Ivory Coast Revealed


Ivory Coast Revealed

Style: PioneerGroundbreaking tours to unique destinations
Duration: 11 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Dossier

Dossier

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.

Tour Rating

Fitness ●●●○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●● | Culture ●●●●● | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●○○○○

Tour Pace

Busy

Tour Highlights

  • 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

Tour Essentials

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.

Tour Guide

Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. On this tour, your guide may be local or European but they will be based in the region. We may also you specialist guides local to their specific region. 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

Abidjan

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 Bouake

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 taking an internal flight to Bouake, we have a picnic lunch. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Mon Afrik or similar (BLD)

Day 3 – Bouake - Kong

We spend the morning visiting villages of the Baulé people, known for their intricate handicrafts. We attend the dance of the Goli masks where a round-shaped ‘lunar’ Goli mask is sub-mounted by two horns. This afternoon we drive north to Kong. En route you will notice a change in landscape as we travel to the sub-Saharan Sahel region with its baobab trees. Overnight at Auberge de Kong or similar (BLD)

Baulé people

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 4 – Kong – Ferkessedougou – Korhogo

This morning drive to Ferkessedougou in northern Ivory Coast, and the largest city on the north/south road to the main border posts of Mali and Burkina Faso. Today the town is known for the local trading of Zebu. From Ferkessedougou we drive to a remote village to witness the old technique of iron melting carried out by blacksmiths, a very rare example of traditional iron metallurgy in Africa. This ‘tribal technology’ will bring us back to the first iron age in Africa. The iron ore comes from local mines and is milled manually. The traditional ‘adobe bellows furnace’ is loaded with layers of charcoal and ore then the fire is set. Fusion takes place overnight so we leave the furnace and travel to our hotel in Korhogo, dating back to the 13th Century and the capital of the Senoufo people, where we stay for 2 nights. Overnight Hotel Olympe or similar (BLD)

Day 5 – Korhogo

Today we return to the remote village to see the result of the fusion. The sealed base of the clay furnace will be broken to extract the iron bloom and the blacksmith will pound part of it. Afterwards, with the help of a bellows, they will heat the metal powder obtained until it melts in a crucible and pour it into a mould. The metal is later heated once again and hammered on the forge to the required shape, and then finally polished from imperfections and bumps. We have now seen the whole process of this ‘tribal technology’, once believed that this technique had disappeared for more than 80 years, up until the discovery of this remote village. We head back to Korhogo where we will attend a Boloy, or panther dance, performed by initiated young men. Overnight at Hotel Olympe or similar (BLD)

Day 6 – Korhogo - Boundiali

We visit the villages of the Senoufo people 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. 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. In the afternoon we attend the Ngoro dance, or the dance of the virgin girls, which is part of the Poro initiation performed by the Senoufo. Overnight Hotel Le Paysan or similar (BLD)

Day 7 – Boundiali – Odienne

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 Les Frontieres or similar (BLD)

The Malinké

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 8 – Odienne – Man

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. We then continue south. As Mount Tonkpi comes into view we will approach Man. Overnight Hotel Les Cascades 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.

Man

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 9 – Man – Danane - Man

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)

Liana Bridges

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 10 – Man – Yamoussoukro

Today we continue through rubber and coffee plantations and arrive into Yamoussoukro in the afternoon. 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. Overnight Hotel Le President or similar (BLD)

Yamoussoukro

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 11 – Yamoussoukro – Abidjan

This morning we drive to the Ebrié Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. We spend some time exploring Grand Bassam with its crumbling colonial architecture. This afternoon we transfer to Abidjan Airport for your flight home (BL)

Grand Bassam

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.

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)
Internal flight from Abidjan to Bouake
All accommodation
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)

Excluded:
International flights
Travel Insurance
Visa
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.