Disease in Atlanta, Georgia, (404) 639-1870 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (404) 639-1870 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/cafrica.html
You should also plan to take anti-malarial prophylactic drugs prior to departure from USA and during your stay in Cameroon. Contact the Malaria Hotline at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, (404)639-1610 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (404)639-1610 end_of_the_skype_highlighting for information on what drug(s) to take and where you can get them.
While in Cameroon, precautions must be taken with food preparation and water treatment. Drink only bottled water in sealed bottles or water that has been filtered and chlorinated or boiled. Vegetables must also be soaked in chlorine if they are not being cooked or peeled.
There are health risks, and the medical facilities in Cameroon are not comparable to facilities in the United States. Peace Corps medical Staff cannot provide care for family members or friends who require medical attention while in Cameroon. We strongly suggest that you consider extra insurance with emergency evacuation coverage from a company such as International SOS Assistance, Inc. (P.O. Box 11568, Philadelphia, PA 19116, 1-800-523-8930 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-523-8930 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or 215-244-1500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 215-244-1500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting in PA).
The currency used in Cameroon is called franc CFA. The franc CFA is fixed to the Euro (656 CFA = 1 Euro; 1 USD is about 400 CFA.) Travelers' checks are safe, but incur exceedingly high commission rates and other charges (up to 25%). Travelers' checks in dollars have also become increasingly difficult to change. You may want to take at least some travelers checks in Euros, since switching dollars to CFA in Yaoundé is usually more expensive than switching dollars to Euros in U.S. and then Euros to CFA in Yaoundé. Some of the big (and expensive) hotels in Yaoundé will accept an American Express or Visa credit card (caution advised). ATMs on the "Plus" system are increasingly available around the country. The best person to answer questions about money (and how much to take) is the Volunteer whom you are planning to visit.
Have all your suitcases locked. On most airlines, you are allowed 2 pieces of baggage (not to exceed 50 lbs. each) per passenger for trips from the United States to Europe, but only 20 kg (44 lbs.) total for intra-European or African flights. Therefore, you may be charged an excess baggage fee for anything over 44 lbs. from Europe to Africa unless you check your baggage through to Africa directly from the U.S. (If you check baggage all the way through, be sure the baggage ticket has all appropriate code letters for the trip; the code for the airport in Douala is DLA, the Yaoundé airport is NSI, and the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is CDG). Consult your airline or travel agent for further information.
If you fly through Paris, arrive at the check-in counter for the flight to Douala or Yaoundé two hours before take off. They start checking passengers in then and you cannot get a seat assignment until this check-in. The check-in process goes very slowly, so plan to stand in line a long time. They will not allow large carry-on bags.
Arrival in Douala / Yaounde:
You must have both your passport and W.H.O. card for immigration when arriving at the airports in Cameroon. French and some English are spoken at the airport, but it would be best to ask the Volunteer you are visiting to have someone meet you at the airport. You will have to open all bags for inspection. Try to keep all your bags in sight once they come into the baggage area. There will be men vying to carry your bags for payment. Carry your bags yourself if you can. If not, negotiate a price with one person before allowing anyone to take your bags (about 1$ per bag.) If no one is going to meet you at the airport, get instructions ahead of time from the Volunteer on how to take a taxi to your next destination.
Your best source of information about where to stay is the Volunteer whom you are planning to visit. The Yaoundé Hilton presently has a special rate for families and friends of Peace Corps and is recommended by Peace Corps staff, and the Akwa Palace Hotel in Douala gives a Peace Corps discount as does the Parfait Garden.
Picture taking is fine, in general, but you should always ask permission before taking anyone's photograph. Photos are never allowed at the airport or any military installation, so please keep your camera concealed when near these locations.
During the course of your stay in Cameroon, you will have to show your passport to the police several times, so you must carry it with you in a safe place at all times. It is sometimes convenient to have a certified photocopy of your passport to present to officials. Your volunteer will know how to do this.
Presently, you must pay a departure tax of 10,000 CFA at the Douala or Yaoundé airport before boarding. Check ahead of time, as this tax needs to be paid in local currency, and most likely you would need the exact amount.
Visiting Cameroon: Airlines and Travel Agencies
Following is a list of airline companies that have service to and from Cameroon, train companies operating in Cameroon for in-country travel, and recommended travel agencies for booking assistance. The country code for calling Cameroon is +237.
