Location

Benin

Category

Multi

Stars

Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa – 14 nights/15 days

This journey brings you close to some indigenous tribes in rural settlements that have stuck to their traditional ways of doing things. We start from Accra, Ghana’s capital inhabited by the Ga tribe, through to the Central Region and visit a Posuban Military Shrine where the Asafo companies (Fanti Traditional soldiers) prepare spiritually for war. We then travel north through the forest belt to Kumasi, capital of the once very powerful Ashanti Empire, continue to Techiman, where history says the Akans first settled after the fall of the Ghana Empire. In the wooded grasslands of northern Ghana we will travel through Tamale, Bolgatanga and Sirigu; a town with unique colourful and abstract paintings on their mud houses

Cross over into the northern part of Togo to Bassar, originally known for iron making, and to Sokode to witness men dance on hot flaming charcoal. Cross a second border ie the Togo-Benin into Benin, and into the lands of the Taberma and Somba people, who built their fortress-like homes very close to each other in the 18th century to protect themselves. You will also come across the very isolated Taneka tribe on a cliff top with round and cone-like roof homes. Travel south to the royal palaces of Abomey, capital of the former powerful Dahomey Empire. As you continue the journey southwards, you will begin to notice a strong presence of the Voodoo religion until you arrive in Ouidah, Benin’s capital of the Voodoo religion. You will get a firsthand experience of a Voodoo ceremony and witness Zangbeto, a spiritual masks dance. Experience an intriguing hotel night in Ganvie, a village of 18,000 people in the middle of Lake Nokoue.

Again cross the Benin-Togo border over to the south of Togo and to the fetish market where you will find the most bizarre ingredients for magic potions. Our adventure finally ends back in Accra.

Group size 6pax
Accommodation Yes
Transportation Yes
Food Yes

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Information
Description
Available dates

Cost:  $2,250.00 per person/double occupancy

Single Occupancy: $2,650.00

Included:  Transportation, hotel accommodation, 2 meals daily – breakfast & dinner or lunch, entry fees, English/French Speaking Tour Guide

Excluded:  International flight to/from Ghana, Travel Insurance, visa fees to Ghana, Togo and Benin, beverage at meals, items of personal nature, tips to service providers etc

Note:  Hotel accommodation will be basic in some small towns.

Itinerary and costs are subject to change

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

 

 

Day 1:    Arrive in Accra

Arrive in Accra. Transfer to your hotel for check in. Overnight in Accra. (D)

Day 2:    Accra city tour

This morning, take a tour of the century old capital of Ghana, Accra. Start the day with a drive and walking tour of the colonial section of Accra (Jamestown). Drive through the main street of colonial section of the city and view the Ussher and James Forts built by the Dutch (1650) and British (1673) respectively and also the Light House which used to guide ships to the Accra Harbour in colonial days. Visit the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial park and museum, a monument dedicated to Ghana’s first post independence President. Later, we visit the intriguing craftsmen at Nungua/Teshie who make fantasy coffins in the shape of vegetables, fruits, cars, aircrafts etc usually depicting the profession of the deceased. For example a fisherman might be buried in a coffin in the shape of a giant fish. After lunch, visit the National Ethnographic Museum and finally, visit the Arts and Crafts market where you will find items from all over Ghana and West Africa. Overnight in Accra (B & L)

Day 3:    Accra -Cape Coast – Elmina

Drive to Elmina. Stop over in Mankessim for a visit to a Posuban Military Shrine where the Asafo companies (Fanti Traditional soldiers) prepare spiritually for war. These shrines are wonderful examples of how art is used in the daily lives of Ghanaians. Continue to Cape Coast to visit the Cape Coast Castle, a stronghold built by the Swedes in 1653. This started as a trading post until it was turned into warehouse for slaves during the Slave Trade. Later, visit the Elmina Castle, the oldest European monument in Ghana built in 1484 by the Portuguese. After this tour, take a short walk around the colourful fishing harbour to see the fish market and traditional dugout canoes the local people use for their livelihood. Overnight in Cape Coast (B & D)

Day 4:    Cape Coast – Kumasi

Travel northbound through the countryside to Kumasi, seat of the Ashanti Empire, which was built on a similar basis as the Dahomey Empire. Visit the Manhyia Palace Museum, home and office of former Ashanti Kings. A regal history that dates back to 1700 is told with relics and artifacts. The Cultural Center that features the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum and various studios of the brass makers, potters, drum carvers and batik makers is our final visit. Overnight in Kumasi (B & D)

Day 5:    Kumasi – Kintampo – Tamale

Depart Kumasi and drive further north to Tamale, largely inhabited by Dagomba people but we first stop over at Kintampo to take the exciting climb down the 150 steps leading to one of Ghana’s spectacular waterfalls, which resembles a gigantic staircase and is lined on both sides by evergreen trees. As we travel, we will make village stops to interact with the local people. In Tamale, visit the Zongo leather works where you will find the locals making handmade bags, shoes etc. Take a tour of the central market and the Centre for National Culture. Overnight in Tamale. (B & D)

