one of the many mosques in Ngaoundere, with flame of the forest in front

The trade-off from yesterday’s early stop is that today we have an early start, leaving at 5.30. It is still dark, and the electricity in the hotel has gone off during the night – the ceiling fan, too. We pack our bags without light, except for the small torch I am carrying. It is too early for breakfast. Did we voluntarily sign…, ah, never mind.

we are not the only ones having breakfast

We had a great breakfast with omelette and avocado sometime later, enjoyed the increasingly hilly granite landscape, the good quality tarmac road and the colour of the earth, which has turned bright red. The landscape is still the same, but we start to spot banana trees and papaya. Along the road, tapioca is left to dry, after having been treated with water, what makes it ferment – I think. The fermenting creates a really foul smell, noticeable inside the truck.

the scenery is still pretty dry, but increasingly hilly

tapioca drying along the road

early morning laundry party in the river

‘walled’ family compound

not many birds so far: this is the black-billed hornbill, during a toilet stop

We get stopped by the police four times, but only once do we need to show passports. At the other check points a “Bonjour. Comment sa va?” suffices to get the wished-for answer: “Bon Voyage”. Pretty relaxed, really. Some officers, amongst them quite a few women, wear a pistol, the occasional army guy has a gun slung over his shoulder, but nothing threatening.


We got to Ngaoundere around noon – glad we stopped early yesterday, otherwise it would have been a late, very late night arrival again! Here we left the group behind, or rather, they left us behind, en route to Nigeria, and we met up with Mayou, a local friend of Alonso. Mayou had brought his cousin, Talba, who is from Ngaoundere, and was going to take us on a tour of the city before dropping us off at the station to catch the train south.

the street scenery of Ngaoundere, pretty dusty

the ticket office where we bought our train passage

a rare French colonial compound, not much left

we have to get off in the market, off course

this one with a lot of meat stalls

And so we did. We spent a lovely afternoon, talking to two really interesting people. We visited Talba‘s house for tea, met up with his mother, his two wives and three of his four children, three beautiful little girls. We then saw the town, where honesty demands to admit that there was actually very little to see. Talba took us to what he thought the most important elements, which was a dusty new neighbourhood, not yet finished, a brand-new hotel cum leisure centre with pool and – who knows – sauna, and the highest point of town, providing a view over this 900,000 inhabitant, sprawling but pretty ugly place. After a little urging, we went to see some colonial era buildings, the prefecture dating from 1941, and several administration buildings from, probably, the same time. Which were also not particularly interesting. But we had a lovely afternoon.

the clock tower of Ngaoundere railway station

the engine that is going to bring us to Yaounde

In fact, the only mildly attractive building was the railway station, a relatively small scale affair. Not busy, not crowded, a security check where, seemingly, nobody was actually watching the x-ray machine. We could directly board the train; it turned out that we had a four berth cabin for the two of us. Really comfortable. Except that the light didn’t switch off at night, something was wrong. And upon asking the train attendant if there was a rubbish bin, she answered, without a trace of irony, that we should everything out of the window. In any case, I like traveling by train.

next: a bit of background on Cameroon, or if you like, click on directly to Yaounde

our train, and the station itself, everybody randomly crossing the tracks

a comfortable four bed cabin for the two of us

and our dinner

One Response to 12 March 2023

  1. Thea Oudmaijer says:

    This was a very relaxing way of travelling !
    Nice place to sleep and just the two of you having dinner!
    In a week you will see the group again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *