Ivory Coast Revealed
Ivory Coast Revealed
Travel with us to a country with a recent troubled past but is now once again accessible to intrepid travellers who are looking to delve into the amazing diversity of West African culture. On this small group tour we will explore the economic powerhouse of Abidjan before heading out to the west and north of Cote D'Ivoire to spend time with the different ethnic groups of this fascinating country such as the Dan and the Senoufo people amongst others. During village visits we will witness colourful tribal festivals, rituals, initiations and mask dances. This is a journey full or surprises to a land that can rightly be considered truly off the beaten track.
Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●○○○○
- Lively markets and colonial architecture of Abidjan
- Visit the Basilica of our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, a copy of St Peters in Rome
- Fascinating cultural interaction with different ethnic groups such as the Guere, Dozo & Senoufo
- Colourful ritualistic mask dances of the Dan and the Senoufo
Accommodation: Comfortable mid-range accomodation and some basic accommodation. All private bathrooms
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum group size 16 (you may be joined by travellers from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations).
Start Point: Abidjan
End Point: Abidjan
Transport: Microbus or minibus or 4WD
Countries: Ivory Coast
Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.
Day 1 - Abidjan
Arrive in Abidjan and transfer to the hotel. Overnight Novotel or similar
Cote d’Ivoire's largest city, Abidjan is the economic powerhouse of Cote d'Ivoire, and one of the largest in the French speaking world. This vibrant and busy metropolis is situated between lagoons and waterways and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Originally Abidjan had more humble beginnings as a small fishing village eventually becoming the capital of the French colony in 1900. Since then it has experienced remarkable growth with shiny skyscrapers confirming the city as the beating economic heart of the nation. Abidjan has few must see tourist attractions but its waterfront location, markets and museums make it a city of interesting contrasts.
Day 2 - Abidjan to Yamoussoukro (250 km, 4 hours driving)
This morning we explore Abidjan. Our tour will include the plateau and also a boat trip on the lagoon. We shall also visit the lively market at Treichville and the residential area of Cocody containing interesting colonial architecture. We will also visit the national museum which contains a fine collection reflecting the rich heritage of 62 ethnic groups. We shall also visit the new quarter of Youpugon for an interesting contrast. Before leaving for Yamoussoukro we have a lunch of attieké, a kind of cassava couscous that is generally accompanied by grilled meat or meat with sauces and greens. Overnight Hotel Le President or similar (BD)
The city of Yamoussoukro (or Yamkro as it is also known) is Cote d'Ivoire's somewhat odd administrative capital. The city was little more than a village only half a century ago but it has seen a dramatic transformation in a short space of time. The former president Felix Houphouet-Boigny began a programme of ambitious projects in the place of his birth in the 1960's culminating in a number of grandiose administrative buildings which seem somewhat out of keeping with the rest of the country. The focal point of the city is the Basilica of our Lady of Peace which is reputedly the largest place of Christian worship on the planet and is bigger than St Peters in Rome.
Day 3 – Yamoussoukro to Man (350 km, 6 hours driving)
This morning visit the Basilica of the Virgin of Peace which is a copy of that of St Peter’s in Rome. The marble and the stained glass that are characteristic of this church make it an excellent monument to the history of the country. We then journey through a landscape of plantations and small villages of mud huts. We will stop to get to know the techniques of cultivation, harvesting, and the drying of Cacao seeds, a process carried out still largely by hand. We continue through rubber and coffee plantations. As Mount Tonkpi comes into view we will approach Man. Overnight Hotel Les Cascades or similar (BLD)
The capital of the We and Guéré ethnic groups, scenic Man extends from the feet of 18 green mountains, some of which are in the middle of the city and separate different quarters. Man is one of the primary agricultural regions of the country with Cocoa, rice, coffee, and plantain plantations
Day 4 - Man to Danane – Man (200 km, 3 hours driving)
This morning we journey out from Man to see the Liana Bridges. We then return to Man where you will have some leisure time where you can relax or explore some of the local craft shops. Later we enjoy a short excursion in the Gbepleu rainforest with its sacred monkeys which hold the meaning of the name of Man. Later we will be able to enjoy dancing in a nearby village by the Guéré people. Overnight Hotel Les Cascades or similar (BLD)
The rainforest that stretches between Ivory Coast and Liberia is famous for its big liana bridges. For the local population the origin of these bridges is shrouded in mystery. They are built secretly in only one night by young men being initiated. Crossing them is not difficult provided that the taboos imposed by tradition are respected and that heavy loads are not carried on the head or babies tied to one’s back, as the local young women use to do.
Day 5 - Man to Odienne (270 km, 5 hours driving)
Today is devoted to meeting the Yakuba, the people better known as the Dan. We will spend time visiting some of their villages built on hillsides, characterised by big round huts with thatched roofs. Later we will experience a traditional masks dance of the Dan. Overnight Hotel Les Frontieres or similar (BLD)
The Dan people
The Dan is an ethnolinguistic people of west-central Cote D’Ivoire and Liberia. They are also known as Gio or Yakuba. Some of the houses of the Dan are decorated with frescos made by women during ceremonial periods, while the men gather in a big hut to recycle iron scraps in the form of a hoe, using old scraps as a hammer and anvil. Masks are the most important art form of the Dan and are used in many rituals. The masks of the Dan appear on long stilts with dances involving memorable acrobatics and normally the participation of the most of the village under the watchful gaze of the elders in charge of the cult.
