I have always wanted to learn french for a couple years but never got around to doing it. To get me to finally do it, I put it on my Resolution list in January 2018 and fast forward January 2019, I am proud to say I can hold up a conversation in French. If you follow me in Instagram, you already know that I took a weekend trip from Nigeria to Benin Republic by Road , the closest country to Nigeria and a French speaking country to have a weekend french immersion.
I went with my colleague at the bar and in French Lilan and we had an awesome time moving around and trying our best to engage people in our newly acquired international language.
We were slow with conversations as we had to think first in English then find suitable words in French to convey our thoughts. It was thrilling nonetheless and I look forward to our next immersion trip, hopefully for a longer duration.
I had my passport submitted at the South African visa application center for visa purposes and had not received it before our trip. I try not be one to drag planned trips so I decided to take the trip from Nigeria to Benin Republic by Road which doesn’t require my international passport. Just before leaving, I had heard of the commissioning of the border so I was eager to make the trip.
How to Travel From Nigeria to Benin Republic by road
If you plan to travel from Nigeria to Benin Republic by Road, find your way to Oshodi Oke take a 200Naira bus to Mile 12，be sure to let the conductor know that you are headed to Seme which is what the border town between Nigeria to Benin Republic by Road is called. After you alight from the bus, walk forward a bit or tell anyone，you are headed to the ECOWAS Park，just beneath the pedestrian bridge. The buses or shared taxis there will take you to the border for between 600-1500 Naira. We left left on Friday morning and both the buses and the taxis took forever to get filled up.
Mile 2 to Seme border takes about 40Mins with some traffic，this can be more on a bad day，be sure to start your trip early to beat traffic. Because I was traveling without my passport，there was no need to go through the border posts. I took a bike for 500Naira from the Total Filling station where we were dropped off to the Benin Republic side of the border, the car park precisely. If you want your passport stamped go through the gate below.
Lilian met up with me after having her passport stamped. It was her first time at the land border，she paid 1000Naira on the Nigerian side to stamp out and 500Naira at the Benin Republic side to stamp in, this was only because she spoke with the officers in french, this could be up to 1,000Naira also. I on the other hand was stopped by a Nigerian immigration officer, I simply told the officer that I was a student, showed him my Alliance Francais Student I.D, had a little chit chat and left.
I suggest you have an Identification Card with you just like I did if you intend traveling from Nigeria to Benin Republic by Road or better still get the blue ECOWAS passport for your travels within the region.
We took a shared taxi for 1000CFA at the park on the Benin side of the border to Tokpa market in Cotonu. There were also taxis headed to Ouidah and Togo there. Tokpa market is pretty central and you can get a taxi or Zemidjan (nomenclature for motor bikes in Benin) to where ever you are headed from 100CFA.
Our first impression of the Zemidjan riders in Cotonu was a hassle, we had agreed on price with the riders on pick up but upon arriving at our destination, the guys started claiming we owed them a much higher price.
This also happened with the taxi driver who took us from the border, these occurences could only tell of how funny the transport operators would get after realizing they picked up foreigners.
I would have legit insisted on paying what we agreed as I hate being knowingly ripped off. However, travel buddy was more compassionate and we ended up paying slightly more than we bargained.
Be sure to be certain of prices, don’t hop on a bike without settling on price. Loose change is an asset, always have some. Bienvenue à Cotonu.