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Benin-Togo-Ghana: 11 days, 10 nights

Map

Benin, Togo and Ghana were the next countries on my 6 countries adventure. Two friends came with me on this trip. This 6 countries adventure had a theme – chasing waterfalls. I made it a point to see at least two waterfalls in each country J. Below, you would find my itinerary, cost and experience in each place we visited. Enjoy!

Day 9 (June 18 - Monday): Arrive in Cotonou, Republic of Benin
Guesthouse Cocotier (2 nights)
Depart Lagos at 8amish
Arrive in Cotonou around 1pmish
Visit Ganvie

We left Lagos around 9.30am. There wasn’t traffic and we got to Mile 2 pretty fast. From Mile 2, we took a shared taxi to Seme border. We were hassled from where we got down from the shared taxi. First the health official on the Nigerian side tried to get us to give a bride saying we didn’t have meningitis vaccine record. We politely informed them that it wasn’t required. After wasting our time for like 10mins, they let us go.

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We got into the departure office to stamp our passports and we were informed that it was N500 each for a passport, we tried to negotiate it with the woman officer but she wasn’t having it. She claimed she didn’t charge us at all, that our passports were ‘Virgin Passports’ and the fee should have been N1,000 per passport. We paid and moved to the next station to ‘register’ our passport. The man said the fee is N500/passport. I asked if we could pay N1,000 for the three passport, he said yes and we did. As we were exiting the Nigerian side, another health official asked to see our Yellow Fever Vaccination card, we showed it to him and he proceeded to seize one of the cards saying there was no meningitis record on it. We sat down. He saw we weren’t scared or ready to give him any money. He let us go.

Togo

We got to the Benin side, the officer by name of Goston Nestor was a complete asshole. He said because our passport was a ‘Virgin Passport’ it will cost N3,000 per passport. I told him that was too expensive, he then said N2,500 per passport, I said we couldn’t afford it. He proceeded to ignore us, I tried negotiating with him but he stopped talking to me. He attended to others and later left us to go outside and chat with his friends. We refused to budge. An older Nigerian man went to speak with him. After about 25-30mins, he finally accepted N1,000 per passport and stamped our passports. The health officer on the Benin side didn’t bother messing with us because we were willing to stay 30mins instead of paying the inflated price/fee. He probably thought we were a useless bunch.

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We finally got into Cotonou around 3.30pm. We were too drained to go to Ganvie. We had late lunch, did grocery shopping and just relaxed.

NOTE: This is my first time being hassled at the Seme border. Land borders seem to create their rule on the go. No one know if the money being collected is legal. My guess is not legal. There is suppose to be a free movement of West African citizen within West Africa (Id card or passport). The agreement is not being honored by land border officials. I’ve never had to pay a fee when arriving in a West African country by flight.

The term ‘Virgin Passport’ refers to when one’s passport has not been stamped at a land border crossing.

Day 10 (June 19 - Tuesday): Cotonou
Day trip to Porto Novo & Enjoy Cotonou
Ganvie
Craft Market (Artesian Village)

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We visited Ganvie first. We took a moto bike from Haie Vive to the boat station for 700CFA/person. We negotiated a boat to take us to Ganvie. I think we paid 16,500 CFA in total for three people. After Ganvie, we took a bike to Marche Dantopka to get a bus to Porto Novo – bus was 500CFA/person. We visited the Da Silva Museum (Musee Da Silva). Entrance is 2,000 CFA/person. The tour guide was pretty great. When we returned to Cotonou, we bought our bus tickets to Tanguieta with ATT bus company (9,000CFA/person) and visited the Art & Craft market (Artesian village).

Day 11 (June 20 - Wednesday): Tanguieta
Hotel Baobab (two single rooms). One night. Paid via Jumia Travel 
Depart Cotonou very early around 7am (9 hours journey)
Arrive Tanguieta around 4pm

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We woke up pretty early so we could get to the ATT bus terminal by 6.30am. The bus left around 7.15am. We made quite a few stops along the way for the bus to drop off packages. We got to Nantitigou around 7pm and at 9pm to Tanguieta. That made it a 14-hour journey!!!! The stretch of road from Nantitigou to Tanguieta was really bad.

