May 24th, 2017 written by iz8ccw
The Republic of Togo is a state in West Africa, located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean ( “Gulf of Benin”), the so-called Golden Coast and it is one of the smaller states of the African continent. The coast in the south is only 56 km long. The population is about 7 million and nearly 30% of the population is below the poverty line.
Since the end of the 15th century, the coast of Togo has gradually become the target of Portuguese, Dutch, French and English, especially business with slavers. From the second half of the 19th century the German colonizers grew stronger, in 1884 the German Protectorate was proclaimed over the southern part of Togo, and in 1905 a German colony became a part of the whole territory. Immediately after the outbreak of World War I, Togo occupied the French and British troops. In 1946, Togo became governor’s territory in the British and French administrations. Ten years later, a plebiscite took place in the British-administered part of the country, which led to its joining the Gold Coast (Ghana). The French parts were granted internal government.
In 1958, Togo became an autonomous republic within the French Community. The full independence of the Togo Republic was proclaimed on April 27, 1960. Subsequently, in Togo, as in many African states, the period of various state revolutions followed, before the situation was at least somewhat stabilized.
The first idea to make the expedition to Togo was in 2014, but we had to stop preparations for the expedition because of the Ebole sick in neighboring Ghana. At that time we had 5V7 licenses, found accommodation and granted visas. Within a moment we lost 600 euros. We were still planning to return to Toga once.
The idea of Togo visit struck again about a month after the successful D66D expedition. Petr OK1FCJ called me if we will not go on a small expedition in the spring of 2017. We’ve been thinking about where to go next. Especially we wanted a location near Europe. There is a minimum of solar activity and fly to the south African area we have just eliminated.
It was also the idea of going back to Burkina Faso, but by repeating the already activated countries we would hardly make personal DXCC visits by our own. That’s why we choose Togo. We immediately contact our DX pedition teammates, but no one has time, everyone has work overhead. We remain OK1FCJ and OK6DJ.
We have all the contacts together and we think that the 5V7 license issue will be ready in one month. An error, we received the license after 5 months. It was not complicated, but it just takes time. The license is issued for the year in which we want to visit Togo and not for half a year in advance. That’s why we could not handle things until January.
The next step is to obtain visas. The Republic of Togo has a visa office in Bonn, Germany. The whole process took another 20 days. Communication with the embassy staff is more complex. Preferred languages are French or German our is English.
So, on April 3, 2017, we are finally buying tickets , of course seller increased price almost another 80 euros a week. We are looking for different variants and the most acceptable version is the Munich – Paris – Lomé route. We scheduled the expedition on 20.4. And return home on 30.4.
At the beginning of April, a traditional pre-expedition meeting took place in Ritka. We had to tune in all requirements and pack it all. We are only two and therefore we must not forget anything. Just after the announcement to the DX community about 5V7 expedition, we received plenty of requests to take with us the 160 m aerial. The initial plan was only 80 to 10m. After weighing the entire luggage, we find that we do not fit into a basic weight of 4 x 23 kg. So we have to buy another excess baggage of € 320 per 23 kg. First of all, Ruda OK2ZA helped us! Unfortunately he could not go with us, but paid significant contribution to the luggage. A few days later, Petr OK1BOA, Josef OK2PDN and Jirka OK1FPG helped us too. Everyone contributes a certain amount, so we do not have to pay for our low band antennas. Thank you guys!
I wait impatiently for the evening of April 19, when Petr OK1FCJ arrives at my QTH and from there we continue to Munich to Franz Joseph Strauss airport. Peter will take me to the terminal and I’ll watch out all the luggage in the airport hall. Petr takes the car to the parking lot. We wait impatiently when they open the check in of our luggage. The young lady checks all the luggage, but the weight is exactly 22.85 kg. Fortunately she does not care about hand luggage, where we have PAs and computers. We take oversized baggage to special belt and continue the direction of GATE.
We fly first to Paris, where we have nearly 6 hours stop over to the next departure to Togo – Lomé. The first flight to Paris takes 1.5 hours and the second one to Lomé, 6.5 hours. We arrive in Lomé at 20:00 local time. We’re going to passport control first, where we’re waiting for check-in. We have two visas at the passport. One from 2014 and the customs officer will, of course, first find the void visa. We wait impatiently for the luggage, and the first suitcase, then the second and three sets of antennas are safely on the belt. We continue on through customs explaining why we are bringing so many pipes and wires into the country.
