Benin
Voodoo Festival Group Tour

Ouidah Voodoo Festival Tour 2021 – an 11 day Small Group Tour from £2455 per person.


Explore Benin on a journey to the spiritual heart of West Africa. Here 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, Benin encapsulates all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

 

 

We will fully explore Benin on this tour but the main reason for us being here at this time of year is to attend the Ouidah Voodoo Festival.

In Ouidah you will witness one of the region’s most incredible cultural experiences. The annual festival of voodoo.

Here you will be up close as the local 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.

This is a unique trip and one that is like nothing else. Come with Undiscovered Destinations to Benin and discover the soul of West Africa.


Flight Inclusive Deal from London available from £3075 per person – Contact us for details

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour pace

Busy

Tour style

Traveller

Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.

Itinerary.

Arrive in Cotonou and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is at leisure to explore. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. No meals or guided excursions are included today.

This morning we explore the vibrant capital of Benin and visit the Zinsou Foundation, a private Beninese foundation exhibiting contemporary African art, created in 2005. Started as a family initiative, the Zinsou Foundation is deeply involved in cultural and social activities within Benin. At the foundation, we will meet a contemporary artist and learn about new trends in the city. Saturday night traditionally sees a hub of activity in the city and with your guide we will discover Cotonou by night. Overnight Hotel Azalai or similar. (BLD)

Travel the short distance to Ouidah. 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 or similar. (BLD)

This morning we drive to Grand Popo and take a boat trip in along the Mono River observing small fishing villages adjacent to the mangroves. In one of the villages we attend Zangbeto mask ceremony, the Zangbeto mask representing the forces of nature. The mask wearers belong to a secret society and keep their identity hidden as the non-initiated cannot know who they are. It is an important event for the village and protects against bad spirits. The spinning movement of the mask symbolizes the spiritual cleansing of the village. Later we return to Ouidah. Overnight Hotel Casa Del Papa or similar. (BLD)

 (Approx. overall driving time today 2 hours)

A few kilometres north of Cotonou we cross Lake Nokwe by boat, reaching Ganvie, the largest and most beautiful African village on stilts. The approximately 25,000 inhabitants of the Tofinou ethnic group build their huts on teak stilts and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. Fishing is their main activity. The village has managed to largely preserve its traditions and local environment with life unfolding each day around the canoes that men, women and children guide on the water with ease using brightly coloured poles. Continue to Porto Novo, an old  town comprising much in the way of colonial architecture and colourful markets including a large traditional herbal market.  We take a city tour including the ethnographic museum with its collection of tribal masks and statues, the Great Mosque famous for its baroque style, and the old palace of King Toffa. Also visit the unique and perhaps most colourful building in West Africa, a 19th century Brazilian style church now converted into a mosque. A must-see! Overnight Hotel Centre Songhai or similar. (BLD)

(Approx. overall driving time is 5 hours today)

This morning we visit the Songhai Centre, a training centre for young Beninese agricultural entrepreneurs. We spend time learning about the philosophy and its aim to promote environmental stewardship of the African continent.  We continue to Ketou the capital of an ancient and prestigious Yoruba Kingdom where subject to permission we shall be received at the royal palace by the Oba (King) Adedu Loye, 51st Alaketu, and learn of the history of Ketou, a prominent and major kingdom. Overnight Residence Celine or similar. (BLD)

(Approx. overall driving time is 2 hours)

This morning a small village we attend a Gelede masquerade whose masks are part of the Gelede cult, which is dedicated to Mother Earth. The whole village celebrates fertility of both the people and the soil. Each sculpted mask represents a different character and are brightly painted relating stories and myths. The masquerade is attended by delighted local crowds adding to the atmosphere. It is a fascinating mix of street and magical theatre. Continue to Dassa, the seat of an ancient kingdom founded by Olofin. Take a walk in the hills and visit a place where kings used to be buried, protected today by statues and shrines.  Later in the afternoon we attend the Egun masks ceremony, representing spirits of the deceased emerging from the forest adorned in colourful costume forming a procession through the village. Overnight Hotel Jeko or similar. (BLD)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3 hours)

