Wildlife Group Tour

Cameroon Pioneering Group Tour - Nguon Festival and Baka Communities

12 days

from £3,295pp
  • Visit the royal Nguon Festival, which only happens every two years
  • Explore Cameroon's highlands, forests and coastline
  • Spend time with the iconic Baka people, deep with the Central African rainforest
  • Spot rescued Central African chimpanzees on the islands of Pongo Songo

Explore this remarkable and diverse country. Spend time at the heart of one of Africa’s last feudal kingdoms, experiencing the centuries-old Nguon Festival. Head deep into the forest to meet Baka hunter-gathers, before spotting rescued primates and experiencing Cameroonian beach life at Kribi. 

Begin in Douala, meeting your guide, Bamileke - a specialist in western Cameroonian culture - before journeying north through Cameroon’s highlands and into the Bamoun Kingdom. Here, witness the 546th edition of the remarkable Nguon Festival. This royal event is of huge importance to the region and celebrates the cultures and traditions of the Bamoun people, lasting several days.

Spend two full days immersed in the festival, witnessing the festivities and learning about Bamoun culture. Admire the frenetic dances, the elaborate costumes and the age-old rituals that are all part of this mesmerising cultural celebration.

Afterwards, head south and east, leaving the more temperate highlands behind for the lowland rainforests near the Dja Reserve. Here, meet the iconic Baka people, whose traditional hunter-gathering way of life survives. Camp beside a remote Baka community and spend time exploring the forest - their home, larder and medicine cabinet - in their company. Learn how they survive in the forest, hear about their battle with modernity and listen to their unique polyphonic melodies around the campfire.

From here, retrace your steps back to Yaounde. Visit the Mefou Primate Sanctuary, which is funded by Ape Action Africa and provides a refuge for rescued animals, including western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, drills and mandrills. Continue west past German colonial towns, founded by missionaries, and take to the river by motorised pirogue, heading deep into this remote coastal region. On the Sanaga River, discover the Pongo Songo Primate Sanctuary, where rescued chimpanzees inhabit islands in the centre of the river, before arriving at the beautiful beaches of Kribi.

Finish in Kribi and have time to visit a nearby village, Lobe. Chat with the local fishermen, who are from the Batanga tribe, and discover the beautiful Lobe Falls, before heading back to Douala.

ACCOMPANIED BY ONE OF OUR TEAM

As with our other Pioneering Group Tours, this trip will be accompanied by one of the Steppes’ team. This not only means that a friendly face will be there at all times – willing to help out and deal with any issues that might arise – but it also gives us the chance to explore a destination that is just as new for us as it is for you.

This trip will be joined by Chris Johnston, one of Steppes's Africa Travel Experts. He has visited Cameroon previously, but he has only explored the north of the country, not visiting the areas on this trip.

HOW MUCH TRAVELLING IS THERE?

There is a reasonable amount of driving, as this trip combines the highlands of western Cameroon with the forests close to Equatorial Guinea. However, most travelling days are broken up, with stops en route, and the roads will generally be tarred.

WHY AREN’T ALL MEALS INCLUDED?

This is unusual, but the nature of the trip means that a lot of the meals will be eaten at local restaurants, rather than at hotels. Therefore, most lunches and dinners are not included, as this will allow for greater flexibility and freedom on the ground.

HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE?

Although this trip will be tiring because of the amount of travelling, the walking involved is relatively unchallenging, both during the Nguon Festival and elsewhere. However, the walks through the forest with the Baka may last a couple of hours, so being reasonably fit is recommended.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE?

The emphasis is on cleanliness and comfort, rather than style, choosing the best available option in each location. The camping with the Baka will be quite basic, but this is only for two nights and it is the only option when visiting this remote park.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

December is one of the driest months in Cameroon, so the weather should be relatively good. However, still expect it to be warm and humid, given Cameroon’s equatorial location. In the highlands, the temperatures will generally be lower and the air less humid, whilst the opposite can be expected in the rainforest.



Departing on:
  • 5th December 2018

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
5th Dec 2018 16th Dec 2018 £ 3,295 £ 700 £ 250 Local Cameroonian Guide Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation throughout
  • All transfers and transport throughout
  • Breakfast on every day except the day of arrival, and all meals whilst staying in Campo Ma'an
  • English-speaking guide
  • Gorilla trekking permit
  • Tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary

what is excluded

  • Drinks, except whilst in Campo Ma'an
  • Gratuities
  • International flights
  • Lunches and dinners, except whilst in Campo Ma'an
  • Visas

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Suggested Group Flights
The suggested group flight for this tour is:

Brussels Airlines SN2104, scheduled to depart London Heathrow at 06:50 on 5th December, arriving into Brussels Airport at 09:00. This connects with SN371, which departs at 10:50 and arrives into Douala at 16:35.

For those making their own way to Douala and not taking the suggested group flight, the starting point for the group is the Foyer du Marin Hotel. Please speak to one of our team should you need help organising an arrival transfer.

The country's economic capital, Douala sits on the estuary of the Wouri River and is home to one of the largest port's in the region. Having only developed in the 20th century, when the German colonial government chose Douala as its base, the city is relatively modern and sprawling. Although a lively place, it lacks many attractions for visitors.


