Togo - Benin: People-to-People
Bicycle Africa / Ibike Tours


Dispatch 11 - Aneho


Ouidah-ANEHO (70km, 44mi) After following the coastal plain & miles of coconuts we return to Togo
Points of interest: Fishermen casting their weighted nets, coconut palms. Comé, Grand Popo

  Comé, Benin, national highway, oversize load Comé, Benin, national highway, oversize loadOn the coastal highway the lanes are wider, plus there is a paved shoulder, but this just seemed to be license to make the loads on the trucks wider as well.  Road improvements also mean that the tree line is pushed back further from the road so there is little chance that you will catch even a brief reprieve of shade as you saunter along without pulling off the road for a stop.

Comé, Benin, national highway, sign for traditional healer Comé, Benin, national highway, sign for traditional healerThe placards along the side of the road reflected the culture in the area.  Signs for traditional healers are plentiful.  Assuming the traditional practitioners do their trade well the littoral region of Benin has good access to health care.

Comé, Benin, sign for HIV/AIDS awareness There were also a variety of public health signs along the road.  Probably the most prevalent were for HIV/AIDS awareness.  This sign is part of a multi-country campaign that includes Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria.  This is a corridor that a lot of people transit back and forth through, and there are reports of considerable human trafficking which creates another vulnerable population.  The region has never had as high an AIDS rate as eastern and southern Africa, but it has many of the same risk factors.

Lake Aheme, BeninThe previous day we had crossed the north end Lake Aheme by slow boat.  At the south end there is a causeway with more views of fishing operations and communities on the lake.

Grand Popo, Benin, Coconut palms and farmBicycling along the coast, mostly 'head down' or at least somewhat single-minded to finish and get off the highway, I mostly forgot to take pictures of the miles of coconut palm.  There are so many that they cease to become noteworthy. In this photo (right) there are a few palms, a farm and the remnants of a railroad that ran along the coast in Benin.  This east-west railroad was probably built by the French in the early 1900's. [Today, the only (barely) active railroad line in Benin goes north-south from Cotonou to Parakou.]

Grand Popo, Benin, bicycling Fan Milk yogurt sellerOptimism is the Fan Milk yogurt and ice cream seller on the highway in western Benin.  He must know his market or really like the exercise.  From our bicycle saddle vantage point potential customers are few and far between in the sparsely populated region. There were very few people working the fields along the road and the few hamlets we saw were pretty empty as people were out were out working during the day. My theory is he knows were every school is along the road and he targets these.

Hillacondji, BeninHaving reached the Benin-Togo border should have been cause for some celebration -- it is muted by the border-town nature of the environment.  The town on the Benin side of the frontier is Hillacondji and the town on the Togo side of the frontier is Aneho.  Hillacondji is the smaller of the two and is mostly a strip city the extends further and further out from the actual border posts.  On both sides of the border there is a wall of trucks parked along the side of the road that extends out for at least a kilometer.  It is hard to calculate the hours, days and weeks some people must spend waiting here.  Fortunately, being further a big city, like the Togo-Ghana border, where Lome sits on the border, there is not a lot of hype, hustle and hassle at the border so the actual crossing of the frontier went very smoothly.  Even so I don't have an urge to linger in Hillacondji and blow through to the border station.

Aneho, Togo, ocean and beachAneho sits at a picturesque location were a river runs into the ocean.  There are long sandy beaches on the ocean and the sandy shore extends up the river. At least mid-week the beach isn't getting much attention from the locals, except for a couple of fisherman.  That is about on par with the rest of Aneho, which lacks vitality.  There is the usual small town variety of business and the town is friendly and relaxed, but the closes thing to hub-bub is at the border.

Aneho, Togo, social service buildingsAneho, Togo, Municipal Public LibraryEvidence that Togo was once a German colony are few and far between.  It may be more coincidence than legacy but one sign of Germany's hand was in some new development assistance projects in Aneho.  Their aid money was responsible for renovating a cluster of buildings that are used for government of Togo social service programs, including a new library.

Aneho, Togo, young childrenAneho, Togo,  HIV/AIDS awareness sign.Just beyond these playful child with their innocents of youth is an AIDS prevention billboard the discourage young people from being sexually active and to choose abstinence 'for their life'.  HIV is a serious matter because Togo has the highest HIV rate along the international transportation route from Nigeria to Benin, Togo and Ghana.  The good news, at least in the second half of the first decade on the 21st century, is the rate HIV was dropping.

Aneho, Togo, dinner on the patioAneho, Togo, fish dinner on the patioThe usual practice is to not eat meals at the hotel.  This gets us out into town and spreads the wealth.  Like so many other places, there are a dearth of restaurants in Aneho. This led to a nice meal on the patio at the hotel. 


Errosion has been a problem on this coast for decades. It is not abating as sea level rises. For a 2015 report see:


 Next dispatch.



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