The South West Region is one of the two Anglophone regions of Cameroon. It is characterised by a rich and always green vegetable cover, resulting from an abundant rainfall, favourable to the development of a prosperous agro-industrial activity. It is bordered on the west by the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to the east by the Littoral, West and North West regions, and opens to the Atlantic Oceans on the south.
Buea is the Regional head quarter. The South West Region is spread over a surface area of 25 410 km2 and has a population of 1 318 000 inhabitants (2010 estimates).
It is made up of six divisions:
KUPE MANENGUBA (BANGEM)
The region is endowed with a wealth of tourism resources, including:
Colonial vestiges such as the former palace of the German Colonial Governor, Von Puttkamer, built at the beginning of the 20th century;
Mount Cameroon, towering at 4 100 meters and it is still an active volcano;
The Korup National Park, a true living museum of more than 300 million years and home to a rich flora and fauna of rare variety;
The Limbe Botanical Garden, created in 1892, by a German horticulturist;
The Limbe Zoo, open to tourists throughout the year;
The Barombi Lake in Kumba, nested in a luxuriant decoration, and many more.
The South West Region is also home to many beautiful black sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean.
It has an equatorial climate, with regular abundant rains and constantly high temperatures (on average around 26°C). A notable characteristic here is the Debunscha area, considered one of the areas with the highest rainfalls in the world with about 10 000mm of rain per year.
POPULATIONS OF THE SOUTH WEST REGION
The South West Region of Cameroon along with the Southeast of Nigeria is considered as the cradle of the Bantu people. Nowadays, the Tikar, the Bamoun and the Bamiléké are the main occupants of these high plateaux. Besides, there are also the Bororos (Fulanis cattle herdsmen) who have gradually become sedentary and live on these highlands, while preserving their religious beliefs and traditions.
It is naturally gifted with enormous natural tourism resources, namely the vast green forests, the diverse fauna and the rich cultural heritage of the local populations. It is the home of the famous Korup National Park, covering some 125 000 hectares of wet tropical forest.
From the long beaches, to the lush green forests, the South West Region presents a multiple facetted landscape that offers visitors an opportunity to discover different natural environments. Villages along the coast are made up of extended families that live on fishing and related activities.
It is the highest mountain in West Africa, peaking at 4 100 meters above sea level. It is famous for the international racing competition organised every year to climb to its highest point. It is a volcanic mountain that is still active today. The latest eruption occurred in 1999, when its lava obstructed the road from Limbe to Idenau.
THE KORUP NATIONAL PARK
Unique of its kind, it covers 1260 km2 and is regarded as one of the oldest and most beautiful wet tropical forest of the world. Its rich fauna and flora are probably due to the fact that it survived the Ice Ages and today it resembles a living museum of more than 60 million years.
More than 400 species of plants of which of which many are medicinal were identified therein. It is also home to more than 300 species of birds, more than 174 reptiles and amphibians and 140 fish species that populate the many rivers crisscrossing the park. Earmarked as a natural game reserve, many animal species living there including elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, leopards or chimpanzees are protected.
THE LIMBE BOTANICAL GARDEN
It is specially dedicated to the reproduction of plant species. The Limbe Botanical Garden is a MUST SEE tourist site in the city. It was established in 1892 and offers a rare opportunity to discover a multitude of plant species often studied in pharmacology and agro-industry. It also showcases the rich equatorial and Cameroon’s botanical wealth.
THE LIMBE ZOOLOGICAL CENTER
This animal conservation center was established in 1993 jointly by the government of Cameroon and the Pandrillus Foundation to collect and reintroduce domesticated wild animals and other animals seized from poachers into their natural habitat. Many exotic animals can be found there, including the pythons, primates, crocodiles, birds and tortoises.
THE MOUNT CAMEROON INTER – COMMUNAL BOARD OFFICE
It is a pioneer undertaking in Cameroon. It provides many tourism related services including mountain climbing, hiking, etc. It is under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure and is supported by the German Development Agency and the German Technical Cooperation Agency.
