Maroua Things to Do
Visiting Waza is probably the most likely reason a tourist would visit the Far North Region, and although my visit was for business, I did manage to visit the park. I arranged my visit through work contacts, but there are several operators in Maroua that offer tours of the park. From Maroua, it takes a bit over two hours to reach Waza over a mixture of paved and unpaved roads. This provides a good opportunity to see a slice of local village life (see third picture). My June visit was at the end of a particularly harsh dry season, so most vegetation was burned up, and many water holes were dry, or almost so. This causes much stress for the animals but makes it easy to find them at the water holes. Visiting the park shows that one need not go on an expensive Kenyan or South African safari to see African wildlife. I saw giraffes and numerous antelope and bird species. My guide also found a recently used lion's den, but we did not see lions. The elephants, unfortunately leave the park for wetter areas during the dry season. Waza has a large and relatively modern reception area at the entrance; travel within the park is on good quality dirt roads, and a guide is required. Entrance fees are reasonable. In this season, at least, there were very few visitors; we saw almost no one. If you go during the dry season, be prepared for a hot drive with a lot of dust.Related to:
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
Air travel to and from Cameroon's northern provinces has been in flux ever since the collapse of Air Cameroun several years ago. I had a very hard time obtaining information about current service on the Internet in May, 2010, as most of the little information one can find is outdated. After much wasted time, I finally found that current service was provided by a company called Air Leasing, which is also a charter operator. Efforts to make a reservation by phone were unsuccessful because of the language problem; the person who answered spoke no English. There is no office in the airport, but I was finally able to obtain a ticket to Maroua by visiting the airline's office at 144 avenue de l'indépendance, a kilometer or so from the airport. You'll need a knowledgeable taxi driver to find it. The staff member on duty did speak some English, and I was able to obtain a ticket. Be prepared, however. They have the only service, and the prices are quite high. The airline's web site shows pictures of a luxurious plane--probably the one used for charters, but the service was actually on an ancient vintage 737-200, evidently leased from Trans Air Congo. Still, the service was fine and the flight to Maroua was uneventful. Unlike Douala, Maroua has a modern and clean airport. The return trip began uneventfully, but we were diverted in flight from Yaoundé to Douala because the President had chosen this time to depart from the Yaoundé airport, and no one is allowed to land. (His travel schedule is never announced in advance.) To their credit, Air Leasing made the best of a bad situation and had a good quality charter bus (with on board snack and drinks no less!) available for the four hour trip back to Yaoundé within an hour. Another passenger told me that this was the last flight for the Trans Air Congo plane and the service would now be flown again on Air Leasing's charter jets, but I do not know whether this has occurred. The Air Leasing web site indicates that they still have the service.Related to:
- Business Travel
Maroua Warnings and Dangers
About the only public transportation available in Maroua is provided by motorcycle taxis; however, most everyone I talked to--including some who use them--urged me not to use them. Many of the drivers are unlicensed and have little driving experience, and no one wears a helmet. A local hospital administrator told me that his hospital now treats more concussion and accident victims than malaria cases! If you must use one, locals told me that the drivers who wear a yellow vest are more likely to be licensed. It is possible to arrange for a car with driver at a reasonable price, and this is a far better option.