Cameroon has nicknames like “Africa in miniature” or “All-in-One Africa.” Apparently the country contains several of Africa’s major biomes: savanna and desert in the north, volcanoes and beaches in the southwest and an impressive swath of equatorial rainforest in the southeast. The guidebook boasts hundreds of tree species, birds of every colour and a long list of tropical diseases I would rather not think about (the author seems fixated on those). There are plenty of unexpected rarities, too. For example, Mount Cameroon – a beautiful, hike-able, active volcano – is home to the Gaboon viper, a snake with the longest fangs in the world (five centimeters!). Put it all together and you get an African sampler, and I have three weeks to explore it.
Next week, my friend Erin and I will jet off to meet Emily, who lives in the capital city of Yaounde. Together, we will explore a circuit up the centre of the country to the northern desert, down towards Mount Cameroon or the Korup rainforest and possibly to the beaches of Kribi on the south coast.
Erin is the master of packing light (luggage = a small carry-on daypack = nirvana), and I will try to learn from her example. With Emily in the lead my first trip to Africa will be anything but dull. I’m looking forward to being immersed in beautiful Cameroonian french while winter moves away from my homeland.