The excellent soil conditions have helped the establishment of many agro-industries, Including the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), one of the main companies in Cameroon and the second recruiter of labour after the State. In its vast plantations throughout the region and beyond, the CDC produces and transforms tea, banana, pineapple, coffee, and many other agricultural produce. The South West Region is the home of the world’s famous Penja pepper, with its unique taste appreciated by the chefs the world over.
SEASIDE RESORT TOURISM
From the tree – covered hills to the vast beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, the South West Region also hosts the highest mountain in western Africa, the Mount Cameroon, peaking at 4 100 meters above sea level. Mount Cameroon is an active volcano.
The beautiful and black famous sand beaches resulting from the various Mount Cameroon eruptions are a preferred holiday destination for many Cameroonians and foreigners. Limbe is the second seaside resort of the country after Kribi. The refreshing permanent marine breeze combined with the warm and calm sea set excellent conditions for bathing all day. Many of the hotels are just by the seaside and offer ideal conditions for relaxing holiday.
It is a small fishing village that was transformed into a seaside resort over the years, thanks to its excellent beaches. It is located some 30 km away from Limbe and its proximity with the sea and diversity of the local flora has seduced many visitors who keep on coming to relax. There is a sizeable foreign population here, mostly Ghanaian and Nigerian fishermen living peacefully with their Cameroonian hosts, both locals and those from other regions of the country, including north westerners, Bakweris, Ewondos and others, engaging mostly in fishing activities.
This is a small town at the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. It has an important river port and is a melting pot of different communities from both countries and always bustling with business and the colourful dugouts that transports goods and persons between the two countries.
The cultural heritage of the South West Region is inseparably associated with the history of colonialism in Cameroon.
On the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, not far from Limbe, lays the old slave trade port of Bimbia. The site, still well preserved by the thick forest, was discovered some 22 years ago, in 1987, when excavation works were being carried out in the area to build the Alfred Saker commemorative church. The site still carries indelible traces of the dreadful slave trade with the ruins of the buildings where the slaves were kept before being embarked, the locks and the other tools used by the traders to shackle them.
THE VON PUTTKAMER PALACE
Built in the year 1895 in Buea, this Bavarian style palace is a testimony of German colonial past in Cameroon. Former residence of Governor Von Puttkamer, it is nowadays closed to the public but is at the center of a legend according to which at night, the palace is haunted by the late wife of the Governor, who appear in the building playing piano.
THE GERMAN GRAVES
Buea was the political of Cameroon between 1901 and 1908, when it was a German colony. The city shelters tombs of former German soldiers and officials who lived here during that period.
Other historical monuments in the city of Buea include the Bismarck Fountain built in 1899 and other vestiges of its rich colonial past.
The Mount Cameroon race also known as the “Race of Hope” held every year in Buea at the foot of the mountain is the main sport tourism event in the region. This international event is an opportunity for the region to showcase its rich natural and cultural resources and also to increase its visibility both at home and abroad.
Apart from the conventional sporting activities and traditional medicine, Buea is also famous for its natural spring water SPA at the Seme Beach Hotel. It is the ideal place for a healthy massage.
WATERFALLS, LAKES AND DAMS
The many rivers in the region are often cut through by waterfalls and dams that create water reservoirs and lakes.
Picturesque and impressive waterfalls can be observed at the Mobombe and Nyarue waterfalls in Konye district, Ekumbe Waterfall in Mbonge district, at Mundemba, Mana and Meta waterfalls.
There are also many lakes here including the Barombi Kotto Lake, a vast and splendid crater lake, the Inner Salt Lake near Mamfe, the Ejaghem Lake in Eyumojock district and the Twin Lakes designated male and female, on top of Mount Manenguba with its splendid landscape.
Other places of interest include:
The John Holf Beach in Mamfe town, on the banks of the Cross Rivers;
The Takamanda and Southern Bakundu Forest Reserves with their rich fauna;
The Suspension Bridge in Mamfe over the River Manyu, a colonial heritage;
The Okoyong Caves;
The German water pump in Mamfe.