vital statistics
  • Lomé
  • 7.5 million
  • French
  • CFA franc
about Togo

Did you have to check out Google Maps? There’s no shame in that since this is one of Africa’s smallest nations, wedged between Ghana and Benin, and it’s major claim to fame is its ranking in the bottom five of the world’s happiest countries.

Those who make it there find little evidence of the latter, although there's certainly not much in the way of creature comforts if you decide Togo is for you. Its capital Lomé – once known as the Paris of West Africa – is on the coast. There’s little heed paid to the needs of tourists, but it’s a laid-back place where the streets are broad and the markets colourful. Make sure you head to the Marché des Féticheurs, the world’s largest voodoo market (somehow the missionaries who travelled to Africa back in the nineteenth century couldn’t convince the Togolese to give up their animist ways). It’s not one for the weak of stomach or PETA supporters, since it’s chockablock with dead critters. You can, however, meet with a practitioner to cure your woes – live hawks and eagles are used to rid the unlucky of curses.

Outside of Lomé there is little in the way of infrastructure – public transport is non-existent, and running water and electricity can’t be taken for granted – but the people are welcoming and generous. Hike up Mount Agou and look out to Ghana, or head to Parc de Sarakawa. You’re not going to see any of the big five here, but then there’s not going to be moving herds of 4WDs blocking your view while you’re watching antelopes, zebras or ostriches either.

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