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African Treasure

December 02, 1990

I read with interest the Nov. 11 article by James T. Yenckel, "African Travel Rewards Patience, Preparation." I think it is worth pointing out that there are several African countries not mentioned that are very safe, inexpensive and rewarding.

In July I revisited Benin, which early this year was experiencing a variety of "Prague spring" with the return of civilian rule and a rapid movement both to a full market economy and multiparty democracy.

It was exhilarating to see a choice of 15 different independent newspapers instead of the old single government mouthpiece. Travel to both Togo and Cotonou (the capital of Benin) is hassle-free via KLM or UTA. Accommodations in two- and three-star hotels are a bargain at $40 per night, including breakfast.

And the attractions within a day's round-trip drive of Cotonou include the lake village of Ganvie, where more than 20,000 folk live in houses on stilts within the lagoon and movement and marketing is by dugout canoe. In the north, there is a game park far less visited than those of East Africa, yet with a good representation of game.

Togo is also still a bargain with its fantastic restaurants. A lobster thermidor meal with wine, live music and a romantic ambience can still be obtained for under $15 a person.

In both Cotonou and Lome, it is still a pleasure to walk the streets at night without fear of being accosted.

It is by going to countries away from the tourist path that a traveler can still find travel bargains, experience the great friendliness of Africa and begin to appreciate her cultural integrity, beauty and diversity.


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