Must see attractions in Cameroon

  • Top ChoiceSights in Western Cameroon

    Palais Royal

    The must-see attraction is the sultan's palace, home to the 19th sultan of the Bamoun dynasty. It has a fascinating, well-organised museum providing great historical insight into the region. At the time of writing, the treasures were being transferred to a startling new building symbolically shaped as a serpent and a spider; the palace itself will remain open to visitors. Constructed in the early 20th century and modelled on German colonial architecture, the palace was built by the remarkable Sultan Njoya, who invented a corn-grinding machine, a script for the Bamun language, and a religion which fused Christianity and Islam. He had 681 wives, which made him well qualified to write his own version of the Kama Sutra (look out for it in the museum shop). Museum artefacts include a ancient feathered cloak worn only for the initiation of each sultan, beaded buffalo masks sported by members of secret societies, documents written using Sultan Njoya's script and a drinking horn made from the skull of one of his enemies. The palace sits opposite the market and main mosque, the minaret of which can be climbed as part of the palace tour. Palace entrance includes a visit to a nearby ceremonial drum housed in a bamboo hut: it’s a huge creation topped with animal hides and carved with a double-headed serpent.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Western Cameroon

    Chefferie

    Approached via a ceremonial gate, the compound is centred on a hugely impressive bamboo building, its conical thatched roof supported by wooden pillars carved with figures from secret societies, former chiefs, dancers, musicians and even the World Cup–winning Cameroon football team. The interior is out of bounds, but the visitor centre to the left offers an informative tour. Reconstructed in 2015 following a fire, the chefferie clearly illustrates that traditional culture is alive in the area; the small huts to either side of the avenue house the chief's fifty wives and their children. The modern palace is to the right, adjoining a good museum on the history of metal working and sacred life in Bandjoun. Take a motorbike taxi from town to get here (around CFA500, 15 min).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yaoundé

    Musée de la Blackitude

    If time is short, give the overpriced National Museum a miss, and take a passionately well-informed tour (French only) of this private collection. It’s a homage to Cameroon’s tribal heritage, in particular the Grasslands region, with a reconstructed royal chamber and fascinating sacred, musical and functional objects. It's tucked behind the stadium seats on Blvd du 20 Mai.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Yaoundé

    Mefou National Park

    A 45-minute drive south of Yaoundé, Mefou is run by Ape Action Africa, an organisation established to protect primates in Cameroon. Well-informed guides will show you gorillas, drills, chimps and mandrills living in beautiful natural surrounds, all rescued from the bushmeat trade. A taxi to the park from Yaoundé costs around CFA50,000; call ahead if it's rainy to check if the park's open.

  • Sights in Western Cameroon

    Limbe Wildlife Centre

    Many zoos in Africa are depressing places, but the Limbe Wildlife Centre is a shining exception. It houses rescued chimpanzees, gorillas, drills and other primates in large enclosures, with lots of interesting information about local conservation issues. Staff are well informed, and are heavily involved in community education.

  • Sights in Western Cameroon

    Botanical Gardens

    Limbe's Botanical Gardens, the second oldest in Africa, are the home of, among others, cinnamon, nutmeg, mango, ancient cycads and an unnamed tree that locals describe as 'African Viagra'. There's a small visitors centre and an area with Commonwealth War Graves. Guides aren't required but are recommended as labelling is minimal. Bring bug repellant.

  • Sights in Southern Cameroon

    Parc National de Campo-Ma'an

    Campo-Ma'an comprises 7700 sq km of protected biodiverse rainforest, sheltering many wonderful plants and animals, including buffaloes, forest elephants, leopards, gorillas and mandrills. The park is being developed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as an ecotourism destination, with canopy walks and river trips available. Because of the difficulty of spotting shy forest animals it's much better to visit with a guide. Pay your park fee and book a guide at the park HQ in Campo, and aim to get to the park as early as possible.

  • Sights in Southern Cameroon

    Chutes de la Lobé

    The Chutes de la Lobé are an impressive set of waterfalls that empty directly into the sea – it's a beautiful sight. Take a moto-taxi (CFA500), or make a trip with Urbain Mandoua, who can arrange a lunch of sole, shrimps and plantains on the beach. The beach itself is idyllic, with log seats and hammocks under the trees.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Nôtre Dame Cathedral

    The honking of Yaoundé's traffic merges with the sound of prayer and song at Nôtre Dame Cathedral. It's a bold triangular building, consecrated in 1955, with a stunning Afrocentric mosaic above the altar.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Musée National

    Located in a grand white 1930s villa – a former presidential palace – the museum provides a thorough, if overpriced, trip through Cameroon's history. Guides in each room are eager to show you every artefact, the most interesting of which are the tribal objects from around the country, including garments and drums.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Marché Central

    The market is housed in a dramatic brutalist building in central Yaoundé, with towering floors of fabric and garment sellers and a bank of tailors. It can feel overwhelming, but select some fabric, get measured up and you can have a made-to-measure outfit within two hours. Factor in longer for embroidery.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Place de l'Indépendance

    A dramatic expression of independent Cameroon, this huge square is fronted by Yaoundé's Hôtel de Ville (town hall) and edged by flower beds and proudly African statues. The building of Afriland First Bank is a highlight of the square.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Musée d'Art Camerounais

    At the Benedictine monastery on Mt Fébé, north of Yaoundé's city centre, the Musée d'Art Camerounais has three exhibition rooms with an impressive collection of masks, bronze- and woodwork and other examples of Cameroonian art. The chapel is also worth a look.

  • Sights in Yaoundé

    Afriland First Bank

    Africa First Bank is a highlight of Yaoundé's Place de l'Indépendance, with its colourful mosaics depicting tribal figures and Egyptian scenes, and a metal gate with a mask motif. It also has an ATM.