No meals included.


You will be staying at Foyer du Marin Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Drive from Douala to Melong via Ekom Falls


Set off towards the Western Cameroonian Highlands. Stop at a fruit market in the small town of Penja, before continuing inland to the spectacular Ekom Falls. This is a sacred place for the Mbo people, who inhabit the area surrounding the River Nkam. These beautiful waterfalls also featured in the 1984 film about Tarzan, Lord Greystoke. Have time to visit the falls, before continuing to Melong. Driving time is about four hours.


This rural town is often referred to as the "coffee capital of Cameroon". Situated in an area that is covered with rich, volcanic soil, Melong is surrounded by various coffee plantations, whose crops favour this fertile soil.


Possible Visit to a Coffee Plantation
Time permitting, visit a local coffee plantation for a short tour.


Breakfast and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel Villa Kleber, half board

Day 3

Drive from Melong to Foumban via the Bandjoun Kingdom


Head deeper into the Western Cameroonian Highlands. This hilly region is the territory of two powerful tribal groups - the Bamileke and the Bamoun. They have managed to preserve their rich cultural heritage and chiefdom-based political systems, despite the influence of colonialism, Westernization and missionaries.

First stop at the town of Bandjoun, which is the capital of the largest chiefdom in the Bamileke Kingdom, one of the most traditional in western Cameroon. Here, discover great traditional architecture in the royal court, as well as an interesting art museum with unique beaded elephant masks (the elephant is a totemic animal for the Bamileke people).

Afterwards, drive on to the Noun Plateau, where the Islamized Bamoun people live. The Bamoun are reputed farmers and artisans. Driving time for the day is around four hours.


Lying in Cameroon's north-western highlands, the city of Foumban is inhabited by the traditional Bamoun people, who dominate this highland area. Renowned for its rich history and culture, the city became the seat of the Bamoun Dynasty in the 14th century and, even now, after the creation of modern Cameroon, Foumban remains of great importance to the Bamoun.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Hotel Paradise Palace, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Time at the Nguon Festival
Descend into this unique celebration, which brings together traditional and contemporary Africa. Admire some of the country's finest masks and intense dances, beside local Bamoun people taking photos on their smartphones.

The Nguon Festival is over 600 years old and celebrates the rich and vibrant Bamoun culture. It lasts for seven days, with each day heralding different dances, ceremonies and feasts. The celebrants fill the streets of Foumban, as the whole city is taken over by Nguon fever. Fantastic costumes and elaborate hats decorate the crowds, whilst musicians from nearby villages provide a soundtrack to the lively celebrations.

With your local guide specialising in Bamoun culture, gain a unique insight into these elaborate rituals and celebrations. Explore the different sections of the Nguon and photograph the hidden aspects of the festivity. The aim is to understand and live this all-consuming ritual that only happens once every two years.

All the activities last from morning to evening, making for a long and tiring day. But the experience makes this worthwhile, with the Nguon Festival offering a privileged insight into Bamoun culture.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Hotel Paradise Palace, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Morning at the Nguon Festival
Before departing, visit the Nguon Festival as it comes to a close. Have the chance to take some photos, capturing the final moments of the festivities.

Drive from Foumban to Yaounde


This is a journey of around six hours.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Local Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Travel from Yaounde to the Baka


Depart Yaounde and head west, towards the village of Messamena. This is a journey of around six hours. Then leave the vehicle and walk for about an hour, heading into the forest to the Baka camp. Porters will carry your luggage.


The Baka are an ethnic group of hunter-gatherers who inhabit the rainforests of Central Africa. Renowned for their small stature, they are semi-nomadic, traditionally camping in the forest. Although often marginalised as a minority group, they are remarkable for their traditional way of life, which survives to this day.

The Baka still live deep within the forest, away from villages and roads. The camp you will visit is not a curated experience for tourists and is home to a group of Baka who live, largely, in a traditional manner. This means that they survive by hunting and gathering in the forest, without a huge amount of outside interference. Occasionally, they will visit nearby villages to trade.

The Baka are incredible hospitable and welcoming to outsiders. However, to prevent a potentially exploitative or expectant relationship developing with tourism, our partners in Cameroon do not repeatedly visit the same camp and are careful to be respectful of their traditions. No other operators in Cameroon visit the same area, meaning that this experience is exclusive to Steppes.


All included.


You will be staying at Baka Camp, full board

Day 7

Time with the Baka
During your time with Baka, you will be joined by a local guide who is an expert in Baka traditions. He will help to explain the cultural background to some of the practices on display.

The Baka are friendly and enjoy having visitors stay with them in the camp. They are happy to share their lives and traditions with others. Whilst you are with them, gain an insight into how the forest provides for them. Join them on walks, foraging for food, barks, mushrooms, barks and honey. Also watch as they fish in the little streams that wind through the forest or see how a Baka hut is traditionally constructed from natural materials.

The Baka are renowned as incredibly knowledgeable healers and use plants found locally to treat a wide range of ailments. Learn how they identify different species, the problems they can treat and how they are prepared as rudimentary medicines.