- Air France Douala 33-42-15-55 / 33-42-80-20 / 33-42-21-26
- Air France Reservation 33-01-12-79 / 33-01-12-75
- Air France Yaounde 22-21-35-18 / 22-21-35-19
- Air France Fret 22-22-93-28
- Air Gabon Douala 33-42-49-43
- Air Maroc Douala 33-42-38-24 FAX / 33-42-53-00
- Virgin Nigeria 33-42-76-28 / 75-29-22-24
- Air Ivoire Douala 33-42-06-95
- Cameroon Airlines YDE 22-23-32-63 / 22-23-40-01 / 22-22-80-96
- Cameroon Airlines Douala 33-42-25-25 / 33-42-44-15 / 33-42-49-49 / 33-42-32-22
- Ethiopian Airlines Douala 33-43-02-46 / 99-56-26-73 / (BOSS) 99-79-42-29
- Globe Air Yaounde 22-21-39-93 / 22-21-39-94 / 22-21-39-95
- Kenya Airways Yaounde 22-22-82-41 / 77-73-04-54
- Kenya Airways Douala 33-43-94-96 / 33-43-94-98 / 99-68-25-64
- SN Brussels Yaounde 22-23-47-29 / 22-23-47-35 / FAX: 22-23-47-40
- SN Brussels Douala 33-42-05-15 / 33-42-72-03 / FAX: 33-42-60-74
- Swiss International Yaounde 22-23-94-52 / 22-22-97-37 / 99-50-48-61
- Swiss International Douala 3-42-29-29 / 33-42-29-88
- Toumai Air Chad Douala 75-22-60-03 / 94-12-30-19 / 33-43-01-22
- Toumai Air Chad Yaounde 22-03-56-67 / 74-88-81-53 / 94-12-30-19
- Trans Air Congo Douala 99-17-07-91
- Nsimalen Airport Yaounde 22-23-36-02 / 22-23-06-11
- NACAM, P.O. Box 12289 DLA 33-43-92-67 / 33-43-92-57; email@example.com
- NACAM Yaounde 22-22-87-19 / 20-33-03-33 / 20-33-03-98
- NACAM Ngaoundere 33-03-32-09
- NACAM Garoua 33-03-32-10
- NACAM Maroua 33-03-32-08
- Elysian Airlines Yaounde 22-03-89-71 / 33-03-46-47
- Elysian Airlines Garoua 22-15-67-87 / 22-15-51-31
- Elysian Airlines FAX 33-01-43-20
- Afriqiyah 22-21-39-95 / 22-22-66-10
- Afriqiyah FAX 22-23-53-35 / 22-21-39-94
- Cam Rail Yaounde22-22-81-06 / 22-22-81-07
- Cam Rail Douala33-40-60-45 / 33-40-49-40
- Cam Rail Ngaoundere22-25-10-98 / 22-25-12-30 / 22-25-12-71
- T. K. VOYAGES SARL
Address: B. P. 639 Yaounde, Cameroon
Location: opposite AES SONEL NLONGKAK
Phone: 22 21 51 24
FAX: 22 21 56 23
Contact: AGNES, 77 76 23 03, firstname.lastname@example.org
- SATGURU TRAVEL & TOURS SERVICES, YAOUNDE
Address: B. P. 1750 Yaounde, Cameroon
Location: Immeuble la Marseille Plus Capitol
Phone: 22-22-14-24 / 75-27-95-95 / 22-22-14-18 (direct line Chief of Station)
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Mr. Andy and Mr. George
- SATGURU TRAVEL AND TOURS SERVICES, DOUALA
Address: B.P. 13256 Douala, Cameroon
Location: opposite AES SONEL NLONGKAK
Phone: 33-43-61-18 / 33-43/61-19 / 99-27-41-42 / 94-61-63-63
Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Mr. Jakey Punjabi and Om Asnani
- AIGLE VOYAGES, YAOUNDE / CARLSON WAGON LIT TRAVEL
Address: P.O. BOX 16375 Yaounde, Cameroon
Location: Avenue Valery Giscard d'Estaign, Opposite Boulangerie Calafatas
Phone: 22-23-33-79 / 22-22-17-31
Cell Phone: 99-95-11-05
Website: www.aigle-voyages.com Contact: Herve Dimou (77-59-70-49), Sylvie NdongoTel (96-22-76-52)
- AIGLE VOYAGES, DOUALA
Address: P.O. BOX 5336, Douala, Cameroon
Location: 550 Rue des Ecoles
Phone: 33-43-11-83 / 33-43-97-08
Website: www.aigle-voyages.com Contact: Mme Sangang Bernadette, 22-03-05-95, email@example.com
- ELTA HRG (EXECUTIVE AND LEISURE TRAVEL AGENCY) CAMEROON SARL / HOGG ROBINSON GROUP (HRG)
Address: B.P. 6561, Yaounde, Cameroon
Location: Carrefour Warda Immeuble Hajal Center, Door No. 110
Phone: 22-23-27-70 / 22-23-88-73
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Address: B.P. 4911, Douala, Cameroon
Location: 86 Boulevard de la Liberte, Immeuble Socar, Entrance B
Phone: 33-42-21-09 / 33-43-23-85
Contact: MR. LITOMBO, 77-70-68-41
Visiting Cameroon: Regions of Cameroon
Following is a list of places to visit in each of the 10 regions of Cameroon.
