Yaoundé stands out from other West African capitals because of its lush green and hilly setting. The air is also cooler in the city because it is 750 meters above sea level. This combination makes the city a pleasant place to visit, and although it is short on traditional attractions, it makes up for it in friendliness and charm.
The Musée d'Art Camerounais provides visitors with a great introduction to the country's art, history and culture. The wonderful collection includes pottery, masks, wooden bas-reliefs, bronzes and more. One of the most notable pieces the “Great Maternal Figure,” a brass sculpture found in the country's northeast region. Replicas of the statue can be purchased at nearly all the souvenir shops, but seeing the original is a must for any visitor to Yaoundé.
The museum is part of the capital's Benedictine monastery, and the chapel contains a lovely exhibit of traditional Cameroonian crafts and textiles.
The Musée National pales in comparison to the Musée d'Art Camerounais, but it is still worth a visit. The small collection highlights sculptures and masks from across the country, but the labels are not as informative as those at the Musée d'Art Camerounais.
To see even more regional artwork, visit the Musée Afhemi. The gallery is in a private residence, but tours can be arranged with an English guide by calling in advance. The friendly owner often invites visitors to lunch, exhibiting the welcoming spirit of the locals.
If you want to buy local handicrafts, head to the Centre Artisanal. The government-run establishment has a huge collection of wood carvings that make perfect souvenirs. Do not be put off by the sticker shock; bargaining is both expected and welcome. Shoppers can often haggle their way into paying half the listed price.
One of the city's great traditions is the open-air mass conducted every Sunday outside the Paroisse de N'Djong Melen. Although the service is entirely in Ewondo, visitors will appreciate the drumming, dancing and heavenly choral music. The outdoor environment makes the whole experience even more moving. If you attend, put on your Sunday best to fit in with the locals.
Cameroon is home to abundant wildlife, and visitors can see a sizable collection of native animals up close at the Mvog-Betsi Zoo. The zoo is one of the best in West Africa and is run by the British non-profit Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund. Most of the animals, including drills, gorillas and chimps, were rescued from the bushmeat trade and poachers. The collection also includes exotic birds, lizards, snakes, hyenas and lions, but the primates are the most popular.
Dancing is an important part of Cameroonian culture, and visitors have many venues to explore once the sun goes down. Nightclubs play a surprising variety of music, including salsa, hip hop, old-school disco and African jams. There is also a large number of restaurants in the capital, serving up traditional dishes and international fare for inexpensive prices. For an authentic Cameroonian meal, order up roasted chicken served with ground peanuts, spinach-like bitterleaves and vegetables, or visit a street-side stall to feast on fresh fish or lobster for just a few dollars.
Yaounde Geographical Location
Yaounde is located in southern central Cameroon and is its second largest city after Douala.
The approximate population of Yaounde is 1,430,000.
English and French are the official languages of Cameroon in addition to 24 major African language groups.
Yaounde Predominant Religion
40% Indigenous Beliefs
Religious freedom is provided in Cameroon and religious groups are evenly dispersed throughout the country.
The official currency of Cameroon is the Central African CFA Franc.
It is hot throughout the year in Yaounde with a wet season that lasts the majority of the year, typically from February to November. The wettest months are September and October.
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