Yaounde

pop 1.1 million

Yaounde is unique among West African capitals for its green and hilly setting. Set at an altitude of 750m, this gives the city a slightly more pleasant air than sweaty Douala. If its rival to the west is livelier, Yaounde is better placed for travellers - anyone heading from north to south will pass through, and it's a good place to pick up onward visas, rest from the road and charge your batteries.

ORIENTATION

Its hilly geography means that Yaounde's street plan has evolved without any discernible pattern, and it can take a while to get your bearings. The focal point of the lower-lying Centre Ville is Place Ahmadou Ahidjo. From here, Blvd du 20 Mai runs northwest to the landmark Hilton hotel and the administrative district (Quartier du Lac). North from here,

To Palais 1 Presidential (2km)

à To Gare Routière / d'Étoudi (3km); 'Bafoussam (290km); Bamenda (370km)

Nigerian Ambassador's Residence

Ntougou

Carrefour Bastos!

Bastos

Palais de :14 Congrès

Djoungolo esbyterian ChukW^

Place

.RtQci-Meki.

Water Towers

Mosque

Marché Mokolo

Messa

î Voyageurs rj

Samba

Quartier

Centre Ville

Melen

To Mvog-Betsi.

7nn 7 itml

Place Melwf

" Place ihmeidç

Plateau d'Atemengue

See Central Yaoundé Map (p282)

INFORMATION

British Council 1 C3

British High Commission 2 C3

Central African Republic Embassy .3 D1

Chadian Embassy 4 C2

Congolese Embassy 5 D1

Consulate of Côte d'Ivoire 6 C1

Democratic Republic of Congo

Embassy 7 C1

Equatorial Guinean Embassy 8 C1

Espresso House (see 21)

French Embassy 9 C6

Gabonese Embassy 10 C1

German Embassy 11 C3

Liberi an Embassy 12 C1

Nigerian Embassy 13 C2

Pharmacie Bastos (see 21)

WWF Office 14 B2

SLEEPING Q

Foyer International de l'Église

Presbytérienne 15 D3

Hôtel Laginaque 16 B1

EATING ff)

Iciilohus 20

Sn.uk lune 21 CI

Street limd (see y y)

DRINKING0

Bars 22 C2

the road winds uphill to Carrefour Nlongkak, a major intersection. About 1.5km further up is Carrefour Bastos and the upscale Bastos residential quarter, where many embassies are located as well as some good restaurants.

Buses from other cities stop at various gare routières (bus stations) around Yaounde, usually a quick taxi ride away from the city centre. The train station, however, is centrally located, with some hotels in walking distance.

INFORMATION Cultural Centres

British Council (Map p281; 220 3172; Ave Charles de Gaulle)

Centre Culturel Français (Map p282; s 222 0944; Ave Ahidjo)

Internet Access

Expect to pay around CFA400-500 per hour. ADT Cybercafé (Map p282; Rue de Narvik) Cometé Internet (Map p282; Rue de Narvik) One of several near the US embassy. Espresso House (Map p281; per 30mln CFA1000; Carre-four Bastos) Offers broadband.

Medical Services

Pharmacie Bastos (Map p281; 220 6555; Carrefour Bastos) Well-stocked pharmacy. Polyclinique André Fouda ( s 222 6612) For medical emergencies; In Ellg-Essono southeast of Carrefour Nlongkak.

Money

There are ATMs at most of the major banks; see the maps for locations. As always in Cameroon,

travellers cheques are problematic to change in banks - try Express Exchange (Map p282; Ave Kennedy), which also accepts US dollars.

Post

Central post office (Map p282; Place Ahmadou Ahidjo; ® 7.30a m-3.30pm Mon-Fri, 7.30am-noon Sat)

Travel Agencies

Inter-Voyages (Map p282; @ 222 0361,223 1005) One block west of the US embassy. Safar Tours (Map p282; (§) 222 8703; [email protected] .com) At the Hilton.

DANGERS & ANNOYANCES

Yaoundé is more relaxed than Douala, but there's still a small risk of street crime. Be particularly wary around the Marché Central (Map p282), and don't carry too many valuables with you. Take a taxi if you're out at night.

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

At the Benedictine monastery on Mt Fébé, north of the city centre, the Musée d'Art Camerounais (Quartier Fébé; donation requested; ® 3-6pm Thu, Sat & Sun) has an impressive collection of masks, bronzes, woodwork and other examples of Cameroonian art. The chapel is also worth a look.

Mvog-Betsi Zoo (Mvog-Betsi; admission CFA2000, camera CFA500; S 9am-6pm) is one of the better zoos in West Africa, co-run by the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund (CWAF; www.cwaf.org), with a sizeable collection of native primates, rescued from poachers and the bushmeat trade.

SLEEPING

Foyer International de l'Église Presbytérienne

(Map p281; (§) mobile 985 236; off Rue Joseph Essono Balla; tent/dm/tw CFA2000/3000/5000; ® ) Favoured by overlanders, this no-frills guesthouse is tucked behind the water towers looming over Nlongkak. Rooms and (communal) facilities are simple but clean, and the grounds have enough trees to laze under or kick a ball between. It's unsigned - look for the orange brick building trying to appear grand.

