FESTIVALS OF TOGO, BENIN & GHANA

Cultural tour & safari of Togo, Benin & Ghana

This 12 days journey explores the former Gold Coast. This is the land where lies the largest number of castles - remnants from the eras of the gold and slave trade. We discover West African rich patrimony of Tribes, Kingdoms, festivals and traditions.  For travellers who want to explore this unique region in West Africa this is it. Togo a land of 37 ethnic groups has as many festivals year round. Both Togo and Benin (previously named by the French as Dahomey) also have large animists in their population making their festival even more colourful. Ghana with its rich history has over a hundred festivals each year. This then is a colourful journey into festivals and transitions of the three West African countries.

Tour Information
Tour Duration : 12 days
Min. Tour Size : 02 persons
Max. Tour Size : 16 persons
Tour Price (From) : US$ 2930
Includes international air
Day 01: Arrive Lome (TOGO)
Day 02: Lome/Agbodrafo (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 03: Agbodrafo/Ouidah (Drive) (BENIN)
(B, L, D)
Day 04: Ouidah/Dassa (Drive) (BENIN)
(B, L, D)
Day 05: Dassa/Natitingou (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 06: Natitingou/Sokode (TOGO)
(B, L, D)
Day 07: Sokode/Kpalime (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 08: Kpalime/Koforidua (Drive) (GHANA)
(B, L, D)
Day 09: Koforidua/Kumasi (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 10: Kumasi
(B, L, D)
Day 11: Kumasi/Anomabu (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 12: Anomabu/Depart Accra
(B, L)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: Arrive Lome (TOGO)

Upon arrival at Lome International Airport in Togo’s capital city, we are met and transferred to our hotel.   Check in time at the hotel starts at 1500 hrs.  Balance of the day is free to relax.

Overnight: Hotel Onomo, Lome (1 night)

Day 02: Lome/Agbodrafo (Drive)

Lomé, the vibrant capital of Togo, is the only African city that was a colony of the Germans, British and the French. It is also one of the few capitals in the world that borders with another country. These elements give a unique identity reflected in the life style and the architecture. Lomé is a cross point for people, trade and cultures, a cosmopolitan city in small size. We start our exploration with a visit to the central market with its famous “Nana Benz”.  Women control the market especially the expensive “pagne” (cloths) trade coming from Europe and sold all over West Africa. At the fetish market we find an eclectic assortment of all the necessary ingredients for love potions and magical concoctions. We drive to a remote village where we experience a Voodoo ceremony. The frenetic rhythm of the drums and the chants of the adepts call in the voodoo spirits who take possession of some of the dancers. They fall into a deep trance with eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions and insensitivity to fire or pain. Sakpata, Heviesso, Mami Water are just some of the voodoo divinities who can manifest. In this narrow village, surrounded by the magic atmosphere of the ceremony, we will finally understand what people mean when they say: “In your Churches you pray to God; in our voodoo shrines we become gods!”

Overnight: Hotel du Lac, Agbodrafo (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 03: Agbodrafo/Ouidah (Drive) (BENIN)

Today is Sunday and its our meeting with the Celestial Church. We see an interesting example of religious syncretism mixing voodoo and Christianity. We encounter people and priests attending exorcism, prophesy and trance. We then cross over to Benin and drive to Ouidah which was conquered by the Dahomey Kingdom during the 18th century and become one of the main slave ports. Today Ouidah enjoys Afro-Brazilian architecture with the python temple facing the Catholic Cathedral. The laid-back attitude of the locals blends harmoniously with the thunder of the distant waves and the rhythm of the drums - a timeless atmosphere well described by Bruce Chatwin in his book "The Vice-Roy of Ouidah". Take a walking tour and visit the Python Temple and the Portuguese Fort, which is now a small interesting museum on the history of Ouidah and the transatlantic slave trade. We end our walk following the “slave road” to the beach upto the point of “no return” from where slaves were shipped to the “new world”.

Overnight: Hotel Casa del Papa, Ouidah (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 04: Ouidah/Dassa (Drive) (BENIN)

We cross Lake Nokwe on a motorized boat to reach Ganvié, the largest and most beautiful African village on stilts. Some 25,000 inhabitants of the Tofinou ethnic group build their wooden huts on teak stilts. Fishing is their main activity. Ganvié has managed to preserve their traditions and environment despite the long-lasting human presence in a closed setting and yet the lake is not over-fished. Daily life unfolds in the dugout canoes that adults and children row with ease using brightly coloured paddles. From these canoes men fishing, women sell goods at the “floating market” and children go to school and play.
Continue to Abomey and visit the Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. At the height of power the King has up to 4.000 wives living in the harem. Nowadays the royal palace is a museum, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It displays items belonging to the ancient kings including thrones, cult altars, statues, costumes and weapons. It is a Kingdom whose economy was for a long time based on the slave trade. A permanent state of war made it possible for the kings to capture thousands of prisoners whom they sold as slaves. The royal army included a female battalion feared for its boldness and cruel war behaviour. In the centre of the royal courtyard we discover a temple built with a mixture of clay, gold dust kneaded with the blood of thousands human sacrifices.

