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Lady Narrates How She Travelled Through 3 Countries With A N15,000 Budget!

My most recent (budget) trip took me overland to another West African country. This time, I visited Togo. After trying couchsurfing for the first time in Benin Republic, I decided I would give it another shot during this trip. (If you aren’t familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s a site that let’s people host traveller’s for free. Before you run away, there are many ways to stay safe while you surf. I shared some on my blog, so feel free to check it out)

Rather than create a public trip as I did before (when I was a JJC), I pretty much crafted a message to my would-be host in Lome. She got back to me quickly, I confirmed my travel dates a day before the trip, packed up a small bag, kicked aside my nervous feelings and prepared for an interesting journey into Lome.

Day One: Lagos to Lome

I set out early using public transportation to Seme border. I took a bus from my home to Mile2 and then another into Badagry and later to Seme border. The entire trip cost me N800. Border crossing was a breeze this time. To my surprise, I was asked for nothing on the Nigerian side and they wasted no time in stamping my passport.

When I got to immigration on the Benin side, the lady stamped my passport immediately and then asked for N500. I was in the process of negotiating my way through this when someone walked in to get his passport stamped. I struck off a conversation with him (Chuka* – not his real name) and found out that he was driving to Ghana in a bus with a few empty seats.

He offered to drop me off in Lome – for free! (This would normally cost an equivalent of N5,000 – N7,000, travelling in a shared public taxi from Seme town or N15,000, travelling in a standard bus from Lagos). I eventually got out of immigration without making any payment, checked out the bus and was comfortable to go with it.

We arrived in Cotonou quite early but had to wait for a few hours to fix an issue with the bus. We eventually arrived in Lome at about 7pm and I tried without success to get to my host. I probably wasn’t pronouncing her address right, so all the bike guys I asked said they didn’t know where it was. Eventually, I resigned to staying in a guest house recommended by Chuka and that cost an equivalent of N4,000/night.

I later got a sim card (N1,562) to update my host about the situation. She couldn’t locate me either, so we agreed to meet the next day. That evening, the owner of the guest house assigned her brother to take me out to dinner and show me around the day after.

We had acheke and fish which cost the equivalent of N3,500 then returned to the guest house afterwards to call it a night.

Day Two: Lome and an Impromptu Return to Cotonou

The next day, I woke up late and found out that I couldn’t meet my host anymore or get to Kpalime – a place I really wanted to visit – because it was quite far from Lome. I decided to just walk around the city instead. After breakfast, I set out on my own and visited a few sites around.

First, I went to the Independence square, the market and the beach to have lunch.

I walked around some more and eventually headed back to the guest house. To my surprise, Chuka was there, heading back to Lagos. I had originally intended to leave Lome early the next morning but my plans changed with the presentation of a free bus ride out of the city.

I quickly texted my host (from my first trip to Cotonou) and asked if he could host me for the night. Luckily, he was available, so I packed my bags and jumped on the bus. We arrived in Cotonou by 10pm and I got yet another free bike ride to Fidjrosse where he picked me up from.

Day Three: Ganvie, Cotonou & Lagos

The next morning, we visited Ganvie, a lake village in Benin located about 30 minutes away from Cotonou, took a boat tour around the village – that was pretty cool and then returned to Cotonou to have lunch.

After that, my host dropped me off at the park in Tokpa where I got a bus to Seme border. (Cost: N400). Border crossing went smoothly and I was back home 3 hours and 1,400 naira later.

This trip eventually cost me less than N15,000 (Thanks to Chuka and my couchsurfing host) but I budgeted higher.


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