Original Touring Africa Diary – Togo & Benin

It seems that the last entry for Ghana tempted fate. We were set to cross the border into Togo on the 9th but due to ‘the machine’ at the Nigerian embassy being broken somehow our visa pickup was delayed by a few hours and we left Accra later than expected on the 9th of July. We had a great plan to stay at a lovely beach resort by Ada which involved the last stretch of road being a sandy beach. Milan was confident enough to drive through on the beach, ‘we’ve driven through worse sand than this – it will be a piece of cake!’. Sure enough we only managed a few metres on the beach and then we were stuck deep in the sand and Edmund wouldn’t budge. It seems the whole village came to us as within a few minutes we were surrounded by big eyed little kids and local fishermen, all the kids telling us they would help push and we would be out in no time. Louise took a few photos of the incident but they weren’t very happy about that as one woman came up to her, stared at her while saying something over and over again, I think it was a curse….. A few men helped us dig and we were out after 2 hours just before it got dark. Unwilling to continue to the beach resort we drove back to the solid ground and decided to stay in the hotel for USD 80, which was Louise’s MasterCard moment and it was well worth it after all that drama.

Next morning we crossed the border into Togo and arrived at Chez Alice in Lome (N06°10.083, E001°20.425) just as the Dutch bikers Anne and Reinier were packing up to leave. We persuaded them to stay one more night so we could catch up while drinking a few beers with Matt the truck driver who we knew was buying Big Milly’s in Ghana and would have useful information for our next stretch. Quoting Matt on Nigeria as he said it too many times after a few Castel’s: ‘It’s just different’ and ‘it’s f’ing cold in Nigeria’. He knew some of the truck drivers who Milan had met on his last trip 15 years ago and told us we could find Pineapple Doug at Karen’s Camp in Nairobi, Kenya.

We left Togo for the Benin border on the 12th only to be surprised that the border was 20 km’s before the GPS marking which we would have easily driven past if we had not asked – the border is here N06°14.413, E001°37.731. We drove along the coast until we found Auberge de Grand Popo (N06°16.766, E001°49.776) which Milan has such fond memories of. It was indeed a lovely spot right on the beach. The first night was so windy that we decided to try our ground tent the next night, which was absolutely brilliant. Thanks to all our friends back home for giving us this magnificent little house! Anne and Reinier also showed up at the beach and we teamed up the next day in Edmund on the hunt for the Congolese visa in Cotonou. Matt had given us some vague directions on how to find it but after driving around in the rain for a few hours asking every zemi-john (moto-taxi) where the embassy was and nobody knew or pointed to the other side of the river, we thought that perhaps he had given us wrong information in his drunken state that one evening. After 6 hours driving around the flooded, muddy, polluted streets of the city we finally found the embassy just in time to get our visas on the spot (N06°22.093, E002°29.601 – CFA 20’000) – yippie!

With our visas in our passports we headed north to Abomey where we bumped into Ellen and Erik and had a nice dinner with the 6 of us at Chez Monique. We checked out the Musée Historique d’Abomey which gives you a good insight into the gory history of the Dahomey kings and the Amazon warriors where we witnessed one throne which stands on top of 4 skulls of the kings enemies. Seeing all we wanted to see in the town we carried on with Anne and Reinier, as we were anyway going in the same direction, heading north towards the border town of Nikki. Leaving Abomey was a little trickier than we had anticipated as Anne’s bike would not start. Finally it did and we were on the road.

We pulled off the road just after Dassa in a place called Tchachegou and asked a lady if we could camp further up the little road. Of course we could and we would sleep beautifully! We drove first up the hill trying to find a suitable spot where Edmund could sleep, only to notice that the bikes were not following us. We turned back and Anne’s bike would not start again. We decided to camp there and when we turned around to park a little further towards the hills, Milan reversed Edmund into a big hole in the ground. It was the end of the day for the locals that had been chipping rocks into small pieces, so of course 4 whities trying to get a heavy vehicle out of a hole must have been an amusing sight for them. Naturally they all stayed and looked and helped us and after much laughter we were out and we set up camp. The locals were still really curious and surrounded us for some hours I’m sure. Anne and Reinier figured out that the air filter was blocked on the bike and that was what was causing the problem. The funny lady we had spoken to before arrived and we had a great laugh with her, Adele – we think she was the village loon. The rain came down and we sat under the awning, or as Reinier calls it – the yawning, until late playing cards. At midnight Anne and Reinier sang Happy Birthday to Milan from their tent which was really nice! Early next morning we were awoken by the same local people chatting and laughing at us, they must think us whities are really strange.

We left our special lady Adele and the lovely people of Tchachegou and headed for Parakou where we found a lovely bushcamp (N09°37.920, E002°39.587) for Milan’s birthday, where he made a really nice sponge and pineapple cake in the Dutch Oven!

The next morning we wanted to tackle the border into Nigeria at Nikki, which we found from turning off at N’Dali at N09°51.783, E002°43.129. Customs at Nikki: N09°55.651, E003°12.558. Police post at Tchikandou: N09°50.087, E003°21.613.We were warmly welcomed by the customs officials in Nigeria and we entered the country on a very positive note, plus it was English again!

This entry was posted in Africa, Original Touring Africa Diary, Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.