We head northwards into an entirely 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. In the afternoon we discover old Taneka villages located on a mountain of the same name. The villages are made up of round houses with a conical roof, protected at the top by a terracotta pot. The upper part of the village is inhabited by the young initiated and the fetish priests who only cover themselves in goat skin and carry a long pipe. Wander along the alleys bordered by smooth stones and explore the life of the tribe, who have been living on archaeological sites for centuries. Overnight Hotel Tata Somba or similar. (BLD)

(Overall approx. driving time today is 6 hours)

Today we drive west and close to the Togo border towards the Atakora Mountains. Here we meet the Betammaribe people. Here we will observe the interesting clay castles they built for self-defence and learn of their customs and traditions. Overnight Hotel Tata Somba or similar. (BLD)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 2 hours)

Today we have a long driving day South through Benin towards. We will break the journey to visit a Fulani camp, which are traditionally herding communities. The men move around with their herds while the women tend to camp and milk the cows, producing butter to be sold at the market. The Fulani are renowned for their captivating beauty. In fact “Fulani” means “beauty. After the visit we continue to Abomey. Overnight Sun City Hotel or similar. (BLD)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 7 hours)

This morning we visit the visit the fascinating Royal Palace of the Dahomey Kingdom, its walls reputed to be forged from the blood and bones of captives, to gain an insight into this once prominent African power. After the visit we return to Cotonou and transfer to the airport for your onward journey. Day use rooms are available until 18:00hrs for freshen up before being transferred to the airport. (BL)

(Approx. driving time today is 3 hours)

Dates & Price.

  • Tour Code
    Start
    End
    Trip Status
    Pricing
     
  • Tour Code 21-01
    Start Friday January 8, 2021
    End Monday January 18, 2021
    Available
     
    Available Seats: 16

    Adult ( 1 - 16 Pax ) £2,455.00 /Person

    - +

    Trip Extras:

    Benin Voodoo Tour 2021
    £ 345.00 / unit

    Single travellers - we understand that in our busy world many people travel alone. Although we do charge a single supplement, if you are willing to share with another traveller then please contact us and we will do our best to match you up. Otherwise please select the applicable single supplement below.

    Learn More

Tour Notes

The Voodoo Festival tour 2021 single supplement is from £345.

We include airport transfers in the price of your tour if you are arriving on the first day and leaving on the last day of the advertised itinerary. These will be provided by our local representative or on occasions by the hotel used for the first and last nights of the tour. When the transfer is provided by the hotel this will often be via a shared shuttle bus operated by the hotel. If you are planning to arrive before the start date, and/or leave after the end date of the tour, Undiscovered Destinations can arrange private transfers at an additional cost. Please check with us at the time of booking.

Please note that if you have arranged extra pre and/or post tour accommodation, either through Undiscovered Destinations or directly with the hotel or an agent, airport transfers are not included in the price of your tour. Please contact us if you would like Undiscovered Destinations to arrange private airport transfers at an additional cost.

Flights from London to Cotonou return start from £575. Please contact us for a quotation.

Twin rooms are quite scarce on this tour so are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Please note that this tour is operated and sold in conjunction with our local partner, and so you are likely be travelling with people of different nationalities and from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations. Depending on the mix of nationalities in the group, and the group size, the guiding may be conducted in English plus additional languages, and there may be more than one guide with the group. The maximum group size on this tour is 16.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers provided on a shared or private basis depending on location. On occasions the transfer will be operated by a hotel shuttle bus (*please see notes below Tour Exclusions)
  • Transport throughout
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader (there may be more than one guide with the group and the explanations may be in additional languages)
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
  • Visa support documentation if required

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

*Please note that airport transfers will be provided on the advertised start and end dates of the tour. In addition arrival and/or departure transfers will be provided in conjunction with any pre and/or post tour accommodation that has been booked and paid for through Undiscovered Destinations. In all other cases charges may apply for airport transfers.

A quick introduction to a fascinating part of West Africa, the home of voodoo. With great knowledge about the local culture, our guide provided deep and fascinating insights – a wealth of information. Seeing voodoo rituals up front was thrilling, a priviledge surley reserved for few visitors.

 

Cecilia Harlitz, Sweden