When I say I’m traveling to picturesque beaches, bustling markets and sweltering heat what are your first guesses? Now whittle it down to Africa. Nope, not `Zanzibar or Kenya, not even Mozambique.

I give you a clue. The national language is French…still nothing? I could never have guessed where 2020 would be taking me but I was SO down for the ride. I was off to Togo, a small county west of Africa nestled between Ghana and Benin, population 8,2 million.

I had no idea what to expect other than to dress light – its hot. I made a point not to google anything besides the images so I knew how to curate my content. I wanted to experience Togo for what  it was, untainted by the media, and what a feast it was…

To say this trips special is an understatement. The people were friendly and warm, the streets were spotless, even the sand got swept! The markets were lined with people trying to swindle your money if you’re foreign but not once did I ever feel unsafe.

We stayed in the capital city, Lome a five star hotel with the amenities you would expect, the staff were super helpful and even assisted in getting a taxi driver who spoke English, they stayed with me at the market to help translate and make sure I didn’t get lost when I ran out to do some last minute shopping sans the group.

One of my favourite experiences was a 2-hour drive North of Lome, to Kpalime a mere 15km for the Ghanaian border. It completely escapes the hustle of the city and we found ourselves in the mountains surrounded chasing a waterfall. The drive up is definitely only for 4×4’s as the roads are steep to the hiking trail.

But what a view when you get there…I was I awe, felt far removed from reality and just at peace. The trail was relatively novice with with a very steep steps (not for the faint-hearted). The waterfall wast at full force with it being winter and dry season (a chilly 36 degrees Celsius) but still beautiful and a great refresher to cool down in the heat.

And, what’s a trip without some culture? We had the privilege of visiting a palm plantation and the community that runs  it including their chief. The rich history and culture of the Togolese people run deep.

Back in Lome, we got to unwind at the Blue Turtle Bay beach club, if you’re looking for international resort vibes look no further. Everything about this place was up my alley. Perfect unspoilt beaches, a lagoon filled with floats, a bar, VIP cabanas, staff who service your every need and a live DJ who left us on the dance floor all day.

To say the least I was surprised by Togo and all its gems, I cannot say its somewhere I’ve thought to travel but I absolutely want “togo” back. Ha! see what I did there?!

My top travel tips for Togo?

  1. Accommodation: Hotel 2 Février, Lome- It’s West Africa’s diamond
  2. You have to visit the Grande Marche
  3. Have a guide with you as much as possible if you can’t speak French
  4. The exchange rate is great for South Africas, a luxury holiday without breaking the bank
  5. Get the most direct flight you can
  6. Download the google translate app
  7. Do a mix of city vs countryside
  8. Wear breathable clothing, no shorts are allowed for woman but pants and skirts are good, the French are quite conservative

Written by: @QueenofJozi
Images by: @blacktonystark