Togo is a narrow country in West Africa, sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, with a small border with Burkina Faso to the north, and a 56km coastline on the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
- De La Kara
- Des Plateaux
- Des Savanes
French Togoland became Togo in 1960. General Gnassingbe Eyadema, installed as military ruler in 1967, is Africa's longest-serving head of state. Despite the façade of multiparty elections instituted in the early 1990s, the government continues to be dominated by President Eyadema, whose Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party has maintained power almost continually since 1967. In addition, Togo has come under fire from international organizations for human rights abuses and is plagued by political unrest. Most bilateral and multilateral aid to Togo remains frozen.
Tropical; hot, humid in south; semiarid in north. In the south the climate is 23 degrees celsius to 32 degrees celsius (75 degrees fahrenheit to 90 degrees fahrenheit). In the north the climate is 18 degrees celsius to 38 degrees celsius (65 degrees fahrenheit to 100 degrees fahrenheit).
Highly variable stretching from north to south. Gently rolling savanna in north; central hills; southern plateau; low coastal plain with extensive lagoons and marshes.
It is cheaper to buy the Togo visa at the border rather than going through an internet site. Online, however will probably be less of a hassle so that you do not need to renew your week-long initial visa or have to pay 30,000 CFA extra.
Several airlines offer regular flights to Lome. But flying directly to Togo is often more expensive than flying to Accra in neighboring Ghana. Comfortable, air-conditioned, and reasonably priced busses leave Accra for the border at Aflao. At Aflao, travellers must walk across the border into Lome and find their own transport inside Togo.
There are tracks but no trains are available!
There are bush taxis everywhere. These are basically four door cars, with four people in the back, and two sharing the front. From either Accra or Benin you can take bush taxis for under $5 to Lomé. From there, you can take them out to more rural areas. You can also offer to pay for the entire car, so that you're not cramped. For this, calculate the price of six people, and then bargain down from there, as it saves the driver time having to wait for the car to fill before he can leave.
The boat usually helps you get in or out of Togo.
A zemidjan (motorcycle taxi) will cost 150-200 CFA to get you around. You can't tell who they taxi drivers are--they will honk or hiss at you as they drive by. Negotiate before getting on the bike. A cab will usually cost about 500CFA for a one-way short trip if you are not willing to share the cab.
2,000 CFA (francs) can get 2 or 3 people a taxi ride in Lome of about 20km. A fist-size ebony elephant or other carving costs about 3,000 CFA. 100 CFA is an acceptable payment for another kid to do your homework. A man can have a shirt made for less than $10. (At the time I travelled, 1,000 CFA= $2 USD). A necklace costs about $5.
Corn pounded into flour and then put with water. This dish is usually served with sauces.
White yams pounded into a material somewhat like mashed potatoes. Like akume, the dish usually comes with sauces.
Lemonade and Bissap juice are the most popular drinks. Plus, there are many bars almost around all corners where you will be able to have a beer. Kodjoviakope is a popular bar area, with a nice bar/restaurant at Hotel Bellevue (behind the German Embassy), and then quite a few bars just up the street. Further downtown, there is a live jazz bar that is very popular with expats.
There are also bars all along the beach, which are fine during the day. At night be careful of robbers, however.
- Hotels. Hotel Bellevue has wireless internet access, and a lovely atmosphere with a waterfall running into a small swimming pool. The food is delicious, and it's a pleasant nice place to stay. The owners are French, and very welcoming. There is also a small hotel called Hotel Cote Sud, run by an older French man. The prices there are lower, and the food is excellent.
Sports, especially football is the main entertaining activity in Togo. You can watch the football (soccer) league games played in the weekends (check listings). Apart from football, there are several night clubs that can keep you awake at night, and the capital is full of them; the Chess BSBG is among the most popular. TV programs are not the best in the world, with movies and sitcoms that have been played for years. Plus, the beach offers another type of fun. Many activities and parties are organized there, with people coming from all over Lome to enjoy the beautiful weather in the weekends. Despite those great thing at the beach, you really have to choose a good spot, to avoid stepping or sitting on the unwanted.
Stay away from the beach at night. Tourists have been robbed during the daytime as well. Don't wander around drunk after dark. Keep your street smarts and you should be fine. Also don't let any child wander alone. Don't leave any money around the place you are staying at also. You want to stay as safe as possible!
Drink bottled water such as Volta or sachets of "Pure Water". Bissop juice is also fairly safe as it is boiled, and avoid the lemonade "citron" despite its delicious aspect. Stay away from road-side meals if possible. People relieve themselves in the streets in Lome, so be aware of that.
Greetings are a little more elaborate in Togo. Say hello to everyone when coming and going. Handshakes are key. Also maybe if you try to get to know them you will fit in. Make sure you make yourself feel like you are at home. Don't make it too homey, though, because you don't want to get on their bad side.
Lome has Internet cafes, and they are cheap. You buy time by the hour (something like a couple dollars an hour), but most of the cafes feature very slow computers and internet connection speeds. You can buy calling cards along the street. It is, however, much cheaper for people in the United States to call with their calling cards to a Togo cell phone.