VOODOO FESTIVAL: TOGO, BENIN & GHANA

Cultural tour & safari of Togo, Benin & Ghana

January 10th is always a very special day in in Benin, a day for celebrating ancestral cults.  In particular all the Voodoo's adepts meet in Ouidah and then convey in a long procession to the Door of No Return. Some do this on foot while others by motorbike or “taxi-brousse”. They are all dressed up in traditional costumes, white being the dominant colour. The Festival reaches its peak with the arrival of the Dagbo Houno, the chief “feticheur”. Dances, libations, masks and some official speeches are all part of the morning programme. This fantastic cultural odyssey then heads inland, through northern savannah and we meet the Taneka tribe on a rocky mountain, the Tamberma people with their fairy-tale clay castles and finally we enter the Ashanti kingdom in Kumasi. We end our tour exploring the former Slave Coast, with its haunting European forts. This is thus one of the most complete and spectacular tours in West Africa timed on a very unique occasion. Great experiences combined with the choice of good accommodation. For travellers who want to get acquainted with this incredible region … and love Africa!

Tour Information
Tour Duration : 12 days
Min. Tour Size : 02 persons
Max. Tour Size : 16 persons
Tour Price (From) : US$ 3060
Includes international air
Day 01: Arrive Lome (TOGO)
Day 02: Lome/Ouidah (Drive) (BENIN)
(B, L, D)
Day 03: Ouidah
(B, L, D)
Day 04: Ouidah/Dassa (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 05: Dassa/Natitingou (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 06: Natitingou/Sokode (Drive) (TOGO)
(B, L, D)
Day 07: Sokode/Kloto (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 08: Kloto/Koforidua (Drive) (GHANA)
(B, L, D)
Day 09: Koforidua/Kumasi (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 10: Kumasi/Anomabu (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 11: Anomabu/Accra (Drive)
(B, L, D)
Day 12: Depart Accra
(B, L)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Day 01: Arrive Lome (TOGO)

Upon arrival at Lome Lome International Airport we will be met & transferred to our hotel.   Check in time starts from 1500 hrs.  Balance of the day is free to relax.

Overnight: Hotel Onomo, Lome (1 night)

Day 02: Lome/Ouidah (Drive) (BENIN)

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 move inland and step into voodoo world. Meeting with a traditional healer - traditional healers treat their patients combining voodoo rites with their deep knowledge of ancestral herbs. Treatments are believed to be effective for almost all diseases, especially for insanity. The endless list of voodoos shows the endless powers concentrated in their impressive shrines!

Overnight: Hotel Djegba, Ouidah (2 nights) (B, L, D)

Day 03: Ouidah

Every 10th of January is a national celebration day in Benin, honouring traditional religion and all cults associated with it. Ouidah in particular is where dozens of voodoo ceremonies are held, calling thousands of adepts, traditional chiefs and fetish priests.
Ouidah was conquered by the Dahomey army during the XVIII Century to become one of the main slave ports. Today the town enjoys an Afro-Portuguese architecture, and the python temple faces the Catholic Cathedral. The laid back attitude of the locals blends in harmoniously with the thunder of the distant waves and the rhythm of the drums - a timeless atmosphere very well described by Bruce Chatwin in his book "The Vice-Roy of Ouidah". We go ion a walking tour of the Python Temple and the Portuguese Fort, now a museum on the history of Ouidah and on the slave trade. We then end our city tour by following the “slave road” to the beach and the point of “no return” where slaves used to board ships.
As per the program of festivities, we will choose the best sites - the festival takes place in the entire region around Ouidah. (B, L, D)

Day 04: Ouidah/Dassa (Drive)

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 Gess, Kloto (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 06: Natitingou/Sokode (Drive) (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/Kloto (Drive)

We will head southwards, with a stop on the way in 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.  As we take a walk in the forest we are encountered with the world of the tropical forest and see meet the 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, Kloto (1 night) (B, L, D)

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

We drive to the border and after border formalties are in Ghana – one of West Africa’s most well known countries. The area of Krobo is famous all around the world for its beads. Here they are produced and used for cults and aesthetic purposes. We will visit a factory specialized in the production of those beads and even follow the process of making one! The craftsmen have been making beads following the same long lasting traditional technique for centuries. They use scrap glass that is grounded into a fine powder. The glass powder 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.

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 (1 night) (B, L, D)

Day 10: Kumasi/Anomabu (Drive)

In the morning we continue with our exploration of Kumasi. We visit the Royal Palace Museum hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court. In the afternoon we drive to the coast and check into our hotel. Balance of the day is free.

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

Day 11: Anomabu/Accra (Drive)

We start our day with a visit to the historical Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in Africa, erected by the Portuguese in the XV 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, we visit an interesting fishing village with lots of large colorful fishing boats. Every day skilled fishermen guide these canoes across strong ocean waves and currents, “fighting” to earn a living. In the old town we will see the Posuban, the shrines of the old “Asafo companies” - the warriors who used to put their offerings on the large colorful 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. We continue to Accra.

Overnight: Hotel La Villa Boutique, Accra (B, L, D)

Day 12: Depart Accra

Accra, the capital of Ghana, has maintained its unique identity despite the fast paced development currently underway in this intriguing African city. We start our tour of Accra with a visit to the National Museum, (if open, currently under renovation), one of the first works of independent Ghana. The idea inspiring that the Museum is to relate Ghanaian art to the rest of the continent and to prove the existence of an African history as part of the general history of humanity. We explore the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Our day tour ends with the visit of a workshop specialized in building fantasy coffins. These special handcrafted coffins can reflect any shape including those that look like 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 the flight out.  Day room is available only up 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
January 08, 2020  
02 – 05 passengers US$ 3495 US$ 660 X X
06 and more passengers US$ 3060 US$ 660 X X
Supplement of US$ 300 per person for any Oct + Nov departures on both categories
2020 Per Person on
Twin Sharing
Single Room
Supplement
Estimated Airfare (FROM)+
Departure(s) East Coast West Coast
January 08, 2020  
02 – 05 passengers CA$ 4719 CA$ 892 X X
06 and more passengers CA$ 4131 CA$ 892 X X
Supplement of CA$ 405 per person for any Oct + Nov departures on both categories


Notes

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



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 purpose is 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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