Palimé, Togo

Photo: Dominik Schwarz (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Dominik Schwarz (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What’s your favorite hike in Africa? Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in the world? Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula? Or Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon on the continent? If you’ve already knocked these iconic treks off your list, it’s time to start tackling the spots that aren’t as well known.

You’re heading to Togo, one of the smallest countries in Africa. It sits in between Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, and the Atlantic Ocean. The West African nation is lush, tropical, and home to beautiful scenery. Most visitors stick to Lomé, the little capital, and the palm-lined Gulf of Guinea. But you’re heading 120 kilometers north to Palimé in the Plateaux Region.

Palimé sits in the forested hills near the Ghanaian border. The steeple of the red-and-white Palimé Cathedral can be seen throughout the small city. Weavers work alongside the dusty roads. The kente cloths are later sold at the market, along with avocados and citrus, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Cocoa plantations surround Palimé. While Mount Agou (Togo’s highest peak) and Lake Volta (Africa’s largest reservoir) are in the distance.

It’s Mount Agou, in the Atakora Mountains, that you’ve come to hike. It’s not a hard or long trek by any means—you can reach the peak within a few hours—but it’s gorgeous. Pass tiny hillside villages as you begin walking up the sloped path. Friendly people wave and ask if you’re climbing Baumann Peak. The mountain was originally named after an Austrian-African explorer. Hike into the forest, where butterflies seem to guide the way. Hear a waterfall up ahead and stop to watch the water cascade down the layers of rocks. Pass caves filled with bats. And make it to the peak, where an antenna and a communications post took over an old German hospital.

After you take a sip of water and put on another layer—it’s much cooler up here—you finally look at the view. It’s green as far as the eye can see. You see shades of chartreuse, emerald, olive, and lime. They’re disrupted only by small clusters of brown roofs and other mountains. This may not rank as one of your most-strenuous hikes, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.

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