I went cross country road tripping again! This time, my destination was Ghana and I got to visit with my sister. With the public holiday just around the corner, we had a bit more time so we decided to split our trip with stops in Benin Republic and Togo. For Benin R., we opted to stop over in Grand Popo, a small town located very close to the Benin-Togo border but getting there was no easy feat.

Crossing the Nigeria-Benin border at Seme

Again, this border is a disaster! Crossing it was a bit easier for me though as this was my third time. But for my sister, who had a brand new passport, it was a mess. By now, you should already know that there is no such thing as ‘visa free’ across West Africa’s land borders. We were asked for money at every stop.

I have never seen so much bull in one place! Even my first border crossing was not this bad! I could go on and on about all the crap we had to deal with – from the port health officials telling us that a yellow card had to be renewed 10 days after it was gotten (cost of which was N1,500) to having a standard price for ‘first time border crossings’. My goodness! I thought my eyes would pop out from rolling them too much!

We were also stopped and asked for our work ID cards and receipts for my DSLR & Laptop. When we couldn’t provide the receipts, we were asked to either pay N2,000 at the border or go to the ‘customs’ office and pay a N20K fine and have my laptop impounded. I gladly chose the latter and eventually ended up paying nothing.

Like I said, I could go on and on, but I would bore you with the details in another post :). For now, let’s return to the fun parts!

Benin Republic

auberge de grand popo

This was our first stop and home for 2days of our West African tour. We took a ride from Cotonou to Grand Popo where our hotel was located. We were attended to swiftly, which was very much appreciated as we were both hungry and exhausted from the journey.

After getting settled, we ordered lunch – which was delicious and spent the rest of the evening listening to crashing waves on the beach front…

lunch auberge de grand popo

The next day was also quite lazy for us. We had breakfast and spent most of the day on the beach. At some point we decided to go on a mini tour of Grand Popo but soon discovered that our cards were useless outside Nigeria. (PS: this was the beginning of our woes!)

We opted to spend the time in the areas around the hotel – where we could easily walk to and I also got to practice my French with locals on the beach. I think Chinenye (ma sœur) was really impressed. haha!

auberge de grand popo auberge de grand popo

And then, it was photo-shoot time! I had fun dancing and building ‘sand bird houses’ on the beach with my sister. (castles are too mainstream).

The hotel also gave me this really lovely book to read (So long a letter by Mariama Ba) which I devoured in a single sitting.

benin republic grand popo benin republic grand popo benin republic
grand popo benin grand popo beach
grand popo karen

We wrapped up our stay in Benin Republic with a late breakfast before heading to the Benin-Togo border at Hillacondji.

grand popo

Trip Overview:

Here’s how we got to the Seme border.

From the border, we took a shared taxi into Cotonou and dropped off at the last stop. (I think it was Tokpa market but we stopped in a different park)

We took another shared taxi from the park heading towards the Hillacondji border and dropped off at Grand Popo, passing Ouidah on the way, so I think the same car can get you to Ouidah.

Have you been to Grand Popo or any parts of Benin? What are your favorite places to visit?

PS: Here’s a list of all the articles in this series;

Road Tripping from Lagos to Grand Popo

Grand Popo to Accra

Accra to Cape Coast (The Castles & Kakum National Park)

Travel Cost Breakdown

A Review of Services.

33 Comments

  1. Hi Amarachi……
    Lovely reading through your post. short, precise, engaging and informative ( with a wisp of comedy). I love travelling to but no time within the last 4 years to travel outta the country. You need to explore some places down North sometime, I have recommendations. Anyways just wanted to say am glad I saw your post and am proud of ya!!!))

  2. I could imagine the taste of ur lunch just looking at the pictures! Why didn’t you guys order their local food?… Would have loved to read the experience 😃

    • Haha. I’ve had a bit of local Beninese food when I visited before. This time, we just ordered what the hotel had, which in a way is Beninese too. 🙂 In Ghana though, we did try some of the local foods.

  3. I’m just lost… receipt for laptop and camera? Really??? That’s just so discouraging. Did you and your sis travel via personal transportation? Do you think that’s why they hassled you guys that much?

    • Amarachi

      I have crossed this border twice on my own before this and this was the first time I was asked for that. I guess they were just looking for a way to hassle us. PS: this was an unofficial stop on the Benin side, they had no business asking for those.

      We travelled with public transport (not the likes of ABC) and we crossed the border on foot. Travelling with ABC exempted us from the border stress but wasn’t necessarily time saving or cost effective. I will go with PT (to Benin) when I do this again.