We had a light diner at the hotel when we arrived. We attempted to arrange transportation for the next day to see the waterfalls and to get to Kara, Togo.

I had zero expectation for the hotel but I was impressed. It seems recently renovated.

Day 12 (June 21 - Thursday): Arrive in Kara, Togo
Hotel: Hotel Marie Antoinette  (Paid via Airbnb. Two rooms. One night)
Tanangou Waterfalls
National park (if not expensive)
Chutes de Kota waterfalls in Natitingou (one hour away)
Depart for Togo (I think the border crossing is an hour away)

Because of time, we decided to cut out the National Park. We left the hotel around 7am to Tanangou waterfalls via motorbike. It took about 1.5hour to get there, we paid 3,000CFA/person for roundtrip. The hike to the waterfalls was easy but slippery. It cost 1000 CFA/person for entrance.

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When we returned to the hotel to get our stuff, the driver that the manager arranged for us to Togo was there. The driver insisted on 30,000CFA total to take us from Tanguieta to the other waterfalls in Natitingou before dropping us off to another driver in Djougon who will then drop us at our hotel in Kara, Togo.

We arrived at Chutes de Kota waterfalls in Natitingou, entrance was 500CFA/person. The hike was not as easy as Tanangou because of more climbing but still considered easy. After the visit, we went on the Djougon where we got into another car with the assumption that it would drop off at our hotel in Kara. Border crossing was a piece of cake. No one asked us for money, no one said our passport was ‘Virgin Passport’ & no one said we needed to have meningitis vaccination proof on the yellow fever card.

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Getting close to Kara, the driver asked us for our final destination, we told him the name of the hotel again. This jerk then denied that the other driver didn’t mention to him that he had to drop us off at our hotel. We told him the deal and confirmed to him that he was there when we were asked for final destination in Djougon. He didn’t say anything after that but proceeded to drive us to the bus/shared taxi park in Kara saying we would have to pay him an extra 2000CFA for that. We refused. After a while, Shola went to negotiate with a motor bike – it was 300CFA per person for the ride to the hotel. We left the jerk’s car and went off.

The hotel wasn’t even far from the bus park – less than 10 minutes. At the hotel, we made arrangement for how to get to Koutammakou for the next day, looked for where to eat and just relaxed. It took us a while to find good food, in the end, we settled for what was available.

Day 13 (June 22 - Friday): Arrive in Kpalime
Hotel: two nights at La Paillote (Paid via Airbnb. 2 rooms booked)
Day trip to Koutammakou
Depart to Kpalime

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We left the hotel around 8am to Koutammakou, almost 3 hours journey one way. The owner of the hotel arranged the driver for us, we paid 15,000CFA for a round trip. On getting to Koutammakou, the prices wasn’t visible, they claimed it was 10,000CFA/person for a guide (which is mandatory) plus an additional 1,500CFA/person entrance fee. In the end, we paid 10,000CFA in total for guide/entrance thanks to Shola’s negotiation skills.

Koutammakou is a UNESCO heritage site and a total of 36 villages. The people migrated from Burkina Faso after fleeing pressure to convert to Islam. Their ancestors sought refuge in the mountains before building the beautiful 3 level houses.

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After Koutammakou, the driver took us back to Kara, we asked how to get to Kpalime. He said he knew a driver that would take us. It cost 5,000CFA/person for a shared taxi that sits 4 people at the back and two in front. We decided to pay 20,000CFA for the 4 back people so we can be comfortable. We asked if the driver knew our hotel in Kpalime, he said Kpalime was his route so he knows it well. We began the journey at 1.30pm. We were stuck in one-hour traffic jam not long after we left Kara. The driver stopped several times to chat with his friends without excusing himself.

