Traveling From Lagos To Benin Republic By Road?

Here's my story

Point Of No Return Ouidah

Childhood Fantasies

As a child, I was one of the fortunate few who had the luxury of traveling to the village on holidays. Dad hails from Badagry but no girl was good enough for him in his place of birth except one resourceful Nurse from Osun… Whenever we journeyed through Badagry expressway, I’d ask my dad why we have to always alight at Badagry round-about instead of proceeding towards the border. All he’d do in turn was let out an awkward wry smile.

He must have been thinking about how difficult it’d be explaining what a land border was to a 7-year-old. But my mind was already made (just like it was the night when Iya Bukky told tales of the warm and cold spring at Ikogosi). I knew I would someday go farther than Badagry roundabout to see what was beyond. But no one told me it’d take more than  15 years. I mean, nobody ever did.

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11:10am was when I left my house in Ikotun Egbe with an almost empty backpack containing just my phone, laptop, chargers, ID and master cards. No clothes, except the one I had on- a blue Tshirt on a faded denim shorts stopping just below my knees with N20,000, my entire budget for the trip stashed in each of its back pockets. The heavy drizzle influenced my decision against wearing any sneakers.

Iyana Iba Market

By 12:12pm, I had gotten to Iyana Iba where I joined 13 others on the next bus destined for Seme border through Badagry Express road. N700 was what each passenger parted with before the bus moved us all to Badagry 90 minutes later. The drizzle had subsided by then, and since only 3 of us were headed for Seme border, it made no sense for the driver to continue the journey, so no one protested his move to fixing us in smaller cabs taking travelers to the border. He paid our new driver N150 for each of us.

At least three times in the 2005-2017 period Has violence broken out in the border town, with fatal consequences


Crossing Seme Border Without A Passport

Twice every second, my head pounded for reasons beyond me. I needed nobody to tell me how huge the risk I was about taking was (or maybe my fears had the better part of me). Crazy thoughts of the uncertainties ahead made the pounding frequency worse.

“What if I the custom officers find the laptop in my bag and deny me entry or request for the receipt which I don’t even have?”

“What if the driver and all other passengers are a team of robbers?”

“This man behind me with full beard might even have a gun on him”…

The thunderous cough from the lady seated by me in the front seat jolted me from my reverie. I barely knew when she joined me. “Sorry ma”, I said, with my attention split between my fears and her condition. She sneezed again (this time harder). I repeated the ‘sorry’, raising my voice higher as if it’d make her stop. “You go sabi take care of woman o”, the driver blurted out amidst laughter. I knew I had won him over with that but I kept my cool by replying with a light grin.


Everyone except me alighted at Seme border. And Like the driver knew why, he asked if I’d want to cross to which I replied yes. He thought I had done this before due to the kind of confidence I exuded, so he asked how much I usually pay and I told him N200 (even when I know bikes take N1,000). We haggled back and forth before finally settling for N400. He twisted the ignition and drove slowly amidst multitude of humans, vehicles and unappealing roadblocks which made up the checkpoints. On getting to the major roadblock (which was just a long bamboo stick placed firmly on two drums filled with cement) he spoke in a way that convinced me he wasn’t a newbie, and like a forgotten butter in the sun, the  fierce-looking guys in charge of the checkpoint let out a warm smile the moment money exchanged hands. They allowed us through. No one had time for the guy on faded shorts. At this point, I had slipped my flat bag underneath my legs- something that wouldn’t have been possible had I packed fully for the trip.


Seme border
Border Town

After driving for another 2 minutes, he pointed forward to an open space (the size of a football field) and told me to walk as though I was a part of the everyday people I saw walking. I obeyed and even added a straight face to make the whole thing more real. Since N1,000 was what I had budgeted for crossing the border, I gave him N500 like it meant nothing to me, I flung my bag to my right shoulder and continued without looking back to acknowledge any of his praises.


Benin Republic
Now it was me and my fate against my fears. I joined other passersby as we wallowed in the muddy waters  leading to the Benin republic side of the border.


Naira To Cefa

At about 20 feet towards exiting the border town, I saw close to 30 of them by my left under their umbrellas which provided them just enough refuge to shield them from the angry sun. At first I didn’t know what they were there doing but as I moved closer, I saw one of them counting money. Then it dawned on me that my Naira notes will become useless the in a matter of seconds if I don’t change them to CFA.

I looked at the men again and saw one with Tribal marks. I figured he’d be from south-west Nigeria, so I approached him. I had checked the prevailing exchange rate before getting to Seme and figured it’s 1.5 CFA to 1 Naira, so when he told me his rate was 1.65 to 1 Naira, I was overjoyed. I changed N25,000 Naira which gave me N41,250 Cefa in return. Everything was just a few notes and a few coins. I thanked him and moved on joyously through the tiny gate which led to Heaven the beginning of Benin Republic.



Unlike what is a major practice  around the world, There are no images of any national hero on any of the CFA Notes Or coins.

I had already asked the money changer how much it’d cost me to get to where I’d take a bus to Cotonou from the gate, so when the bike I hailed said 200 CFA, I didn’t argue. He drove forward a bit and found another passenger before finally zooming off into the heart of Benin Republic’s capital.

Petrol Station in Benin Republic
Then we stopped to refuel the bike… In Benin Republic, illegal road side petrol stations like this are more popular than standard stations and the most prevalent reason behind this is the exorbitant rates at which the standard stations sell.


Buying Petrol in Benin Republic
When I asked the rider why this is happening (considering the dangers involved), he made me understand that these road side chaps get their supplies at way cheaper rates from Nigeria and this makes them in turn sell cheaper to motorists.


I was finally able to take a deep breath. I looked back to see if the guy behind me wasn’t an undercover police. Satisfied with what I saw and how deep into Cotounu we had gone, I smiled within me as tears raced towards my ears as if to take refuge inside them due to pressure from the fierce wind but I cared less. All that mattered was that I had finally achieved a lifelong dream my dad had always prevented me from.

I crossed the border solo!

On alighting at the round about, I stretched forth a 500 CFA bill to the rider for my fare, but this guy behind me seems not to have a smaller denomination, so I told the rider to take 400 out of my money for both of us. I had successfully crossed one of Africa’s most popular borders solo and I needed to wash it. To the young man, I must have been a good Samaritan, to me, I had just lured him into a friendship he mightn’t have consented to on a good day. He felt indebted  to me when I told him I was a stranger who needed to just see the city, so he motioned me to follow him. The whole thing was simultaneously funny and scary but I followed him like a hypnotized rabbit.

After many seconds, we both got to where the next bus destined for Cotounu was loading and hopped in after being told the fare was 200 Cefa per person. We waited for one more person before the journey started. We were both seated at the front, but said nothing to one another until our vehicle finally broke down halfway into the journey.


Everyone jumped down angrily to seek an alternative. For over 10 minutes, We all took refuge under the scorching sun before a 504 Peugeot pickup slowed down in front of us, since I knew nothing in french aside Merci, my multilingual friend engaged the driver, who insisted on taking 200 CFA if we’d sit in the trunk of the vehicle. In this situation, we were beggars, hence shouldn’t argue with our benefactor  even though we were paying, so we hopped into the trunk.

Lagos to Benin Republic
His name is Peacemaker, a 300 level student of Pharmacy in Hills University who hails from Anambra state in the Eastern part of Nigeria. “I had to come here to school after failing to secure an admission into Uniben on two occasions”, he said as he took a picture of us in the trunk.

Peacemaker volunteered to take me round his school (the size of a regular Nigerian secondary school) and hostel before taking me to a corner shop where I got a Zoom sim card since Airtel isn’t functional in Benin Republic. This made me 1,000 CFA poorer but I cared less. I still had N15,000 stashed in one of my pockets.


A zoom sim card
Moove appears to be the most popular in the city, even ahead of MTN (judging by how many stalls and bill boards I saw).

Compared to Lagos, the streets In COTONOU are generally wider and mostly untarred.  hardly will you also find streets with Gutters.


I bought roasted chicken for both of us and gave Peacemaker 500 CFA even though it wasn’t enough for all he had done for me but he appreciated it.


Hotel Green Horse

It was getting dark so we flagged down a vesper bike which took us to Hotel Green Horse, where peacemaker usually took his swimming lessons. I paid 23,000 CFA for two nights since I liked the hotel for it’s proximity to the city center. I waved him goodbye and retired to my room.

It’s a 4×3 meters wide room with the very basic, yet fascinating furniture which gave it an aura of classy antique.

Why wouldn’t I fall in love with a modest room with a sane AC, succulent bed and wardrobe large enough to allow me carelessly place my things? The toilet which consumed 1/4 of the room’s space was so clean that one would think it’s never been used. The lid on the WC was as heavy as Nigeria’s problems and the pressure from both shower and tap was beyond what I could comprehend.

I dropped my bag, showered and wore the same cloth I’ve been wearing all day again, since I don’t have another.

The electric socket in Benin Republic according to world standards is of the type C / E  which is of 220V, 50 Hz  compared to that of Nigeria which is type C / E of 230V, 50 Hz.

Hotel room in Green Horse Hotel

I inquired from the receptionist where I could buy beer and he pointed me to the poolside where I bought a bottle of Beninicise beer and drank silently while I browsed the internet using the Hotel’s wifi. I reflected on how the day went, I thought about my family, my girlfriend, the office and the things yet to come. By now, I was feeling drowsy.

Sleep came exactly when I expected it at 9pm and I didn’t protest as the beer contributed to my swift decision-making. With my laptop locked inside my right armpit, I placed one foot careful in front of the other as I strolled briskly to my room. In what sounded like a thud, I landed face-down on my bed. I forgot everything that had to do with the earth within a split second.

The TV which had been switched on before I left the room was still on, but I was too lazy to press the power botton on the remote control even though it was just a few inches away from my head. “shebi you paid for the room with your hard-earned money, leave the TV jare?” the soft voice inside my head said. I agreed with the argument and tossed the remote away to make more room for my head.

The AC didn’t stop blowing but my duvet was as thick as a bowl of oatmeal.

to be continued…


  1. Nomadic Negro, thanks for everything. I actually went to Cotonou then Ouidah, I left on Saturday December 5th and came back Yesterday Monday 7th. Ur article really helped me a lot as I was going over and over it carefully while on my Trip. Though my advice to anyone willing to go would be not to go with a Bag, as that would deny you entry or even make you pay charges at every check point. Thank God I went without a bag but my co passengers coughed up more than 12k before getting to the Border itself, while I didn’t pay a dime. Crossing the border was a thing, dealing with the beninoisè was another as they can’t hear or speak English hence I had to use Google translator every time & the network was Bad. For more enquiry from anyone who wants to explore the same trip please feel free to DM me 07053876472 or call me @ 08119276740.

  2. Nomadic Negro, your article really helped me a lot, Although I went to both Cotonou & Ouidah. I left on Saturday December 4th and just came back. D trip wasn’t easy but it’s worth it, besides everything over there is now so expensive. I would advise anyone going not to carry any bag at all, just go solo as I did, no bags no extra clothes cos you might be denied entry or pay a very huge amount of money at different check points. Just me & my phone. If you want to make any other enquiry, you can chat me on 07053876472 { only chat } or call me on 08119276740

  3. nice write up im impress by hearing abt ur journey, actually im planing to visit benin to visit someone, actually its my first time and my budget is 10k, so pls sir tell me im i good to go with amount? thanks

    • Please hold better Money & .Me sure you don’t carry any bag while going cos you might not be lucky. I just came back from Ouidah Yesterday & the trip wasn’t funny

    • Please for your own sake…. It’s too small 🙏🏼🙏🏼. Though depends on who you are visiting, where the person stays & how long you are staying

  4. Lol, i am planning to go to Benin and just for the sole reason of stamping my passport. Do you have any idea about that?… If I take the branded buses like GUO and co, will they help me with it?