Day 6:    Tamale – Bolgatanga – Sirigu – Tamale

Depart Tamale through Bolgatanga where you will find Talensi and Kassena ethnic groups to visit Sirigu. Take a tour of the Women’s Organization of Pottery & Arts and their peculiar, colourful and abstract paintings done on their mud houses. Take part in their daily activities i.e. painting their houses, pottery or basket weaving. On our return to Tamale we will stop over at the Bolga craft market where you will find some very colourful shopping baskets. Overnight in Tamale. (B & D)

Day 7:    Tamale – Bassar – Sokode

From Tamale, we drive through Gonja, Mamprusi and Kokomba villages and cross the border into Togo to Bassar, land of the “Bi‐Thambe” people (which means metalworker). The name came about because Bassar was originally known for iron making. We will witness how they still perform this craft. Continue the journey east through the land of the Moba people, a warrior group, to Sokode. After dinner, attend a ceremonial dance (The Fire Dance) around a huge bonfire, where the villagers fearlessly dance through hot flaming charcoal with no harm. Overnight in Sokode. (B & D)

Day 8:    Sokode – Natitingou

From Sokode, cross a second border into Benin and to the land of the Taberma and Somba people, who built their fotress-like homes very close to each other in the 18th century to protect themselves from the slave raids of the Dahomey warriors. Later, travel to Natitingou, capital of the Atacora province in north-west Benin and visit the Natittingou Museum for an interesting overview of the Somba culture and history. Overnight in Natitingou. (B & D)

Day 9:    Natitingou – Savalou ‐ Abomey

Visit the villages of the very isolated Taneka tribe on a cliff top with round houses with cone-like roofs. Hike through these villages to the high priest of the village, who lives in the highest part of the cliff and is dressed in only goat skin around his loins. His main duty is to initiate young men into adulthood and we may be lucky to witness one of this ceremony. Stop over on our way south at the Savalou Shrine, one of the main places where voodoo is practised and you will notice many wooden sticks buried in the ground which signify the many shrine masters who have appealed to the local deity in prayers to satisfy their needs like a good harvest, a happy marriage and a healthy childbirth. Continue to Abomey. Overnight in Abomey. (B & D)

Day 10: Abomey ‐ Ganvie

Abomey is the former capital of the old Dahomey Empire. This empire which lasted 300 years, rivals that of the Ashanti, both of which established their power by constantly being at war and capturing prisoners for the Slave Trade. Visit one of the 12 magnificent palaces built by the Dahomey Kings which is now a Museum. We will visit the war room, the common grave of the 42 wives of King Glele and the throne room. After, travel further south to Ganvie and take a boat ride to village on stilts spread across Lake Nokoue inhabited by a population of about 15,000 . The ancestors of the Tofinu people who now live in the village created this settlement in the 16th century to escape being captured by the Dahomey armies to be sold as slaves to the Portuguese. We will have the opportunity to experience a night in a hotel on the lake. Overnight in Ganvie. (B & D) 

Day 11: Ganvie – Voodoo Ceremony – Ouidah

Today take a comprehensive tour of this lake town mainly the lover’s lane and the floating market. Late afternoon travel to the village of Glo Agbodjèdo and to the official residence of the Supreme Voodoo Chief of the King of Allada who will lead a performance of a voodoo ceremony. At this ceremony, witness the dancers go into deep trances while possessed by ancestral sprits and you can also test the Supreme Voodoo Chief’s powers as he tells you your past, present and future. Depart to Ouidah. Overnight in Ouidah. (B & D)

Day 12: Ouidah

Start the day with a visit to the Kpasse Forest where a 14th century chief is said to have hidden himself from his enemies by transforming himself into a tree. Then visit the Python Temple, where Ouidah’s ancient snake cult is still very much in practice. Snakes are still an important feature of many voodoo rituals believed to be able to bring vitality and protection. Then visit the 17th century Portuguese Fort that depicts Benin’s turbulent past and experience the slave route to the Port of No Return. This is a memorial dedicated to those who left the shores of Benin through slavery. Later, enjoy a display of Zangbeto dance in one of the villages close by, a dance where spiritual masks covered with straw are thrust upwards through acrobatic displays that reach heights of 12 feet or more. Overnight in Ouidah. (B & D)

Day 13: Ouidah ‐ Gligji – Lome

Continue the drive to the southern part of Togo to Glidji, the spiritual capital of the Guen people. Meet the chief priest of the sacred forest and learn about the ceremony of raising the sacred stone. This ceremony is part of the Epe Ekpe festival which is more like a family reunion and religious worship. The highlight of the festival is when the chief priest enters the sacred forest to seek the sacred stone. The colour of the stone signifies the fortunes of the people for the coming year. We then continue to the capital, Lome. Overnight in Lome. (B & D)

Day 14: Lome City Tour – Accra

Take a tour of Lome, capital of Togo. Visit the fishing harbour, the National Museum, the independence square and the ever colourful Grand Marche where you can find some very colourful African fabrics. Also, visit the local fetish market where everything from traditional charms and medicines to the most bizarre items including snake potions are sold. Lome is also a shopper’s paradise for high quality tribal masks and crafts. After lunch, return to Accra, Ghana. Overnight in Accra. (B &D)

Day 15: Free day in Accra – Evening departure

We will spend this morning relaxing at our hotel or doing your last minute shopping. Evening departure back home. (B & D)

 

Nov 3 – 17, 2017

April 13 – 27, 2018

Nov 2 – 16, 2018

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