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Itinerary: Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Witness voodoo ceremonies, explore fortified villages and meet some of Africa's most intriguing tribes.

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Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival
Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival
Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

A journey to the spiritual heart of West Africa, where myth, religion and reality intertwine to create an intoxicating blend of extraordinary experiences. Stretching from the dusty borderlands of the north to the tropical coast in the south, Ghana, Togo and Benin encapsulate all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Starting in Accra we cross first into Togo and the capital Lome where we visit its bizarre fetish market, and then head to Ouidah in Benin. Here we witness one of the region’s most incredible cultural experiences, the annual festival of voodoo, where people perform unique rituals and ceremonies in devotion to ancient gods, and where you can expect to bump into the earthly manifestations of voodoo spirits. We learn about the history of the region in the once powerful kingdom of Abomey, discover the fortified houses of the Tamberma people, and travel to the heart of the Ashanti kingdom in Kumasi. Finally we end up back at Ghana’s coast, where we visit the castles of the first Europeans to reach these shores and relax on the beach. Discover the soul of West Africa.

Day 1 – Accra
Arrive in Accra, capital of Ghana, and transfer to hotel. Overnight Novotel or similar.

Day 2 – Lome - Ouidah
Cross the border into Togo and head for the capital, Lome. Take a tour of the city, including its lively and colourful market, before heading to the fetish market, where all manner of animal parts are on sale for spells and potions – a truly West African sight! From here cross in to Benin and head to Ouidah for the night. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa. (B)

Day 3 – Voodoo Festival
Spend today delving into the mysteries of voodoo at Ouidah’s annual voodoo festival. Although there are many festivals around the country, this is the largest. You can expect to see followers and adepts of the various voodoo gods, from the elaborately costumed Zangbetos, to the followers of Kokou, renowned for injuring themselves as a way to reach the divine. Around the edges of the main performance area you can find groups from various voodoo temples performing their own rites and rituals. This is a fascinating insight into a much maligned religion, and unlike anything you may have seen before. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa. (BLD)

Day 4 – Ganvie - Abomey - Dassa
The stilt village of Ganvie, in the centre of Lake Nokwe is our goal this morning. We take a boat onto the lake and explore the village, hopefully seeing a local market where all the trade is conducted on small boats. From here we continue to Abomey. Abomey was the centre of the notorious kingdom of Dahomey, a fiercesome people who struck terror into the hearts of the surrounding tribes. We visit the Royal Palace, its walls reputed to be forged from the blood and bones of captives, to gain an insight into this once great African power. Later continue to Dassa for the night. Overnight Auberge de Dassa or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 – Sokode
We leave the lush coastal belt of Benin behind and head north into a different landscape, where Islam replaces Voodoo as the dominant religion. We stop en route at the Dankoli fetish, the most powerful fetish in Benin, where we may see sacrifices being performed to ask for the favour of the gods. We then cross back into Togo and drive to Sokode, and this evening we witness a traditional fire dance. Overnight Hotel Central or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 – Tamberma Villages - Kara
The villages of the Tamberma people, straddling the border between Togo and Benin, are one of the undoubted highlights of the region. Each house is built out of earth as a fortress, able to be defended against the slaving raids of old and capable of shielding an entire family and their livestock from invaders. We spend today visiting several of these magical and enchanting structures, and meeting the Tamberma
people, some of whom still wear headgear made from the horns of gazelles and sport bones through their lips. This evening we witness a fire dance. Overnight Hotel Kara or similar. (BLD)

Day 7 – Dagomba villages
We cross back into Ghana. Travel to a little visited region to discover the villages of the Dagomba, characterised by round clay huts with thatched roofs. In one village we meet a large settlement of witches, exiled from their villages, and find out about their lives. Overnight Gariba Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 8 – Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary - Techiman
Visit the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, an area of forest home to mona and colobus monkeys which are considered sacred by the local population, and can be found here in good numbers. From here we visit the impressive Kintampo Waterfalls before driving to Techiman. Overnight Premier Palace Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 9 – Kumasi
We travel to the centre of the Ashanti kingdom, Kumasi. We visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre with its rich collection of Ashanti artefacts. Kumasi is also home to a bustling market selling all manner of goods from crafts to everyday items. We may be lucky enough to witness an Ashanti funeral – a colourful and exuberant affair which gives a great insight into the complex culture of this once powerful kingdom. Overnight Hotel Miklin or similar. (BLD)

Day 10 – Kumasi - Elmina
We spend today exploring Kumasi further, and also meet a traditional Ashanti chief. Afterwards we drive south through the forest to reach the fishing town of Elmina, on the coast. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 – Elmina
Explore the old quarter of Elmina as well as the Castle of St George, the oldest European constructed building in Africa once used for holding slaves. We also see the unique Posuban shrines, built by traditional local societies that were once responsible for the defence of towns along Ghana’s coast. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Accra
Explore Accra, taking in its main sights including the atmospheric old quarter of Jamestown, the National Museum and something unique to Ghana – the coffin makers. These craftsmen build elaborate coffins in many weird and wonderful shapes including fish, cars, animals and aeroplanes! Later transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (BL)

Price Includes
All accommodation based on twin share basis
All transport (4WD vehicles throughout) and transfers
Meals as listed above
Park entrance fees
An English speaking guide

Price does not include
International flights
Travel insurance
Single Supplement

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Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

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