- Southwest Region
- Northwest Region
- West Region
- Littoral Region
- Center Region
- South Region
- East Region
- Adamaoua Region
- North Region
- Extreme North Region
Limbe City, The Port of Idenau, Botanical Garden, Rescue Centre (Zoo), the Solidified, Lava of March 1999 Mount Cameroon Volcanic Erruption, Debunsha Beach, Bimbia, The Slave Route and the earlest Missionaries in Cameroon, Alfred Saker Camp (Church and School), Buea , Mount Cameroon Ring Road, Trekking in Mount Cameroon, Von Putkammer's, Residence, suspended bridge in Konye.
Bamenda city: Bafut Kingdom, Mankon Museum, the Bamenda Fort, Excursion on the ring road, Awing village and lake, Sabga and its mountanous landscape.
Excursion Chiefdom route (Bana, Bafang, Banka, Bachingou...) Bandjoun Chiefdon and its museum, Baham Chiefdom and museum, Mouakeu waterfalls in Bafang, Metchie waterfalls in Bafoussam, Lake Baleng, Bameka Chiefdom and mountain, White queen in Bagante, Foumban Palace and museum, Petpenoun lake, Mount Bamboutos, Ecotourism village Tockem, Mami Water falls, Climatic Center, Traditional dances (Nguoun Feast of Ramadam, Festival Medumba, Nekang, Menoua art....)
Ekom Nkam falls, Douala town (monuments, colonial building, chiefdom), Edea town, Dizangue, Manoka Island, Souelaba Island, visit Abo villages, Visit Melong town, trekkings in Mount Manengouva to visit the twin lakes.
Yaounde town (Monument, Administrative services, Zoo, Garden and Park), Mount Febe, Mbalmayo and its environs, Akono seminary, Mefou National Park, Art and Craft production centre, the Mvili bridge, the Mbalmayo ring road, Ebogo, Ecotourism centre, excursion and discovering big Mbam, Natchigal falls, Visit colonial vestiges in Bafia, Akonolinga and environs.
Meyomessala town, Rock farm, Mvokmeka (President Village), Ndonkol with agricultural town, the Mezesse rock, Lake Dissono in Sangmelima, Sangmelima town, Djoum village, the Mengame Gorilla Sanctuary, Ebolowa town, Municipal Lake, Visit Kye Ossi market, visit Ambam town, frontier town and crossroad to 3 countries, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon. Kribi, Lobe waterfalls, Pigmies camp, museum of Luma, Beaches and Port.
Bertoua town, Dja biosphere reserve, discovering Lomie town, Lobeke National Park.
Forragain lake, Gaoundaba ranch, meet the indigens of Dibi, Stay with the pigmies at Mayos, Visit Lamidat, Natchigal falls, Crater Lake at Tyson, Tello falls.
Benoue National Park, Crocodile ponds in the river Benouepoli town, Mount Atlantika, Differents markets (Ngong figuil, Guider, Rey Bouba, Pitoa), Faro National Park, Bouba Njinda National Park.
Extreme North Region
Maroua town, Handicraft market, Ngaoundere lake, Waza National Park, Tracks of dinosaurs at Bidzer, The Superimposed stones at Moutourwoua, Goulfey museum, Sultanate of Kousseri with the Kotoko and Sao Museum, the Fort foureau monument, Lake Chad, Tourou market, Kapsiti village and Rhumsiki village.
So...I know that was a mouth-full of information, I have yet to read it all yet :(
But I do look forward to many of you coming to visit me over the next few years.