In November and December I would like to be bike camping from northern Togo to Lomé, Togo then to Aflao, Ghana and Ho, Ghana. I have never been to West Africa before. I would appreciate any advice on the landscape. Should I be concerned about protecting myself mostly from animals (if so, where?) or mostly from smugglers? are there roads I should definitely avoid? Are farmers generally interested in this kind of tourism/exchange? What is the probability that I can exchange labor for food to a random farmer? google maps doesn't seem to be that useful--as in there are not many roads marked, I am (possibly naively) assuming there are more dirt paths that I can handle on my touring bike. Can I rely on getting maps after I arrive? I will be there during the dry season. Are there any time-period-specific concerns?
bike-camping in Togo, Africa
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水, 2016-08-17 02:49#1
bike-camping in Togo, Africa
Neither animals nor 'smugglers' should be of too much concern to you, in several years of cycle touring and bush camping all over Africa I can probably count the number of run ins with animals on one hand (mosquitoes, of course, are another matter altogether). You shouldn't have any problem getting somewhere to sleep in villages along your route. Payment will most likely be refused (bring along a pile of postcards from your country, those at least are usually gratefully accepted) though for a number of reasons the concept of cadeau and the expectation of offerings of sweets pens and money from pale faces is far more installed in the Francophone countries of West Africa, and certainly if you visit Tata Somba country in northern Benin or Togo you will have people sprinting after you begging you to visit their houses (for a fee of course), tearing off any western clothes or other signs of modernity to look more authentic, or just shouting one of 'bic bic bic' 'cadeau cadeau cadeau' or 'bonbon bonbon bonbon' or possibly all of the above simultaneously.
The attention you get staying in villages can be exhausting after a day's riding so bush camping is a nice alternative - bring a one man mosquito net with tent peg loops and find a secluded spot (robbery is not so much of a concern but being discovered and then having an entire village turn up when you want a quiet night under the stars is).
There will be other tracks though getting reliable information from locals or decent maps will be a problem - also sand (especially in the north) could make any of these detours a hellish experience (though I did take several back routes through parts of northern Benin and Togo that were certainly rideable on an MTB).
I don't know if you need to go into Lomé for anything in particular but I would recommend taking one of the border crossings west of Kpalime and entering the Volta region to continue to Ho that way.
You are very brave! :) It is a long time since I was in Togo and Benin and travelling by car. Paul Harper's comments about being the centre of attention ring very true. We were one of the first vehicles through as the rainy season was ending and had 3 year old twin girls and their little brother with us.
I remember what seemed like a most luxurious place to stay. It was south east of Atakpame at the Nangbeto Dam. The accommodations were formerly the housing for the workers who built the dam. They had air conditioning and it was so welcome. I don't know what the place would be like 25 years later - gosh, I can't believe it was that long ago - but seeing your post made me remember how great it felt to stay there.
We also stayed at a mission run by SIL in Lama-Kara. I'm not sure if it is still there but it might be worth checking out as an option. It was a beautiful spot.
Thanks for the memory!
and don't forget the monastery down on the way to Kpalime - you can rest up for the night or just pop in for a jar of their confiture.
hi Alexandra I hope you have an amazing time
I worked in Ghana for 3 years with vso and travelled about a lot but it was a while ago - 2000- 2003 then I went back to visit 2007
friends who cycled around bike camping - from where we lived in the upper east down to the coat nr accra - found it best to ask the permission of the chief to stay in villages and then they were under the villages' protection.
maps might be hard to find outside of major cities. why not try and source maps before you go you can always replace them with better ones once you're there.
if you are going anywhere near amedzofe and hohoe in the volta region in ghana there are some great ecotourism places (but that area is super hilly!) and a monkey sanctuary
count your money carefully if you change it at that border
the rip tides in the sea all along the Ghanaian coast aflao, and nr accra etc are phenomenally strong be aware when swimming
if you end up going to accra past accra going west there is a great hangout called big milly's backyard at kokrobite
Ghana is so beautiful and Ghanaians are so friendly I hope you have a great time