The Marox supermarket is fairly well stocked. They have plenty of canned goods, cold soft drinks, cold beers and larger items like oil and rice. They have a reasonable butcher counter and some very good sausages. You will also find very good local nuts (like cashews) sold inside recycled water bottles. They do not have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but the Le Champion Supermarché across the street has everything.
The best thing about the Marox is that is has the absolute best fruit and vegetable stands in Togo just outside. I mean amazing produce.
Between the Marox, Le Champion and the fresh produce stalls here, you have everything you need to survive in one place. It’s more expensive than if you go and haggle for individual items in the massive market areas that start here, but it’s really convenient.
Marox Supermarché is open:
8:00-12:20 and 13:00-18:30 Monday-Friday
Le Champion is a massive grocery store that also sells household good, including appliances. The best part is that they sell postcard. Lomé is a very hard place to find postcards. You can buy them here for 300 CFA. Just ask for ‘Carte Postal’ and they are towards the left as you enter past the checkouts. Oddly they sell good postcards for Ghana as well.
Le Champion does sell ice cold soft drinks at suitable expensive prices (325 CFA). They also have a great selection of imported cheeses, meats, and seafood. In terms of household goods and kitchen gadgets – they have it all. They also have a huge selection of beers, juices and canned foods. The best part is a truly amazing wine room. Absolutely superb imported wines from across the world. If you want to enjoy some superb wine and cheese, this is the shop for you in Lomé.
They will ask you to check any bags (for free) with the guards. There are plenty of shopping trolleys and the staff are friendly.
They have a very large butchery counter(s) at the rear so if you need any fresh meats you have an excellent selection.
A lot of the prices are high by local standards, but they do carry European name brands of everything from food to cosmetics. You will see a few ex-pats shopping with you.
I do not have the opening hours for Le Champion, but the grocery store across the street (Marox Supermarché) is open:
8:00-12:20 and 13:00-18:30 Monday-Friday
** They have a Bank of Africa ATM to get cash **
No wood = no braai. We wouldn’t want that to happen would we? Yep, accept no substitutes. Yes trees were harmed in making this product. In Africa a real African Braai requires real African firewood. Many villages make a living off this. There is no shop. You just see a pile of wood by the side of the road. Don’t worry that you don’t see anyone. They are invisible until your car stops. Suddenly there are somewhere between 1 and 50 people there to take your money.
What to buy: Real wood.
What to pay: A dollar or 2. I have yet to have anyone try and overcharge me. If they ever do, just drive down the road. You will see more very soon.
This is a souvenir shop beyond compare. Uganda Crafts 2000 is a massive souvenir shop that does the things virtually no other souvenir shop can do. They sell local crafts, made by hand, created by handicapped and disadvantaged artisans, have a huge variety and their prices are often cheaper than competitors selling ‘made in China’ items. In addition they pay fair wages to people who might otherwise be truly begging on the streets. Many of the people who make the goods actually create them on site. In fact you see the workshops before you can get to the entrance of the shop. I believe this to be the best souvenir shop in Africa. I enjoyed my visit and purchases so much, I went back the next day to visit again. I bought small woven decorations made by school children to buy supplies for their school. Many of the crafts have the pictures and stories of the makers displayed. You can see the very people you help and their prices are market competitive. They do sell expensive quality luxury goods as well as some of the small decorations I bought for pennies. For budget travellers this is a must. You can get light weight cheap gifts to take home. It all helps.
They are members of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT) and their artisans are paid fair money for their productions. They also provide employment and training for the disadvantaged groups, particularly widows, children, the disabled and those living with HIV/AIDS.
Open 7 days a week from 8am-7pm
What to buy: Some of the fantastic crafts they sell are: Baskets, Christmas Decorations, Batiks (a great and inexpensive gift that weighs nothing!), Handbags, Jewellery, Masks, Leather Goods, Musical Instruments, Key Chains, Trays, Greeting Cards, and a lot more!
What to pay: Prices vary between 5 US Cents to hundreds of dollars for large furniture, jewellry and luxury goods.
Coffee was ‘invented’ here in Ethiopia and you can see how they produce it for export for free here in Harar. Nure is a coffee company you can stop in for a brief tour. It only takes minutes. They have their old equipment and modern day roasters inside. The staff will happily explain the process of making the coffee, from picking, to roasting, grinding and packaging for shipping all over the world. You can even by a kilo of wonderful spiced coffee for $5.
How does it taste? Smooth as silk and I don’t even normally like coffee. I gave my Mum a kilo and she loved it. She has been drinking coffee from across the world for over 60 years and delcared this the best coffee in the world.
