Around the world, ecotourism has been hailed as a panacea: a way to fund conservation and research, protect fragile and pristine ecosystems, benefit rural communities, promote development in poor countries, enhance ecological and cultural sensitivity, instill environmental awareness and social conscience in the travel industry, and satisfy and educate the discriminating tourist. At the threshold of the new millennium, tourism has emerged as the biggest industry of the future. Ecotourism today is an economic activity of immense global importance. Perhaps there is hardly any other field of activity where it captures the mind of so many people around the world and involves many people directly and indirectly.
Known as “the town of the rising sun”, the Eastern region of Cameroon is one of the most extensive regions of the country with an ecologically friendly environment. To the north, it is bordered by Adamawa, to the east by the Central African Republic, the south by the Republic of Congo and to the west by the center region. It is made up of national parks such as the Lobeke National Park with a rich and varied biodiversity in plants and wildlife resources with over 45 mammals species, 305 birds species, 18 reptiles species, 134 fish species, 764 plant species belonging to 102 families which have been identified (cameroontravelandtours.com), the Boumba Bek national park which according to the Environmental News Service, “encompasses a biodiverse group of plants and animals, Chimpanzees, forest antelope, crocodiles and bongos are all found in the Park. The Deng Deng National park is also an interesting attraction site which harbors great apes, gorilla, chimpanzee and other endangered species such as forest elephants. A population survey conducted around the Deng Deng National Park area revealed that more than 300 western lowland gorillas and 600 chimpanzees live within the National Park. The Dja Fauna Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site inscribed in 1987 and one of the largest and best protected reserve within the rainforest zone of Africa is also found in the East. It harbors a wide range of species such as chimpanzees, more than 1,500 known plant species, over 107 mammals (including forest elephants, African forest buffalo and leopard) and more than 320 bird species waterfalls and crater lakes.
Aside from the natural attractions around the region, other exciting sites to visit include;
The old colonial prison at Dume; the now abandoned prison was constructed in 1909 and it went operational in 1911. It partly hosted the administrators and had sections for prisoners. It also hosted a guillotine for execution of “notorious” activists and some buried alive. Today the structure has been abandoned by locals because of the agony surrounding the structure.
Also very exciting is the boat and canoe ride along rivers like the Sanaga, Lom, Pangar, Mbouti and Djérem that meanders within the Deng Deng-Dja Conservation corridor.
A visit to one of the oldest and largest college in the East Region; Ecole de Salle, constructed by the catholic missionaries in March 03, 1949 will be a great site for religious tour. The college partly hosted the bishop and established as an Apostolic Vicariate of Doume.
The culture of the people of East Cameroon will give you an unforgettable experience. The East region is dominated by the pygmies who are the oldest inhabitants of the region and the country as a whole. They have one of the ancient traditions and are adamant to change. They have refused to led the western culture erode their culture and way of life. The East is made up of the Gbaya and Baka who inhabits the area. Most of the original inhabitants of the region live in the hinterland with hunting being their main occupation. They have secret sites where they do healing and cleansing of the land when there are problems. They equally have very interesting traditional dances which are mostly exhibited during national days and cultural festivals. Participating in their traditional dances, their hunting methods, farming methods and different meals will give you an unforgettable experience. The land of the rising sun is indeed a place to visit.