Togo is just a small section of West Africa, but it makes up for it in culture and scenery. Still somewhat overlooked as a holiday destination, Togo offers modernity in Lome and mysterious villages in Koutammakou, with sprawling savannahs and stunning mountains in between. Togo is rich and varied and condenses the best of Africa in one exciting trip.
The practice of Voodoo—or Vodou, as the people of Togo call it—is still alive in many parts of West Africa. The Akodessewa Fetish Market is a superstore for all things Vodou, including human skulls, leopard heads, and more. This open-air market is full of talismans, charms, and animals for use in rituals and sacrifices. The piles of animal carcasses are a chilling sight and have a powerful smell. To visitors, it's a curiosity, but for the locals, the market is key to their religion.
Tamberma means, "Real architects of the earth." The tribe is made up of hunters, pastoralists, and farmers who live in harmony with the environment. The Tamberma believe that their villages are inhabited not just by the living, but also the souls of their ancestors, who protect them from harmful spirits. The villages are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with clay huts featuring straw roofs. Explore the village, sample local cuisine, and watch the villages work with handcrafted tools.
The Germans built the Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1901. This iconic place of worship is a stunning example of German colonial architecture, with its twin spires, attached clergy house, triumphal arch, and white facade. Step inside to admire the soaring ceiling and the grand organ that plays during mass. Climb the stairs to the recently-added gallery to enjoy panoramic views of the city.
In Lome, Togo's largest city, find the National Independence Monument—a large stone structure with a human silhouette carved into it. The monument marked the nation's independence from France on April 27, 1960. It's situated in a vast open square, surrounded by well-kept lawns, fountains and palm trees. Explore the square before heading to the plaza across the street for some people-watching, shopping, and dining.
Not far from Independence Square, visitors will find Martyr's Square and the RT column. This imposing monument is a tall concrete column marked with the letters RT for Republique Togolaise. The column honors those who lost their lives in the fight for independence. Visit at night to see the column in its full glory, illuminated from top to bottom to stand out against the dark skyline.
The Plage de Sable Fin de Lome is a bustling local beach with a wide, golden sandy area and a perimeter of palm trees. Admire the abandoned boats and watch as powerful waves crash against the sands. Visit the beachside bars and admire shell statues constructed by the locals. This bustling beach is not a traditional 'resort' destination, but it is full of life.
Visit the ruins of the Palais de Justice, an abandoned French colonial courthouse. This fine example of Hispano-Moorish style architecture was constructed in 1906, and it features numerous archways and columns, reminiscent of a neo-classical French railway station. There is a statue of French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher in the courthouse.
The Grottes de Nok caves in Northern Togo were once home to the Moba people, a semi-cave dwelling tribe who lived off the land and would use the cliffs to take shelter when their enemies, the Tchokossi, attacked. Today, the UNESCO protected heritage site is open to visitors and is accessed by metal ladders. See the caves the Moba once lived in and view jars, arrows, quivers, and other remnants of the civilization. After exploring, head to the Nagou village to sample Tchokpa, a local alcoholic drink.
Don't miss out on Parc Sarakawa, a wildlife resort that is home to many species that have wiped out in the region. Hire a guide and go on a mini safari to see zebras, crocodiles, a large turtle, and some majestic antelopes.
Grande Marche is the biggest market in Lome, Togo. Explore the bustling stalls full of textiles, food, jewelry, and even electronics. Be prepared to haggle to get a good deal. Visit the artisan's corner to see all kinds of local crafts and souvenirs, called artifacts by the local stall owners.