Cameroon in A Week

Black-sand beaches and a high volcano are the keynotes here – you can get a good taste of Cameroon's wild side in just a week and stretch yourself by climbing West Africa's highest mountain. Bookend your trip with a taste of the country's two major cities.

Get used to the sultry tropical climate with a night in Douala, a scruffy, friendly city with some decent hotels where you can chill out by the pool. Then head to Limbe for a night or two by the sea – the town has gorgeous nearby beaches, a thick tangle of a botanical garden, a project where you can see rescued primates and an irrepressible nightlife scene. Continue on to student town Buea to climb Mt Cameroon – a testing and beautiful three-day hike. Reward yourself afterwards with a meal at Iya, the country's best restaurant. Make your way back to Douala, or head further east to leave from capital Yaoundé, where you can sample some museums and check out the striking architecture.

Cameroon in Two Weeks

The richest area of Cameroon culturally is the northwest highlands, also known as the grasslands. Here you'll see some of the country's fabled crafts: feathery headgear, beaded thrones and staffs and striking woodcarvings. The northwest makes for great if rugged travel, especially the famous Ring Road circuit.

It's great to really take your time to explore the area – top off en route at the amazing Chefferie (chief's palace) at Bandjoun, where the chief and his fifty wives live in an ancestral compound. Make your next stop the mainly Islamic town of Foumban, where you can visit the sultan's palace and visit brass casters, leatherworkers and carvers at work. Then head to Bamenda, the jumping off point for the rough and ready Ring Road. Take advice about the roads – if they are in a bad state you can do a shorter version of the circuit. Just don't miss the astonishing ancient Fon's Palace. Heading south, either stop off to climb Mt Cameroon, or enjoy some seaside time at peaceful Kribi, before finishing your trip at Douala or Yaoundé.