An X-ray follows and we are immediately suspicious, so the customs officer takes us aside. Peter shows all permits, email communication, and we go with the customs officer department. Peter patiently explaining and showing all permissions. We get a stamp and we can leave the airport.
We’ll come out of the airport hall and take the local taxi drivers catch us right away. They lead us to Toyota Corolla from 1990 and we negotiate the price with the driver. He wants 50 EUR and we try 30 EUR. We will agree on the 40 EUR. We take drivers phone number to have secured pickup on the way back
The route to our Le Lac Paradise hotel takes over half an hour. We got contact to them thanks to the I2YSB and his team. The hotel is almost empty and only security guard welcomes us on Thursday evening. We can choose any room of our preference. The hotel is next to a large lake.
Peter chose the room in the middle of the row. It is not too late to unpack our gadgets, we unpack TCVR, computers and PA. The hotel guard willingly sell water and beer. The outside temperature is + 26 ° C. Around midnight we lie down and in the morning we get up at 6 am local time. The time shift is minus 2 hours.
Peter talks with the local guy to go the bank and the purchase of water. Unfortunately, they set off an hour earlier and bank is still closed. So they have to wait in front of the bank when they open. Finally, Petr has local currency and is going to buy a local SIM card with a data limit of 6GB. The HSDPA works beautifully in the city with bank, but only EDGE is in the village. SIM is useless.
I am unpacking all antennas from plastic wrapping and looking forward to building the first Hexbeam antenna. The construction went quite handy and we continue with the verticals for 30 and 40m. Each vertical has two tuned radials. In the afternoon we will build an 80m antenna and one radial. This is of course little, but we will add another next day.
21.4.2017 13:30 is finally all set up and as usual OK6DJ gives the first CQ at 20m CW. First , same as in the D6, in the log is OK2ZI and once we are spotted pileup become huge. I say it’s not possible, 5V7 is a common call and it’s still 20m. I’m broadcasting 20 minutes and I’m giving space to Peter on 17m SSB. Pileup is dense again. After an hour we have hunger, we go to dinner on the hotel terrace.
After dinner, we test the 30m and 20m bands simultaneously and later 30m and 40m. At 2:00 UTC Petr is also testing CQ at 80m with 1 kW out and there is also a relatively strong pileup. We try to focus on the lower bands.
April 22, 2017 at 6:00 UTC we are giving QRX for several hours and we are going to build the Spiderbeam antenna. In the afternoon, our new friend John arranges a small boy – a climber. Boy climbs 2 coconut trees where he ties two insulators through which the wire is stretched for the 160m antenna. The boy was really young and I estimate 10 years. I was afraid he’d fall!
We can still tune one of the elevated radials and then there is dark again. Half a day we worked at 32 degrees heat and drank 5 liters of water. We tried to cool in the pool, but it was literally hot + 28 ° C, so just the shower in the room helped.
In free moments, we are broadcasting again on all HF bands. Again, we try to be maximum QRV on the lower bands, but 160m still do not play as imagined.
April 23, 2017 is a Sunday and the task is clear: complete the RX antenna DHDL and add one elevated tuned radial for the antenna at 160m and one elevated tuned radial for the antenna for 80m. In total, each antenna has two tuned radials. We do not have more wire anymore.
On Sunday, a formal lunch is held at the hotel. At 13 o’clock we were dressed and went to local brunch. Lunch was delicious, served with beef, chicken and pork. We also tasted the sweet cake. Lunch took us to 50 € for two and must be paid immediately. The other food was written on our account. We were so full of good food that we could not even sit by the gear.
We are testing the RX antenna DHDL and we find that it is good and there is almost no difference to the vertical. That’s why we decide to disassemble it on Tuesday and use the wire for the vertical at 160m where we install two more radials. We now nicely wire the whole garden.
24.4. On Monday we were at the hotel ourselves and in the morning we decided to go on a trip to the sea beach. The road to it was over 2 km long. The beach was beautiful sandy, no man, only one local native sold refreshments here.