Back at camp, experience the rich culture of the Baka, in the form of music, dancing and polyphonic singing. These performances often involve fire dances and can call upon the spirit of the forest, the "Ejengi". This friendly straw monster arrives in dramatic fashion, exciting and scaring the children as it grows in size.

There will also be a chance for the Baka to share their experiences as a marginalised group. Despite their reputation as being incredibly resourceful, they are often discriminated against for being backward. To make things more difficult, their traditional way of life is seen as incompatible with modern education, business and government.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Baka Camp, full board

Day 8

Travel from the Baka to Yaounde


After some time with the Baka in the morning, pack up and leave camp. Walk for an hour back to Messamena, then drive for around six hours back to Yaounde.


Only breakfast inlcuded.


You will be staying at Local Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Travel from Yaounde to Edea via Mefou Primate Sanctuary


In the morning, leave Yaounde and head south, towards Mefou Primate Sanctuary, which is around and hour away.

Supported by Ape Action Africa, this sanctuary was set up to provide a home for rescued primates. The species found here are all native to Cameroon but were mostly confiscated from the bushmeat industry and pet trade. Take a guided tour through the sanctuary, learning about the work taking place and the animals it houses. These include western lowland gorillas, drills, mandrills and chimpanzees.

Whilst this is not a wild experience and all the enclosures are fenced, it still offers the unique chance to see some of Cameroon's rarest primates. In particular, drills and mandrills are almost impossible to see in the wild. The cost of entry goes to supporting the sanctuary's work, which not only helps protect rescued primates but also supports education programmes tackling the bushmeat trade.

Afterwards, head west, towards the Sanaga River and Edea, which is around four hours away.


This former German colonial town sits on the banks of the Sanaga River. Despite Edea's small size and rural setting, it is a somewhat industrial town, thanks to a nearby hydroelectric power station and its positioning on the railway line between Doula and Yaounde.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Hostellerie du Sanaga, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Drive from Edea to Kribi via Pongo Songo


After breakfast, depart for Marienberg, a small village founded by German Pallottine missionaries in 1884. It was the first German mission in Cameroon and from here they expanded to cover the rest of the country, opening numerous other missions in the following years. Visit the old church and the German cemetery, before boarding a motorised pirogue on the Sanaga River.

Cruise down the river to the islands of Pongo Songo, an animal reserve set up by philanthropist Patricia Leschaeve. Here, rescued and orphaned chimpanzees inhabit the forested islands that lie in the centre of the river. It is not a recognised conservation initiative and some of the interaction between the chimps and visitors might be frowned upon elsewhere, but it remains a truly unique project. It is also one of the few ways to get close to endangered central chimpanzees in a beautiful natural setting.

Afterwards, drive on to Kribi. Driving time for the day is around four hours.


Lying on the Gulf of Guinea, the coastal town of Kribi is known for its fishing industry and its beautiful sandy beaches. The Lobe Falls lie nearby, whilst pygmy communities can still be found within the forests.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Hotel Illomba, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Relax on the Beach at Kribi
Spend some time on the beach - a lovely way to relax after the previous two days of travelling. Dinner this evening will be grilled seafood, a local speciality.


Visit Lobe Fishing Village and Falls
Head a short distance down the coast to the small fishing community of Lobe. Explore this Batanga village, taking a tour, meeting the local chief and chatting with fisherman. Try some of the freshly grilled fish with views of both the sea and the Lobe Falls. These beautiful falls are remarkable because they empty straight into the sea. Afterwards, return to Kribi.


Only breakfast included.


You will be staying at Hotel Illomba, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Drive from Kribi to Douala


Have time on the beach in the morning, then depart after lunch. This is a journey of around two and a half hours.


Suggested Group Flights
The suggested group flight for this tour is:

Brussels Airlines SN372, scheduled to depart Douala at 21:30 on 16th December, arriving into Brussels Airport at 05:10 on the following day. This connects with SN2093, which departs Brussels at 09:55 and arrives into London Heathrow at 10:15.

A departure transfer will be provided to connect with this flight. For those not taking the suggested group flight, please speak to one of our team should you need help organising a departure transfer.


Only breakfast included.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Cameroon

Chris Johnston, Travel Expert

"Chris was always there for any questions and we felt he was genuinely interested in making this next trip as memorable as possible - which it most certainly was!"

"Excellent advice and information on our very first Steppes holiday. Chris was exceptionally helpful and patient and he treated us as individuals instead of tourists, by taking time find out what we wanted from our trip."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Local Cameroonian Guide

A local Cameroonian guide will accompany the trip throughout. He will be an experienced, English-speaking guide and an expert in the Nguon Festival.
Enquire about this Wildlife tour:
Speak to a Cameroon holiday expert:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 10

Tour Expert:

Local Cameroonian Guide

Departure Date (S):

  • 5th December 2018 - Guaranteed to run

  • Very Active - This tour may involve longer hikes and will require a good level of fitness. The itinerary may involve long days visiting sites and travelling to destinations.

Holiday Ideas in Cameroon

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey
 

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Wanderlust

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom