Expert-Led Group Tour

Cameroon Group Tour - Nguon Festival and Baka Communities

Departing 2nd - 13th Dec 2020

12 days

from £5,395pp
  • Visit the 500 year old royal Nguon Festival, which only happens every two years
  • Spend time with the iconic Baka people, deep within the Central African rainforest
  • Explore Cameroon's highlands, forests and coastline
  • 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.

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 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:
  • 2nd December 2020

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

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights £Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
2nd Dec 2020 13th Dec 2020 £ 5,395 £ 850 £ 650 Joan Riera Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation throughout
  • Accompanied by Joan Riera during your time in Cameroon
  • All transfers and transport throughout
  • Meal as detailed in the itinerary
  • Tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary

what is excluded

  • Drinks, except whilst in Campo Ma'an
  • Gorilla trekking permit
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • International flights
  • 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

Douala arrival
On arriving in Douala, you are welcomed by your guide and assisted through immigration. You are then taken to a small private lounge, whilst your luggage is collected and the necessary paperwork taken care of before taking a short transfer to your hotel.

The remainder of the day is at leisure, before a chance to meet the rest of the group and your tour leader over an informal dinner.

The country's economic capital, Douala sits on the estuary of the Wouri River and is home to one of the largest ports 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 attractions for visitors, but retains a languid tropical charm.


Dinner included.


You will be staying at Sawa 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. After visiting the falls, drive 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.


Breakfast, lunch 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.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Petpenoun Lodge, 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 experience 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.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Petpenoun Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Another full day at the festival.


You will be staying at Petpenoun Lodge, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Foumban to Yaounde


Leave the festival and make your way to the capital, Yaounde. Whist this is a longer drive, you will pass through smaller traditional villages and remote communities, with the chance to stop for lunch at a local restaurant. The total driving time (excluding stops for lunch) is around seven or eight hours. On arrival in Yaounde, there is time to relax and prepare for your upcoming journey into the forest.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Merina Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Travel from Yaounde to the Baka


Depart early and drive into the eastern rainforests of Cameroon, towards the village of Messamena. A faded German colonial outpost from the Second World War, this village is the access point for the Baka forest communities. The drive here takes around five to six hours.

After meeting the local mayor, sit down for lunch at the home of a local head chief. Then, depending on where the Baka are, either head into the forest, or drive another hour or so along the track that borders the forest.

Here, meet the porters and local head man, before entering the forest. Whilst the walk in the forest is flat, humidity is high and you will be crossing small rivers and swampy areas. The walk usually takes between one to two hours.

On arrival at camp, you will be introduced to the families and it is important that no photographs have been taken until introductions have been completed. We recommend bringing photographs of your hometown, family and friends to share with the group.


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 incredibly 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.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Baka Camp, full board

Day 8

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 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 9

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.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Merina Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Yaounde to Kribi


After an earlier start this morning, you drive towards Edea, a former German colonial town on the banks of the Sanaga River, before continuing to Mariemberg. This small village was established by German missionaries in 1884 and is where the colonial story of Cameroon began. 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 to the coast, stopping off for lunch at a local restaurant. The journey will take most of the day and you should expect to arrive in Kribi in the evening.


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 and are unique for flowing straight into the ocean.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel Illomba, bed and breakfast

Day 11

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.


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.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel Illomba, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Drive from Kribi to Douala


After a leisurely morning, you drive back to Douala after lunch, a drive of around two to three hours. On arrival, you are taken to a simple local restaurant overlooking the Wouri Estuary for dinner and drinks. You are then taken to the airport for your flight back home.


Only breakfast and lunch 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 Leader

Joan Riera

Joan Riera
An anthropologist specialising in African cultures, Joan Riera splits his time between West Africa and Europe. His travels have taken him across the continent, from Benin and Cameroon to Angola and South Sudan. A Catalan who grew up in Africa, he has spent much of his life studying various African cultures. He is fluent in several languages, having written several travel guides in Spanish whilst also studying anthropology and sociology in London for several years.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:
Speak to a Cameroon holiday expert:

Group Size:

Min 4 / Max 8

Tour Expert:

Joan Riera

Departure Date (S):

  • 2nd December 2020


  • Active - The tour may involve daily walks and will have a faster pace in certain areas. Walks will be no longer than 6 hours. The pace of this tour will be quite busy, expect long travel days and very little time at leisure.

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