ZeeGoes to West Africa
Three weeks ago, I found myself experiencing the highs and lows of travelling through West Africa in a way I never fathomed I would. I shall focus on the highs instead of the constant lows of disappointment in the corrupt practices while passing through the borders of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
In Benin republic, I went up north from Dassa into Natitingou. Nati, as the locals call it, was suggested to me by a friend who fell in love with the surrounding hills and many waterfalls in the region. He also gave me the number of a local hotel manager, Kader, for an affordable accommodation at Nanto Lodge at 8000cfa/night. Thanks to Kader, I got to experience a scenic bike ride through the city, swam beneath the waterfalls of Kota. Tried out their local variation of fufu (same as Nigeria’s pounded yam), and got on a bumpier ride into a village called Koussoukoingou or Koussou to visit the Tammari people in their picturesque Tata Somba homes. If I had a bit more cash, I would have taken my trip further by driving through the Pendjari national park to see some wildlife, but maybe another time.
Thanks to a tip from the new friends I made in Cotonou (see last article), I had a great place to stay in Togo: on a mountain farmhouse in Kpime Dzokoto village with the most welcoming family ever. Word to the wise: do not travel in mini transport buses for they will waste your time with constant stops for more passengers. Also, make sure to haggle for the front seat of a taxi car and pay a bit extra to be the only passenger in the front seat. Togo taxis drivers would squeeze in 100 people into a five-seater car if it were possible.
I stayed with the most welcoming family – a French man named Alex, his Togolese wife named Akpene, and their beautiful daughter. I felt like I was transported into a different world and when it was time to leave, I found myself dragging my feet. They offered me a guest hut to sleep in, but the hammock tied between a couple of palm trees with the stars twinkling in the clear sky and the rushing sound of the waterfall from a short walk down a narrow path captured me. I carried my blanket to the hammock and turned nature into my own bedroom space for the night. For lovers of the outdoor, a night alone in Kpime does not suffice. I suggest at least six nights to fully explore and experience the beauty of the mountain and its friendly people. For the explorers, there are a good number of waterfalls that only the locals know of, like an access path to a river leading to Ghana’s Lake Volta for a leisurely canoe ride and beautiful hiking paths that many of the village kids will be willing to take you through if you ask nicely.
From Kpime, I travelled into Accra just in time for Ghana Tourism Authority’s (GTA) group trip and Accra Weizo travel exhibition. While Kpime tops my overall travel experience in West Africa, Ghana changed the tone of my backpacking trip from budget travel to luxury.
We spent a couple of nights on the central south coast of Ghana in Royal Ridge Hotel, Cape Coast and I went on a walking tour of the Cape Coast castle to learn about Ghana’s slave history. We danced the night away at a beach bonfire at Elmina Castle Hotel to the rhythm of local live music as well as trying out Ghana’s version of jollof rice. Sorry Ghana, but Naija is still the winner of #JollofWar.
On our way back to Accra, we spent the afternoon hiking through the Kakum National Park and it was amazing to watch some of my fellow Africans conquer their fear of heights by trekking on the canopy walk. Once we got to Accra, I was even more wowed by the luxury hotel we were lodged at, Kempinski. Breakfast there was like a ritual that required more than a few hours of my time – probably where my extra 10lbs came from. While I lean more on the edge as a travel enthusiast than a travel professional, the two days spent at the Accra Weizo travel exhibition helped me gain insight into travel through the West of Africa than my internet searches ever taught me.
Once the Fam trip and Accra Weizo was over, it was time for me to experience the nightlife of Accra the best way possible, with my local friend, Sekou. We started our night at the exclusive Urban Grill where all of my senses were treated to best; the décor, the food, the wine, and the service, all five stars. From Urban grill, we went off to Sky Bar – a members-only rooftop bar atop one of Ghana’s highest building – for drinks with friends. Before calling it a night, a small group of us went dancing at a club called, Twist. Twist was also where I last saw my Samsung S7 edge and I blame it absolutely on the DJ that played nonstop good music from Wizkid, Davido, Mr Eazi and then the local favourites.Despite the loss of my phone, this experience left me hankering for more travels within Africa. So, where should I go to next?