Join us in Bamenda
The Northwest Region is the third most populated province in Cameroon. It has one major metropolitan city, Bamenda, and several smaller towns such as Wum, Kumbo, Mbengwi, Ndop, Nkambé, Batibo, Bambui and Oshie. Volunteers are based in Bamenda and commute to nearby towns and villages as needed.
Bamenda, also known as Abakwa and Mankon Town, is the capital of the North West Region. It is an amalgamation of seven villages – Mankon, Mendakwe, Nkwen, Chomba, Mbatu, Nsongwa and Santa. As a regional centre, the city has numerous markets, banks, and offices.
The Bamenda area is placed under the supervision of a government delegate to the City Council who is appointed by the head of state. Each of the seven villages in the Bamenda municipality recognize a chief as its head, also called the Fon. The Fons, who in their tribal area may be more influential than the official administrative authorities, are considered the living representative of the tribal ancestors.
Where do volunteers live?
You may need to pay for your own accommodation. There are several possible types of living arrangements you can select from, depending on the duration of your stay and associated cost. These are:
- Hotel room: There are a vast number of hotels available within the Bamenda municipality from prices per day ranging from about 5000 CFA – 20,000 CFA (less than $10 to more than $30). Longer stay periods can be negotiated with management.
- Room Rentals: Varying kinds of rental property is available, such as, single rooms with toilet and kitchen, studios, rooms with toilet, rooms with external toilets etc. for as low as 5000FRS per month to 40,000FRS per month.
- Home stay: One of our staff or members may be able to accommodate you in their home, for a variable fee.
DO NOT send any money prior to your arrival. Once you arrive, you can pay for your accommodation and services such as cooking and housekeeping. For safety purposes, CAMAAY will NEVER require you to pay any money before your arrival in Cameroon.
How do I get to Bamenda?
You will arrive at the Douala International Airport. A CAMAAY staff member will receive you at the airport and travel with you to Bamenda. (It is at 6-7 hours bus ride to Bamenda from Douala)
What is the culture like?
The official languages spoken in Bamenda are English and French. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the main language spoken in the shops and on the streets of Bamenda. A variety of different dialects and tribal languages are also spoken alongside English, French and Pidgin. Spanish and German are spoken by a few city-dwellers.
What will I eat?
The Cameroon diet is largely plant-based. Food crops include rice, potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, spices and beans. Maize, plantains, cocoyams, cassava and yams are also produced, and many of these are food staples in the region. Cocoyams are used for making Achu, a staple for the Ngemba people and a widely consumed delicacy. Many groundnuts are produced in the Northwest, mostly from Esimbi.
As a provincial centre Bamenda has many markets, shops and supermarkets, Including the Bamenda Main Market, which operate on a daily basis.
How will I get around?
The city of Bamenda has road links to Yaoundé and Douala. Most of the main roads and a few street roads are tarred, but most of the streets in the quarters are untarred. To the north of the city is the Bamenda Ring Road, a 367 km (228 mi) circular route through some of Cameroon’s most spectacular mountains. Along this road is Mount Oku (3,000 m/9,800 ft), the Kimbi River Game Reserve, the Menchum River waterfalls, a huge chief’s palace at Bafut, and a pyramidal thatched shrine at Akum (also known as Bagangu).
The city operates a taxi system, with taxi fares from as low as 100 FCFA to 500 FCFA, depending on the distance. There are also motorbikes for transportation into the untarred streets and anywhere in the city. Buses are available for long distance travelsto some of the capital towns such as Douala, Yaounde, Limbe, Buea, Bafoussam; fares range from 4000 CFA to 7000 CFA
How can I communicate with home?
-Telephone: The city has four (4) mobile telephone networks, operating with CDMA, 2G, and 3G networks with local calls at a rate of 1frs/S and International calls rates between 100 frs/M – 300frs/M depending on the country.
-Internet: The city has several Cybercafés which operates a WIFI network. The Telephone companies also sell Mobile internet packages and Internet Moderns for easy access to internet “everywhere you go” on your private laptop or your mobile device. Rates are from 250 FRS -350FRS per hour in Cybercafés and 250 FRS for 100MB with the mobile network providers. Mobile network providers are:-
- MTN Cameroon http://www.mtncameroon.net/HOME
- ORANGE Cameroun http://www.orange.cm/en/
- Nexttel http://www.nexttel.cm/ and
- Camtel http://www.camtel.cm/en.html
-Mail: There are several post offices in Bamenda, including DHL and other mailing services. The post office is relatively cheap and takes about 3-4 weeks to deliver a package and the cost depends on the weight of your parcel or mail and its destination while mail services like DHL are fast but expensive as compared to the post office.
How can I access my money?
As a provincial centre the city has numerous banks, most of which now operate an ATM machine that accepts VISA and MASTERCARD. VISA cards are the most popular and widely accepted cards in Cameroon.
Check out this site to see a lists of available banks http://www.cameroon-today.com/bank-cameroon.html
What is the weather like?
In Bamenda, there are two seasons, rainy and dry. The rainy season in Bamenda lasts from about April until October with the most rain in July and August. During the rainy season, temperatures are cooler during the day and colder at night than in the dry seasons. The dry season last from about November until March. The dry season is hot during the day and cool at night. It is never exceptionally hot or cold around Bamenda.
What should I see when visit?
Bamenda has unique attractions, including the second highest mountain in West Africa. It is home to many rare birds such as the distinctive red crested Bannerman’s turaco, which is unique to this region. There are also many crater lakes such as Lake Oku, Lake Awing, and Lake Nyos. The largest remaining mountain forest in the Northwest Region is the Kilum-Ijim Forest. Menchum Falls, and Abbi Falls in the Mbengwi Division, are also located here.
For a detail lists of tourist sites in the Northwest, visit http://www.cameroontourist.com/
Is it safe?
Cameroon has been politically stable for many years. Some towns in the far Northern part of Cameroon have been dangerous due to the Boko Haram insurgents, but there has been no case of such activity in the North West region.
There are police stations, gendarmerie, customs police, ‘routiers’, B.I.R etc. within the Bamenda municipality as well as patrol cars, all to ensure the safety and well-being of the inhabitants.
What vaccinations and medications do I need?
Currently, the government requires a yellow fever vaccination to enter the country. Hepatitis vaccine is advised. While malaria is a problem in some parts of Cameroon, it is not as much of a problem in the North West Region. However, It is advisable to consult your doctor and travel guides for advice regarding malaria medication and other health precautions, especially if you plan to travel in other parts of Cameroon.
What should I bring?
- Warm clothes for evenings and rainy season
- Cool clothes for the day and dry season
- Clothes for work (business-casual) and other activities (e.g. Hiking)
- Good walking shoes
- Any medicine you might need
- Sunscreen and bug repellant
- Any old electronics that might be useful to CAMAAY or as gifts: phones, cameras, routers, tablets, etc.
I have other questions.
For all other enquiries, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about travelling in Africa on the Africa Guide, a complete and comprehensive guide to every country in Africa with essential travel information and hundreds of tours and safaris, hotels and car hire throughout the continent: http://www.africaguide.com