The Gulf of Guinea Cities
The Gulf of Guinea boasts the intersection of the equator and the meridian. There is a chain of islands in the Gulf of Guinea which form a volcanic chain that connects inland to the mountains of Cameroon.
The islands include Sao Tomé, Príncipe, Annobon and Bioko. The Gulf of Guinea includes several West African countries that border the Atlantic Ocean and these are Benin, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The main rivers of this area are the Niger and the Congo River delta both have deposited organic sediments out to sea which is now rich in crude oil and natural gas. The Gulf of Guinea has become one of the top oil and natural gas hotspots for exploration in the world. This region is also rich in forestry and metal ore and mineral deposits.
The Gulf of Guinea: Cities.
Gulf of Guinea Cities: Accra – Capital City of Ghana
Accra is the capital city of Ghana. The golden beaches of Accra are truly beautiful and dotted with luxury resorts in sharp contrast to the poorer residential areas that surround the city centre.
The city has a large business centre and architecturally is an interesting mix of old buildings that reflect its colonial past and skyscrapers. A great place to visit is Oxford Street in Osu which is a giant roadside market packed with the trendiest bars, restaurants and shops. The streets are packed with market stalls selling a whole array of goods from clothes and jewellery to African prints.
If you are an adventurous eater looking for some amazing tastes and flavours, street food is the way to go in Accra. From a simple coconut sliced open for you to drink the fresh and very healthy juice to fried yams and plantains with chilli sauce.
Besides that, the bread balls, that are a bit donut like, known as boo-froot, although high in carbohydrates are truly delicious. There are stews all over the place such as groundnut, palm soup, okra and fish stew all served with little starchy balls known as banku.
You can forget the diet in Accra because of the wide choice of restaurants and street food are going to be just too tempting to keep motivated.
Gulf of Guinea Cities: Lomé – Capital City of Togo
Nowadays this vibrant and colourful city is Togo’s chief port and industrial center and exports coffee, copra, palm kernels and cocoa. Like many other cities of the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé has an oil refinery.
Lomé, has thriving markets selling all sorts of local wares, broad shopping streets a busy and vibrant nightlife and beautiful palm-fringed beaches.
One market that is particularly interesting in Lomé is ‘The Marché des Féticheurs’ or ‘The Market of Fetishes’ which is not quite as kinky as it sounds.
This market is a must-see and is dedicated to the ingredients and practices of the old voodoo traditions which still thrive in West Africa.
There are many ready-made magical charms, but for the more adventurous, you can grind your own crocodile, monkey, vulture, owl or cat skulls with a mixture of herbs on the fire to produce a black powder. The chest of a person is then cut and the powder rubbed in.
You can buy charms that are said to cure a whole host of illnesses including breast cancer, help the infertile, protect houses and even bring bad luck to your enemies.
Gulf of Guinea Cities: Lagos – Mega City of Nigeria
Lagos in Nigeria is the largest city in Africa. In fact, forget large it is absolutely HUGE. The population is estimated 17.5 million people, however, unofficial census data claims that it is more like 21 million already, can you imagine that?
Lagos is more than a city though it is a conurbation divided roughly into the mainland, Greater Lagos and the Islands and includes many surrounding towns and districts making it a mega metropolis. With that amount of people milling around on a daily basis, Lagos can be a very busy and frantic place to be – not best if you don’t like crowds.
However, with the mix of urban and beach life, combined with the sheer size of Lagos, the things to do and see are endless – from shopping, conservation parks, museums and city life to tranquil beaches, clubbing and water sports, literally the choice is yours.
A city of this size, scale and population is bound to have some serious issues. Although it has been claimed that crime rates here have lowered in recent years there remain some very serious issues for visitors and residents alike.
According to the 2015 report from the United States, Overseas Security Advisory Council(OSAC) crime in Lagos remains at a critical level.
US tourists and residents have been the victims of armed robberies, burglaries, rape, kidnapping, assaults and many extortion scams both in person and through the internet.
Transport is a major concern due to a whole combination of factors such as poorly maintained roads and vehicles, non-adherence to traffic laws, flooding and the chance of hijacking in more remote areas. There is a vast inequality in Lagos between the extremely wealthy (there are over 9,500 millionaires in Lagos) and the extremely poor, endemic poverty is a major concern.
Despite these social issues, however, many people travel to and enjoy this huge, diverse, sprawling city with its host of bars, restaurants, stunning beaches, islands and city life.
