I had a blast on Two recent road trips in West Africa. Immersive experiences in cities not use to tourists. The world’s past and future are tied up in these budding African cities. Nigeria and Ghana are going to be so important not just to Africa, but to the world. They represent where the developing world has been and the potential for tomorrow.
Road Trip from Nigeria to Ghana with stops in Cotonou, Benin and Lome, Tome and final destination of Accra Ghana
Before I left home I had to make sure to get both the Nigerian and Ghana visa ahead of time, Benin (e-visa) and the Togo visa on arrival at the border.
Day 1: Lagos, Nigeria
Downtown Lagos, Nigeria – The hustle and bustle of street markets are everywhere. Lagos is filled with energetic youth… Africa’s promise.
The beginning of the road trip… City bus ride
The key information in roadtripping in West Africa is understanding how people move.
1. The first thing to understand is the key is finding the bus depot/bus garage. In any given African city there’s the main bus stop where everyone gathers who wants to go to the next major city. Early in the morning starting not later than 6am the people will gather and start to fill up the big buses. The big ones often only go between the capitals, but there are the smaller bush taxis that go between all the major cities. Buses don’t necessarily leave on a schedule, but instead leave when the bus is full. Each seat will be filled or paid for and the tops and any given space is filled and then they are on their way.
Transportation in Africa isn’t like your traditional Western countries
Moto taxis are guys who drive their motorbikes around. In some countries the drivers where little vests
Tuk tuks are for local rides.
In Western Africa you’ll see everything. Contrast of old dirt roads and brand new buildings and infrastructure
My friend had some business we needed to attend to in Lagos before we left, but getting around the city on a bus wasn’t too difficult. We did have to get to the right bus stop to find the bus that would take us to Contonou.
The bush taxis can be quite crowded. They don’t leave until their full and they get stacked up.
Day 2: Cotonou, Benin
A Celestial religious group complete with White Robes and Caps. They even have their own radio show.
Outside the royal Palace.
Large statue of the old Tribal King in Togo
VooDoo is the official religion. Superstition is rampant, and faith runs very deep.
The green grass isn’t always what it seems. You’re looking at the royal courts at the Imperial Palace near Port Novo, Benin
A friend recently asked me if I’ve ever been scared while traveling. This was clearly one of the the scariest experience I’ve had while traveling. It was on the border of Tome and Benin. I was dealing with a strange situation of the immigration officer trying to figure out why I had a visa and exit stamp in two different places. It was just then that I saw a big truck barrel toward the border crushing people as it went and then topple over into the embankment crushing a small stand as it went. People screamed and rushed to the place where the truck lay. Immediately after the commotion they locked the fence to the border and the people gathered together to roll the truck off of a child. A motorbike with a casket arrived at the scene and the locals sobbed as they put the child in the casket and marched around. I felt so very vulnerable. No ambulance rushed to the scene. No police came to the aid, and instead the border police brought out their clubs and worked to clear the road and scatter the people. It was a very sad scene. I did think to myself I could have been crushed if I had only finished with my visa 30 seconds to 1 minute earlier.
Day 3: Lome, Togo
Goat intestines, millet porridge and okra spicy dipping sauce… great local breakfast.
Old traditional style on the façade of a building in Togo
Major western African port with big and small boats
The men relax on the fishing nets and the children play
While I was looking for the Voodoo market, I was not willing to pay 5000F just to get in and take a photo. I found a nearby voodoo market that didn’t charge to take photos. So I didn’t get the baboon heads and strange bones and all sorts of odd stuff they sell. It seemed like it was either becoming tourist trap or was one. I don’t know when the last time they sold a baboon skull. I started feeling bad for being there anyway. 5000 is about 7 dollars. Very pricey.
Why were these cats in such a small cage at the market. Sad.
The cutest kids waiting for their parents to work in the market
The hustle and bustle of the market in Togo
Intestines simmering in chili sauce
How many watermelons can you balance on your head?
National Monument of the struggle in Togo
Day 4: Accra, Ghana
Our bush taxi stops for a moment and the locals bring up selling, fruit, nuts and snacks
On the shores in Accra Ghana… at a fishing village
Accra Ghana LDS Temple
Water Urns outside an impromptu squatter tent village
The scattered littered beaches of Accra Ghana. I have high hopes this will change. There are many who live on these beaches who struggle.
My friend Ifeatu and me at the national monument in Accra Ghana
Modern Apartments in Ghana
Ghana is changing fast! Accra is a leading city in Western Africa
Beautiful beaches and pier in Accra outside the old fort with beautiful little fishing villages that could easily be seen as squatters, but these locals have been here for generations.
As I reflect on this road trip, I think about the crazy foods, old religions and voodoo that’s on the edge of tourist fascinations and the sights, smells, and sounds… I saw so much and experienced so much in just a few days.
I was happy to have shared much of my experiences with my good Nigerian Biafran friend Ifeatu Osegbo travel blogger on that other city.