For those fond of travelling off the beaten track, Togo is a rewarding destination. Its great diversity of landscapes ranges from lakes and palm-fringed beaches along the Atlantic coastline to the rolling forested hills in the centre; heading further north, the mantle of lush forest is replaced by the light-green and yellowy tinges of savannah. It’s an excellent playground for hikers there’s no better ecofriendly way to experience the country’s savage beauty than on foot.
Another highlight is Togo’s melting-pot culture. The fortified compounds of Koutammakou are a reminder that the country’s ethnically diverse population didn’t always get along, but nowadays voodoo, Muslim, Christian and traditional festivals crowd the calendar and are often colourful celebrations for all.
The cherry on top is Lome, the low-key yet elegant capital, with its large avenues, tasty restaurants and throbbing nightlife not to mention the splendid beaches on its doorstep.
Togo’s capital â€“ once dubbed ‘the pearl of West Africa’ may be a shadow of its former self, but it retains a charm and nonchalance that is unique among West African capitals. You’ll probably appreciate its human scale and unexpected treats and gems: from tasty maquis food to colourful markets and palm-fringed boulevards
On the southern shores of Lac Togo, part of the inland lagoon that stretches all the way from Lome to Aneho, Agbodrafo is a popular weekend getaway for frazzled Lome residents. Swimming in the lake which is croc and bug-free is blissful. It’s also a good place to find a pirogue (traditional canoe) to Togoville, which was the former seat of the Mlapa dynasty and Togo’s historical centre of voodoo.
Kpalime is only 120km from Lome, but feels like another world. Hidden among the forested hills of the cocoa and coffee region, it offers some of Togo’s best scenery and hiking and a lovely waterfall. It’s also a busy place thanks to its proximity to the Ghanaian border and an important and lively market.
Unpretentious and relaxing, Parc de Sarakawa is easily accessed from Kara as a day trip. While its wildlife watching can’t compare with that of the better-known parks in West Africa, this park spreads out over 607 hectares and is home to various species of antelope, buffaloes, ostriches and zebras. Game drive can be arranged at the gate. There are plans to build a lodge within the park for future.
Other Places Of Interest
Also known as Tamberma Valley after the people who live here, Koutammakou has a unique collection of fortress-like mud houses, founded in the 17th century by people fleeing the slave-grabbing forays of Benin’s Dahomeyan kings. Listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2004, the area is one of the most scenic in the country, with stunning mountain landscapes and intense light.
Parc National de Fazao-Malfakassa
This 1920-sq-km national park is one of the most diverse West African parks in terms of landscape, with forest, savannah, rocky cliffs and waterfalls. The park boasts 203 species of bird and many species of mammal, including monkeys, antelope and around 40 somewhat elusive elephants.
The park was run by the Swiss organisation Fondation Franz Weber until 2015 and handed over to the Togolese government, but at the time of writing the park’s future was undetermined, as protection from poachers dwindled in 2016 and the delicate fauna of the park was under threat. Visit the website for the most up-to-date information.
Unpretentious and relaxing, Parc de Sarakawa is easily accessed from Kara as a day trip. While its wildlife-watching can’t compare with that of the better-known parks in West Africa, this park spreads out over 607 hectares and is home to various species of antelope, buffaloes, ostriches and zebras. Game drives can be arranged at the gate. There are plans to build a lodge within the park for future.