Tourists once flocked to the rugged far north of Cameroon for its wildlife and spectacular scenery, until cross-border raids by the Nigerian Islamist extremists of Boko Haram all but halted such visits.
“Before we had many tourists, but people are afraid to come now,” said Moussa Ali, who has a stall in the craft market at Maroua, the main town of the Extreme North region, a strip of territory between Nigeria to the west and Chad to the east.
A handful of potential customers, mainly Cameroonians, stopped to look at Ali’s stand, but he said that he could “go for two weeks without a single sale. It was above all the white people who gave us a living”.
In the dry season from October to March, the Waza National Park, famous for its elephants, giraffes and antelopes, drew several thousand visitors each year, until fear of Boko Haram activity dried up the flow almost two years ago.
The visitors often included expatriates living in the capital Yaounde and the economic hub of Douala, a major port city. Others came from the Chadian capital N’Djamena, which is not far away.
Hikers used to enjoy the high plateau of the Mandara mountains, a breathtaking lunar landscape where tall rocky outcrops stand out as far as the eye can see.
“You’ll cross the border without even knowing it,” local guides used to tell visitors until the far side of the frontier was considered dangerous and security forces declared the area a “red zone”.
Source – http://www.newvision.co.ug
Photo Credits – AFP