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I eagerly woke up on a beautiful Saturday morning, filled with hope and excitement for the adventures that awaited me. Although my trips to Garoua are usually for business purposes, today was a unique opportunity to explore this vibrant city and immerse myself in its distinctive Sahelian culture. With the sun shining brightly, I was determined to make the most of my day and discover the most that Garoua had to offer.
I had the pleasure of visiting Garoua twice in the day – once in the morning and once in the afternoon after taking a break during the hottest hours to rest and cool down. Capturing the essence of the city, I intentionally left my electronic devices to charge in my hotel room during my second outing. Sometimes, I prefer to fully enjoy and immerse myself in the moment without the distraction of technology. Consequently, in this article I will only write about the first half of my day.
I began my day with a nourishing breakfast at the hotel and proceeded to my first destination – the Zoological Park.
Garoua’s zoological park
The zoological park in the city center is small and its entrance is recognizable by the wall paintings of elephants, giraffes, lions, and other animals found in the Savana. However, nowadays, these beautiful animals can only be found in national parks located in the north and far-north Cameroon such as Faro, Waza, Bouba Ndjida, and the Benoue. They are no longer roaming around the city as they did in the past.
Although the park may be small and easily explored in less than an hour, it still offers a chance to witness some incredible creatures. From crocodiles to hyenas, a range of monkey species to fascinating birds, and even a lion. While the animals’ living quarters is not satisfying at all – too small and dirty cages, it is clear that the animal are being well-fed and cared for.
Remember to pay the small entrance fee and enjoy the opportunity to appreciate these creatures up close.
After my visit to the zoo, I took a stroll through the streets of Garoua. The sun was blazing and the heat grew more intense with each passing minute, making it difficult to endure.
Wandering in the streets
Strolling down the streets in Cameroon is a different experience compared to France or other parts of Europe. One needs to be cautious of where they are stepping, as there are holes, roots or pieces of metal that can cause one to fall. Despite the potential danger, walking is still the best way to immerse oneself in the country and connect with its people. This is precisely what I enjoy doing when I take my camera for a walk (while being mindful of pickpockets).
The experience of strolling through the streets of this Sahelian capital and observing the colorful garments worn by the locals was truly delightful. As a man, I couldn’t help but admire the legendary grace and beauty of the women originating from the northern region.
Exploring Garoua may pose some challenges, particularly during the hot and arid season where the temperature soar above 40C and the wind may not offer respite from the scorching sun.
Nonetheless, there are numerous parks and squares that are worth a visit, adorned with monuments and sculptures, and where families delight in the verdant lawns that are most probably watered every evening.
Additionally, you can behold the breathtaking architecture of landmarks such as the town hall and the new BEAC premises, but it’s important to exercise caution when taking pictures of public buildings as the local police may take action.
The newly built mosque (on this picture) is also a building worth visiting or at least having a look at.
Enjoying the rest of the day
After enduring the heat for over an hour and a half, I returned to my hotel to freshen up. With determination, I rehydrated myself with water and took a refreshing cold shower before diving into my seminar preparations.
Later, in the afternoon, I explored the city without electronic distraction, cherishing every moment without the need to capture photographs. Before I knew it, the day had flown by and I returned to my hotel for the second time.
I seized the opportunity to push my limits by going for a run, which lasted a bit less than an hour due to the heat.
To end my evening, I treated myself to a delightful dining experience at La Casa, a restaurant located in the plateau district.
It was a lovely day. This visit has confirmed my previous feeling that it is a city where I could happily spend my golden years. However, since I am only 35, I still have plenty of time before settling down 🙂