For those of you eager to experience the African adventure, the Republic of Cameroon, situated in the heart of the continent is, for sure, a target destination.
With its rich fauna, numerous wild parks and reservations, and amazing mountainous landscapes, Cameroon is a pleasurable destination for nature lovers. It gives its tourists the chance to visit interesting cities such as Yaounde, Maroua, and Foumban, places which shelter a diversity of cultures and religions.
It is not only the local color of Cameroon but also known as “Africa in miniature” that makes this place appealing for tourists but its controversial development, too, which might make you think twice when choosing this destination.
Therefore, besides the amazing stories Cameroon could make you write in your traveling diary, there are some other aspects that you should keep in mind when deciding to go to Cameroon. Whether you travel alone or with your family or friends, the question of safety should be one of your concerns. Is Cameroon safe to visit? How safe it is to visit Cameroon as a tourist?
Whether you have already planned a trip to Cameroon or you’re still dreaming about it, here is a Cameroon safety guide for all of you- because a few safety travel tips never hurt anybody.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Cameroon
Overall Risks in Cameroon: HIGH
Cameroon is not for the weak of heart, to begin with, and the chances of going through some unpleasant experiences are really high in this area. From violent crimes to kidnapping and robberies, most of the cities of Cameroon do not have a good reputation, as the level of crime of 66.25 shows it.
What is more, according to recent statistics, the Crime rates have suffered a noticeable increase in the past 3 years, reaching 71.43 percent. In this respect, the most important Cameroon safety travel tip is to develop or preserve a high degree of self-security awareness, which could save you some trouble during your journey.
Being informed is the first step you can take to be safe, therefore you are going to find out next about what and how to avoid specific situations and where to find help in case you encounter them.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risk in Cameroon: HIGH
The crime rates regarding petty thefts are common in this area and may occur mostly in crowded public places such as coaches, trains, hotels, or stations.
Wallet snatching and other robberies happen mostly after dark, but incidents have occurred during the day, as well, in well-known places such as Mokolo market, La Briquetterie, Bonaberi, or Village.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Cameroon?
In order for these incidents not to happen, you should avoid wearing jewelry and other valuable objects, carry small amounts of money and keep your guard up. You might also consider avoiding very crowded places and roaming the streets at late hours.
Another good idea is to keep your documents in the hotel room while you go out for a walk and carry copies of your passport or ID card in your bag. In this way, the risk of losing your documents in case of theft is low and it saves you a lot of time and trouble.
Scams Risk in Cameroon: HIGH
It is very common for local people, who seem to be very experienced scam artists, to try to persuade tourists in order to gain money. Because they seem to be very convincing and their scams may be very well disguised, great financial loss could be caused.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Cameroon?
Recognizing a scam can be a tough job, but you need to be attentive and exercise extreme caution when encountering specific offers from the locals. Double-checking may be required in most cases, so be sure you are paying enough attention to the details.
Kidnapping Risk in Cameroon: MEDIUM
Kidnapping incidents have occurred in regions such as the Far North and southeast Cameroon over the past few years. In some cases, kidnapping is the result of a scam and in others, they are simply acts of violence followed by hostage-taking.
The target victims are mostly women traveling alone and children, who are kidnapped for ransom. Therefore, Cameron is not an advisable destination for solo women travelers or for family trips. This is especially because, in the last three years, several cases of people disappearing have been reported.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Cameroon?
Avoiding being the victim of kidnap is strongly related to the personal safety rules you should keep in mind during your holiday. Besides being double cautious with the people around you, you could depend on a guide who will know how to keep safe better than you.
The authorities might be of important help, too. They are well-prepared for these cases, but their policy is also based on the avoidance of paying the ransom, in order not to encourage such further cases.
Terrorism Risk in Cameroon: HIGH
Terrorist attacks are common in this region as well, due to the presence of Boko Haram- an Islamism terrorist group that operates in Cameroon. These very high threats that have been present throughout the last years are usually accompanied by kidnapping for ransom, a common habit among the members of this group.
- How to avoid terrorism in Cameroon?
In order to diminish the chances of being involved in such an incident, you should not spend time nearby the areas in which attacks usually occur. While they might be very unforeseeable, these attacks usually occur in places such as churches and political-related areas.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Cameroon: HIGH
Whether we are talking about kidnapping, thefts, or violence, the roads of Cameroon seem not to be the ideal destination for a woman traveling solo in these regions. Along with the children, women are the target victims and they should pay more attention to their trip schedule in order to avoid unpleasant situations.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Cameroon?
Plan your visits to specific places early in the morning or in the afternoon and avoid going out by yourself in the evening or at night. You might also consider leaving valuable objects such as jewelry or documents in the hotel room and only carrying small amounts of money. In the case of a theft, you will not lose important sums or objects.
Rape Risk in Cameroon: MEDIUM to HIGH
Even though the country's rape rate has seen a decrease in the past couple of years, it is still something that shouldn't be treated lightly, namely because Cameroon still reports roughly around 500 rape cases every year, with a rate of almost 2 cases per 100,000 population.
Things used to be even worse - for example, the year 2013 had a rape rate of 4 cases per 100,000 population, which also marked a 50% increase from the previous year.
However, violent crimes - such as armed robberies, kidnappings, car-jackings, and even violent petty theft - are still much more common than rape. On top of that, there have been only a few cases of tourists being sexually harassed or attacked while visiting Cameroon.
Naturally, this doesn't imply NOT taking care at all. The basic safety measures should still be applied - as with any visit to any part of the world, even in your hometown
- How to avoid getting raped in Cameroon?
As mentioned above, any traveler/tourist should still be extremely careful - even if the country they visit is marked as safe. As such, given the medium to a high number of rape cases that take place every single year in this country, it is highly recommended that you adopt the following safety techniques, so to say.
When it comes to women, they should stick to decent clothing only - nothing too revealing that may upset the locals or attract unwanted attention. At the same time, make sure that jewelry, gadgets, and such are not visible at all times - a simple instance of petty theft can escalate into much more, especially if you show resistance, travel solo, or are dressed in a certain manner.
Then, it goes without saying that you should stay away from remote and bad-reputed areas, as well as from the outskirts of any major city. Avoid traveling alone and getting in taxis that you didn't personally order or hailed down the street.
It is highly recommended that you travel within a medium group - preferably friends or family - that could alert the authorities in case something happens to you. If that's not possible, your best shot is being part of a travel tour where you can befriend other tourists!
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Cameroon: MEDIUM
While traveling with children is bound to create some shenanigans worthy of a good trip, so to speak, you should choose the country wisely. For example, if we take a look at the risk map of Cameroon, we notice that most of its borders come with a serious warning that is advising against all travel in those areas.
On top of that, the rest of the country comes with a medium travel warning as well. All of this makes a hike through Cameroon not fit for children.
Given the moderate number of car-jackings, you and your family might even end up at gunpoint, on a deserted road. Obviously, you should stay away from deserted roads even if it's your tour guide taking you there. Moreover, there are a plethora of other things that "traveling with children" implies.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
If you still want to travel with your children, then keep in mind that you'll have to constantly take care of them. This also implies not leaving them outside of a store while you're in for a quick shopping session.
After all, you're in a foreign country and everything that can go wrong could go wrong in a matter of seconds. It could be something as simple as your child getting lost or as bad as getting kidnapped. Keep this in mind when traveling with children and thinking of leaving them unsupervised!
Then, you'll have to consider and take care of their health as well. A tummy ache in a foreign country is nothing like one back at home. The little ones may not adapt well to the climate of a foreign country or may contract a germ/virus-specific to that country that makes them feel ill.
As such, tummy pills won't help them - only a visit to the hospital will, case in which you have to be properly prepared.
In short, unwanted scenarios are avoided by looking after your children at all times, having enough medicine and money to get them treated if they get sick, and also sacrificing most of your trip for their well-being!
Natural Disaster Risks in Cameroon: MEDIUM
Apart from the poor conditions of the roads and the poor mobile phone coverage, you might want to avoid going to places that could harm your health. One example is Lake Nyos, situated in the North West Province, which might emit carbon dioxide anytime, causing suffocation. Situated in a volcanic area, it is not predictable and therefore not safe for visitors.
The active volcanoes in this area might also be a high risk when traveling around, along with the high probability of flooding of 72.2 percent (2014) caused by heavy rains which overflow the banks of the rivers.
Depending on the season and on the weather forecast, your journey could be a success or you might be exposed to these risks. Therefore, planning a trip to Cameroon must involve good research in what concerns the weather, too.
Transportation Risks in Cameroon: MEDIUM to HIGH
Accidents are quite common in Cameroon. The Yaounde-Douala trunk road is reportedly seeing a lot of accidents and, naturally, you should do your best to avoid traveling on it - as on any roads that are in or near rural areas.
This is not only because they may be in a very poor condition but also because criminals may be lurking in the dark, waiting for tourists (and locals too).
Multiple authorities recommend tourists/travelers to travel in convoys only and, on top of that, to plan their trip as well. When it comes to safety and security, planning your trip doesn't mean only knowing where you'll go and what you'll do.
It also implies alerting friends/family of your present and future location so that they know what to tell the authorities to help them find you faster in case something happens.
When it comes to the overall road condition, any major route is recommended, as most other roads are in a rather poor condition, with more than enough pot-holes to make anyone reconsider being their own driver during their stay in Cameroon. Street lighting is poor or non-existent, thus making driving during the night very dangerous. You should avoid night travel - and your travel agency should do so too.
Last but not least, if you're ever stopped by a roadblock, comply with the rules and if you are fined, make sure to ask for a ticket and avoid paying any bribes. There have been reports of fake security members that try to extort foreigners/tourists. You should not fight them - simply ask for a fine ticket that can be paid at the local court and not to them, as a bribe.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Cameroon: MEDIUM
As mentioned throughout the article, there's a lot of violent crime happening in Cameroon on a daily basis, so to say. However, reports suggest that scams are usually the main way that criminals use to get some money out of foreigners.
