By way of the connections of our tour operator, we managed to obtain a visa for Cameroon - although officially the border was closed for tourists - Covid19 safety measure.
We did a pilot tour, to a region where tourists never had been before, the Nki national park, straddling the border between Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.
Not only to reach the Nki national park posed a certain challenge - we had to rely on a boat going upriver for some 160km starting from Mouloundou (where in our view the world ends, but enjoying a good hotel over there))- but on its way to the falls there was no infrastructure in terms of overnight accommodation or restaurants - at least in the way the „standard tourist“ would expect. No, we had to be self reliant, bringing our own tents and food, to make it to the Nki falls, which took us around 4 days for this return trip.
Luckily, the rain while on the boat did not last too long, and once when we found shelter in some buildings originally set by by the WWF - in the only settlement along our journey - we could escape the heavy rain with a water proof roof over us.
4 days nothing but primary rain forest, still, untouched, to both our left and right.
We hoped to see some wild life, in particular forest elephants in some clearances of the jungle, but unfortunately the only animals we came in close contact with when hiking to the clearance were ants. Which left their traces on our legs.
All the time our group was accompanied by one ranger and 2 soldiers, which we had to accept (and pay). Their job was to protect us against poachers, because poaching forest elephants was a kind of „business“ in this area.
While our Nki falls adventure did not reward us with any mentionable wildlife, finally we were rewarded with Chimps living on an island sanctuary near Marienberg, yes, Marienberg. The first settlement with a church, erected by the Germans, some 130 years ago (until they were expelled by the French in the First World War). All the Chimps are orphans, their parents being killed by poachers, and having never learned how to survive in a jungle, they are regularly fed with bananas. We could participate at such a feeding session.
While this excursion to the chimpanzees can be considered as a „normal“ tourist attraction, with no particular physical challenge involved, our true test of both physical and mental health was yet to come. This is when we approached the third national park, close to the border of Equatorial Guinea, the Campo Ma’An National park.
It was said that Gorillas can be seen, partially habituated to humans, but never before visited by tourists. We got a special permit by the Ministry of Tourism, as the first visitors, to see how this pilot visit would be useful for future tourists. Well, this was a really hard journey. First, we got stuck with our Jeeps. Fallen trees were blocking the trail, and the 2 rangers, which we had to hire and which worked for us as trailblazers, had to cut our trail free of any blocking trees, until, already in full darkness, we could proceed.
The rangers promised us a shelter at the other side, where to pass the night. And indeed, a shelter it was, originally intended as a lodge for tourists, but now run down, and being used as the home for some park rangers.
Finally, the trail ended at that bridge that was no longer passable by cars. With holes here and there, we had to pass this bridge in full darkness. Which was nothing for the faint hearted. But not crossing was no option. A test of courage, and darkness prevented us to look into the abyss.
We were allowed to erect our tents, under the roof, outside of the building, and after this journey, exhausted as we were, we were all happy that we had a kind of „reasonable“ accommodation, protected from rain, which we expected in the night (and the rain came). We were advised to wake up at 5 am, leaving the camp at 5.30 am, walking through the night, with rangers as guide, to find the gorillas. Gisela was too exhausted to continue early next morning, and I preferred the stay with her until the group would return (jokingly telling myself that when we really want to see gorillas we also can visit our zoo…). So we continued sleeping when the group left. And it started to rain. Gisela and me congratulated ourselves not to have joined to group, which returned, much later than scheduled, fully exhausted and soaking wet, as well as disappointed, because the gorillas did not show up. But they were there, only a few meters away from the group in the jungle, which however was so tight that you could not see anything, but only hear some gorilla noise. (Once more Gisela and me virtually shook hands).
The last leg of our 2 weeks journey brought us to Kribi, perhaps the best tourist spot in the whole of Cameroon (in terms of infrastructure, like hotels and restaurants). Kribi depicts traces of German colonialism, like the church and the German graveyard.
The German Embassy pays a monthly 50 EUR „salary“ for a caretaker who keeps the graveyard in shape. And indeed, Joseph, the caretaker, does a good job. Joseph even speaks good German and provided us with stories of German colonialism at that time.
Kribi is famous for its location at the beach, a sandy beach, but with a strong undercurrent, not easy to swim.
We just relaxed one day there before we returned, direction Yaounde Airport, home. With a valid and negative PCR test. Which to obtain required some „African cooperation“.
And, although I would not miss this adventure journey, we were glad to be able to return.
While the Cameroonians have to stay.
After all, we live in a paradise. A reminder for all who complain about perceived shortcomings.