Ghana, Togo and Benin Spirits of West Africa


Ghana, Togo and Benin Spirits of West Africa

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Itinerary

Day 1 – Accra

Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is free to explore. Overnight Accra City Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Accra – Sogakope (120km Approx. 3 hours driving)

Spend the morning exploring Accra, visiting the National Museum and the old quarter of Jamestown, as well as the quarter where craftsmen design flamboyant coffins for the deceased – a uniquely Ghanaian experience. From here we head to Sogakope, on the banks of the River Volta. Overnight Cisneros Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 – Sogakope – Lac Togo (110km approx. 3 hours driving)

We cross the border into Togo and head to Lome, the only African city to have been colonised by the French, British and Germans. Explore the city including its central markets and the fascinating – if rather gruesome - fetish market, where animal parts are sold for use in traditional medicines. We continue to a remote hidden village where we will join a Voodoo ceremony. The frenetic rhythm of the drums and the chants of the adepts help to call the voodoo spirits who take possession of the dancers who fall into a deep trance: eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions, insensitivity to fire or pain. An amazing experience and a highlight of this trip. Overnight Hotel Le Lac or similar. (BLD)

Day 4 – Lac Togo – Ouidah (180km Approx. 5 hours driving)

Today we cross the border into Benin, crossing Lake Nokwe by boat to Ganvie and the Tofinou ethnic group, who build their huts on teak stilts, and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. Fishing is their main activity and you will see the canoes that men, women and children lead with ease using brightly coloured poles. It is with these canoes that the men fish, women deliver goods to the market and children go to school and play. We then head to the coastal town of Ouidah, a stronghold of voodoo and once an important slave port. We visit the python temple, where snakes are venerated as representations of gods, the old Portuguese fort and finally head to the beach and the sombre ‘Gate of No Return’, the point from which slaves left Africa for the New World. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa or similar. (BLD)

Day 5 – Ouidah – Dassa (250km Approx. 5 hours driving)

Today we travel to Abomey where we visit the Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. Now a museum listed on the World Heritage by the UNESCO, the palace displays the items belonging to the ancient kings: thrones, ancient cult alters, statues, costumes and weapons. Learn about this 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 that they then sold as slaves. In the middle of the royal courtyard is found a temple built with a mixture of clay and human blood. Overnight Hotel Jeko or similar (BLD)

Day 6 – Dassa - Natitingou (350km Approx. 6 hours of driving)

Today we will stop at the Dankoli fetish, an important place of the Voodoo cult. Here, thousands of little sticks are pushed in to the fetish as witnesses of the countless prayers made to the local god. Once the prayers are answered, people return to sacrifice what they promised to the fetish, be that a goat, a chicken or a cow according to the nature of the prayer. Traces of blood, palm alcohol and palm oil on the fetish prove that a lot of pilgrims had their prayers answered. This afternoon we discover old Taneka villages and we will spend time wandering in amongst the villages. Overnight Hotel Tata Somba or similar (BLD)

Day 7 – Natitingou - Sokode (180km Approx. 4 hours of driving)

Today we enter the land of the Somba and Tamberma who live in fortified dwellings. Similar in form to medieval castles, they are truly one of the most beautiful examples of African architecture. We then cross the border into Togo and this evening get to witness a fire dance. In the centre of the village a large fire lights up the faces of the participants, who dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums eventually leaping into the glowing embers. They pick up burning coals and pass them over their bodies and even put them in their mouths without injuring themselves or showing any sign of pain. It’s difficult to explain such a performance. Maybe it really is the fetishes that protect them from the fire. Overnight Hotel Central or similar. (BLD)

Day 8 – Sokode – Kloto (290km Approx. 5 hours driving)

Today we head south stopping in the typical African town of Atakpame built in amongst picturesque hills. The town is synonymous with weaving and you will see brightly coloured fabric everywhere called Kente. From Atakpame we move to the tropical forests surrounding Kpalime, a town with a rich colonial past and now an important trading centre. This evening we shall enjoy a night walk in the forest to discover its mysterious nocturnal world and enjoy the sounds of nature. Under the guidance of a local entomologist we will learn about endemic butterflies and insects. Overnight Auberge JP Nectar or similar (BLD)

Day 9 – Kpalime to Akossombo (200km Approx. 5 hours driving)

Today we cross the border back into Ghana and continue to the Volta Region. We shall visit the sanctuary of Tafi Atome created in 1993 to protect a community of sacred monkeys. We shall take a lovely walk in the forest lead by a local guide to try and spot the Monas monkeys. We shall also visit the area of Krobo famous the world over for its beads. They are produced and used for cults and aesthetic purposes and we shall visit a factory and follow the process of production of the beads. Overnight Afrikiko Resort or similar (BLD) 

Day 10 – Akossombo - Kumasi (250km Approx.  5 hours driving)

Continue to Kumasi, Ghana’s second city and home of the old Ashanti Kingdom. Explore the city including the Ashanti Cultural Centre, which gives a great insight into what once was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region. If possible, we will be able to see a traditional Ashanti funeral, quite a spectacle at which visitors are welcome. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 11 – Kumasi – Anomabu (250km Approx. 4 hours driving)

Continue our exploration of Kumasi by visiting the Royal Palace Museum, with its unique collection of golden jewellery. If the tour date coincides with the Akwasidae festival then we shall witness this flamboyant ceremony honouring the Ashantehene, the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people. From here we drive to Anomabu on the coast. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Elmina – Accra (180km Approx. 3 hours driving)

We visit the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as holding centre for slaves. We explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. From here we drive back to Accra, where day use rooms are available to freshen up before your flight. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BL)

Please note that this tour is operated and sold in conjunction with our local partner, and so you may be travelling with people of different nationalities and from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations. The maximum group size on this tour is 16.


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