It goes without saying that a criminal group won't target you if you don't seem really rich or are a very important person, but a small group of scammers will definitely try to trick anyone that gets in their way.
That very thing can happen in many of the country's bars. You get a flyer telling of some discounts at a shady pub, you go there and, when the time to pay comes, you find out you're being extremely overcharged and that the staff won't let you leave until you pay everything you supposedly owe them.
Scammers can go as low as having you buy them drinks just because they're thirsty and they want to feel like they drank for free. You should not give them this satisfaction and, as such, avoid interacting with any strangers while visiting any country, especially Cameroon.
Last but not least, avoid any troublesome individuals and make sure to leave a nightclub, pub, or bar as soon as a "bar fight" seems to be starting. You don't want to be caught in the crossfire as people can easily pull out a gun and start shooting - with little to no notice whatsoever.
If you really want to stay safe, the best thing you can do is rely on the bar within your hotel/accommodation as it is full of people that may be talking English and it provides a safe way back to your room as well.
Health Risks in Cameroon
Reportedly, Cameroon comes with poor medical facilities - and with rather limited emergency ones. This makes almost any type of serious injury subject to medical evacuation to South Africa or the UK. It goes without saying that, while in a foreign country, doing your best not to get injured is essential!
Moreover, the country also comes with the risk of Zika virus transmission, as well as with risks of an avian influenza outbreak, malaria, cholera, and Ebola.
It is recommended that, before your trip, you visit your doctor or a certified professional in order to get properly informed on how to avoid being infected with any of the mentioned viruses, as well as with any other that you may not be aware of.
It is extremely important that you know how to stay healthy - namely, know what to drink and eat as well as the medicine that you may need in case you get sick.
Naturally, you should travel only with travel health insurance and with enough funds to cover the costs of any medical intervention - evacuation, medicine, surgery, and so on. Be prepared for anything!
List of Vaccines You Need in Cameroon
As in most of the countries in Africa, medical facilities in Cameroon are extremely poor and the risks of Zika virus transmission, malaria, and cholera diseases are very common. Therefore, serious medical intervention is difficult to find in this area.
The visitors should definitely consider preventive measures before traveling and travel health insurances which would cover the costs of treatment in case these diseases appear. There are important vaccines you should consider getting before traveling to Cameroon, from the routine ones to the ones that protect you from specific diseases found in the area.
You should see your doctor for advice and know that you might be exposed to Yellow Fever, HIV, Malaria, Typhoid, Polio, and Rabies during your trip.
Most Dangerous Areas in Cameroon
As the capital of this country, Yaounde is not only one of the most enjoyable places to visit, but also the second-largest city in Cameroon. With a population of approximately 2.5 million people, Yaounde is also risky for those who visit it.
Whether we are speaking about car-jacking, armed robberies, or petty thefts, Yaounde should be visited with care, especially because it is thought to be hosting a terrorist attack produced by the group Boko Haram in the future.
Douala is not only the largest city in Cameroon, but it is also the home of Africa’s biggest port and it is home to the most important airport in the area, Douala International Port. In this city, mugging and banditry are common, especially in poor, isolated areas such as New Bell-Akwa, Bonaberi, or Nkololun.
Ngaoundere is the center of most of the immigrants coming from the Central African Republic and not only. Therefore, the transit rates here are very high and the dangers around consequently increase.
Cameroon is also paved with dangerous areas, which should be taken into account when planning a trip to this country. As FCO advises, local traveling should be planned very carefully in advance, as many dangers might be peaking around the corner.
The travelers should avoid traveling within 40 km around the borders with Chad and with the Central African Republic, as many armed men have been spotted nearby. The Bakassi Peninsula is also a dangerous area, as piracy is still present in the Gulf of Guinea. There are also warnings about the northern regions of Cameroon, routes which lack fuel stations and phone coverage.
In such cases, carrying food and water and satellite phones or radios should be considered, as they could prove very useful in these cases.
While it is only you that can decide your schedule and plan your trip, the most important aspect of this type of journey should be your safety and health.
Concluding Remarks: Is Cameroon Safe to Visit?
Along with its beautiful tourist attraction and views, Cameroon is a challenge for those who want to get a taste of this African Country. Traveling to Cameroon requires a lot of research and care from you, as a traveler, whether you are going to visit it alone or with your friends or family. Do not forget the general tips that help you keep safe in Cameroon:
- Make sure you get the proper medical care before leaving
- Pay double attention to the people around you
- Make sure you lock your doors and windows before leaving
- Keep an eye to your friends or family, especially if they are children or women
- Take good care of your belongings especially in public places
Have in mind all these safety travel tips when visiting this amazing country and Cameroon will turn out to be an amazing experience. Like with any other trip, this one to Cameroon might have slippery slopes, but not impossible to overpass. Are the risks too high or is Cameroon safe to visit? It is up to you.