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As a follow up to the Benin Republic online diary I have on this blog, here’s a breakdown of travel costs and some logistics details about the trip.
In order to keep costs as low as possible, I used only public transportation. This wasn’t always convenient. I had to wait until the bus or taxi got full, deal with the multiple stops that involved calling and picking up passengers, share the front seat of a small car with another passenger and so on. On my way back, the bus I was in broke down around the Victoria Island area.
Route: From Lekki, I took a bus to CMS and got down on top of the bridge. There were buses to Mile 2 from there for N200 and a shared taxi directly to the Seme border for N1500. I took the bus and got down at the last stop. From there, I took another bus to Badagry for N400. Again, there was a shared taxi going to Seme border for N1200. A shared taxi from Badagry took us to the Seme border for N150 and stopped at the ‘Connoil’ filling station.
There are bikes from the garage around there that cross people without passports to the Benin Republic side. I walked through immigration instead.
Crossing the Border
Crossing the border should be free but unfortunately, those guys would not let you prosper. What this means is that you can and should haggle your way through immigration if you must get your passport stamped. Or be prepared to wait for hours if you refuse to pay.
Sometimes, smiling and being friendly with the officers on the Nigerian side worked for me as I either didn’t have to pay anything at all or only a fraction of what they had initially asked for. Other times, not so much plus the guys at the Beninese side were not falling for that at all!
Of course, you can escape all of this by taking a ‘luxurious’ bus from Lagos. They manage all the border formalities on your behalf.
Passport & a yellow card
You can change money once you get to Seme town. At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is N1000 to 1325CFA, which is pretty bad compared to a 1:3 ratio obtained before.
I tried couchsurfing for the first time. This is a service that allows people host travellers in their homes for free or just simply meet up with them. It’s great for budget travellers because, you don’t have to pay for a hotel and it is safe once you’re cautious and put safety measures in place. Mark (who was my host) will be sharing some tips about using this service later on.
Travel Cost Breakdown
Click to Expand
N20K was not enough money. Might have been okay with a good exchange rate and no fees at the border.
Couchsurfing has its pros and cons. Please do your research and know the risks associated with using a service such as this.