They are open Mon-Sat during normal business hours.
Do you need supplies for your Braai (Barbeque)? Shoprite is the consistently best place in Africa to get what you need. They even sell the firewood! I have shopped with these folks in ate least 6 countries. They are based in South Africa but have expanded through franchising. They are always the BEST grocery store wherever they are for not only Braai supplies, but for the best variety of goods. All the ones I went into offered fantastic pre-marinated steaks (Texas Steak – yum), prepared salads of all descriptions, fresh bread, even pots and plates. A good variety of fresh vegetables, cold beers and loads of snack foods. They staff are friendly and prices are good by local standards. You can get cheaper, but you cannot get better. If you need a big shop or specialist food item, this is the place.
They currently operate in: South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Ghana, India, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Katenta Etienne is his name. Authentic African Masks is his game. His shop is really just a storage lock-up in Bujumbura, but it is full of absolute cultural treasures. He is located in a somewhat hidden part of the main craft market, but you really want to find him. I was amazed at the variety of both the types of masks as well as the different tribes/countries they originate from. Etienne (Stephen in English) is a really positive guy who was more than willing to patiently explain the details of each mask. One of the most fascinating is a sewn mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo he is pictured with in photos 2 & 3. This is a very elaborate hand-stitched chicken head. It is the most unique mask I have ever come across in my travels in Africa.
Etienne is a member of the A.A.V.O.A (Association Artistes et Vendeurs des Objets d’Art). I would suggest you save this tip to your ‘Custom Travel Guide’ here on VT which will allow you to print his details and photo if you wish to find him in the market. I highly recommend you look at authentic items before you see some of the mass-produced masks in the main market area. There are several other good ‘storage’ shops beside him, but they are a bit pushy.
Your best "comfort food" is from Madagascar ! That is if you love chocolate, of course. Yes folks, this is the real thing!
From the website of its South-African distribution network
"... Chocolaterie Robert produces a number of NATURAL Cocoa and Chocolate products each sharing the heritage of the organically cultivated, naturally fermented, sun-dried Trinitario and Criollo cacao beans. The cacao is transformed without the use of additives or solvents. Naturally processed, additive free Robert chocolate is intended for the Chocophile or chocolate gourmet- or anyone who appreciates additive -free Natural chocolate. Robert Chocolate is intended for the adult palate..."
Chocolate from Madagascar, that is only produced by Chocolaterie Robert. Not known by the mass market ... but revered by chocolate craftsmen, patissiers and chocolate connoisseurs. Madagascar is not a quantity producer, rather a quality producer.. for a very specific reason: our cocoa beans have been for a very long time harvested in the wilds.
Hey Africa lovers! This is reported to be the rarest chocolate (if not the only) that is produced in Africa, with a recipe that is over 50-year-old, antique machinery & is a natural vintage chocolate (single source, single region).
Now, wild cocoa and plantation cocoa co-exist. Although I must admit I would not distinguish chocolate from wild cocoa from chocolate from plantation cocoa, I really appreciate chocolate here. I like it to taste chocolate and not sugar. Anyway, it is still organic, both in the growing & processing. It is a single-source chocolate, for all the cocoa "farmers" that supply Robert with cocoa being located in the same Northern region of the island.
Check the website below to know more about chocolate making and what makes Chocolat Robert a unique product.
Also there are addies of health-stores & natural food outlets, expert retailers that sell Robert chocolat in South-Africa (whenever you're in SA, a chocolate lover and want to taste this chocolate from Madagascar)
What to buy: My favourite is the plain dark 70% one: a tad bitter and strong enough in flavour to be interesting. To think, in Belgium, I rather have pralines and less chocolate. In Madagascar, you can go blindfolded with this dark one. It contains vanilla flavour (not vanilline.. come on! you're in the land of vanilla here! why would you use a ersatz if you can have the genuine essence ?). Vanilla makes it taste smoother... delicate.
Plus, sold at local pricing, it is ridiculously cheap. Madagascar is a country where natural, organic 70% chocolate slab is cheaper than any imported 5% cocoa mass item of similar format from, say, the UK. Even cheaper in Mom & pop stores, supermarkets.
Package: with Ravinala motives, Ravinala being the Traveller tree, emblema of Air Madagascar and more and more of Malagasy brands (picture 2).
Now, if you want to try what I consider "comfort food per excellence", for any Westerner, like those on picture 1, hit the Behoririka premium store or the "factory outlet" in Soanierana (both in Antananarivo). My favourite is the Vato (not shown on picture, crunchy rock-shaped piece with cashew nut crunches, orange peel, coconut bits). Used to love the mint-cream filled dark chocolate piece too. And this orange cream filled chocolate candy! Buy an assortment of many variations & you'll find your fave !
