Togo is one of several countries that use the West African CFA franc. There is more than one franc used in this part of the world, since there is a central version of this currency available as well. Here we can focus on the West African version.
This particular franc is broken down into 100 centimes just as all the others have been in the past. However there aren’t actually any centime coins available now – they are all in francs instead. They range from the one franc coin up through the 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 250 and 500 franc coins.
You can also use any of the five banknotes that are currently in circulation. These are the 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 franc notes.
This version of the franc was originally brought in back in 1945. At the time the currency in use was also a franc, but it was the French West African version. Needless to say this is a part of the world that has long since known some version of the franc. Togo has used the West African CFA franc since its inception back then.
This is a hard currency to get access to until you arrive in Togo itself. You’ll have to declare whatever currency you have on arrival in the country, although there are generous limits that won’t affect most tourists. The one thing you have to be aware of is that you won’t be able to take home any larger amounts than you brought in originally, so bear this in mind.
The best way to get the local currency is to bring in some cash and traveller’s cheques. The West African CFA franc is tied to the euro so you have the option to bring this in for ease of exchange if you wish. Traveller’s cheques denominated in euros are probably a good idea too for the same reason.
Credit cards can be used but you might find it problematic at times to get by with a Visa card or Mastercard. Visa is probably better since it does allow you to get withdrawals from the main bank (something you can’t do with other cards). The rule of thumb is always to make sure you have a reasonable amount of cash on you for purchases, just in case your card isn’t accepted.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Togo West African CFA franc
You can easily do this with the use of a currency converter. Either open up your favourite app or go online to find a standard converter. Either way you should find the West African CFA franc included in the list of currencies available. Try looking for the ISO code XOF if you have trouble locating it. You’ll pay conversion rates when changing one currency into another, but finding the latest exchange rate gives you an idea of how far your own currency will go.
There isn’t an embassy for Togo in London so you won’t be able to access their website to find any information about the country. The next best thing is to go to the UK government website to get more up-to-date details about what to expect. This is at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/togo.
The political situation here can be a little sticky at times. You never know what to expect and although most of the time it is relatively settled it does make sense to check the latest information before you travel. If there are problems you will know which areas to avoid.
Unfortunately petty crime and more serious crime is quite common in Togo. Never take any chances and be aware that this is not a country where you will be safe if you don’t venture out at night. You could be just as much at risk during the day as well. Although you will probably find yourself paying for things in cash more than anything else, do be careful about the amount of cash you have on you. Opt for a hotel that provides a secure safe you can use in your room. Keep excess cash and traveller’s cheques in there when you don’t need them.
Some people opt to wear a money belt while others divide their money between pockets and bags to try and keep any losses to a minimum. Of course it is advisable not to resist if someone does try to rob you. They can become violent in some situations and it is never worth being seriously injured or worse for the sake of a small amount of money.
We already know Togo is in West Africa because of the currency it uses. It is a long relatively thin country that has Benin to the east and Ghana to the west. To the north you will find Burkina Faso. The capital of Togo is a city called Lome, which is situated down at the very southern end of the country, facing the Gulf of Guinea.
There are lots of attractions and interesting places to go in Lome, not least of which is the Lome Grand Market. The market is very large and you could happily spend a couple of hours wandering around the different stalls. It is a colourful place with many fruits and vegetables all carefully piled up for display. It sells far more than just food though, as you will see when you take a closer look. Another type of market to be found in the city is the voodoo market. This may not be your cup of tea but if you are brave enough to see its many exhibits this will be quite unlike any other market you have seen.
Also here is the Togo National Museum. This is home to many exhibits that reveal much about the history of the country and its developments in the world of art and other similar areas. It has a good range of pottery and artwork that is worth seeing.
Of course since Lome is on the coast you can go to the beach too. Lome Beach itself is very pleasant and worth a look, although it is probably not advisable to go swimming in the sea. It is fairly choppy and not particularly friendly to swimmers thanks to the strong current.
Elsewhere in the country there are many other sights you may wish to see. Among them is Lake Togo, which is very popular among tourists and others wanting to enjoy some downtime. It isn’t far from the capital and there are lovely villages dotted around the edges of the lake itself.
Another key sight worth seeing is called Koutammakou, otherwise known as the Land of the Batammariba. This is a World Heritage Site as recognised by UNESCO, and one of the reasons they have recognised it as such is for the mud houses here. These are a key part of this area and of Togo as a whole. They are rounded with thatched roofs taking a conical shape to finish them off. People still live in these houses today and the culture here has barely changed in a long time.
Togo also has a few national parks you may wish to visit during your time there. One of these is the Fazao Mafakassa National Park, which is the biggest of its kind. This is quite stunning and is a lovely place to visit if you happen to like hiking. There are lots of paths here offering stunning views over the scenery, which includes waterfalls here and there and rocky outcrops as well.
Another option you could go for is the Reserve de Sarakawa. This gives you the opportunity to watch some animals in the game reserve including the zebra and the antelope. It is also good for bird watchers since there are many species here to be discovered.
Togo can be quite a surprise in some ways. Many people are perhaps a little unsure of what to expect from this West African country. However it has many things to offer, such as national parks, opportunities to see many different animals, visit markets and see a different kind of life entirely. This is perhaps one of the most appealing things about Togo – it is a wonderfully curious and enthralling place to visit.
You will find many places to spend some francs, perhaps while sampling some of the local dishes you will find there. It could be said that many of the best experiences to be had in Togo relate to the history of the country and how it relates to the world today. Take the opportunity to see the Land of the Batammariba for example – perhaps one of the best sights you will see when you visit Togo.