Togo, West Africa

Togo is a small nation on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa.  Lome’ is the capital city.  While we enjoyed one privately arranged excursion in Grenada, this was the first of several highly anticipated tours in our first African adventure.  Arranged by fellow CruiseCritic.com participant Sukey, 30 of us on two buses were off on an all day excursion.  As we got off the ship we greeted with African dancers.

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Our excursion into Togo was organized by fellow passenger “Sukey”, who had visited Togo and Benin 5 years ago and had experience with the best guides.

A brief word about privately arranged excursions — they are made possible by participation on the web site “CruiseCritic.com”.  One of the menu choices on that site is “Boards”, which will lead you to individual forums that act much like digital bulletin boards.  There is a forum for most cruise lines, river cruises, many ports and most important, roll calls for every ship.  On the roll call, one searches for the date of one’s specific cruise and “signs on” by posting a message.  As the roll call group grows, there will invariably be experienced cruisers who will arranged private excursions and offer the opportunity for others to join them.  Private excursions are usually limited in size, often to 6 to 12 people (occasionally more, Sukey’s tours included 30 people on two buses), are much less expensive than ship tours and usually more expansive

Our excursion started with a drive towards Togoville, one of the original villages in the area and the one for which the nation is named.  Togoville is located on an island, and can only be reached by small boats holding 10 passengers each, and poled across the river.

Boarding the boats to Togoville

Boarding the boats to Togoville

Ready to cross

Ready to cross

Being poled across the river. Notice the fishing nets in the background.

Being poled across the river. Notice the fishing nets in the background.

At the other side, the water was too shallow to beach the boats, so local fellows carried us from the boats to shore (for a dollar).  Some of us required 2 carriers, so cost me 2 dollars.

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We walked up Togoville’s main street, turned through one of their squares and ended at the church of the Virgin Mary.  The story has it that an image of the Virgin Mary was seen in the river, and the church, altars and an outdoor amphitheater was constructed to honor her.  It’s the target of an annual pilgrimage of folks from all over Togo and further.

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Togoville’s Main Street

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Virgin Mary altar

Virgin Mary altar

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So long, Togoville!

Of course, we had to get back to the boats to get back to the mainland.  I declined to be carried again, rolled up my trousers and waded back to the boat, along with several other men.

Our next stop was the Museum of African Art.

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From there, we stopped a Fetish market.  VooDoo is a significant and serious religion for many in this region of Africa, and the items for sale in this market are supposed to be representative.  However, the first thing I noticed was a sign, in French, stating the bureau of touristics was the sponsor of the market.  We took one photo, got a whiff of the odor and saw some of the dead animals, and got back on the bus.

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Our final stop was the central market, spanning several square blocks, where literally everything was available for purchase.  Sadly, when we left the buses, they moved to a different location, and we had to follow our guide or get hopelessly lost in the labyrinth.  He moved too quickly to allow any stops in the interesting shops and stalls, so it became a waste of time as far as any shopping was concerned.

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Overall, the excursion was interesting in Togoville and the museum, but was a bit tarnished by the markets.

 

 

 

Don Horner

About Don Horner

Okeechobee, Florida
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3 Responses to Togo, West Africa

  1. Betsy says:

    Good write up and pics!

  2. Lauren (deus from CC) says:

    Thank you – I got my fix for today!

  3. Brenda says:

    Would love to have experienced Togoville. Thank you for the pictures. Yes, I agree, the visit to the Voo Doo market was a bit deceptive and sad when I think about the animals. Glad to be back on the bus.

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