Burkina Faso-Togo-Benin

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<p>A week or so ago I asked for opinions about Fulani Travel, a British company. I also posted the same inquiry on the Wanderlust website and got several encouraging responses. The problem is that Fulani requires a minimum of two participants to operate a tour, and this fairly uncommon combination of countries may not attract anyone else. If anyone might be interested in the same tour, check www.fulanitravel.co.uk. Then send me a private message through this forum, but leave a message here so I'll know you've done so. </p>

Although Fulani is located i Great Britain, the owners are originally from Burkina Faso. Fulani is the name of one of the main groups (tribes) in BF. They specialize in West Africa especially Burkina Faso (not that this is really relevant!)

I enjoyed my trip to Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, but I did have some problems with Fulani Travel that would make me unwilling to travel with them again. Here is what I've sent to David Tykol at ITN with the hope that he'll publish it sometime:

"In January 2012, I spent two weeks in Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo on a trip arranged by Fulani Travel, a British company. You have to be prepared for some problems and surprises on such a trip, including my hotel in Abomey, Benin, which had no toilet seats in the entire hotel. However, there was one serious problem that could have, and should have, been avoided.

Fulani strongly encouraged me to get my Benin visa when we crossed the border from southern Burkina Faso into northwest Benin. At the border, however, I discovered that my travel companion and I would only be given 48-hour transit visas, even though we would be in Benin for more than a week. The visa could be extended only in the capitol of Cotonou, in the southeast corner of the country. Even though Benin is a small country, the roads are not very good, so we could not have traveled from one corner of the country to the other in time to reach Cotonou and apply for our visa extensions during the ministry's working hours even if we had been willing to sacrifice the heart of our itinerary in Benin.

By the time we did reach Cotonou, we had to pay a fine of 25,000 francs and two bribes totaling 12,500 francs. I also had to pay for an unexpected one night's stay at a Cotonou hotel plus my share of the cost of meals and hotels for that night for our driver and guide, who otherwise would have had to pay those expenses out of their own pockets. This made for a total of 91,100 francs or $182.20 (roughly 115 pounds).

Naturally, I requested that Fulani reimburse me for these costs, especially when I discovered that two different guidebooks, published well before I arranged my tour, clearly explained Benin's visa policy. Fulani Travel could have, and should have, known about this policy instead of assuring me that I could get my two-week visa at the Burkina Faso-Benin border. Fulani should never have given us such misguided advice and certainly should accept responsibility for the additional expenses we could not avoid incurring.

Fulani's response was to offer me $400 off the cost of my second trip with Fulani, even though the company must have known how unlikely it was that I'd ever even consider traveling with Fulani again. In other words, its offer of a discount amounted to no offer at all, and Fulani must have known it. If Fulani cannot afford a $182 refund, I can't help but wonder if the company is solvent enough to offer more tours.

I think that others who might consider traveling with Fulani would be well-advised to weigh my experiences before doing so.

Fulani is owned by Aissa Kharani who owns Chech tours in Mali and Algeria. There is a women who helps him with quotes. He has a known history of having issues with quality. He also has been advertising on Google adwords!