Airport and visa info
I did not have a visa to enter the country cause there was no office in my point of origin, but like most know... where there is money, there is a way.
It really was not too bad, but you need to have someone send a letter to the police or bring with you stating you have been invited. I waited about 2 hrs for my visa and finally got it at 2am! Just try to get one before you go or you are in for a long wait with people that really dont care if you wait forever!
With an exterior façade covered in vines opening into a structure with exposed wooden beams, supports and floors and an open deck facing the mouth of the Wouri River, the Colonial is an excellent place for food, beer and watching the sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean on its daily journey to South America…
Being at the junction where the Wouri River meets the Atlantic also ensures there’s always a nice breeze blowing to keep things cool in the equatorial heat and those blood sucking mosquitoes at bay… This is definitely one of the most relaxing places in Douala, I can sit for hours on the Colonial’s deck watching fishermen on the Wouri River hoist their nets into their little dugout canoes…peaceful……I just can’t imagine eating the catch out of the Wouri…not peaceful….
"Douala 1st visit"
Not my favorite place i have to admit, of all the places around the world i have visited this i can safely say was not at all expected.
bribery is not only commonplace but expected even for the most trivial of things.
con artists are everywhere budding and experienced.
at arrival at the airport (basic to say the least) you approach a desk with a guy behind it with a white coat on in order to give the appearance of being involved with the health ministry. he demands to see your vaccine card showing you have had a vaccine for yellow fever, if you dont have it (as i didnt) he demands 50 euros. i asked him to explain how paying him would either prevent me from contracting yellow fever or protect him should i have it! his response was okay, okay 20 euros, thus becoming clear that this money was destined for nowhere else than his pocket. my friend went through after putting just 5 euros in his passport and giving it to the guy. i unfortuantly didnt have any change and only had 50 euro notes on me, thus after realising that a lot less than the original 50 euros was actually required i had no choice but to try other tactics, i argued, i haggled etc etc and eventually i grabbed my passport and walked off towards the passport control, a customs guy spoke to me and told me to go back to complete the process which i obviously did until he disappeared and then decided to try again, this time i sailed through without problems with the actual passport control police not paying any attention to the health guy! he followed me through baggage collection into the street outside demanding that i get some cash from the cash machine to give to him (after previously haven told him i couldnt give him anything because i simply didnt have anything on me other than visa), by which time he was getting on my nerves, so i informed him if he wanted cash he could wait until the person collecting me arrived and ask him, who just happened to be a member of goverment and dropped a name of someone i hoped was still in goverment, at this point he disappeared back inside.!
a couple of days later whilst walking down the rue de liberty towards the akwa palace me and my colleague was approached by a couple of guys showing police badges and a little leaflet saying secret police asking for our papers, i chose to ignore them and pretend that i did not understand a word they were saying to me, this upset them a little but i kept walking towards the hotel whilst my friend did the same, they followed us remonstrating with us all the way to the hotel, but low and behold upon opening the hotel doors and walking inside they disappeared.!! we waited a while having a coffee in reception area before going back out again. the catch here i believe is once they get your papers be it ID card or passport they either disappear with your papers or demand money to return them.
this was only a few of the attempts made on me during my stay there.!
some other quick tips,
there is an airport tax payable on exit at 10000 CFA, this appears official enough.
taxis, you need to negociate hard.!
I spent her one month, and will remember for ever
"Do not walk anywhere, and with anybody"
Douala is this kind of town where you can enjoy life and people so much, at the only one condition that you meet the right persons to introduce you in this life. Cameroonians people are so good people, considering the average level of poverty there, and they enjoy life so much. You can visit all kind of neighborhoods, depending on what you like, but be sure to walk with the good guide, that will show you so many things, safely. Great life level and poor local areas have to be seen to remember that Cameroon is a rich country, with and without money. Go away from Douala, and all the african life style you will meet will get you so happy with your travel.
Cabana Boy's Douala Page
As the plane banked to the left and slowed a bit, our decent provided the view of lush tropical forests and dark, muddy rivers and soon gave way to small wooden shacks, dirt roads and the local inhabitants. Miles and miles of shantytowns turned into slightly more modern structures and roads that were somewhat paved and the late afternoon sun shone brightly off the Atlanta Ocean.
The plane landed, taking the full length of the runway to stop, and as we taxied back to the terminal children could be seen playing on the runway, literally... They were riding bicycles on the runway or kicking a ball on the tarmac. On the grass embankments surrounding the airport terminal, loads of people were sitting around in a similar fashion to a picnic or like spectators at a sporting event. The event it would seem is the landing of my Air France flight from Paris.
I think the mere fact people show up at the Douala airport simply to "watch" a plane land as a form of entertainment says a lot about the cultural differences between developed and undeveloped societies.
Over the next few weeks, I would see more and more cultural "differences" and depart Douala with a deeper appreciation of the day-to-day struggles of the African people as well as the convenience of my homeland. From the hordes of people standing around all day doing literally nothing but standing around to the vibrant nightlife on the streets in snake alley and in the local bars, new scents, tastes and sights were all around me...
My trip to Douala, Cameroon in February 2003 was my first foray onto the Dark Continent. Friends and colleagues who had been there before were quick to tell me what to expect and what sort of "things" I might see and experience (not to mention smell).
With all of my senses ready for action, I must say that Douala lived up to all the expectations that were set. I left the city with lots of fond memories and experiences and the hopes of someday returning for more...
Which I did nearly two years later in November 2004...