Location

Ghana, Togo, Benin

Category

Multi

Stars

Ghana, Togo & Benin | Ancient Kingdoms of West Africa | 15 nights/16 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 where we will attend Akwasidae Festival and a opportuity to see the Ashanti King dressed in his royal regalia.  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. Travel further north and visit the the Land of the Batammariba, cross a second border ie the Togo/Benin into Benin, and into the lands of the Taberma and Somba people, who similarly built their fortress-like homes very close to each other in the 18th century to protect themselves.  Travel south to Cove’, and experience Gelede mask dance. Continue to the royal palaces of Abomey, capital of the former powerful Dahomey Empire. As you continue the journey southwards to Cotonou, you will begin to notice a strong presence of the Voodoo religion. Visit Ganvie, a village of 25,000 people in the middle of Lake Nokoue. Travel to Ouidah, Benin’s capital of the Voodoo religion where you will get a firsthand experience of a Voodoo ceremony.

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

Group size 8pax
Accommodation Yes
Transportation Yes
Food Yes
Tour Guide Yes

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Cost:  Get a quote

Single Occupancy: Get a quote

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, COVID19 tests upon arrival and departure, items of personal nature, tips to service providers, drivers, guides 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.

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. Stopover 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 lagoon to see the fish market and traditional dugout canoes the local people use for their livelihood. Overnight in Elmina (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 Okomfo Anokye Sword site, which is said to hold the Ashanti Kingdom together, 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 Akwasidae Festival – Techiman

Today 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. After this, we will cross over to the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace to witness the Akwasidae festival. This festival takes place on a Sunday every six weeks. Witness the Ashanti King, Nana Osei-Tutu II, who presides over the Ashanti Kingdom, arrive in his palanquin and then later seated in state whilst all his sub-chiefs come and re-affirm their oath of allegiance to him. The King and all his sub-chiefs come dressed in all their traditional regalia whilst the general public attending the festival wear black and white. The King also uses this day to receive very important guests and gifts. There will be lots of traditional drumming and dancing to grace the occasion. After which we travel to Techiman (B & D)

Day 6:   Techiman – Kintampo – Tamale

Depart Techiman 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 7:   Tamale – Sirigu – Bolgatanga

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. We will return to Bolgatanga and visit craft market where you will find some very colourful shopping baskets. Overnight in Bolgatanga. (B & D)

Day 8:   Bolgatanga – Tongo Hills – Tengzug Shrine – Tamale

Today we return to Tamale. Make a stopover at Tongo Hills with its alluring rock formations, caves and natural rock shelters and the sacred centre of the Talensi people. It is also home to numerous sacred shrines, the most popular, Tengzug Shrine. From the 1880s to the 1890s, the Tongo Hills served as a refuge for fugitives running away from slave raiders. It was also the focal point of resistance to British Colonial rule and invasion in 1911. Continue to Tamale. Overnight in Tamale. (B & D)

Day 9:   Tamale – Bassar – Sokode

From Tamale, we drive through Gonja, Mamprusi and Kokomba villages and cross the Ghana/Togo 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 10:   Sokode – Koutammakou – Natitingou

From Sokode we drive northwards to Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba. This is a cultural landscape designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area features traditional mud tower-houses which remain the preferred style of living in the area and stretches across the border into Benin. The traditional mud houses are known as a national symbol of Togo. These mud houses are close to each other and serves as protection for the community. Some have two floors with a flat roof. Explore the village with a site guide who will take you through the most significant points and the history of the village. After we cross the Togo/Benin border into Benin and through areas of Somba people, who similarly 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. Continue to Natitingou, capital of the Atacora province in north-west Benin. Overnight in Natitingou. (B & D)

Day 11:    Natitingou – Savalou ‐ Cove (Gedele Mask Dance) – Abomey

Visit the Natittingou Museum for an interesting overview of the Somba culture and history. Continue our journey south to Abomey. 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. We make a second stop in Cove’ and witness Gelede Mask Dance, which represents the spirits of Mother Nature. Continue to Abomey. Overnight in Abomey. (B & D)

Day 12:  Abomey ‐ Ganvie – Cotonou

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 25,000. 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. Then continue to Cotonou. Overnight in Cotonou (B & D) 

Day 13:  Cotonou – Ouidah – Voodoo Ceremony

Take a sightseeing tour of Cotonou and then travel to Ouidah. Start 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 and 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. At sundown, in a village closeby we will witness a Voodoo Ceremony. At this ceremony, witness the dancers go into deep trances while possessed by ancestral sprits. Overnight in Ouidah. (B & D)

Day 14:   Ouidah ‐ Togoville – Lome, Togo

Continue today with a drive to the Benin/Togo border and cross in to Southern Togo. Make a stopover to visit to Togoville. You will cross in a traditional hand dug boat across Lake Togo to Togoville, where in 1884, Gustav Nachtigal, Commissioner for West Africa signed a treaty with the town’s chief, Mlapa III giving Germany dominion over what is now Togo. Visit the 1910 Notre-Dame Cathedral decorated with paintings of African saints and a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary to mark where she is said to have appeared on November 7, in the early 1970s. Lastly, visit Maison Royale, a small museum that houses Mlapa’s throne, historic relics and photographs. Return to the port of the lake and then drive to Lome, capital of Togo and check in at your hotel. Overnight in Lome. (B & D)

Day 15:   Lome City Tour – Accra

Today take a city tour of Lome. Visit the National Museum, the independence square, cathedral and the ever colourful Grand Marche where you can find some very colourful African fabrics. Also, visit the Akodessewa Market (local voodoo 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. We continue to Accra. Arrive and check in at your hotel. In the evening, we go out to enjoy rich Ghanaian highlife music played by live band music at Zen gardens. Overnight in Accra. (B & D)

Day 16:   Departure

We will spend this morning relaxing and rewinding at our hotel. Check out in the evening and check in at the airport and depart on an evening flight back home. (B)

May 25 – June 9, 2022

Nov 9 – 24, 2022

 

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