Wedged between Ghana and Benin on the Atlantic Coast, Togo generally conjures up images afro-glamorous beachside resorts favoured by intrepid Europeans. In truth, the country did have a jet setting heyday in the nineteen sixties and seventies and the capital Lomé’s reputation as the ‘Paris of Africa’ has stuck – but only just. In the past decades political unrest has done much to scare the tourists and investors away. However Togo in now undergoing a relatively stable period, and the tourist dollar is much needed to get the country up and running again - which should be as good a reason as any to go.
But there are others. The first and foremost is Togo’s stunning natural beauty. Its coastline maybe only 56kms long, but what it makes up for it in sheer beauty - think powdery white sand and clusters of coconut palms set against crystal blue waves. And although its national parks have been neglected (conservation has not been high on the agenda in the country’s government of late) wildlife such as elephants, antelopes and crocodiles can be seen with the help of a guide. The flip side of the end of mass (for Africa) tourism is a mini boom in ecotourism start-ups, offering off the beaten track services to travellers.Read more
Another is the culture. Like most of West Africa, Togo is drenched in animist beliefs, and voodoo shrines, fetishes and colourful ceremonies are a common sight. One of the largest and noisiest is the Guin Festival held every September in Glidji - a four-day carnival-like event celebrating the spiritual beliefs of the Guin people. Lomé’s Musée International du Golfe de Guinée holds one of the finest collections of art in West Africa. For fans of architecture, the northern region of Kara offers a chance to see the famous turret-like tata houses and the large cities, particularly Lomé, has a good deal of period buildings left by the German and French colonists. Craft is abundant and varied, from the ubiquitous batik and wax print to ironwork and pottery.
Food is another highlight. Staples include friend plantain served with a peppery sauce and patés, or rather doughy balls made of corn or yam, that are designed to soak up all manner of stews and sauces. Vegetarians fare reasonably well in Togo – if in doubt, ask for arachide sauce with your paté, which is made of peanuts and sesame seeds.
Places of interest in Togo
Atakora is Benin’s north-western region, an area which hosts a number of the country’s major sites, most notably...
The capital and largest city in Togo (the two don’t always go together in Africa) Lomé is a bustling place and a...
Sokodé is Togo’s second-largest city and it has the largest Muslim population in the country. A handful of mosques...