Anyway, too used to commercial, heavily sweetened, chemically-treated cocoa & vanillin chocolate? It is about time to discover a better "comfort food" that is better for the brain, the mood, the waistline...etc. lol You could even bring some home for the kids to discover the real thing !
Why each time I eat Robert chocolate I want to share this experience with you is something I don't understand... Well, I guess you may know why.
What to pay: Sorry I don't remember how much I bought my box... I bought it in a supermarket anyway.
The assortment of chocolate pieces (of the pralines types) was sold at av. 25000 Ar per kilo (price as of Nov. 2006 at their La Chocolatière premium store in Behoririka, Antananarivo). I was told it was even cheaper at their "factory outlet" in Soanierana, Antananarivo.
In SA, drop a visit to the 27 Jo'burg points-of-sale, 14 Pretorian addies, 3 Western Cape..etc.. to know about the price or why not giving them a phone call ? For more addies, check the below website.
What to buy:
Biltong is the South African equivalent of American Beef Jerky. Actually that is not true. Biltong is better! It is made from dried slices of meat from the many cute animals you will see in the Game Parks. They come in various shapes from a thin sausage looking variety to ‘chips’. Eland, Springbok, Kudu, and anything else that has 4 legs. This is a must for meat lovers. A really good Biltong shop will give you free samples so you decide. Mmmmmm.
The best Biltong in Africa can be bought at The Biltong Hut in Grasskop, South Africa:
THE BILTONG HUT
Bought this Congolese mask in Nairobi in 1990 from the craft market in the middle of town. I ran out of patience haggling for it so I asked a mate of mine who loved bargaining to buy it for me on my behalf. Good idea as he had the patience to get it for a better price than would have got it for.
The other two masks I have bought from the craft village in Kampala. The Kuba mask was worn during wedding ceremonies.
The Chokwe mask with the natty dreads with banana seeds on the end was so I was told worn for a dance to celebrate the birth of twins.
Nakumatt is a successful grocery store/department store operating in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – for now. They plan to keep expanding. They started in 1987 and operate mostly ‘hyper-markets’ with all of their stores carrying a range of at least 50,000 items. They even offer their own Visa credit card. They are mostly in the large cities of Nairobi, Mombassa, Kampala and Kigali. I shopped with them happily in Rwanda and the narrative below is from Kigali. Please check their website for other locations.
Nakumatt is the only 24-hour grocery store in Rwanda. Part of a large Kenya based chain, it offers just about everything. It’s actually a department store offering everything from stationery, appliances, electronics, bedding, camping equipment and household plastics. Did I mention it sells food? Oh, yes it does.
What to buy:
They have a German Butchery. Let’s start there. Cooked and raw German delights for any carnivore. Next to it is the fresh bakery. On the other side is the wine co-located with the cheese & dairy products. Too right. Aisles of spices, mixes, tinned items, snacks, cakes, vegetables, fruit and pasta. They do offer some expensive Kenyan cheeses alongside cheaper (but still great quality) Rwandan produce. There is another grocery store just 75 meters away with almost the same range, but it’s not 24 hours.
So if you have late-night cravings for food or some more cold beer – get down to Nakumatt!
The art of ceramics and pottery is rooted in the local traditions of the Maghreb countries . Indeed, one used, since the antiquity, the terracotta tanks like the earthenware jars to store and preserve harvests of corn, lens, dates and olive oil. Oil lamps and small figurines based on clay are used in the ceremonies of marriages to carry happiness and move away bad spirits. These same articles found at the time of the excavations of the prehistoric coffins confirm the ancestral aspect of this art.
What to buy:
These are the 2 best flavoured waters in the world. Really. I found them at the BP fuel station in Windhoek, Namibia. The pictured flavours, MARULA and NAARTJIE are amazing and beyond compare. Combined with that, they were ice cold! It gets hot in Africa so why have just any cold water when you can have heaven in a plastic bottle. Makers NESTLÉ has a full range of waters : Litchi, Lemon & Lime, Marula, Strawberry and Naartjie. Other manufacturers make some of these flavours as well, but I prefer this brand. Unfortunately I found these sorts of delicious flavours available only in Southern African countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, etc.)
Enjoy! Also available at other retail outlets.
What to buy:
If you want to take a bit of Africa home with you, take a large suitcase and leave some room in it. In every country in Africa you will come across Tribal Dancing Masks. These are used by many cultures and tribes in ceremonies celebrating all sorts of events. Real masks can be worn over the head and/or face, have eye holes and a place for leather straps to go to keep the mask on. If you are being offered a mask without these features – they are not real. Please note: Mask may not necessarily be from the country you are visiting and the sellers sometimes do not know the origin of the masks they sell.
