Do you keep returning to the same few countries in West Africa? You’ve traveled extensively in Senegal and Sierra Leone. You’ve visited Ghana. You even started exploring Benin during your last trip. But the rest of the region remains a mystery. Some places have unstable governments. Others are unsafe for tourists. But a few might be just misunderstood.
Togo is one of those countries. The little nation sits in between Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s lush, tropical, and home to beautiful scenery. But Lomé, the little capital on the palm-lined Gulf of Guinea, has been labeled one of the most unfriendly cities in the world. A deteriorating infrastructure and a high unemployment rate certainly don’t help. But first impressions aren’t always correct.
After being founded in the late 19th century, Lomé became the capital of Togoland and was eventually known as the Paris of West Africa. Wide boulevards, colorful colonial houses, and green squares filled the charming city. Its Gothic cathedral, lively market, and fascinating national museum drew people to where the red land met the sea. But life hasn’t been easy in Lomé since Togo proclaimed its independence from France in 1960.
So what can you expect when you arrive in Lomé? A shuttle from the ONOMO Hotel picks you up at the airport, where a new terminal recently opened. You drive through the dry savanna and the city to reach the new hotel on Boulevard du Mono. Despite precautions to ensure the safety of their guests, the hotel’s staff is warm and welcoming. Your modern room has an open bathroom and crisp white sheets. Fruit juice and Tchouk beer is served on the garden patio downstairs. The pool is an ideal spot to cool off during the mid-day heat. While Lomé’s long beach, where fishermen drag their nets onto the golden sand, is just across the street. It’s the perfect spot to begin exploring Togo.