Overnight: Hotel Jeko, Dassa (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 05: Dassa/Natitingou (Drive)

Today is an interesting day, albeit a long one. We start with Dankoli Fetish, a unique shrine for ancient animistic cults, still practiced. Thousands of short sticks are pushed in and all around the fetish as testimony of the countless prayers for a good harvest, a happy wedding, an easy delivery, success at school etc. Once the prayers are answered, people come back to sacrifice what they had promised. Fresh traces of sacrifice, palm alcohol and oil on the fetish are witnesses to the many prayers fulfilled.
Afternoon we explore a few old Taneka villages located on a mountain. The villages are made up of round adobe huts covered with a conical roof protected on the top by a terra cotta pot. The upper part of the village is inhabited by the young initiated and by the fetish priests who only cover themselves with a goatskin and carry a long pipe. This ethnic group has been living on this archaeological site for centuries and it looks as if their first inhabitants moved to the mountain during the IXth Century. Since then, other ethnic groups have joined thus forming a melting-pot where despite the fact that each group kept its own cults and initiation rites, common religious and political institutions were defined.
We wander around the villages along alleys bordered by rocks with ancient and mysterious carved marks. We may come across young initiated, wearing only with sex and magical amulets, or elders fetiche priest wearing a skin. Taneka believe that in order to “become” a man, it is necessary to combine time, patience with many sacrifices. Initiation is a lifetime process till it becomes a rite of passage. Therefore, life should not be conditioned by a “before” and an “after” but rather as following a continuous path.

Overnight: Hotel Tata Somba, Natitingou (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 06: Natitingou/Sokode (TOGO)

We enter the land of the Somba & Tamberma who live in adobe-fortified dwellings looking like small medieval castles. They are one of the most beautiful examples of traditional African architecture. Their style impressed Le Corbusier vanguard architect that describe it as “sculptural architecture”. In fact the houses are hand built, layer of clay after layer, adding round mud balls and shaping them as per the house plan. Evident is a kind of sensual gesture mixing strength, care and beauty. Their strong animistic beliefs are witness to large shrines - of phallic form - at the entrance of their homes. With the permission granted to us by the elders we enter their homes which are a projection of their cosmology - the ground floor, with its darkness, represents death and is the place of the ancestors; the second floor, open to the sky, represents life and is the place where grandmothers keep babies until they “find out” which ancestor has come back as the new life - only then will the baby be allowed to come down from the terrace. Family, food supplies and stock are kept inside the fortified house, for safety and survival in case of attack by enemies. We cross into Togo where in the evening, we arrive at the villages of Tem tribe to discover the fire dance. At the centre of the village a large fire lights up the silhouette of the participants. They dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums eventually leaping into the glowing embers, picking up burning coals, passing them over their bodies and even putting them in their mouths and swallowing them- all this without hurting themselves or showing any sign of pain. After experiencing this performance it will make us wonder whether this is sheer courage, self-suggestion, magic or is it really the fetishes that protect them from the fire.

Overnight: Hotel Central, Sokode (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 07: Sokode/Kpalime (Drive)

We head to Atakpame, a typical African small town built on hills where all the products coming from the nearby forests can be found. Through their skilled work on small weaving looms, men of the region make the large brightly coloured fabric called “Kente”. From Atakpame we move to the tropical forests surrounding Kpalime, a town with a rich colonial past which is now an important cocoa and coffee trading market.  We take a walk in the forest to discover the world of the tropical forest and meet with majestic profile of tropical trees and the sounds of tam-tams. Under the guidance of a local entomologist, we will learn about endemic butterflies and colourful insects.

Overnight: Hotel Gess, Kpalime (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 08: Kpalime/Koforidua (Drive) (GHANA)

Today we cross overland to the Volta Region. Krobo tribe is known for its glass beads. Krobo people produce and wear glass beads for ceremonies and aesthetic purposes. We visit an artisan community of beads producers and even experience the process of making our own beads. The craftsmen have been producing beads following the same long-lasting traditional technique for centuries. They use scrap glass that is grounded into a fine powder which is then meticulously made into patterns and placed into hand-made clay moulds covered in kaolin. The beads are cooked then decorated, washed and eventually strung. We reach Koforidua in time to visit the weekly beads market, internationally known by beads collectors. Great opportunity for shopping.