Be prepared to argue and really haggle the price down. You will often be asked for up to 10 times what they will actually take!
Make sure you have room in your suitcase, they can be very big (Please see the pictures). Yes, that is me.
Since the murky depth of times, Malagasy people have used to integrate the use of plants & their medicinal properties in eveyday life. Be it for beauty recipes, be for health reasons or comfort, the traditionals used to be very knowledgeable regarding the use of plants. They knew the properties of a plant's roots, its barks, its fruit, its leaves... everything. Such knowledge has been kept & transmited through generations. So, while strolling in markets, it is very common to find barks, concoctions, leaves, roots sold in markets. Just stalls and vendors. Trouble is not every vendor knows which quantity to use... In the past decades, however, both national & foreigner researchers could collect locals' knowledge (mostly in rural areas) of the plants, modernize essence extraction methods, define needed quantities of so-and-so essence in a drug.
Most known of researchers is Pr. Ratsimamanga labs, the very Malagasy genius who was known worldwilde. Late Rakoto Ratsimamanga reportedly owned (or was a major shareholder of) Roche pharmaceutical firm. In Madagascar, he contributed in making drugs more affordable for locals who cannot afford buying basic multinational drugs like anti-cough syrup, balms to heal wounds... For that, he researched on local plants & used the same ingredients as in Roche labs except that Roche products were user-friendlier (coated pills that are easier to swallow, good taste, attractive packaging). "Ratsimamanga products" as they use to be named (: those produced at IMRA labs) have basic packaging, contain only active excipients, no coating. That is what most locals seek for, living with few financial means: efficiency & cost-effective ;-).
Let also note that other brands exist. They are quite interesting for extracting & selling essential oils. Two of most wide-spread outlets are Homeopharma's & BioAroma's. Not only to heal but also to feel good... thanks to aromatherapy, no chemical additive !
What to buy: For Madagascar flora being highly endemic, chances are you would only find many of the oils only in Madagascar or in very specific drugstores in your country.
This is the content of a BioAroma giftpack we received:
-Eucalyptus EO (anti-septic, anti-infectious, anti-viral, powerful expectorant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, mucolytic, hypoglycaemicant). Good for respiratory tract diseases, throat infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, coughs, diabetes. Highly indicated for smokers
-Niaouli EO (strong anti-fungi, anti-spasmodic, anti-infectious, anti-viral, powerful expectorant, anti-bacterial, respiratory & uro-genial anti-inflammatory, neuro-tonic & skinprotector...)
-Katrafay EO (febrifugal, vermifugal, anti-diarrheic, fatigue reliever, anti-malarial, anti-rheumatismal, fortifying & invigorating). Sidenote, uses to serve as invigorating element for men (not sure I should use "aphrodisiac", still...) & indicated for post-partum fatigue & discomfort.
-Mandravasarotra EO: a strong anti-infectious (bactericid, antifungi, antiviral, anti-parisiti), expectorant, diuretic property, general tonic (blood cleanser + pancreas cleanser), considered as the great defencer of the whole organism.
-Ravintsara EO (lucky me, I have a Ravintsara tree in my garden, and use to pick some leaves to boil and inhale to cure a flu, fatigue, cold.) Properties: deodorant, anti-septic, anti-infectious, anti-viral, expectorant, anti-bacterial, fungicide, scarring, tranquilizer, relieves muscles.. all of that!
-Even sultry & fragrant Ylang-Ylang has some "healing" properties: said to be aphridisiac, for instance, sedative, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive.
Off course, there are more than half-dozen plants.
I especially like BioAroma's products for they coming with leaflets that enlist each oil properties & usual notices that I couldn't find on my Homeopharma bottle.
Homeopharma has, however, a website for info & shopping (oils, oil complex, syrups, plant balms...)
What to pay: Homeopharma Essential oils prices: 8-10 euros (online pricing) depending on plant;
BioAroma prices: Probably more than twice as much as Homeopharma's. A 10cc eucalyptus oil costed (as of oct. 2006) av. 3500 Ar in a Homeopharma shop whilst it was sold 8000 Ar in a Bioaroma outlet. I didn't check all the items but this is an example.
You must go through a street barrack and through metal detectors just to get to the elevator and get...more
Stayed recently for three nights. It is absolutely wonderful. Rooms are very elegant with incredible...more
This riad is consider the oldest- may be the fiart- and best riad in Marrakech. Hoever. it is a bet...more
More Countries in Africa
see all Africa member meetings