Exploring mountain villages in rural Togo

1043 Reviews

Star Travel Rating

3/5

Review type

Things to do

Location

Date of travel

January, 2024

Product name

Sightseeing in rural Togo

Product country

Togo

Product city

Kouma Kondo

Travelled with

Couple

Reasons for trip

Culture/Sightseeing

Having spent time in Togo’s capital city, Lomé, we also visited Kpalimé, a rural area noted for its green hills, cocoa and coffee plantations, and unspoilt mountain landscapes.

There are also lots of small traditional villages and our itinerary included a walk around Kouma Konda – one of 10 villages with populations ranging from 300 to 1,200. Having read that the surroundings of Mount Klouto, and Mount Agou (Togo’s highest at 986m), provided a habitat for many species of butterflies, we were not surprised when our guide Nestor arrived armed with a butterfly net. Whilst this was meant to be a ‘gentle stroll’, we set off down a steep track with scree, and I needed a steadying hand. However, it quickly flattened out and remained so for the remainder of the walk, although it was rough underfoot.

Nestor told us about the various plants and their medicinal uses, and he would be in full flow when he darted off waving his net around to try to capture, somewhat unsuccessfully, a butterfly to show us. There were plants for yellow fever, constipation, childbirth, and all manner of ailments which appeared to be mainly brewed into infusions. He also showed us how dried seeds from the canna lily were used in a bottle to make maracas, and how a child’s toy was created from seed pods.

There was a huge variety of trees: some producing citrus fruits and avocado, others with thorns on the bark or ants nests high above, trees where the male and female had different coloured flowers and bushes with ripening coffee berries. Some plants, like Lantana and the tobacco plant were familiar, but others were new.

During the walk, I was ‘tattooed’ albeit temporarily. White sap from a tree was applied to my arm using a small twig with Nestor creating the outline of a butterfly. When the sap dried, it became invisible, until rubbed with charcoal. Other plants were used to colour in red and yellow wings, and the result was very impressive. Having been told it would last a couple of days, I forgot about it when I jumped in the shower later that evening, and all traces were removed. Another tattoo, more suited to black skin due to its silver colour, was created by pressing a New Zealand fern leaf against the arm.

We saw lots of different aspects of village life: small children following us, shouting yovo (meaning white person), and wanting their photograph taken; young boys playing football; women bringing in their washing and men returning home from the surrounding fields; and chickens and goats roaming freely.

Many houses had beautiful murals on doors and shutters, and our final stop was at the studio of artist Agbo Kosi, whose signature incorporated the outline of Africa. He produced some fabulous work despite having had no formal training, and if the pieces hadn’t been so big, we would have been tempted.

We then drove up to Mount Klouto (710m) passing two hotels: Hotel Campement de Klouto and Les Plurielles, formerly a German hospital. Near the top was a small bar with interesting voodoo statues and a rickety looking viewing platform and right at the summit, an antenna. Having seen no other vehicles, we were therefore surprised to find six huge 4WD camper vans, with a group of 11 intrepid Dutch people who were spending five months driving through West Africa. Unfortunately, due to the Harmattan, which happens in the dry season, views were not clear. And as the winds began to blow, we were glad we were not camping on the top.

Helen Jackson

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