Sometimes described as ‘Africa in miniature’, Cameroon is a country of great beauty and diversity. It contains 200 or more ethnic groups and may have been the starting point of the migrations of Bantu-speaking peoples towards the south. The scenery is seldom dull. In the south you will find unspoiled tropical beaches at Kribi and Limbé on the Atlantic shore; Mount Cameroon, the highest peak in West Africa and mainland Africa’s only active volcano; hills covered by lush forest; the rolling hills of the ‘grassfields’ in the northwest; and plantations of coffee, tea and oil palms. In the north you come to dry savannah country and rocky mountains inhabited by people whose traditional beliefs have resisted the advance of Islam and Christianity.

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There are plenty of things for the visitor to enjoy: a number of national parks, including Lobeke, where lowland gorillas are to be found; the historic town of Foumban, setting of Gerald Durrell’s book The Bafut Beagles, where you can visit the Fon’s palace and museum; and the amazing traditional mountain village of Rhumsiki in the north. The capital, Yaoundé, is a pleasant city. Douala, the commercial capital, is very hot and humid, with the highest rainfall in Africa. Colonized by the Germans, the coun- try was divided between the French and British after World War I and both are now official languages, with Pidgin English as a vernacular in the south. It is strange that such an attractive country with such friendly people has attracted few tourists. Those who do get there do not regret it. [/wptab]

Ethical Travel Issues and advice

gail (1)Ethical Photography: Travelling presents an opportunity to photograph in lots of different destinations and situations, but sometimes there may be culturally sensitive issues to think about before reaching for the camera or other photo-taking device. There are lots of people in the world who do not have clean water, electricity, schooling or enough to eat, let alone access to mobile telephones, the internet and printed media, so they have no idea where their photograph may end up or how it could be used. Sadly, in this day and age, child prostitution, child trafficking and other crimes against children are facilitated via the Internet, and photography can play an unwitting and innocent role. Photography and its use is no longer straight forward, so perhaps it is time to stop and think a little about the ethics of photography.

Taking photos of friendly local people is a highlight for many travellers and photographers. Smiles are universal ways to engage, as is showing people the photo you just took of them. If you show an interest in their work or ask them questions, they’ll be happy to have their picture taken. In some touristy places it has become common for people to ask for money for their photos to be taken. Do as you wish, but a photo of someone you shared a laugh with may have a better lasting impression than one you paid for. Don’t forget the same holds true for any porters and guides that may help you along the way. Take an interest in them and you’ll be rewarded with more great photo opportunities. 

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