He tried, not once but two times to put another passenger in the back seat to make it 4 people after we have agreed to pay for the sit! We refused off course. He decided to be petty when we got to Atapame at 6.30pm, he stopped his car at a park and asked a man to come speak to us in Yoruba. The man said the driver said he didn’t know the way to Kpalime. Lies! In the end, we refused to give him the 20,000CFA. Another driver at the park was arranged to take us and we would give him the money when we got to Kpalime. In all, we were delayed 1 hour in Atapame. Finally, we made it to Kpalime in one piece at 9.30pm.

The hotel was cozy but no WIFI or hot water for shower L.

Day 14 (June 23 - Saturday): Kpalime
Sightseeing - 3 waterfalls, mount Agou

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In the morning, Star & Shola went into town to buy breakfast & a Sim card so we could access internet. There in town, they met a Rasta who would act as a guide and take us to Kpime waterfalls for 1,500CFA in total for guide fees. The owner of the hotel also introduced us to a tour guide – his prices were ridiculous – something like 10,000CFA/person as guide fee plus transportation cost. We elected to use Rasta.

Rasta came for us at 12noonish, we adjusted the plan to include Wome falls. Everyone said Yikpa was too far. We went to Kpime first, motor bike ride cost 1,000CFA roundtrip to Kpime. The entrance is 1,000CFA/person. The hike had a bit of steep climbing but not impossible. After Kpime, we went back to Rasta’s shop to drop off Star. It was around 3.30pmish. Unfortunately, it started raining really heavily so we had to postpone Wome to the next day.

Because of time, we decided to cross out Mount Agou.

Day 15 (June 24 - Sunday)Depart to Hohoe, Ghana
Hotel: Comfort Stay - Paid via Airbnb. One night. Two rooms booked. 
Arrive in Hohoe, Ghana
Wli & Tagbo Waterfalls if time. If not, visit next day

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Since it rained heavily and we were unable to go to Wome the previous day. We went there in the late morning. It took about an hour on motorbike to get there mostly because of the really bad road. We had to pay a 2,500CFA permission fee at the military post and 500CFA/person entrance fee. The motor bike cost 2,000CFA/person roundtrip.

Wome is a beautiful place. The walk is not long but there are 177 high uneven stairs. After Wome, we went back to town to get a shared taxi to Hohoe. We were pronouncing it Ho ho but the town is actually pronounced ho-hoi. Because of the way we pronounced it, people assumed we were going to Ho (pronounced ho ho). We didn’t know this; hence we were put in a shared taxi going to Ho at around 5.21pm. After we crossed the border at Kpedze, we got into a car we thought was going to Hohoe. We only realized the mistake when they took off the sign on the bus that had Ho.

Anyways, we were told that we couldn’t get a bus going to Hohoe that we would have to go to Ho. We got to Ho at 6.25pm and waited until 6.50pm at Ho bus terminal, we got a bus going to Hohoe. We arrived in Hohoe at 9.20pm.

Day 16 (June 25 - Monday): Depart to Koforidua, Ghana
Hotel - Ages Lodge: Paid via Airbnb. One night. Three rooms 
Arrive in Koforidua

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Luckily for us, we were able to arrange a taxi service with the taxi driver that dropped us off to our Airbnb the previous night. We agreed to 90 cedis for the driver to pick us up in the morning, take us to Wli and Tagbo falls and drop us at the Hohoe bus terminal. He came to pick us up to Wli Waterfalls first. The entrance for Wli is 50 cedis for the 3 hours hike to the lower and upper falls. Wli has two falls – you can walk to the lower one and view the second one after a really steep climb.

It’s 40 mins easy walk to the lower falls which is absolutely gorgeous. Then another 30mins uphill walk to the viewing platform for the second falls. I found that uphill walk quite difficult. Twice, I had to sit because I felt extremely dizzy and nauseous. Maybe because I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast the previous day but it was a hard hike for me. Made it to the two-viewing platform and started the descent.

