Cameroon - The beaches
Day 133 (15 February) – Black beach at Mile 8
On our way from Mundemba/Korup to Limbe and the coast we stopped for breakfast in Kumba. We pulled into Café Resto for a spaghetti omelet with mayonnaise and fluffy white bread to go with some coffee. The spaghetti omelet is everywhere and it grows on you. We actually thought the guy next to us was having one with melted cheese (a moment of reflection on our part and we would have known that it wasn’t cheese since we don’t see cheese anywhere) but we wanted it to be melted cheese and quickly ordered 4. The first bite (with a huge glob of mayonnaise) was a bit of a surprise. The spaghetti omelet with mayonnaise has only managed to grow on half of the group (Niels and Stanley). The Café Resto is a shack in the middle of a junkyard. We had stopped at a few establishments we thought looked more promising for breakfast but none of them had coffee and all directed us to Café Resto. We pulled in and parked our cars in the junkyard hoping that all parts would still be attached when we finished breakfast. By the time we were through 2 of the junk cars were back on the road and they were pushing (literally) a third out on to the road (assuming it would start by the time it hit the pavement). It is shocking what is considered ‘road worthy’. Basically if you can get it to move, you can put it on the road. This makes it all the more shocking each time we get pulled over and sited with not having a road worthy vehicle!
We drive through Limbe heading north to find a place to pitch near the beach. The beaches north of Limbe have black sand due to the volcanoes in the area. The last major eruption was in 1999 when the lava flow reached the sea and the coastal route had to be diverted. The route takes us past Mt. Cameroon, West Africa’s largest mountain. Which we only manage to catch a glimpse of once on our way out of town as it was cloaked in clouds. The beaches north of Limbe are called ‘Mile 5; Mile 6, Mile 8, etc corresponding to the number of miles north of town – convenient! We looked at a few and decide on a beautiful spot along Mile 8 Beach. The kids (and Niels) immediately take to the water and rolling around in the black sand they look even whiter! There are long black stretches of beach and lush hills covered in bottle green trees and vines. It is a beautiful location. The only drawback is the sand flies. Before we know it our ankles and feet have been attacked and the bites of the sand flies itch worse than anything we’ve ever experienced. If you can manage not to start scratching (which is the advice of all the locals – “just don’t scratch”) it won’t bother you. But ultimately something rubs against it – some grass, your blanket, pants, the clutch, and it sends you into a fury of scratching – only making it worse and it lasts for about a week. We are plagued by sand flies the whole way along the beautiful coast…
Day 134 (16 February) – From Limbe to Kribi
Mile 8 was a beautiful place to spend some days, but those sand flies…
Day 135-137 (17-19 February) – White beach at Grand Batanga
On the sage advice of Stefan and Heike (the German overlanders we met in Benin) we head south of Kribi, still along the Cameroonian coast, to the small village of Grand Batanga to l’Etoile de Mer/Chez Andre. Andre is Belgian and he and his Cameroonian wife and their two young children (7 year old Milena and 3 year old Jorell) have a beautiful house with guest rooms and a grassy lawn next to the beach where we can pitch. There is a huge grassy lawn with a play house and swing set, Andre keeps the beer cold and there is fish carpaccio and Belgian frites available on the menu. We are the only people staying at the time and it feels more like pitching at someone’s home. The sea was ideal to swim in and before we know it we have spent 4 nights there. As we only have 30 days in Cameroon we force ourselves to move on but could have easily let 5 more days slip by at l’Etoile de Mer.