A great introduction to Africa, ever smiling Togo is a melting pot of more than 40 tribes that together have managed to create a relaxed yet offhand charm in a country so small you can drive across it in under an hour.
Even its biggest city, the capital, Lomé, feels more like a town and is small enough to comfortably traverse on foot. Experience Togolese joie de vivre at the Grand Marche, which occupies an entire city block and sells everything from artisan products to fresh fruit. Better yet head to the Fetish Market, where fetish priests will fix you up with your own protective charm.
Voodoo and other animist beliefs are not just for tourists, with half the population following such practices. Togoville, on the banks of Lac Togo, is the historic home of voodoo in the country, and is a great place to learn more about religious customs and the meaning of shrines. Meanwhile, the lake itself is becoming something of a weekend retreat for the burgeoning middle-class and its desire for fine food and exciting nightlife.
Few leave the palm-fringed Atlantic beaches of Lomé and Aneho, but those who do head off the beaten track and into the hills or savannah will be richly rewarded. The hills offer superb hiking among the dense green foliage of coffee and cocoa plantations, and are where you can find the Kloto carvers, famed for creating multiple connected rings from a single piece of wood.
The savannahs of the north, by contrast, offer the chance to witness a more traditional way of life. Considered a symbol of Togo itself, Koutammakou is home to the remarkable takienta mud houses of the Batammariba people, structures that need to be seen to be believed.
Togo has a peaceful nonchalance that makes a quick conversation in Lomé’s Grand Marche as much of a highlight as any attraction, while its small size makes travel a relaxed and stress-free experience.