Kribi, Cameroon

Photo: Hotel Residence SanMarco Kribi

Is Kribi the next big tourist destination in Africa? Its deep-sea port, the only one in Central Africa, is in the process of a major expansion. An eco-friendly resort is planned along the golden-sand beach. While historic sites, wildlife reserves, and waterfalls are within a short drive of the coast. Cameroon may soon end up on many wish lists.

Though Cameroon is politically stable, the Central African country hasn’t been well explored by tourists. It could be because of its neighbors. Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic each have their own issues impeding their development. Maybe it’s the country’s fractured history, since it was divided between France and the United Kingdom after World War I. It still has two official languages today. Or perhaps it’s the prevalence of bribery—at the airport, border crossings, and even tourist sites—that made people choose other countries. Luckily, the long-standing practice isn’t as common as it used to be.

But back to Kribi. The modern city sits on the Gulf of Guinea in the South Region of Cameroon. It’s 90 miles south of Douala, the country’s largest city. It’s also at the end of the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline, which transports iron ore from Mbalam for export. The Germans were the first Europeans to arrive along this section of the coast. They built the Cathedral of St. Joseph and the Kribi Lighthouse, which both still stand today. But the city was largely forgotten once the British and the French arrived.

You arrive at Hotel Residence San Marco, a small hotel along the beach, after a long drive from Douala. It’s still hot and very humid, but at least there’s a breeze coming off the clear water now. The hotel has a refreshing pool, an open-air restaurant, and a wide deck overlooking the fine sand. Crabs, lobsters, and what you’ll soon learn is a massive barracuda are grilling over coals nearby. Plus a cold beer is already being poured for you from the tap at the bar.

With your beer in hand, you walk toward the railing of the deck. The beach is peaceful and picturesque. It’s also certainly bound to change. Hopefully Kribi is ready for it.

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