I have always harboured the thought of doing a West African trip overland along the coast from my home country, Nigeria all the way down to Morocco. Between having the time, money and courage, I have managed to push the thought aside every time, until recently.

I got a chance to travel to Benin Republic over the past weekend and the trip was amazing. I’m still reeling with excitement as I type this post because I’m having to relive the mini-vacation over again. I originally intended to get to Cote d’Ivoire but had to cut that short because of my day job. Anyway, I’m very happy I got to visit Benin Republic at least.

Details of this trip will be broken down into a series of 2-3 posts. This particular post will only be about a recap of the trip itself and later on, I’ll breakdown costs, talk more about Couchsurfing for the first time, getting to Cotonou and my experience crossing the Seme border.

Here’s an overview of how day one of the 3-day trip went…

Day One – Lagos to Fidjrosse

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

Benin Republic travel

I left my home in Lagos at exactly 6 am and hopped on and off several buses to get to Cotonou through the Seme border. Transportation alone cost me a total of N950 (see cost breakdown) but I had to part with another N2,600 crossing the notorious border.

Seme border is a hot mess and everyone on both sides (Nigeria and Benin Republic) is only looking for ways to extort money from travellers. I quickly learned, among other things, that there was no such thing as ‘visa-free’ and a fresh passport meant ‘new on the route’. *eye roll*

Anyway, after haggling with border officials, I managed to get across to the other side, where I changed some money before taking a shared Taxi to ‘Tokpa’. (I changed N10,000 for 13,250 cefa). Yep, our currency is rubbish right now!) From Tokpa market, I took a motor taxi (Okada) to Fidjrosse where I would meet my Couchsurfing host, Mark.

Travel to Benin Republic

I had created a public trip on the website a few weeks before this visit and received a response from Mark shortly after. I talked to him over a couple of days and he was very helpful in shaping my itinerary, even offering to show me around since I was visiting during the weekend.

On arrival at Fidjrosse, he picked me up from where the bike man dropped me and drove us to his home by the beach. Thanks to his amazing personality, I instantly felt comfortable with him and it didn’t seem like we were just meeting for the first time. At his home, I met two couchsurfers (and couple goals) – Jon & Jade, who had extended their stay with him. After getting settled, he drove us out to a place called Bab’s Dock.

Travel to Benin Republic

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

Benin Republic beach

We took a scenic boat ride through the mangrove and across the lake to get to the place. An entry fee was required, I think it was about 2,500 cefa but Mark covered that for me. We had lunch there which cost 8,200 cefa (about N6,180). Again, he generously paid for that.

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

After lunch, we went kayaking through the mangrove for about an hour. It was an exhilarating experience and I enjoyed every moment of it. I also liked that the water wasn’t deep, which made the ride even more relaxing for me.

(Well, that and the fact that Mark rode in the two-man kayak with me ☺). The kayaks were free to use, so we didn’t need to pay more money to use them.

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

Travel Benin Republic

We stayed over at Bab’s dock until sunset before heading back home.

Travel on a budget to Benin Republic

As soon as we got back, we started getting our costumes set for a party organized by some of Mark’s friends. Jade, who is obsessed with costume parties, did a great job with us – even though she had very little to work with. (Fun Fact: she used to work for the Olsen twins – as in they were her direct bosses!)

Benin Republic Blog PostAn African god, old man Mark, Nigerian-Mexican tourist and a Djibouti camel trader walk into a bar…

And so, day one ended on a high with a great party and zero dull moments. We returned to Mark’s place, got some rest and prepared to tour Ouidah the following day.

Travel to Benin Republic

Mark documented the trip with a lovely video (below). Enjoy!

See the details about day 2 here

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  1. I really do love this post. Thank you for the enlightenment. I can’t wait to visit Benin.

  2. A great read. I read about both journies and it was nothing short of amazing. I’d love to get in touch more. I only discovered your blog when I started to surf the internet hoping to gather information about trips like this as Intend to tour a number of West African countries for the whole of November and December. I’ve turned on my email notification and I look forward to your response. BTW I absolutely love your blog.

  3. Where the hell have I been that I have never ever discovered your blog. Ah me! That knows all blogs!

    Hey girl…. I really love your blog, so chic, inspiring and insightful. I think I do like travelling, but I definitely don’t like journeys, so I’ve really not left my space for years at all. Always claiming that I’m too busy or something.
    But you’ve inspired me….
    It’s time to give myself a chance and make it a priority.
    Especially with west-african or African countries.
    And I’m starting that by next year.
    Really nice meeting your blog.

    • Thanks Funmilayo 🙂 It’s great to know that this blog has inspired you to begin your own adventures – I’m so happy to hear that!

  4. Where have I been all my life that I didn’t find your blog sooner… What! You are about to make my globe trotting dreams come through. This is such an insightful post. I loveeeeee it

  5. Adedamola Oyero

    I really love how you detailed every step, it was easy to mentally put myself in it and imagine how it went. Couch surfing in Africa and you still felt safe. I didnt really understand it when you said “I posted a public trip and Mark reached out”…How do you post a public trip??

    • Hi Damola, thanks for your comment. On the CS website, there’s a place to create a public trip. People can see your travel plans and offer to host you or meetup.

  6. Love your travel spirit, always wanted to start travel to African countries but always procrastinating. I guess I will start with a road trip to Cotonou. Can I get a rough estimate of how much I will spend with hotel and accommodation for like 5 days? Can I get a tour guide from Cotonou? Expecting to hear from you soon.

    • Hi.. thanks for your comment. A road trip to Cotonou is certainly a good idea. I don’t have an estimate offhand for the cost of hotels since I didn’t stay in one while I was there. But you can check out sites like Jumia Travel or booking.com to get an idea. Alternatively, look into Airbnb accommodations. Usually hosts would be happy to show their guests around or recommend someone who can.

      For tour guides in Cotonou, unfortunately, I also don’t have that info. In cities like Ouidah, the tourist sites come with guides and the motor taxi riders can easily get you to where you need to be. You can try the same thing in Cotonou. Make a list of where you want to go and just hire a motor taxi to take you around.

    • Hi Tostos, I would also like to travel. It’s something I’ve been pushing aside. If you like we can about having a duo trip. I’m female BTW.

  7. Hi 🙂
    Never thought couchsurfing was possible in Africa, Good to know, I am visiting 6 Countries in West Africa…
    Will definitely put a message and see what comes up…

    • Hi again Laly 🙂

      I was also surprised to learn about couchsurfing in WA. I can’t wait to read about your trip (I hope you’ll be writing about it).

      • As soon as I posted a public trip, I got one offer to stay in Dakar which I’ve accepted (fingers crossed as it is a long way from now).
        I will do my best to try to write some posts, I am a French speaker so writing in English requires a lot of concentration…. anyway; even planning now to write down my 2 last trips, you inspired me 🙂

        • Ooh, that’s exciting! Fingers crossed 🙂 Now, I’m really looking forward to reading about this and your previous trips.. (No pressure though. I am following your blog, so when you do get a post up, I’ll get notified). And thank you for your kind comments – as always!

  8. Nice pics..
    What phone/camera did u use..