Gulf of Guinea Cities: Port Harcourt – Capital City of River States
Port Harcourt, the capital of River States, is the main oil-refining city and a major industrial center. However, amongst all the investors and government officials, Port Harcourt boasts long stretches of beautiful beaches and stunning forests, streams and rivers.
Although this diverse city has a lot to offer tourists, up to March 2016 the UK government foreign travel advice has Port Harcourt on a yellow alert which means they advise only essential travel to this city.
This is due, in part, to the Lassa fever endemic in West Africa. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this virus will cause mild symptoms in around 80% of cases however, the remaining 20% can develop severe multisystem disease. Lassa fever is a significant cause of death in West Africa, especially when epidemics of the disease break out that can carry up to a 50% mortality rate.
Indeed, Lassa fever is a hemmorhagic viral disease carried by rats and passed to humans through food or objects that have been contaminated with the rat droppings. Lassa fever can also be transmitted human to human and through hospital contaminations.
Airports of the Gulf of Guinea
As a pilot with my own plane, I am planning a trip to the Gulf of Guinea and I needed to do a little bit of research to find out which country and airport it is best to land in.
Often at larger airports, there are shorter runways dedicated to smaller private aircraft so that you don’t have to land on the same one as the chartered large flights.
I am a little bit dubious about flying into the major airports of Nigeria as they are very, very large and often overcrowded, although Nigeria does have a total of 22 airports. In addition, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency charge quite a high price for foreign-registered aircraft for every departure (around $3,000).
The charges for terminal navigation, landing and parking also have to be paid and these prices are not always unified. The fee for landing can vary according to the weight of the plane and the time that it lands. To give an example, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) are in charge of parking and landing charges whilst the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) collect the navigation fees.
Taking into account the high costs, including parking fees, charged at the larger airports I am thinking of maybe a smaller, satellite airport in this region. The only drawback is that I don’t really want to be landing too far off the beaten track in a different country. Anyway, lots to think about. Below is my research so far, that I will return to at some point soon, including some aerial shots of some of the airports in the Gulf of Guinea:-
Kotoka Airport: Accra
Accra is served by the large international airport, Kotoka which is situated around 10 kilometres from the downtown area of the city. Kotoka is Africa’s largest airport and is run by Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL). The airport opened in 2006 and began scheduled flights in 2007. By the year 2014 Kotoka airpot has seen 2.547 million passengers.
Operators from the airport include:-
Lomé Tokoin Airport: Togo
Lomé-Tokoin Airport is also called Gnassingbé Eyadéma International airport after the late president of Togo. The annual capacity for passengers is 700,000 and the airport has 20 check-in desks. In 2004 the airport had served 234,557 passengers.
Operators from this airport include:-
- Asky Airlines (has a hub at Lomé-Tokoin Airport)
- Africa West
- Afrigiyah Airways
- Air Burkina
- Air France
- Air Senegal International,
- Avirex Gabon
- Benin Golf Air
- Brussels Airlines
- DHL Air
- Ethiopian Airlines
- Royal Air Maroc,
- Toumaï Air Tchad
The Cotonou Cadjehon Airport: Benin
Murtala Muhammed Airport: Lagos, Nigeria.
As expected, the international airport of Lagos is huge with over 40 airlines that fly to and from Lagos to 60 worldwide destinations. In 2010 the airport catered for 6,273,545 passengers and to date deals with around 10 million passengers. This international airport was built in 1947 and changed its name to Murtala Muhammed Airport in the 1970’s. It is the main hub for two of Nigeria’s largest airlines Aero and Arik Air. The journey from the airport to and from Lagos will take around 30 to 60 minutes depending on the level of traffic, which can be immense. Public transport is notoriously bad so a private car and driver is recommended.
Benin Airport: Edo State of Nigeria
Port Harcourt International Airport: River States
Port Harcourt International Airport is the third busiest airport in Nigeria already serving over one million passengers by the year 2009.
This airport, however, has become rather infamous after it was voted ‘World’s worst airport’ by a survey of over 26,000 fliers published in ‘The Guide to Sleeping in Airports‘ and entitled ‘Worst Airports in the World 2015.’ The reasons for Port Harcourt International Airport claiming the #1 spot on the list, it is claimed, were due to poor customer service, lack of comfort (broken air conditioning, not enough waiting seats etc.) and poor infrastructure – the arrival gate being a tent.