  4. Hi Amarachi, planning a road trip in July – Nigeria to Abidjan (solo trip). How did you sort out money issues ? I dread being stranded in unfamiliar environments. Did you move around with cash ? Would you recommend booking a tour with an agency or just depending on myself (arrive there, finding and visiting places of interest)

    • Amarachi

      Hey LouLou, tours in West Africa are super expensive. The cheapest we found covering two countries only, excluding flights, cost more than $2000. You’ll be spending more than that when you include transport, your feeding, laundry fees (if you have to do this), tips for guides, etc.

      The plus side is that they manage all your hotel bookings and site seeing activities on your behalf and you just have to relax. They also know the terrain better which can be very reassuring. If this isn’t your first solo trip or if you’re just used to roughing things up, I’d recommend doing a bit of research and exploring on your own. It’s fun and certainly way cheaper.

      For money, I’d advice that you travel with cash in d$$. It just makes things easier. You can even pay with this at most hotels. Also travel with a dollar MasterCard. Your Naira MC has a limit – if it even works. While in Benin, I decided that if things got too bad, I would rush to the border and use the banks on the Nigerian side to get cash but we had just enough money to get us to Aflao, so we continued.

      My friend was able to help out once we were in Ghana and we later found a bureau de change operator that sorted our money issues for the rest of our stay.

  5. Hi Amarachi, each time I read of your road trip to other African countries I’m always inspired, always! but I’m so scared of going on my own (I’m just a big chicken, lol). I’ve been talking to a friend about it for months now, but she’s so busy with work I doubt she’ll have the time. When I saw this post this morning on twitter (i follow you on twitter) I just knew I have to do this with or without my friend.

    So thanks for inspiring me :).

    http://www.fehintolaogunye.com

    • Comments like yours makes starting this blog worth it! I’m so happy to know that the articles here inspire you. Like my friend, Ufuoma of theufuoma.com says, ‘Feel the fear but do it anyway’. It’s all part of the adventure. I am ALWAYS nervous before every trip but I try not to let that stop me from doing what I love.

      I’ve also written a post here to help overcome the fear of solo travel: http://www.travelwithapen.com/2017/03/overcome-solo-travel-fears/

      I hope it helps and if you let me know when you plan to venture out (solo or not), I’ll be happy to help in the planning process…

    • Hello Fehintola,

      I’m in the exact same position. None of my friends want to travel right now but I really want to! If you feel like it’s something we could do together, you could reach me on Twitter or Instagram – Nappyhaired.

      http://www.nappyhaired.com

  6. I always advice first timers just go with a transport company, saves you the stress and unnecessary money. I was so angry when I went on my 1st trip via the border that I did not stamp back into Nigeria. I plan to visit Grand Popo someday but Togo keeps pulling me whenever I get to that side.

    • Yeah, it makes sense for them to do this, mainly for the stress part. Our return journey was stress free – with regards to border crossing BUT it was a lot cheaper and faster when I crossed on my own the first time. I guess it’s all relative.

      Grand Popo is just 20 minutes away from the Togo border, so you can actually visit as a day trip from Togo next time Togo calls 🙂

  7. Hey Amarachi, sorry about your experience with the customs. Next time, we can actually consider blowing some whistle on them (we are in a whistle blowing era now), do some hidden video shot and send to EFCC…(kidding)

    • Thanks, Greg. I’ll leave the hidden video thing to the professionals, haha. These guys will probably kill you if they find out they were being taped.

  8. This is so great! I’m planning a similar trip with friends soon so this is really helpful!

  9. How did they change their minds? They would have impounded the laptop and collected the 20k naa…corruption everywhere!
    Lovely pictures by the way!
    http://www.ijefinelivin.com

    • Seriously. Glad we talked our way out of that one. This was on the Benin side, by the way. They’re all the same.

  10. Those border people sha, this stuff is just ridiculous! I knew nothing of Grand Popo until I saw your pictures on IG, and then I started googling! Glad you still had a good time.

  11. Receipt for camera and laptop. Lord have mercy. Looks like you had fun though which is the most important thing.

  12. Yay yes baby girl. The photos look very great! Can’t wait for the follow up stories.

  13. Nice. Really cool. I’m envious 😀
    Well not really

  14. Karen Ekekwe

    First time travelling outside Nigeria(though it was “frustrating” at some point cos of the money they were asking us for) but definitely not my last. I feel like I can be a tour guide now lol,thank you Priscilla for an experience I’ll never forget.

    • I know right! That was terrible but I guess it gets better after the first time. And you’re welcome!

    • Congratulations Karen, you have now been officially inducted into the Amarachi see-the-world frenzy. I must warn you, it is very addictive and hard to resist, but I must confess an awesome way to get to know the world and broaden your horizon.
      For once, I am being seriously tempted to join the bandwagon too and pry my gaze from the laptop screen whenever I travel for business trip…

  15. Hey Amarachi, do you use a professional camera to take your pictures? They’re always so pretty and hd.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *