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Lomé,

If you're sick of the usual beach resorts, then zesty Lomé will welcome you to a coastal destination that oozes with inimitable character. The former 'Jewel of West Africa' offers some wonderful beaches, and exports its delicious bounty of cocoa, coffee and pine kernels far and wide. A disorientating place, where stuttering engines and whizzing motorbikes add a chaotic essence to the city's streets, you’ll see vendors strolling with supplies balanced improbably on their heads, along with a healthy supply of intrigue, adventure and buzzing markets.

Swarms of bikes and motorbikes dominate the coastal road, which borders the huge, palm tree lined Lomé beach – but the sand is wide enough for you to relax with the road merely a distant whisper. A treasure trove of traditional masks and statues wait for you to explore inside the National Museum, while the characterful Monument de l'Independance honours the country's sacrifices in its struggle for independence, and is a suitably defiant beacon of liberation.

Pick up some of Lomé’s renowned produce in its huge bustling markets. Grand Market sprawls close to the central cathedral, and sells everything from shining red peppers, to rubbed leather shoes and handmade hair combs. Its stalls spill out across the streets, offering an intoxicating, disorientating blur of bartering and bantering. The cathedral, with its twin bell towers, is worth a visit if you can get close enough, as it sits surrounded by the bulging, breathing market. Chances are, the extraordinary Akodessewa Fetish Market, will be one of the most unique and culturally fascinating places you’ve ever visited. While a solid stomach will be required for some elements, which involve animal slaughter, the voodoo priests here offer unique treatments and spells for every kind of ailment. This is the largest market of its type in Africa, and there are believed to be approximately 2.5 million followers of the voodoo religion in the country.

Lomé,