In 1996, the government of Benin declared January 10, National Voodoo Day. Voodoo is practiced by 60% of the population and on this day, followers of the various voodoo cults gather at the ‘Door of No Return’ in Ouidah, the capital of the Voodoo religion.
Our journey starts from the capital of Ghana, Accra. You will travel from Accra to Winneba, Cape Coast and Elmina to visit old historical European strongholds and an adventurous walk up a canopy 60metres above the forest ground at Kakum National Park. You will also experience Edina Bronya, a Christmas celebration unique to Elmina. Continue to Kumasi, capital of the old Ashanti Empire and to Akosombo.
Cross the border to Kpalime in Togo and to the capital town Lome. Our adventure takes us up north to Sokode where we will witness the fire dance.
We cross a second border to Abomey, capital of the once powerful Dahomey Empire in Benin. The highlight of the tour is when we experience Voodoo in Allada and Ouidah where activities climaxes all others and finally Egungun dance ceremony a day after the festival in Ouidah. (Masked dancers supposed to represent the dead in the society)
|Min Group size||8pax|
Cost: $1,955.00 per pax/sharing
Single Occupancy: $2,345.00
Min Grp size: 8pax
Includes: Transportation, hotel accommodation in 2 star hotels, two meals daily – breakfast & lunch or dinner as indicated in the itinerary, entry fees and an English or French speaking Tour Guide
Excluded: International flight to/from Ghana, visa fees to Ghana, Togo and Benin, travel insurance, meals not indicated in the itinerary, drinks and beverages at meals, things of a personal nature like phone calls, laundry etc, tips for driver, guide and other service providers, any item or service not specifically listed in the itinerary as included.
Note: Itinerary and costs are subject to change.
Disclaimer: Date for the celebrations of Voodoo Festival is correct at the time of publication of this tour. Since organization is done by the office of the Ministry of Culture of Benin Sunset African Tours shall not be held responsible for cancellations or change of dates of the festival
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
Day 1: Arrive Accra, Ghana
Arrive at Kotoka Airport. You will be met by a Sunset African Tours representative and transferred to your hotel. (Note that check out is at 12 noon and check in 2pm so your rooms may not be ready if you arrive on a morning flight). 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 the section 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 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 –Winneba Fancy Dress Festival – Elmina
Mid-morning depart Accra to Elmina. We will stopover in Winneba, where we will attend the Winneba Fancy Dress Festival. This festival was started in the 19th Century by Dutch and British traders who lived in Winneba seaport by wearing assorted masks, danced and drank in white-owned bars celebrating Christmas. The festival features brass band music and colourful assorted costumes and a competition to adjudge the best dancers and creative costumes. Continue to Elmina. Overnight in Elmina (B & D)
Day 4: Elmina – Kakum – Cape Coast – Edina Bronya
Depart to Cape Coast and visit the Kakum National Park, a tropical rainforest in the heart of the Attandaso reserve, for an adventurous and breath-taking walk on the Canopy Walkway. It is composed of 350 meters of a suspended bridge and six platforms at a height of 60 meters (100ft). Later visit the Cape Coast Castle built in 1667 by the Swedes and later taken over by the British. This was used during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as a holding point for captives. Visit the West African Historical Museum.The guide will conduct you to the slave quarters and Negotiation Hall where captives were bargained for and sold. Visit Elmina Castle, the oldest European monument in Ghana built in 1482 by the Portuguese. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic Slave Trade. After this tour, take a short walk around the colourful fishing harbour next to the castle. Later attend Edina Bronya, a Christmas celebration unique to the people of Elmina. Overnight in Elmina (B & D)
Day 5: Elmina – Kumasi
Depart Elmina through the country side of Ghana to Kumasi, seat of the Ashanti Empire which was built on similar basis as the Dahomey Empire (now Benin), i.e. through wars. Arrive in Kumasi and visit the Royal Manhyia Palace Museum, home and office of former Ashanti’s Kings. A regal history that dates back to 1700 is told with relics and artefacts. Later visit the Cultural Center that features the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum and various studios of brass makers, potters, drum carvers and batik makers. This museum also depicts the numerous exploits of the Ashantis especially their wars with British colonial rulers. Overnight in Kumasi (B & D)
Day 6: Kumasi – Akosombo