After Wli, we went to Tagbo Falls. The entrance was 20 cedis for Non-Ghanaians. It is a 45minutes walk from the entrance. Another beautiful place. Because our driver was on Ghanaian time, we set out to Wli later than we wanted and he was 2hrs late in picking us from Wli to Tagbo. This meant we didn’t get to Hohoe bus garage (almost an hour drive from Tagbo to Hohoe bus garage) until 7pm. We were able to get on the last bus to Koforidua at 7.07pm. Arrived at our hotel in Koforidua at 1am.

Day 17 (June 26 - Tuesday): Koforidua sightsee & depart to Accra
Hotel: Downtown Osu - Paid. Booked via Airbnb. Two nights. Two beds
Boti Waterfalls
Akaa Falls 
Asenema falls
Umbrella Rock 
Aburi Botanical Garden on the way to Accra
Arrive in Accra late

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The hotel helped us arrange a taxi to take us to Boti and Akaa Falls. The idea was the taxi would drop off at the Koforidua bus terminal after Boti and Akaa Falls then we would get a bus going to Accra and get off at Asenema which is in Akpong on the way to Accra. Anyways, the taxi driver didn’t know the way so we ended up in Akpong where Asenema Falls. We took that opportunity to see Asenema Falls, it’s by the road, only a 5 mins walk. There was no fee.

After seeing it, the driver was given the right directions to Boti Falls. Cost was 20 cedis for Non-Ghanians and 10 cedis for Ghanians. Easy walk, you will have to go down 255 stairs but you don’t feel it. Really beautiful. After the Boti, we took the easy way to Umbrella Rock. You can elect to do a 45mins hike there or a 10-15minutes drive so we took that option. After the drive, you would still have to walk about 10mins.

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Driving back from the Umbrella Rock, we stooped at Akaa Falls which is on the same road. We paid 10 cedis in total for 2 people. There was no price listed and we claimed to be Ghanians. The walk is similar to that of Boti but not up to 255 stairs. We were the only ones at the Falls.

Because of time, we decided to cut Aburi Gardens from the list. We made our way to the Koforidua Bus Station and began the 2hrs or so journey to Accra – our last destination J.

Day 18 (June 27 - Wednesday): Accra, Ghana
Sightseeing

We didn’t do any sightseeing in Accra. All three of us had visited Accra several times before. We just relaxed, did laundry, eat and celebrated the end of this adventure.

Day 19 (June 28 -Thursday):  Departure
* Kunbi departs for the airport around 12.30pm
* Star & Shola departs for Lagos in the morning

Star and Shola left the Airbnb around 5.30am to begin their road trip back to Lagos. I slept in and left around 12noon to the airport for my flight to Sao Tome and Principe.

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My Overall Review:

I knew that I didn’t want to do this trip solo which was why I invited two friends. One couldn’t make it and the other – Star, invited her other friend Shola. It turned out to be a great trip with them. They have mad negotiating skills especially Shola. She was in charge of negotiating taxi fares. Star was in charge of food. I just chilled Lol. Shola was nicknamed the mountain goat because she climbs just like a mountain goat lol. We created great memories.

The worst experience on the trip was the experience at the Seme border and the driver situation from Kara to Kpalime, Togo. But they weren’t experience that had the ability to ruin a trip. The big cities of Benin, Togo and Ghana but challenge yourself to see the other parts of those country.

Thanks for reading J

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Hoping around in OZ

Lorc Ard

Australia has been a dream destination for me for several years now so last summer, I started planning my epic trip. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap like a budget travel to say South America but I was determined to make it as budget friendly as possible. Planning this trip was overwhelming for me because I got several feedback from people that have visited on what to do.

So in the end, you have to stay true to yourself and figure out what you actually enjoy doing or what activities you don’t mind trying. I planned what cities I was going to visit based on interest and ticket prices. I knew I wasn’t spending ‘enough’ time in some places, my philosophy in traveling is ‘You don’t have to visit all ‘MUST SEEs’ in one trip,’ you can always come back to said country.