    • Oh, this is beautiful. Please do it! Benin is a cool country.
      Regarding your passport, yes, any of the transport companies, you’ve mentioned will help you do it at the Seme Border.

  5. Thank you for this article, you are brilliant and you explained everything in details…I would love to visit Benin repucblic soon but I would like to know which is more affordable is it Togo or Benin republic, I’m planning on a budget of 10k

    Please kindly advise
    Thank you

    • Hello Fure,
      Thanks for the kind words. I’m really grateful.
      Regarding your request, Togo is fairly less expensive compared to Benin Republic. However, Benin republic has a lot more to offer in terms of Touism and adventure.
      For your budget, you might want to add some more money as the Naira is currently growing weak by the day.

  6. Hi Nomadic Negro, I really love your article and enjoyed every bit of it. I wish to visit Ouidah & my Budget is #30k, how much is the real fare from Lagos to Ouidah.

  7. Beautiful write up. I followed through till the end with a lot of pictures in my head.
    I would like to know how studying in benin is compared to Nigeria.


    • Thanks a bunch for following through till the end, Godman.
      To your question, The available data (from platforms like Webometrics) points to the fact that Nigeria has got better quality education compared to Benin Republic.

  8. This was really detailed thank you very much, though a couple of friends and I would love to travel to cotonou or so in a bit…The plan was to drive there, since we were going in groups and all…Would it be okay or you’d advise is to go with public transportation instead?

    • I will strongly advise that you go using a public bus (GUO or GIG) because you won’t have to stress yourselves at the border. Trust me, you won’t be ready for the border wahala.

    • Hey Chacha,
      I haven’t moved close to the border since the lockdown but I don’t think it’s advisable for you to try crossing since the restrictions haven’t been lifted.

    • David, as a Nigerian, you necessarily don’t need an international passport to go to Benin. A means of identification (like voter’s card, work, or student id card is fine).

  9. Hi, I would say m intrigued and captivated by your travel experience. I intend to go there and at least buy nice things. So I would like to ask how the market is and if it’s not too expensive too. U also advised using a good transport company like which is preferable? Thank you!

    • Hello Oreoluwa,
      I impressed by your love for travel. Of course, N10, 000 will get you into Benin Republic.
      I, however, would advise that you save up some more to enable you to make the best of your trip.

  10. I’ve successfully completed this journey with you as i imagined most of it. Well-done with the write-up!
    I’m visiting Ouidah in Benin with 9 other friends in December.. Any advise for those with no passport?

    • It’s really interesting bro know you’d be exploring Benin Republic with your friends, Ibukun!
      While you work on getting your passport, it’s advisable you all go with at least a means of identification (just in case it’d be required but I doubt you’d need it) because Benin is somewhat like an extension of Lagos. Trust me, you’d enjoy your time in Ouidah.

  11. I’ve successfully enjoyed this journey with you as i imagined all of it.. I’ll be going to Ouidah in Benin with my 9 friends by December. Any advise for people with no passports?

  12. Hi Nomadic! nice write up. This would be my first road trip, would you recommend me crossing the border using a transport company like ABC Transport? Thanks

    • Hello Sandra,
      Thanks for the kind words. And I’m super elated you’d be traveling down to Benin Republic for the first time.
      being your first attempt, I strongly would advise that you go with a bus company because they’d take the stress of crossing the border off you. And, yes, I’ve heard good things about ABC but I’ve had first-hand experience with GUO and I enjoyed the service.
      Kindly let me know how your journey goes.