Last year, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to celebrate my 24th birthday in Nigeria and this year, to celebrate turning 24th on the 2nd of April, I traveled to Cotonou from Lagos by Road.
My first international trip, whooooppppsss…. watch video here.
Making this happen should be whole post on its own, bruh, I spent months researching, reaching out to people, saving money, strategizing and re-strategizing, at one point I was really going to give up and in that moment, I dropped my hat for travel agents, it is not an easy role.
So for purpose of anyone who is looking to travel to Cotonou from Lagos by road post Covid-19, this is for you.
Why Visit Cotonou;
I choose to travel to Cotonou for 4 reasons, one it was close, it didn’t require me to take the COVID-19 test, it was budget friendly and easy to convince friends to join the trip on short notice.
Documents required to travel to Cotonou from Lagos by Road;
- International passport
- Yellow fever card, I wrote about how you can get yours here.
With my documents in place, I was ready to hit the road.
After dotting my I’s and crossing my T’s, on the 2nd of April, myself and 3 others, Onyinye, who I had met via Instagram and two of her friends who I didn’t know met up at Mazamaza, Mile 2 to begin our journey to Cotonou.
Prior to this, I had booked us a driver for our trip from Lagos to our airbnb in Cotonou and agreed on a price of 30k to and fro per person. Our journey was scheduled to start by 8am, but due traffic getting to Mile 2, we took off by 9am.
Allow me back track a bit, when traveling to Cotonou from Lagos, there are three notable means of transportation; by air, water or road. I traveled via road using a small car.
Prior to deciding on use a small car, I had made inquiries about using a luxurious bus from companies like ABC transport, GIG, Cross Country and co. but they weren’t traveling to Cotonuo at that moment.
Hence I went with the next available option, going to the bus park at Mile 2 to get a car. Luckily, I got a driver going from Mile 2 to Cotonuo and I booked in advance for the trip.
Back to the day of the journey…
From my research on trip, I was prepared for the worst case scenario, so nothing really surprised me. Not the terrible Lagos-Badagry road or the several police and custom checkpoint on the road. What surprised me was how the driver was able to navigate them easily and we didn’t have any challenge as I had expected and we got to Seme Border before 12pm.
At this point, the driver explained he would be putting us in another car as he didn’t have the license drive within Benin Republic called ‘Lese Passe’. So we joined the car of a Benin driver and he took us past the Seme Border. He also explained that we could choose to have our passports stamped or not. We choose the later and paid 3,000 naira each to get our passports stamped.
I should mention that, we paid 3,000 to the driver to help us in stamping our passports and speed the process, so I am led to believe that if you don’t mind doing it yourself, you could get your passports stamped for cheaper.
In less than 15 minutes we had our passports stamped; stamped out of Nigeria and stamped into Benin Republic.
Next after that was changing our naira. This was the biggest shock for me, our Naira has lost its value. The exchange rate for Naira to CFA is nothing to write home about, we changed 1000 naira to 1125 CFA at Seme.
Once we had changed some money, we made our way into Cotonuo, in less than an hour, we were at our airbnb.
For me, it was a smooth journey, and less scarier than all the things I had heard about travelling to Cotonuo by road.
Will I visit Benin Republic again? Definitely, most likely with the same driver, Mr Emeka, he was amazing and I am open to sharing his contact with anyone who needs it.
That’s it for Day 1, the journey continues in day 2.