Douala, or Duala, situated on the Wouri River, 24km (15 miles) from the sea, is the largest city of Cameroon. It is sometimes dubbed Armpit of Africa and we have to admit it is a sweaty place. It lacks major sights, but the Akwa district is lively enough and has quite some good African restaurants.

Douala is not the capital of Cameroon, but the most significant city by its population, and by its economic role. The city was probably named after the Duala, an African ethnic group that originally settled in the area. The chief commercial centre, Douala has an airport and extensive docks, and is a terminus for two railway lines extending into the interior. Industries include the manufacture of aluminium products, beer, soft drinks, textiles, and the processing of timber and cacao beans. Douala’s port handles some 95 percent of the country’s maritime traffic, and is second only to Kinshasa as Central Africa’s largest city. Douala is divided into quarters or quartiers: Akwa, is the center of the city and the place where you will be spending most of your time, the Stand Municipal Artisanal, and Banajo the administrative district.

The major attraction in town is the Hotel Akwa Palace. To sit on the terrace and have coffee is the best way to spend a relaxing morning. The Musee de Doula is in the Hotel de Ville on the second floor. It gives you a pretty good intro in Bamoun and Bamileke art, very useful if you want to buy something later on. Close to the Museum is the Place du Gouvernement whith its Chinese Pagoda – built by Rudlof Douala Manga Bell, a local ruler who was executed by the Germans in 1914.

Daytrips from Douala can be made to the mountain resort of Mt Abu and to the beach resort of Limbe both only an hour away. Better beaches are in Kribi three to four hours by bush taxi.