Overnight: Hotel New Capital View, Koforidua (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 09: Koforidua/Kumasi (Drive)

Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the old Ashanti Kingdom. The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the XIX Century, when the British annexed Ashanti Country to their Gold Coast colony. The tribute paid today to the Asantehene (King) is the best evidence of their past splendour and strength. With nearly one million inhabitants, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market, one of the biggest in Africa. Every type of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, Kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable.
We visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre: a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts housed in a wonderful reproduction of an Ashanti house. We participate – if available – in a traditional Ashanti funeral, attended by mourners wearing beautifully red or black togas. We say “funerals” but in reality it is a “festive” celebration: thanks to this ceremony, the deceased returns as an ancestor and will protect his family. Relatives and friends gather, socialize and celebrate his/her memory. The chief arrives surrounded by his court under the shade of large umbrellas while drums give rhythm to the dancers whose intricate moves are highly symbolic in war and erotic meanings.

Overnight: Hotel Miklin, Kumasi (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 10: Kumasi

We continue exploring Kumasi, with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court. In the afternoon we visit a few Ashanti villages with traditional clothing and carving. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Kumasi/Anomabu (Drive)

Drive to the coast.  Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in Africa, erected by the Portuguese in the 15th century. At different times the castle has been used as a warehouse to trade gold, ivory, and eventually slaves. The castle we visit today is the result of successive extension works and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old Dutch Cemetery in Elmina goes back to 1806. Outside the castle, there is a spectacular fishing village with lots of large colourful fishing boats - every day these wooden large pirogues conducted by skilled fishermen across strong ocean waves and currents, “fighting” to earn a living. In the old town we will see the Posuban, the shrines of the ancient “Asafo companies” - the warriors who used to put their offerings on the large colourful statues. The alleys in the old town have a very lively atmosphere, bringing us back to a time when Elmina was a busy colonial town.

Overnight: Hotel Anomabu Beach Resort, Anomabu (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 12: Anomabu/Depart Accra

Drive to Accra, the capital of Ghana which has maintained its unique identity despite the fast-paced development currently underway in this intriguing African city. We explore the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Our tour ends with a visit to a workshop where they are specialized in building fantasy coffins. These special handcrafted coffins can reflect any shape: fruits, animals, fish, cars, airplanes…. the only limit being imagination! Started in Africa, these flamboyant coffin designs are by now collected worldwide and exposed in museums.   In the evening we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight.  Day room usage for freshen up available to 1800 hrs. (B, L)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Departure Dates & Prices

We accept payments in US$, CA$ as well as in other convertible currencies like EUR, AUD and GBP. Tour prices have been costed in US$. CA$ price shown below is an indicative amount reached at by using the conversion rate at the time of web posting and will be applicable if there is no change in the conversion rate. Should the currency conversion rate change, the US$ pricing will prevail. Bestway Tours & Safaris offers a conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here

2020 Per Person on
Twin Sharing
Single Room
Supplement
Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
Departure(s) East Coast West Coast
Jan 31; Mar 13; Apr 24; Jul 17; Nov 20  
02 – 05 passengers US$ 3380 US$ 560
06 and more passengers US$ 2930 US$ 560
2020 Per Person on
Twin Sharing
Single Room
Supplement
Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
Departure(s) East Coast West Coast
Jan 31; Mar 13; Apr 24; Jul 17; Nov 20  
02 – 05 passengers CA$ 4563 CA$ 756
06 and more passengers CA$ 3956 CA$ 756


Notes

- Yellow Fever certificate is mandatory and malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended.
- Travel insurance is mandatory.
- Twin rooms are very limited and there is also a supplement surcharge of USD 80 for twin room in Lome as passengers in twin room will be provided a single room.



Inclusions


Tour Price Includes
  • Accommodation as mentioned or similar, including hotel taxes
  • 32 Meals as mentioned (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All sightseeing and transfers by private transportation
  • Services of local Multilingual speaking guides
  • Entrance fees to sites, dance performances (when available), museums and monuments
  • Mineral water in vehicle during the visits
Not Included
  • Any airfares
  • Insurance/visas
  • Ghana Invitation Letter for visa purposes (currently at USD 25)
  • Tips/gratuities

Participants

This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 16 participants

Customised Itinerary

If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.

Contact Info
You may e-mail us at bestway@bestway.com or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.

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