Arrived in Togo on the 21st of July, we split up our team for the first time. Whereas Louis and Ruben went to the North of Togo , namely Dapaong and Cinkassée, Dorothea and Julia went to the region of Bassar, in the West of Kara. After travelling a whole day in cars, busses and motor-bikes, we were pleased to reach our respective destination. The aim of going to different cities in the West and the North of Togo was to investigate the need for a new national bus network, similar to the one in Benin.
Kabou – Bassar – Natchamba – Bangeli
Kabou is known as a market-village and an intersection for different cities and villages in the West of Togo, around 1,5 hours by car from Kara. A bus between Kabou and any other city does not exist so far. Thus Team West dared to take once again a taxi – read: waiting for some hours to leave, 9 to 11 people in one car and an insecure way of driving.
Upon arrival, we fully agreed that a comfortable Baobab Express bus could be an enormous improvement.
We immediately realized that Kabou is only a rural village. As most villages in Togo, also Kabou has one weekly market day which is the biggest and often only source of income for most of the inhabitants of the village. We did not only found out that it is market day in Kabou but we also realized that Western people do not often reach the beautiful city of Kabou, surrounded by wonderful mountains. The inhabitants of Kabou seemed fascinated, skeptical and surprised at the same time about our appearance, which was so far the most intense experience concerning the cultural differences. After collecting some data and spending the night in the only hotel of the village, we continued our travel to Bassar – a one hour drive to the south of Kabou – in the early morning.
Arriving there, we did the same as in Kabou: talked with a lot of taxi-chauffeurs, met interesting people with a wide knowledge about the existing bus system in Togo and analyzed the general situation in the city concerning transportation.
Afterwards, we continued our travel with motorbikes to the border of Ghana to talk with some customs officers and analyzed the market-village Bangeli. Furthermore, we noted with regret that the village Natchamba is with approximately four huts out of consideration for a new destination for Baobab Express in Togo.
Dapaong – Cinkassée
In the meantime, Team North enjoyed a nice and comfortable busride to Dapaong. During the ride we admired the most beautiful nature we have seen so far on our African journey, the mountains and little villages with traditional huts seemed to be an excellent background for the Lion King. The search for information started successfully the next day, already during breakfast. The gentle owner of the cafeteria explained the overall picture of the local transportation system and the must-visit places to gather vital information. As recommended, we visited the city hall, some administrative offices and local bus companies. During our investigations, we heard a lot of rumors about the neighboring border city Cinkassée.
As a result, the next order of business was a visit to this lively commerce town. Shops, small and big, literally everywhere, connected business men from Togo, Burkina Faso and Ghana. A new destination for Baobab Express?
After these trips, all of us moved back to Kara where our group got united again. We hoped to finally resolve the nut-mystery. Unfortunately, the hotel where our nuts disappeared was already full-booked and the mystery remained forever unsolved. We apologize for the tension torture. In the coming days we collected the still missing information to finalize our project in Togo. We met again the notary, went to the city hall and the tax-office, and looked into the oil prices of Togo.
Later on, we visited a traditional festival in Kara, called Evala, where we even had the chance to see the President of Togo. Additionally, we had a visit of our Beninese friend Steve from Belgium. In order to close this day accordingly, we went to the Miss Kara election (the guys could difficultly keep their eyes of the very pretty Togolese girls) and saw a great dance performance afterwards.
Natitingou – Tangietà
On Sunday, we left Togo by taxi to Natitingou (the North of Benin) to see whether another road to Benin could serve for our international connection. Arrived in Nati, we started a little vacation for 4 days. With 13 people in one car, our “taxi-experience” reached the top. Surprisingly, nobody complained about the uncomfortable position apart from us. We recognized once again the high European standards we are used to. After a relaxed night in Natitingou we kicked of our holidays by visiting the biggest waterfall of West-Africa (remarkably there are a lot of “the biggest waterfalls of West-Africa” depending on who you are talking to).
The next stop was Tangietà, from where we left for the safari the next day. Full of excitement we visited the biggest national park of West-Africa called Parc du Pendjari. We admired a lot of gracile Antelopes, powerful and impressing elephants and even the biggest Hippo seen in this park. Unfortunately the lions and cheetahs didn’t want to show up.
After a night camping in the jungle with a looooot of mosquitoes, we visited another waterfall where we even had the chance to take a bath. Probably for the last time, we took our beloved Baobab Express to go back to Parakou where we will stay the remaining days to finalize our project. Cheers!