Day 6 - Odienne to Boundiali (150 km 3 hours driving)
This morning we travel to meet the chief of the Malinké ethnic group. Dressed in their traditional costume and with their shotguns covered with amulets, the hunters will accompany us on an excursion on foot into the savannah to give us a brief introduction to the power of plants. They will also accompany us to visit a Malinké village where to the rhythm of the tam-tam they will dance and demonstrate resistance to fire and knives. Overnight Hotel Iman’s or similar (BLD)
In the vicinity of Odienne live the Malinké, descendants of the old empire of Mali. Among the great names of the history of these families is Samory Touré, a warrior that in this region alone found great support against the advance of the colonists. Among the warriors, those of the hunter-gatherer communities of the Dozo stand out for their courage on the battlefield and their mystic power that is still transmitted today during a long initiation process. Although nowadays there are no battles to fight, the respect given to this lineage has continued unabated. The Dozo (hunters) are considered to be a kind of local police. They are the guardian angels that watch over the villages to keep evil people away and act as mediators in disputes; they are also considered great healers thanks to their wide knowledge of plants and animals.
Day 7 - Boundiali to Korhogo (150 km, 3 hours driving)
This morning we explore regions traversed constantly by herds of zebu guided by the unmistakable Fulani nomads searching for pastures. We will visit some local Fulani villages where we hope to be invited into some of the houses to experience their warm local hospitality. We then journey to Korhogo dating back to the 13th Century and the capital of the Senoufo people. We will visit their villages that still maintain today the secrets of their own handicraft production. In these villages we will admire the large clay granaries and the sacred houses with decorated bas-reliefs. The dry season is also the time for important funerals which give the opportunity for family and social gatherings and for the celebration of life and death. It cannot be guaranteed but if we are lucky we may be able to attend one of these lively celebrations. We shall also attend the Panther dance, a masks initiation of young male Senoufo. Overnight Hotel La Rose Blanche or similar (BLD)
The Fulani or the Fula people are one of the the most widely dispersed group of people in Africa. A significant proportion of their numbers are nomadic. In Cote D’Ivoire they are recognised by their conical straw hats, by the walking stick that they always carry across their shoulders with their arms resting on top of it, by the simple water bottle around their necks, the machete in their hands, sandals on their feet, and their proud bearing. These nomads do not seem to require anything else in their pilgrimage in search of water and pastures for their cattle. They seem to come from nowhere and head towards mysterious places. They are the true gentlemen of these endless lands and are used to a hard life and to the simple joy of living in the midst of nature.
A proud people who respect age old cultural traditions, the Senoufo can also lay claim to producing the greatest artworks of Africa. Among the Senoufo are sculptors, weavers, painters, and blacksmiths. The Senoufo are also renowned for their complex initiation rites. The initiation of the young men is called Poro and is a process that takes 21 years. It is the passage from youth to adulthood and consists of learning of the social and religious secrets that differentiate a genuine Senoufo, a growth process and the fulfilment of certain challenges and the exhibition of mask dances, of which the most spectacular is the Bolo, or the panther dance. It is a dance of young men who have been initiated after being isolated in the sacred forest.
Day 8 - Korhogo to Bouake (250 km – 4 hours driving)
We spend the day visiting villages of the Baulé people, known for their intricate handicrafts. Overnight Hotel Mon Afrik or similar (BLD)
The Baulé people are of Akan lineage originating from Ghana. The Baulé have retained in common with their cousins the Ashanti comprising of a complex social hierarchy and have expanded their own cultural traditions based on those of the surrounding native villages. Their rich production of handicrafts summarises these differences: fine statues that represent the world of the spirits, weaving-loom pulleys, and masks.
Day 9 - Bouake to Abenguru (250 km – 5 hours driving)
This morning we hope to meet a community of Komians. We will hear their stories and learn of their fetishes and, if possible, we will interact with their patients. We may also be able to attend the “fortune teller” dance. Later we visit the Agni people and meet nobles at the royal palace and if he is available we may be received by the King and visit the tiny palace museum. Overnight Hotel Royaume or similar (BLD)
According to the Akan from the Ivory Coast, the term Komian refers to a trance or a spiritual possession. The people called upon in this way, especially women, are initiated to communicate with the world of spirits through several divinatory actions including the throwing of small stones, the vision on the water, and the dance. The dance in particular is spectacular and performed only on certain days of the week. In front of several family members, and of the crowd drawn by the rhythm of the tam-tam, the Komian will start a ritual dance of invocation until she attains a trance.
Not far from the Ghana border live the Agni people in a strict monarchy. They share a way of life with the Akan from Ghana linked to the richness of the forest and the cult of kings and gold.
Day 10 - Abenguru to Assinie (270 km, 6 hours driving)
This morning we drive to the Ebrié Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. We spend some time exploring Grand Bassam with its crumbling colonial architecture before transferring to our hotel on the ocean front. Overnight Coucoué Lodge or similar (BLD)
Once the former rich capital of the French colony, Grand Bassam is a town built on a line of sand between the lagoon and the ocean. It has many preserved colonial buildings and during the colonial times it became the maritime leisure resort for the Abidjanese.
Day 11 – Optional Delta Excursion and tour end (100 km – 2 hours driving)
Today we can take an optional excursion by motor boat along the delta where the Ebrié Lagoon joins the Atlantic Ocean, and we can hope to meet some of the local fishermen. Otherwise you are free to enjoy some time at leisure enjoying the breeze of the Atlantic Ocean. This afternoon we transfer to Abidjan Airport for your flight home (B)
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Visa support (letter of invitation)
Items of a personal nature