Ideal Hotel (Map p281; @ 220 9852; Carrefour Nlongkak; r CFA6000-8000; (P) ) Tucked behind a six-storey building on lively Carrefour Nlongkak. Some rooms are a bit dark, but balconies make up for this, and the hotel is a well-located budget option, particularly if you're in town hunting for visas.

El Panaden Hotel (Map p282; @ 222 2765; elpanadenia yahoo.fr; Place de l'Indépendance; r CFA15,500-28,000; (g) ) This centrally located hotel is an old travellers' favourite. Helpful staff complement clean and generously sized rooms, most with balconies. La Terrase bar next door is a handy late-night stagger away.

Hotel Laginaque (Map p281;@221 0554; mang [email protected]; Carrefour Bastos; r CFA20,000-35,000;

) Just off the main road this place has soft beds in very comfortable rooms, some with good views over the city. The management could be more efficient; room service makes up for the lack of restaurant, but order in good time.

EATING

Calafata's Boulangerie (Map p282; Rue de Nachtigal; pastries from CFA200; S 8am-6pm) People cross the city to get their pastries from Calafatas and you should, too. Although it's open all day, the best choices are gone by late morning leaving little but baguettes.

Chez Wou (Map p281; Rue Joseph Mballa Eloumden; mains from CFA4000; S 12-3.30pm & 6-11pm) One of Yaoundé's older Chinese restaurants, this has nice tables set under a wide porch, and a comprehensive menu.

Le Globus (Map p281; Carrefour Nlongkak; dishes from N700; S 7am-11 pm) A good watering hole as well as restaurant, Globus has Cameroonian dishes and a few trusty standards, like chicken with rice. Raised above Nlongkak, it's great for watching the world go by and catching some gorgeous sunsets.

Snack Time (Map p281; Carrefour Bastos; mains from CFA2700; S 10am-11pm) This bright place serves up a menu straight from an American diner, with a few Lebanese and Italian dishes thrown in for good measure. The bean burritos (CFA3000) are real winners, and the vegetarian pasta a treat for those suffering from a surfeit of meaty Cameroonian stews.

La Forêt Dense (Map p281; Rue Joseph Mballa Eloumden; meals from CFA5500) This is pricey place serves traditional Cameroonian dishes in an upscale setting. If you have ever wondered what crocodile mbongo tastes like, this is the place to find out.

Around Carrefours Bastos and Nlongkak you can find grills serving suya (brochette) throughout the day. On Place de l'Indépendance, near El Panaden Hotel, there are women grilling delicious fish, served with chilli or peanut sauce from CFA1000.

DRINKING

The best bars are in Carrefours Bastos and Nlongkak, most with open-air seating facing the street - great for people watching. Solo female travellers might find the atmosphere uneasy in some bars once the sun dips.

GETTING THERE & AWAY Air

Flights from Yaoundé's Nsimalen airport are available with Cameroon Airlines (Map p282; i§] 223 0304; Ave Monseigneur Vogt) to Douala, Maroua, Ga-roua, N'Gaoundéré and Bertoua, from around CFA65,000 one way. Services also connect Yaoundé to Gabon, Nigeria and other regional centres.

There are buses between Yaoundé and all major cities in Cameroon. Buses leave from their companies' offices, spread out on the outskirts of town. For Douala (CFA3800, three hours), Central Voyages (in Mvog Mbi) and Guaranti Express (in Quartier Nsam) are recommended. Guaranti Express is also recommended for Limbe (CFA5000, five hours), Bamenda (CFA5000, six hours), Ba-foussam (CFA2500, three hours) and Kumba (CFA4000, four hours).

Otherwise, all agency and nonagency buses for Kribi, Bertoua, Batouri Ebolowa, Limbe and Buea depart from Blvd de l'Ocam, about 3km south of Place Ahmadou Ahidjo (direct taxi drivers to Agences de Mvan).

Transport to Bafoussam, Bamenda and points north departs from Gare Routière d'Etoudi, 5km north of Centre Ville.

Train

The most popular and convenient way to travel north from Yaoundé is by train, which runs all the way to N'Gaoundéré. Trains depart daily at 6pm, taking around 18 hours. Delays on the line are not uncommon.

There's a choice of comfortable lst-class couchettes (sleeping compartments) for CFA25,000/28,000 per person in a four-/ two-bed cabin; lst-class airline-style seats (CFA 17,000); and crowded 2nd-class benches (CFA10,000). The couchettes are the only rec-ommendable option, in part because you'll be in an enclosed cabin. Couchettes can be reserved 24 hours in advance, but are paid for on the day of travel. Seats in 1st and 2nd class are in open wagons, with no way to se cure your bag. Even in couchettes, be alert for thieves.

The train has a restaurant car where you can buy surprisingly good meals (breakfast/dinner CFA1000/2500). Ifyou're in 1st class, someone will come and take your order and deliver to your couchette. At every station stop, people will offer street food at the windows.

There are also services between Yaoundé, Douala and Kumba, though these are used much less frequently, as buses are cheaper, faster and more convenient.

GETTING AROUND

Shared taxis are the only public transport option. Fares are set at CFA175 for short- to medium-length rides. Flag them down on the street and shout out the name of your destination - the driver will sound his horn if he's not going your way. A private taxi to Nsimalen airport from central Yaoundé should cost CFA3000 to CFA4000 (40 minutes).

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