Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Ghana, Togo and Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Day 1 – Accra

Arrive in Accra, capital of Ghana, and transfer to hotel. Overnight Accra City Hotel or similar.

Day 2 – Accra – Lome (210km, approx. 4 hours)

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! From Accra we cross the border into Togo and head to the capital, Lome. Overnight Ibis Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 – Lome – Ouidah (150km, approx. 3 hours)

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 we cross in to Benin and head to Ouidah for the night. Overnight Hotel Casa Del Papa. (BLD)

Day 4 – 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 5 – Ouidah – Dassa (250km, approx. 5 hours)

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. Continue to Dassa for an overnight stay. Overnight Hotel Jeko or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 – Dassa – Natitingou (350km, approx. 6 hours)

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. 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 or similar (BLD)

Day 7 – Natitingou – Sokode (180km, approx. 4 hours)

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. 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 8 – Sokode – Kloto (290km, approx. 5 hours)

Today we head south, stopping at Atakpame, a typical African town built on a hill where you can find all the products from the nearby forest. We continue to the tropical forests surrounding Kpalime, a town with a rich, colonial past and is now an important trading centre. Visit the market and arts centre before a night walk in the forest. Overnight Auberge JP Nectar or similar (BLD)

Day 9 – Kpalime - Monkey Sanctuary of Tafi Atome – Akossombo (200km, approx. 5 hours)

We cross back into Ghana. Continue on to the Monkey Sanctuary of Tafi Atome, 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 drive to Krubo, famous for its beads. We visit a factory specialized in the production of glass beads. Overnight Afrikiko Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 10 – Akossombo – Kumasi (250km, approx. 5 hours)

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 11 – Kumasi – Elmina (250km, approx. 4 hours)

We spend today exploring Kumasi further. There may be time to visit some nearby villages as well. We then head back to the coast and the fishing town of Elmina. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Elmina – Accra (180km, approx. 3 hours)

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. Return to Accra where day use rooms are available until 1800 and your onward flight. (B)

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