Anyways, enjoy my itinerary in Australia.

Sydney: I arrived on June 1st from Jakarta, Indonesia. I had an incredibly horrible immigration experience at the Sydney airport. I was questioned for 2 hours, I answered the same questions AGAIN & AGAIN! They demanded to see my bank account details so I was given a computer to log into my online banking account. He demanded my phone password, went away with my phone, photocopied my driver’s license. I was later collected my the customs officer who seem like a genuinely good person. He asked me if I wanted to know why I was being questioned,I said yes. He said it was suspicious for a solo female traveler to travel like I do. SMH!!! Enough with the immigration experience.

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I got to my hostel at around 12.30pm. I planned on relaxing my first day in Sydney but my morning experience pissed me off so I decided to explore. I went to the city center to join a Free Walking Tour. The tour was great, we hit all the major sights around the CBD area. The tour ended at Circula Quay where you could see the Sydney bridge and Opera House.

Day 2: I went on a tour to the Blue Mountains with Sightseeing Tours Australia. With this tour, we went to the Scenic world where you can ride world’s steepest scenic railway (that was fun by the way). We stopped at a beautiful small town – Leura – for lunch. We stopped at several other places as well including a waterfall. The tour guide tried very hard to take us to places where we could spot Kangaroos. We were lucky, we saw a few. Check out the video here or click the link at the end of the blog post. Note, the video is not the best but you can still get excited.

Day 3: I had intended on taking the ferry to Manly for the day, however, it rained non-stop. I stayed in bed most of the day, only getting up for lunch and dinner. Good day in bed it was :).

Day 4: Still raining all day. The local news reported the city was having historic flooding. In an attempt not to stay in bed like the previous day, I tried going to the city centre to catch up with another free walking tour. That didn’t happen y’all, I wasn’t feeling the combination of rain + cold so I decided to go to a nearby Café – Café Hernandez.

Day 5: Departed Sydney for warmer climate (Fiji)

Cairns

I returned to Australia at the end of June (the 25th). I arrived to this pleasant town called Cairns. Weather was on point :). Immigration experience was a breeze :). I stayed in cool hostel here in Cairns – JJ Backpackers. It’s a small town, I was able to explore the whole downtown area the same day I arrived.

Cairns

Day 2: I went on a day tour to the Taberlands (mountains) with the Wallaby tour. The tour was amazing mostly because we got to see two waterfalls :). With the tour, we visited the oldest tree in Australia (500 years) and a Volcanic Crater Lake formed by a volcanic eruption. There is also an amazing trail around the lake, beautiful 45 mins walk around the lake. Next we went to Millaa Millaa Waterfalls, Dinners Falls where we saw a tree kangaroo. Apparently they are very difficult to spot so we were extremely lucky to have seen one. How splendid!

Day 3: Slept in. Walked along the main street. Departed Cairns for Melbourne in the late evening

Melbourne

I arrived very late at night, had to wait 45mins for my shuttle to arrive. Got to my hostel a little after midnight. My hostel has a great name by the way – The Nunnery. On getting to my three bed-dorm room, I noticed I was the only girl, the other two were males. Heart skipped a bit (I lie, a lot). They were sleeping so maybe no problem. Went to bed.

Day 2: Asked the ‘Nuns’ to change my room because I wasn’t comfortablFed Squaree with my current. They were great about it, changed me to an all female dorm. I went to the downtown area to explore. Federation square and the Yarra river caught my attention. I later went to dinner with an American girl from my room.

Day 3: Slept in :). I booked a walking tour with Melbourne by Foot – so at noon, I strolled to the meet up point. The tour was great – 3 hours. He showed and schooled us on the history behind the city, we stopped at historic buildings, arcades, laneways, art alleys and the river. The laneways are beautiful – small alleys lined with cafes, bars and restaurants.