This morning visit the largest open market in West Africa, Kumasi central market. Experience the market vendors display their wares and shout out to attract customers to their stands. Later visit the Ashanti craft villages to observe craftsmen at work and to purchase souvenir gift items. These villages are Ahwiaa; where woodcarvers produce Ashanti stools, fertility dolls & walking sticks etc., Ntonso where Adinkra cloth is processed and dyed (Dyes are extracted from the bark of the tree called Badie) and Bonwire where kente cloth is woven. Depart Kumasi to Akosombo. Overnight in Akosombo (B & D)
Day 7: Akosombo – Kpalime, Togo
Today depart Akosombo to the Ghana/Togo border. Go through border formalities, cross into Togo and to the border town of Kpalime. Visit the village of Kouma-Konda known for their coffee growing. Experience how the local people process the coffee beans into organically certified coffee. Visit Kloto, known for her Arts and Crafts, batik, pottery and wood carvers. Due to its proximity to the Ghana border Kpalime has become a busy and important market and later in the day we will explore the market (Markets day are on Tuesdays and Saturdays) where local farmers sell their products along with the usual clothes, plastic, utensils etc. In the evening we will enjoy Akpesse dance by a local dance troupe (Akpesse dance is a Ewe dance. Ewes are a tribe found in Ghana, Togo and Benin). Overnight in Kpalime (B & D)
Day 8: Kpalime – Lome
Depart Kpalime down south to the coastal and capital city, Lome. Take a city tour of Lome. 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 Akodessewa market (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. Overnight in Lome (B & D)
Day 9: Lome – Sokode
This morning continue the city tour of Lome. Late morning depart Lome through Notse, a town where the Ewe tribe in Ghana migrated from, Atapkame and also make a stopover in Anie, a town noted for its elaborate adornment of calabashes. Arrive in Sokode and check in your hotel. After dinner, attend a ceremonial dance (The Fire Dance) around a huge bonfire, where the villagers fearlessly eat and dance through hot flaming charcoal with no harm. Overnight in Sokode (B & D)
Day 10: Sokode – Abomey, Benin
After breakfast depart Sokode and cross a second border into Benin and to Abomey. Arrive and check in at your hotel. After lunch take a tour of Abomey, capital of the former 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 Slave Trade Museum. We will visit the war room, the common grave of the 42 wives of King Glele and the throne room. Overnight in Abomey (B & D)
Day 11: Abomey – Allada – Ouidah
Today we drive to Allada and witness the King of Allada and his people celebrate their own mini Voodoo festival at the royal palace. This is a curtain raiser to the main Voodoo festival in Ouidah. Witness costumed Zangbetos also known as ‘Guardians of the Night’ dance at the festival grounds. This ceremony is significant because the King of Allada is the head of all traditional kings in Benin and also Voodoo religion was established in the 13th century in Benin by Adjahounto, the founder of Allada, a forefather of Toussaint Louverture (father of Haiti.) Continue to Ouidah in the afternoon. Overnight in Ouidah (B & D)
Day 12: Ouidah Voodoo Festival Day
Today the followers of various voodoo cults will gather at the “Port of No Return”, a memorial dedicated to those who left the shores of Benin through slavery to celebrate the Voodoo Festival. In 1996, the government of Benin declared voodoo which is practiced by 60% of the population the official religion and on every January 10, there is a big festival to celebrate the religion. Experience the mysteries of Voodoo as the followers of Kokou from various temples perform their own rites and rituals. At this ceremony, we will witness the dancers go into deep trances while possessed by ancestral sprits. In the late afternoon visit Kpasse Forest where a 14th century chief is said to have hidden himself from his enemies by transforming himself into a tree. Also 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. Overnight in Ouidah (B & D)
Day 13: Ganvie – Porto Novo – Egungun Masked Dancers – Ouidah
Today depart Ouidah to visit Ganvie, a village on stilts spread across Lake Nokoue and inhabited by a population of about 25,000 people. The ancestors of the Tofinu people who now live in this village created the settlement in the 16th century to escape being captured by the Dahomey army to be sold as slaves to the Portuguese. Visit Porto Novo, also known in goun as Hogbonou and in Yoruba Adjatche. This town was named Porto-Novo in 1730 by Eucharistus de CAMPOS a Portuguese merchant because of the resemblance of the area to the Portuguese town of Porto. Visit the Ethnographic Museum, the 300 year-old Palace of King Toffa and also the Brazilian church turned into a mosque. After lunch return to Ouidah and visit the 17th century Portuguese fort that depicts Benin’s turbulent past. At sundown we will attend a ceremony of Egungun dancers (Masked dancers who are said to represent the dead in the society) at the village square. Overnight in Ouidah (B & D)
Day 14: Departure
After breakfast and check out, depart your hotel to Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport for check in. Depart Cotonou via your international flight back home. (B)
Dec 30, 2019 – Jan 12, 2020
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