The highest point in the small West African nation of Togo is a modest affair at only 986 meters. However, it is a national highpoint and, as such, deserves some attention. Located near the larger city of Kpalime, Mont Agou is a monadnok; it stands separate from the mountainous Danyi plateau which runs diagonally across the country. The mountain is forested the entire way up with coffee and cocoa plantations. A nice dirt road services these plantations and the several villages on Agou's slopes. The summit hosts a WWII era hospital which is now a military/civilian communications post.
Getting There, Currency, and Cultural Issues
Unless you are local to West Africa, getting to Togo may be the biggest challenge. I can't imagine anyone flying there simply to peakbag Mont Agou, but I suppose anything is possible. Several major airlines now fly into Lome possibly with stops at other West African cities on the way.
Entry into Togo from most western countries requires a visa and retinue of exciting vacinations. Visas can be granted by your local Togolese embassy. In the US, this is located in Washington, DC. Visitors from the US should read the State Department page
about Togo first regarding the current political situation. The current president has been in power for many years and makes only token gestures at democracy. Still, his rule is relatively benign and Togo is fairly stable.
Before travelling in West Africa, you'll want vaccinations against Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, Meningitis, Typhoid, among others. Malaria is a problem, especially for Westerners, and you'll want to start taking antimallarials several weeks prior to arriving. Cholera vaccines are also 'recommended', though most doctors will tell you the vacination is worse than the disease and thus not worth it. In country, you should purify all water and not eat any produce which has not been either thoroughly cooked or can be peeled (such as bananas and oranges). This is a shame as much of the street food is delicious and exotic. It is safer to drink Coca-cola or Sportactiv (think carbonated Gatoraid) than water. Both are available widely. Do not
take the bottle with you!
Once in-country, you'll need money. Foriegn currency can be changed to CFA, the standard currency of many countries in the region. The CFA is tied to the French franc at 100/1. Currently (1998), it is roughly 500cfa=$1. Large banks in Lome and a few other cities are equipped to change money. In most rural areas, change will not be available, so get lots of small bills. $200 US dollars will convert to an impressively thick wad of CFA bills.
The closest large town to Mont Agou is Kpalime (the 'K' is silent) a few hours north of Lome, the capitol city. Transportation in-country is by bush taxis. These come in two sizes; small cars for local trips and minivans for longer distances. They are invariably crowded: the saying is "How many people fit in a bush taxi? One more!
". Don't be surprised if you have people sitting in your lap or crammed in on all sides. The Togolese concept of personal space is different than it might be. There are no set schedules; taxis leave when full. Periodically on long journeys you will encounter Gendarme checkpoints. Everyone will have to pile out, walk a few hundred meters, and then climb back in. Nothing to worry about. Money will change hands between driver and gendarme and everything will go smoothly.
A fantastic resource about all things Togo is the Friends of Togo Fufu Bar
. They have an email list with many ex-Peace-Corps folks who can answer any local culture questions you might have.
From Kpalime, you can strike out for Mont Agou. It is about 17 km east of Kpalime at the village of Agou-Tomegbe on the main Lome-Kpalime road in the prefecture of Kloto. A dirt cocoa plantation road winds up the gentle slopes and provides. The 'standard route'
, if one can be said to exist, roughly follows the road but cuts many of the switchbacks. The picturesque village of Djigbe is encountered part way up along with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. Hiring a local guide may not be strictly neccessary, but it may be unavoidable.
There is a military communications installation at the summit and you may need to aquire permission from the gendarmes there before tagging the actual summit itself. A local guide is not strictly neccessary as the cocoa road is easy to follow, but it may help smooth over some hurdles and will make your climb much more culturally interesting.
When To Climb
In tropical Africa, it doesn't really matter. Visitors in July and August will find the weather cooler and rainier. October through January is the dry season and the temperatures will be higher.
Camping near Agou is probably not recommended nor neccessary. The nearby city of Kpalime has various places to stay.
Current weather conditions for Lome are available below.