I made it to the Eureka Skytower in time to watch the sunset – simply beautiful. The Skydesk is the tallest building in Melbourne. On the 88th floor, you get a 360 view of the city. Don’t miss it. While enjoying the view, I met a sister from Zimbabwe. She didn’t believe I was Nigerian because my name – Kunbi – is a Zimbabwean name. She was visiting with her family from the Uk where they currently leave. We exchanged contact info but I most likely will not keep in touch because she is a world venture person. I call them the Jehovah Witness of Travel.

Sunset @Eureka

Day 4: I left for my Great Ocean Road tour at 6.45am with Bunyip tours. Tres early! Sadly, the weather sucked really bad this day. The great ocean road is a curvy road with coastal view – beautiful on a great weather day but misty on rainy days. I slept for the first hour of the ride :). We stopped at a bird place where colorful local bird are plentiful. I admired them from the café in front of the tree. Too cold and raining to be playing with birds. Afterwards we went to a lighthouse where we had lunch. The lighthouse wasn’t really a tall one so climbing the stairs was not stressful. However, once you get to the top, it was VERY windy. Great view though.

We stopped at the 12 apostles. Thankfully, it stopped raining. I opted for the helicopher scenic flight based on recommendation from my friend Colleen. You can read her post here. I was nervous because me and height aren’t great friends. The pilot was super professional and eased my fears. That was my highlight for the day.

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We went to Locd Ard George next, it’s 5 minutes drive from the 12 apostles. I was only able to see two out of the three lookout before it started raining HARD. We left and decided not to go to the last stop on the tour because the rain was impossible. We got back to Melbourne around 7.15pm after a 2.5hour drive.

I went straight to bed.

Day 5: Slept in. Decided to join the 2.30pm Free Walking Tour. Glad I did. It was very different from the walking tour I did two days before. Different perspective, different places. I felt I had a better overview of Melbourne after participating on the two walking tours. It was on this tour I was made aware of the different ethnic communities for example, we went to Chinatown and the guide told us there was little Africa, little Italy and so on. I would have loved to visit those neighborhood.

Late evening, I went to Brunswick Street in the Frizroy area – the street is lined up with restaurants and bars. Great nightlife spot. I met up with an old friend and his girlfriend. See, the beautiful part of traveling is meeting up with folks you met while traveling. I met this friend in Panama in December 2009. Amazing, right?

Day 6: Departed Melbourne at 8am which meant early morning :(.

Street Art M

                      Darwin

Arrived in Darwin at 12 noon and got to my Airbnb an hour later. It felt glad to be in a private room in a real house. Getting tired of hostels. Walked around. Darwin is a small town. Oh, did I forget, the weather is amazing. A break from the cold Melbourne.

I attempted to book a tour but their website was giving me an error message. Decided that was a sign to just chill in Darwin. No activities.

Day 2: Slept in. Went to the laundry mat to do my laundry. Went to the Waterfront area, read and people watched. Had dinner at a Mexican place – decent.

Day 3: last ddarwin 2ay in Darwin and Australia. Mixed feelings. Flight is late in the afternoon so I had the morning to visit the waterfront area.

There are several things to do in Darwin such as the croc cove, duckexploring, hop on hop off, walking tour and so on. I choose to do nothing but eat, eat and eat. I still enjoyed my stay.

Overall, glad I made this trip to Australia.

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7 Tips for your Trip to Australia

  • Melbourne is definitely my favorite city. I love the vibe and I hope to get an opportunity to live in Melbourne in the future. I’ll be working on that.
  • Australia is not cheap so you have to plan accordingly. If you are traveling in groups, maybe renting a car will save you some money. I hate driving so renting a car on vacation is never an option for me.
  • Taxis from the airport is not cheap in most cities. Use the airport shuttle, they drop you off at your destination.
  • The Hop on Hop off bus might be a great way to explore the visit.
  • Solo traveler? Don’t be afraid to join organized tours.
  • Australia is BLESSED with numerous Asian restaurants. What type of Asian food are you craving? Oz got it all. They taste better than those in the USA or Caribbean.
  • Visit an Aboriginal cultural center or go on organized cultural tour to Aboriginal place.