Ghana, Togo and Benin
Spirits of West Africa
Ghana, Togo and Benin – Spirits of West Africa Tour – a 14 day Small Group Tour.
West Africa doesn’t suit the familiar ‘Out of Africa’ colonial fantasies promoted by Hollywood or indeed sold by some upmarket safari companies. The region’s surging, febrile, uncontrollable energy and intensity doesn’t make for a neat package. Voodoo ceremonies, encompassing trance-like possession, further emphasise that this ain’t Kansas…
Having travelled through Ghana, Benin and Togo, a linguistically diverse and culturally, hugely rich region, it’s likely that the meaning of Africa will probably have changed, forever.
This is a journey to the spiritual heart of West Africa, where 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, Ghana, Togo and Benin encapsulate all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.
This tour explores all three countries, starting in Lome, one of West Africa’s most vibrant cities before crossing into Benin to witness a traditional voodoo ceremony deep within the swamps. We explore stilt villages and ancient kingdoms, and visit the fiercely traditional Tamberma people, with extraordinary fortress style houses designed to protect them from invaders. In Ghana we look for sacred monkeys in the forest and travel through the lands of the Dagomba, as well as visiting the fishing village of Elmina, home to an imposing slave castle dating back more than five hundred years. You will have the opportunity to witness the Akwasidae festival of the Ashanti, a glittering showcase of traditional culture honouring the Ashanti king.
Discover the soul of West Africa.
Day 1 – Arrival in Lome
Arrive in Lome and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is at leisure to explore. Overnight Hotel Sarakawa or similar. No meals nor guided excursions are included today.
Day 2 – Lome – Agbodrafo
(100km; Driving time today: approx. 3 hours)
Lome is the only African city to have been colonised by the French, British and Germans. This morning we will begin a city tour with a visit to Independence Square, before continuing to the lively and colourful market, with the Sacred Heart Cathedral in its midst. We then head to the fascinating- if rather gruesome- fetish market, where animal parts are sold for use in traditional medicines; Vodou healers and practitioners are on hand for consultations- (please see the Notes section for more information).We travel 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 du Lac or similar (BLD)
Day 3 – Agbodrafo – Ouidah
(70km; Driving time today: approx. 2 hours)
Today we meet with the celestial church, an interesting example of religious syncretism mixing voodoo and Christianity. We then cross the border into Benin and drive 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 4 – Ouidah – Dassa
(250km; Driving time today: approx. 5 hours)
Today we cross 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 continue 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)
Note – Subject to the relevant tour departure date, you will have the opportunity today to witness the powerful secret society of the Egun masks. Please check the dates below for the relevant festival.
Day 5 – Dassa – Natitingou
(350km; Driving time today: approx. 8 hours)
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 6 – Natitingou – Defale
(100km; Driving time today: 3 hours)
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. Their style impressed Le Corbusier vanguard architect that describe it as «sculptural architecture». In fact, the houses are built by hand, layer of clay after layer, adding round mud balls and shaping them as per the plan of the house. A kind of sensual gesture mixing strength, care and beauty. Large shrines- of phallic form – at the entrance of their homes show their animistic believes. With the permission granted to us by the elders we enter their homes to better understand their way of life. Overnight Hotel Defalé or similar (BLD)
Day 7 – Defale - Sokode
(120km; Driving time today: approx. 3 hours)
This morning we take an easy walk through Kabye and Moba villages and then continue our journey in the mountains to meet the Kabye ethnic group. Kabye dwellings called «Soukala» are composed by several adobe huts joined by a wall – each dwelling is the domain of a patriarchal family. In the villages located at the top of the mountains, women are potters using an ancestral technique without the wheel while men are blacksmiths still working iron with heavy stones instead of hammers and anvil as in the early down of Iron Age. We follow the process of shaping a hoe. 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 – Kpalime
(290km; Driving time today: approx. 5 hours)
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 afternoon we will enjoy a walk in the forest to discover its mysterious world and enjoy the sounds of nature. Under the guidance of a local entomologist we will learn about endemic butterflies and insects. Overnight Hotel Gess or similar (BLD)
Day 9 – Kpalime – Koforidua
(220km; Driving time: approx. 5 hours)
Today we cross the border into Ghana and continue to the Volta Region. We 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. From here we continue to Koforidua for the night. Overnight New Capital View or similar (BLD)
Day 10 – Koforidua - Kumasi
(200km; Driving time: approx. 5 hours)
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
Continue our exploration of Kumasi by visiting the Royal Palace Museum, with its unique collection of golden jewellery. Today we shall witness this flamboyant ceremony honouring the Ashantehene, the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people; or we visit a few Ashanti villages with traditional clothing and carving. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Note – Subject to the relevant tour departure date, you will have the opportunity today to witness the Akwasidae festival of the Ashanti, a glittering showcase of traditional culture honouring the Ashanti king.
Day 12 – Kumasi – Elmina - Anomabu
(250km; Driving time: approx. 4 hours)
Today we drive to Anomabu on the coast. 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. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)
Day 13 - Anomabu – Accra
(180km; Driving time: approx. 3 hours)
We drive back to Accra, where we explore the city, 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. Day use rooms are available to freshen up before your evening flight. You can depart any time after 21:00 – please contact us if you are in doubt before to book your flights. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BL)
Please note that as from January 2023, all departures will be 14 days in duration. Only the Voodoo Festival will remain 13 days in duration.
Please contact us if you wish to receive the tour dossier with exact itinerary for tours in 2023.
On all departures except the ones listed below, you will have the opportunity to witness the Akwasidae festival of the Ashanti, a glittering showcase of traditional culture honouring the Ashanti king or the powerful secret society of the Egun masks in Benin.
We operate three special departures including a major festival:
– Yam Festival, in August
– Millet Festival, in October
– Voodoo Festival, in January (the itinerary is slightly different – please see the details for this departure by following this link: https://www.undiscovered-destinations.com/benin-togo-ghana/
Please contact us for the dates for the relevant festival and to get the specific tour dossier.
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 Lome, and back from Accra start from £550. Please contact us for a quotation.
Twin bedded rooms
Twin rooms are quite scarce on this tour so are subject to availability at the time of booking.
Tour extension in Ghana
We offer a 5-days tour extension to Mole National Park. Dates available as follow:
– From 20 January 2023 to 25 January 2023 – GUARANTEED
Please contact us for the itinerary in full and prices.
Other departures upon request.
Togo, Benin and Ghana - Private Tour
If you do not wish to be part of a group tour then you can do the same tour on a private basis. Please contact us for prices.
Kindly note that we can also tailor a similar or totally different itinerary to meet your requirements. Please contact us so that we can tailor your perfect tour of Ghana, Togo and Benin.
Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?
Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.
For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA
*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.