A first look at the trip to Benin and Togo in 16 days
TRAVELLERS:We will be Isaac and Sele on our annual trip that has previously taken us to Iran, Galapagos, Botswana, Lofoten, Alaska or Tibet, from Cotters (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tripadvisor) and Sele's Corner
TRAVEL TIME: During16 days from the March 27 to April 11, 2019
TYPE OF TRAVEL: Travel with specialized local agency DESIGNED TO MEASURE with Loana Travel (you will have all the details in a detailed future article)
ITINERARY:We will enter and exit by Cotonou to start discovering its market, the floating town ofGanvie and Porto Novo and go north onKetou, Abomey, Parakou, Djougou and Pendjari. We will spend a few days on Somba land before crossing the border through Kara to the region of Kutammaku. The descent to the south will be through the interior of Togo to the Gulf of Guinea leaving behindAtakpamé, Kpalimé, Togoville and Lomé, crossing the border again towardsPossotome and Ouidah already in Benin and return from Cotonou, thus closing the circle.
In any case, it will be updated in the "Travel Journal" section
MAIN TRANSPORTATION: We will drive in a private vehicle except in the P.N. Pendjari that a 4x4 will be necessary
SECONDARY TRANSPORTATION: Who knows? Canoe, canoe, boat ... We better keep surprises for newspapers
ACCOMMODATIONS:It will be updated in the newspaper but we will sleep in hotels with double room (shared) and breakfast.
ACTIVITIES:Discover the colorful markets, the colonial cities, the legacy of past kingdoms, Benin and rural Togo, the most authentic nature walks, safari in the national park, local houses and unique ethnicities and approaches outside the tourist routes.
PASSPORT: It is essential that you have 6 months of validity on your trip (some copies in the suitcase come in handy)
VISA: Obtained online quickly inevisa.gouv.bj for Benin (eye, multiple entry for both tickets for 75 EUR) and we will on the border in Togo (eye, do not forget some photos as it never hurts)
VACCINATION CARD: Essential document that can be requested at any time both at the border and local police to check the vaccination of yellow fever. Formerly it was necessary to have it with 10 years of validity. Currently, the yellow fever vaccine is worth forever.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Never leave WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE! and more in Africa. As always, it will be IATI INSURANCE which will cover any mishap at the destination (and many years have gone by with them). You already know that if you need insurance and you are a CHAVETAS reader you save 5% by clicking here (THE DISCOUNT APPLIES DIRECTLY AND ALREADY APPEARS IN THE PROCESS).
PRACTICAL DATA OF UTILITY:
LANGUAGE: French is the official language but more than 50 native languages are spoken. However, we will have a Spanish guide with Loana Travel to solve our "mediocre" french.
CURRENCY: The currency of Benin and Togo is the CFA franc which is also legal tender in 6 other West African countries such as Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Senegal
CARDS:Except for major cities, we forget them. Better to have cash and exchange for CFA.
GUIDE: In this case there is no Lonely Planet that has convinced us but if a piece of guidance from the anthropologist Joan Riera VERY recommended called Heading to Benin. We also take the Petit Futé Benin in Spanish.
PHONE: It seems that roaming works although with limited coverage in certain areas
INTERNET: We will take our 4G Router with MIFI and buy a LOCAL SIM although it is expected that we have WIFI in the hotels.
SECURITY: Both Benin and Togo are considered one of the safest countries in the areas (right now)
VACCINES: All and more Yellow fever obligatory. Tetanus, Diphtheria, Triple Viral and Hepatitis B almost forced. Typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and Cholera highly recommended (ask for an appointment with External Health, always obliged, and they will give them to you) and Meningococcal Meningitis according to risk groups.
ELECTRICITY: The voltage is 220 V like Spain and the plugs and plugs are type E in Benin and type C in Togo. It is always best to carry auniversal plug adapter.
TIME DIFFERENCE: -1 hour in Togo and same time in Benin.
RELIGION: One of the great goals of the trip ... Voodoo! Animism accounts for 50% of the practice in Togo and Benin although in the latter there is a lot of syncretism with Christianity. However, Catholicism (25%) and Islam (18%) are important.
Why Benin and Togo as a destination? Our entry in West Africa
Is considered West Africa or West Africa one of the subdivisions that Africa has according to the UN and that includes a part of the world unknown to us. Mauritania, Cape Verde, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria. Where to start Perhaps Cape Verde, Senegal and Gambia or Ghana may be more open to tourism initially but we were already looking forward to the purest, most tribal black Africa, the animist religions, the colorful markets and great stories, perhaps from a somewhat darker past.