I want to try to go out and take a bath. The waves are about 1 m tall and 2 meters from the shore there is no sand, but the hard rocky ground begins. I’m 4 meters from the shore and I feel a strong tide that I have not seen anywhere else, I’m trying to leave the sea and Peter is on the shore, and he wants to help me. Before he runs, I’m lucky to be on the shore, and swimming will be just in the pool. The Wikipedia writes: We do not recommend bathing in the sea due to strong sea currents, danger of drowning.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017: We have to go to the bank for money, in our hotel they want a deposit for the services provided. We have only a few local currency coins left, so we’re going to take a lift by local car a taxi service. The system works in a way that the car drives the car and the passengers contributes to the journey. There is no public transport here. Normally two front passengers are sitting on the front and four people at the back of the car. Each tracker pays separately.
Toyota brand dominates the local car park. Our track was successful and tcar took us about 10 km to the bank. On the way there were several checkpoints where the documents from the car and the suitcase were checked. We stand before the bank and we have to stand the classic queue. After about half an hour, we are changing the euro for the CFA, which is the currency of several states. Finally, after Zimbabwe, we are again millionaires. We divide the money with Peter for half and go and buy a good Indian whiskey as disinfection and a biscuit. On the way back we stop again and in a little while we are back in our village and the hotel.
On 26 and 27 April, we only have the last two days to transmit and we want to use them fully and be on the bands. No more trips, just pileups. During the day several times the power is switched off, the alternate source always starts. It’s evening and suddenly it’s dark. The hotel headquarters has an older battery and unfortunately did not turn the starter. There was true African darkness. We sit by the pool because there is no air conditioning in the room and cannot breathe there.
For dinner, they cook our favorite spaghetti on the gas, we use light of on the mobile and try to make the internet over mobile. The internet access, of course, does not work very well, it has outages. We tell our friends in OK why we are not in the band. We’re going through the packaging tactics and we’re determined to be all Friday on the band and pack Spiderbeam in the evening.
Finally, they turn on the electricity. We were not QRV for a total of 4 hours. We scream happiness and we go to the radios.
28.5.2017 is Friday. We decided to start packing until the evening. Spiderbeam is packed in about 1.5 hours.
29.5 on Saturday we get up early in the morning and pack all verticals. Then we go to the last breakfast. We have a single functional Hexbeam antenna. We are using the last pileup on SSB. At 9:30 UTC, we definitely end with the last qso with OK1FM.
We go to dismantle all, pack and prepare to leave the hotel. We order the last lunch, there is a party on the terrace, but we are already thinking elsewhere and thinking if the taxi driver arrives in time. He arrived and drove us to the airport for security in good time, so we have 4.5 hours to departure.
We say good bye to Toge and wondering when we will return to West Africa again.
There is a checkpoint in front of the airport, guarded by a soldier. We have no trouble getting into the airport area. We buy 2 beers for the last money and we have to bag our bags for €.
The flight home was standard and at 7 UTC morning next day we are in Munich and at home by car for 3 hours. Finally, I would like to thank our sponsors www.ges.cz, Cliperton Dx Club, www.MDXC.org and, of course, individuals.
SPONSORS OVER 50 USD
HB9FPM & HB9JOE, OK2ZA, OK2PDN, OK2BJT, OK1BOA, OK1FPG, OK1MP, HA5JI, K2CUB, OK1VK,
And, of course, many small sponsors, whose full list is on www.cdxp.cz
QSL, please only via OQRS at Club Log.
LoTW and EQSL will be uploaded 6 months after the expedition.
Total: 16100 QSO a 6890 call, 72,2 % s EU
CW: 12039, SSB: 3535, RTTY: 526
160: 494, 291 EU, 38 OK
80: 1764, 788 EU, 98 OK
40: 2083, 859 EU, 104 OK
30: 2107, 864 EU, 97 OK
20: 2274, 2182 EU, 210 OK
17: 2422, 2217 EU, 214 OK
15: 3000, 2632 EU, 265 OK
12: 1161, 1056 EU, 135 OK
10: 786, 728 EU, 71 OK
David OK6DJ a Petr OK1FCJ