Ghana/Togo/Benin: Tribal Festivals and Voodoo Magic

 

Experience voodoo ceremonies and colourful festivals on this journey through three of the most interesting countries in West Africa. Visit the Kingdom of the Ashanti in Ghana, the fortified dwellings of the Tamberma in Togo and witness real voodoo ceremonies in Benin. Travel from tropical forests in the South to the savannah in the North and enjoy the West African hospitality. Join the Ashanti people to celebrate their magnificent Akwasidae Festival at the King’s court.
Day 1: Arrival at Accra Kotoka Airport Meet and greet with your tour leader and transfer to the hotel (5 km). (-/-),  Overnight at Accra, Niagara Hotel or similar Day 2: Accra - Lomé After breakfast, we head east crossing into Togo. Explore Togo’s bustling capital in the afternoon and visit the fascinating central market, the famed Grand Marché, one of West Africa’s largest markets. We also discover the amazing fetish market, where a mix of ingredients of traditional medicines and charms is sold. Alongside with crocodile bones, monkey skulls and leopard skins you will see dried chameleon and birds. 220 km) (B/D), overnight at Lomé, Coco Beach Hotel or similar Day 3: Lomé - Ouidah  Today we reach the border of Benin. We clear immigrations  before proceeding to Ouidah where we will learn more about the history of slavery and the mysterious rituals of voodoo.  We visit the Python Temple dedicated to the ancient snake cult and, in the Sacred Forest, hear about the ideas Voodoo is based on. To experience Voodoo in practice, we continue to a sacred place where we will witness a spectacular Zangbeto ceremony.  (100 km) (B/D), overnight at Ouidah, Jardin Brésilien (Diaspora) or similar Day 4: Ouidah - Abomey  This morning, we will take a walk along the Slave Route, connecting the former slave market to the beach, where slave ships used to be loaded with their human freight. Landmarks remind us of the suffering the victims had to endure, hard to imagine in the scenery of peaceful palm groves stretching along the golden beach today. From Ouidah we continue to Abomey-Calavi where we take a motorboat ride out to the stilt village of Ganvié, built right into the Lake Nokoué. This remarkable aquatic village of thatched roof houses has been called “the Venice of Africa”.  From here, we will drive to Porto Novo, Benin’s official capital city, and then to  Abomey. (250 km) (B/D), overnight at Abomey, Guédévy 1 or similar Day 5: Abomey - Sokodé This morning we visit the Royal Palaces of the pre-colonial kingdom of Dahomey. Today this UNESCO World Heritage site houses the Historical museum and a craft centre. From Abomey we continue to Sokodé. On our way, we’ll visit the Dankoli fetish, a few kilometres out of the town of Savalou. This phallus-shaped tree-trunk stained with sacrificial blood is West Africa’s most powerful fetish with hundreds of believers arriving every day. They make their requests to the gods hammering wooden pegs into the fetish, pouring palm-oil on to it and spitting specially made rum at the stake. Later in the afternoon we will cross the Togolese border. At Sokodé, visit the administration quarter built under German colonial rule and the bustling market around the Grand Mosque. In the evening we witness a spectacular Fire Dance. (350 km) (B/D), overnight at Sokodé, Nouvel Central or similar Day 6: Sokodé - Kara This morning we leave Sokodé heading north to the land of the Tamberma people. On our drive we cross the Faille d’Aledjo, where an impressive passageway has been cut through a rock. We are in the region inhabited by the Kabyé people. At Bafilo, we visit the weavers who are known for their traditional hand-crafted cloth. They produce long narrow strips of cloth which are sewn together to form quilts, shirts or other textiles. Only a few kilometers away, in the village of Tcharé, we meet the renowned Kabyé blacksmiths and their wives who produce traditional pottery. This is the area where the country’s former president Eyadéma Gnassingbé was born. In the afternoon we reach the Atakora mountains where we explore the land of the Tamberma people, beautifully set in this chain of mountains that starts in southeast Ghana and cuts through Togo and Benin. We visit a number of medieval-castle- like houses of this extraordinary tribal group. This cultural landscape has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Late in the afternoon we return to Kara where we spend the night. (250 km) (B/D),  overnight at Kara, Hotel Kara or similar
Day 7: Kara - Tamale Today we drive further to the West and cross the regions inhabited by the Bassar and by the Dagomba people. At Bangeli we meet the Bassar who used to make iron following an old traditional procedure. You can still see an ancient clay blast furnace preserved in the village. We cross the Ghana border near Bangeli and follow a dirt road to Tamale, the largest town in Northern Ghana. (270 km) (B/D), overnight at Tamale, Mum Hotel or similar Day 8: Tamale - Kumasi  This morning we will drive to Kumasi. Heading south we cross the White Volta at Yapei and the Black Volta at Buipe. By noon we reach the Kintampo Falls where the Pumpu River falls about seventy metres down to create this waterfall. Near Techiman we reach the land of the  Ashanti. There may be an opportunity to attend a traditional Ashanti funeral. They are usually held on Saturdays and are easy to see because of the distinctive red and black dress that all attendees are wearing. They come even from far to pay their last respects. Food, drinks, dances and drums accompany the deceased in the world of the ancestors. In the late afternoon we’ll arrive at Kumasi, capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. (400 km) (B/D), overnight at Kumasi,  Royal Lamerta or similar Day 9: Kumasi We start our day with a sightseeing tour in Ghana's second largest city. We visit the Cultural Center and meet the artists and explore Prempeh II Jubilee Museum and Manhyia Palace Museum. Today you witness the ceremony of the Akwasidae Festival, the cultural highlight of our trip. Ashanti people, dignitaries and chiefs pay their respect to the Asantehene, their king. In the afternoon we explore bustling Kejetia Market, the largest open-air market in West Africa, selling all kinds of goods from clothes and jewellery to food and plastic items. (B/D), overnight at Kumasi,  Royal Lamerta or similar Day 10: Kumasi - Elmina Continuing south we arrive on the Atlantic coast at Cape Coast where we explore the castle that has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1972. In the afternoon we head inland to visit Kakum National Park. There is a unique canopy walkway which offers a rare opportunity to see the rain forest at the canopy level. After the visit we continue to our overnight stop at Anomabo (230 km) (B/D), overnight at Biriwa Beach Resort or similar                        Day 11: Elmina - Accra This morning we continue our journey to Elmina where we’ll visit Elmina Castle, the oldest fortress on the Gold Coast. From a bridge over the Benya River you can enjoy a stunning view of the busy life in the harbour of Elmina. Visit the fish market and climb the hillfacing Elmina Castle where São Jago da Mina, the Dutch Conraadsburg, rises high above the town. In the afternoon we make our way to Accra. (190 km) (B/D), overnight at Accra, Niagara Hotel or similar Day 12: Accra - End of tour After breakfast we explore Ghana's vibrant capital city. Our city tour includes Independence Square, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial, Ussher Fort and James Town. We should have time to visit the National Museum. We have use of dayrooms and the afternoon is free for some last minute shopping. Transfer to the airport for the flight home. (B), Day use rooms Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended.
Lomé: Central market and fetish market Ouidah: Zangbeto ceremony and slave history Aquatic village of Ganvié Abomey: Royal palaces (UNESCO) Sokodé: Fire Dance Koutammakou: mud dwellings of the Tamberma Villages of the Dagomba people Kintampo: Waterfall Kumasi: Akwasidae Festival of the Ashanti King Elmina and Cape Coast: Slave fortresses Kakum National Park with Canopy Walkway Accra: Independence Square, National Museum
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