It was in 2013, the same one that we ended up in Iran, when Benin and Togo appeared on our list of destinations. Why not cross at that time on the road and if now, 6 years later? The reason in this case is calledLoana Travel And it is that at that time we did not find a way to ensure that we could get there where authentic events and rituals are held, those that are often transmitted orally without established schedules, or to attend some voodoo not prepared for the tourist. We met Euloge for multiple good opinions in the travelers forum and later his fanpage and we had no doubts ... it was what we were looking for! They are called as "lto the only agency in the world specialized in the Gulf of Guinea, experts focused on a single territory and with native guides who speak local languages as well as Spanish"but seeing their destinies we would go something further: specialists in West or West Africa (dark green travel)
Good! We already had that black Africa without intermediaries, or large groups, or pre-established itineraries, designed for and by us, and it was going to allow us to live it with its greatest splendor, local approach and authenticity, always following that spirit of sustainable, responsible tourism. Why Benin and Togo and no other? The Slave Coast is the answer, denomination that this part of the Gulf of Guinea received from where more than 2 million slaves left for America and Europe, between Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and eastern Ghana and of which there are many story to decipher behind
Except for our good friend Ali's travels, there are no large newspapers and information from these countries, which speaks of the little tourism they receive annually and is another great incentive of what we seek.
Why 2 weeks? Objectives of the trip to Benin and Togo
The great anthropologist says Joan Riera in his book that Benin is the best country that represents his continent ... Benin is Africa! Also the one that congregates the purest concept of Guinea. Although the trip is Benin and Togo, it is possibly the first that attracts us the most, especially for its richness in ethnic groups and tribal groups but also the voodoo spell, the colorful markets, the nature of lakes, hills and tropical forests or even the most unknown wildlife reserves. The 2 weeks, very necessary to cross roads still very precarious, they will allow us to return to Togo, a country parallel to Benin better known by the famous footballer Emmanuel Adebayor (or now Djené in the Spanish league).
And that Don't we want to get lost in our trip? Our objectives:
- Although a few years ago I had the privilege of meeting the Samburu, Masai or our trip to east africaspecifically, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and R.D. Congo, and also deepen the exodus of the repudiated Pygmies in Lake Buyonyi of Uganda, a town with more than 20,000 years old, are the "little known" ethnic groups of the holi, fulani, taneka or somba, among others (fon, adja, tofi, gbe, yoruba, mine) the main objective of the trip, nothing to do with the previous ones. These are tribal groups that have been some man-eating, others of scarified members, amazing hairstyles and great cultural diversity
- We will visit Islamized nomads, miscegenations with Christianity and, especially, animists but it is the Voodoo, one of the oldest religions on the planet and practiced by 60 million people, especially between Nigeria, Benin and Togo, in addition to Brazil, Venezuela, West Indies and the United States (south), as well as their dances, rituals and everything that congregates, which we will partially try to understand and is one of the main reasons why come with Loana Travel since it will help us to arrive where others do not arrive (or by free you cannot do it either)
- Parallel to the above, the fetishes associated with voodoo religion and its markets destined for sale in Abomey or Lomé, are another attraction that we do not want to miss.
- Enter the part of the purest nature from the hills of Agonlin, the Kpalimé region and many other countries
- Discover the so-called African Venice, the floating village of Ganvié on Lake Nokoué
- Decrypt UNESCO heritage in the legacy left by the Kingdom of Dahomey in the Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin), the country of the Batammariba in Koutammakou (Togo) or the P.N. Pendjari, wildlife refuge It goes very unnoticed to the few visitors in the country and has the largest population of West African elephants as well as the African manatee, cheetah, lion and leopard.
- Travel to last slaveholder of the country in Ouidah and reach the so-called “point of no return” that goes back to the location from which two million slaves left in a sad episode of our past.
- And, of course, visit the Colorful markets such as Dantokpa, or the capital of Benin, Porto Novo, Togoville and its amulet market, or the fishing village of Bopa.
As I have written all this, I admit to feeling especially excited. I feel like I'm going to teleport to a place on the planet where everything similar to the rest seen so far is going to be pure coincidence. Voodoo rituals, markets, nature and wildlife away from mass tourism and with the best possible host to discover it. What more could you want? Are you coming with us on this trip to Benin and Togo?
Isaac (along with Sele) heading to Benin and Togo