Tag Archives: Cameroon

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to Oron, Nigeria, by boat

Malabo port

Malabo port

Last month a friend and I traveled by boat from Malabo, Equatorial Guinea to Tiko, Cameroon, to Calabar, Nigeria to Oron, Nigeria.  I thought boat travel would be the poor man’s way of travel, but this was not the case.  The trip cost in total about $150, plus lodging for a night in Cameroon.  As a result, the Nigerian and Cameroonian passengers chose this route perhaps in part to save a bit of money, but I think more because you can carry more goods on a boat than on a plane.

Fishermen off the coast of Cameroon

Fishermen off the coast of Cameroon

The 6-hour trip to Tiko was gorgeous.  Everyone wanted to be in this big air conditioned room, so we had the upper deck all to ourselves.

Immigration at Tiko was not fun.  The man who had the transit visas had gone home for the night.  An incredibly corrupt immigration officer kept us in her office for about 3 hours as she collected bribes from passengers whose documents were not in order.  She was waiting us out.  Finally we paid our first-ever bribe to be let into the city: $40.  Half of this went into her overstuffed wallet, and half went to bribe the soldiers to let us out without the transit visas.  It was a horrible experience.   We essentially reported her the next morning, and after we were already on the boat to Nigeria, got free Cameroonian transit visas.

The boat from Cameroon to Nigeria

The boat from Cameroon to Nigeria

The overnight ride to Calabar took 9 hours and was very comfortable.  As we walked off the boat’s ladder, a woman in plain clothes took our passports and told us to follow a man in plain clothes.  They turned out to be State Security Service officials, and we were professionally interrogated about our boat trip and travel for a bit.

We boarded our next boat to Oron.  While walking around the Oron market we were interrupted by an immigration officer, as Oron is also an international (albeit very small) port.  He went through out passports for about 45 minutes, trying to find something wrong with them.  Failing at that, he made us come to the Oron immigration office.  For another two hours we were interviewed by more immigration officials and another State Security Service officer.  We waited them out.  Finally, one of the immigration officials asked us for money to cover the photocopies they had made of our passports.  We refused, and were let go.

Overall: a fascinating experience, especially seeing how immigration works outside of the polished international airports in big West African cities.  But not an experience I wish to repeat.