Togo is a country on the west coast of Africa. It borders Ghana, Benin, and Burkina Faso. The capital of Togo is Lome, on the Bight of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea, in the south of the country. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Togo is known for its relaxed way of life, gorgeous beaches, and incredible hiking.
The international airport in Togo is Lome-Tokoin Airport, outside of Lome. There are direct flights to New York, Paris, and Brussels in addition to flights within West Africa. To get from the airport to the city, flag down a motorcycle taxi or catch the train. Travelling through the country is difficult without a driver or your own transport. There are buses that go between Lome and Kara, but to get to most of the wildlife parks, you’ll want a tour guide. The people speak French, so be warned that if you can’t speak minimal French, it will be very hard to get around.
The currency in Togo is the CFA Franc, which the the currency that most of French West Africa uses. It is linked to the Euro, which means that when the Euro is strong, so is the CFA. This can mean that it will be more expensive to travel in Togo than in other African countries. The main economy is agriculture; Togo produces cocoa beans, coffee, and peanuts. They also have extensive phosphate deposits. Togo is one of the least developed countries but enjoys a fairly high standard of living because of their size. Lome is a bustling city with a cathedral, the Grand Market, and the voodoo market.
Not much is known about Togo prior to the Portuguese settling in the late 15th century, though archaeologists do know that various tribes made their way into Togo between the 11th and 16ht centuries. When the European slave trade picked up in the 16th century, Togo was among the coastal region named the Slave Coast. In 1884, Togo signed a protectorate agreement with Germany and was a German colony until the First World War, when it split into two and became British and French territories; subsequently the British territory became Ghana and the French became Togo. Togo gained full independence from France in 1960.
Budget accommodation in Togo can be found in Lome, the capital. Outside of the city, traditional European-style backpacker hostels are rare, as they are in most of West Africa. Instead of hostels, consider an inexpensive pension or guesthouse. You may also find that hotels are inexpensive. Look for hotels with mosquito netting, otherwise you’ll be uncomfortable.
Similar to the other West African countries, Togo is long and skinny, with a 56km coastline and only about 400km from north to south. The country’s landscape goes from the lush palm trees and verdant coast to the gently rolling hills of the savannah. The highest peak in Togo is Mount Agou, in the southern central plateau.
Many travellers find that the coastal region is the best place to go, as its easy to get between Ghana and Nigeria through Benin and Togo. The best scenery is in the north, however, and to get there can be quite a task. Kara is the main town in the north. Buses run daily from Lome, but keep in mind that infrastructure is not good and the 7 hour trip could turn into a day or more. In Kara, be sure to visit the Koutammakou UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the Batammariba tribe and showcases the impressive and indigenous mudbrick houses. Some of these towers are two-storeys tall; visiting the tribe will give you a better understanding of native life in West Africa.
While most travellers take the coastal route through Togo, take your time and head north. You will find that the true Togo reveals itself to you there.
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