Over the past few years, Yaoundé has transformed itself from a peaceful, sleepy colonial settlement to a friendly, lively city with a lot of sights and local markets.
Yaoundé, which is the capital of Cameroon, has a population of about 1 million. The city is situated in the hilly western part of Cameroon, about 160 kilometres from the Atlantic.
Essential sights include the “Centre Artisinal”, which is a covered marketplace where local artists sell their masterpieces, the Benedictine Monastery with the Museum of Cameroon Art and, in the west of Yaoundé, the Museum of Black Art.
To have a nice meal or paint the town red, you should visit the Messa, Mokola and Briqueterie districts in the north of the city.
SLEEP The three-star Hotel Mérina (Avenue El Ahmadou Ahidjo, BP 14304) has clean, basic rooms, an outdoor pool and a great cafe. It’s conveniently located in the city centre, near the main museums and the university.
EAT La Cigalons (Avenue Winston Churchill, Quartier Hippodrome) offers a rich and varied menu of modern French cruise, local dishes and pizzas from the wood-fired oven.
- Built atop Mont Febe, with sprawling views over Yaoundé, the Monastery of Our Lady of Mont-Febe (www.monasteremontfebe.org) is a beautiful Benedictine monastery. Inside, it’s home to the Museum of Cameroon Art and is packed with traditional artifacts, including masks, carvings and ancient artifacts. The monks are available to serve as guides.
- Just a 45-minute drive outside of Yaondé lies Mefou Primate Sanctuary (Mefou, www.apeactionafrica.org/get-involved/visit-mefou). Running under management of Ape Action Africa, this non-profit NGO is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of great apes across much of Cameroon. Guided tours are available and you can even adopt one of the apes you meet during your visit.
- Recently restored to its former glory, the National Museum of Yaoundé (Boulevard Rudolph Manga Bell) is located in the impressive former presidential palace. You’ll need time to peruse all the rooms, which are rich with treasures including traditional costumes, masks, musical instruments, and photographs. Keep an eye out for the regularly changing contemporary art exhibitions.
Yaoundé Nsimalen International Airport is 28km from the city centre. Taxis to the centre are around 5,000CFA/€8. Or ask your hotel about their shuttle service.