Togo – Lome
As many of other representative African urban centers, Lome stands out through its incredible diversity, its intriguing mixture of African culture and traditions and French colonialism. To get the most out of the experience, ignore the travel guides’ sales pitch that will present Lome as “the Paris of West Africa” – some of its wide boulevards and the influence of French culture may be some arguments in that sense, but the Togolese capital has its own personality. It is a coastal city, on the Gulf of Guinea, which means that you can include a relaxing morning on the beach in your tour.
Flying directly into Lome from one of the European cities may be more expensive than flying into Accra, the capital of neighboring Ghana, and taking one of the road transportation options along the coastal road that is in good condition. You can rent and drive your own car or share one of the van-taxi that takes about 4 hours from Accra to Aflao, on the border between Ghana and Togo. You can walk across the border and into Lome.
What to see
The Grand Market would be the obvious choice to start your tour, as it is considered one of the most representative symbols of the Togolese capital. Housed in a 3-storey building, the market is enormous and sells anything you might think of, from electronics to cloth and clothing and more cooking items to baskets. You can enjoy the local culture in some of the earthenware that is sold, along with many other traditional objects.
The Lome Cathedral is right next to the Grand Market, so it will make sense to blend this in the same day. The Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 20th century in a German Neo-Gothic style that can rival any of its equivalents in Europe.
The Fetish Market is not to be missed when you visit Lome. You will find an interesting combination between a flea market and mystery space in which carcasses, different plants and traditional medicine, shamans and wooden statues make the connection with the magical side of things. Be aware of any potential scams: as a Westerner, if you arrive in a taxi, you will be seen as a tourist who will pay as much as $15 to enjoy a tour of the place. If you walk and stay inconspicuous, it will pay off.