Ghana, Togo & Benin



Day 1:

Upon your arrival into Accra’s Kotoka International Airport, you’ll be given assistance as you complete the immigration formalities and customs procedures you’ll be escorted to your waiting vehicle and driver with Russian speaking guide that will be facilitating your transfer to your overnight accommodation at the Afia Beach Hotel, in a standard room with air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Day 2:

Early this morning, you’ll depart from Accra and be driven to Aburi with your Russian speaking guide! Located on the luxuriant Akwapim Mountains is the century old Aburi Botanical Gardens which cover an area of 65 hectares, which were created by the British Government, following the same model as Kew Gardens in London. Today the gardens are considered a plant museum, with species brought in from the globe.

The Krobo area is famous for its bead production. You’ll stop in a workshop that specializes in the production of these beads which are used as decoration as well as in the local worship. The beads draw in a lot of people from the local area to visit the markets where they are sold!

When you reach Akossombo, you’ll visit the largest manmade lake in the world, Lake Volta! Lake Volta’s shoreline measures almost 5,000km. You’ll be staying overnight at Aylo’s Bay, in your room with air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Day 3:

Today, you leave the Aylo Bay and head to the border crossing into Togo with your Russian speaking driver guide. Here, you’ll be visiting the areas of Kpalime. Kpalime lies in a mountainous area, important for cultivation of coffee, cacao and oil palms. The notable features of this area include the Curch - which was built in 1913, the handicraft centre – specializing in various products, including wood carving and the nearby Mount Agou, the highest point in Togo.

In the afternoon you’ll be heading with your Russian speaking guide and vehicle to take part to a voodoo ceremony, where at least three generations of adepts will be having a Voodoo ceremony. From the hypnotic rhythm of the drums and chants, certain dancers fall into a deep trance: eyes rolling back, grimaces, and convulsions, impervious to fire or pain. Sakpata, Heviesso, Mami Water and other voodoos are showing their presence and taking possession of their adepts. In this narrow village, surrounded by the crazy ambience of the voodoo celebration, finally you shall understand when the local people say: “In your Churches you pray God; in our voodoo shrine we become God”.

Overnight you’ll be staying at the Hotel Cristal, all of the rooms have air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Day 4:

After breakfast at the Hotel Cristal, you’ll depart with your vehicle and Russian speaking driver guide, driving north, stopping en route at various markets and villages. You’ll eventually arrive at Sokode where you’ll be attending a spectacular fire dance! The fire dance takes place in the village, a large fire lights up the faces of the participants, dancing to the hypnotic beat of the drums, eventually leaping into the glowing embers! They’ll pick up burning coals, passing the coals over their bodies and even placing them into their mouths without showing any signs of injury or pain.

It’s very difficult to explain such a performance. Is it a matter of courage? Self-suggestion? Magic? Maybe the fetishes do really protect the adepts from the fire. Overnight you’ll be staying in Sokode at the Hotel Central in your air conditioned room with private bathroom.

Day 5:

Today you’ll be leaving Sokode, heading with driver and Russian speaking guide, until you reach Bassar. The region is inhabited by the Bassar people. They live in large clay houses with conical roofs and keep the secret of the very old process of iron production: a combination of geology and alchemy. For instance, old women are the only ones allowed to climb the mountains surrounding the villages to get the stones containing the iron and men cannot be sexually active during the melting process if they want it to be successful!

You will meet with traditional chiefs and discuss with them the role of traditional chiefdom today.

After this, you continue onwards to Kara. Here you’ll visit the region around the Massif Kabye, populated by a population of the same name. Their houses are called ‘Soukala’: a group of huts linked together with a wall. Within each house lives one patriarchal family.

The blacksmiths in Kara still work with heavy stones instead of hammers. The women make traditional pottery and old style floors with pieces of pottery. Overnight you shall be staying at Hotel Kara, your room here will have air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Day 6:

Today you’ll be entering the land of the Tamberma and Somba people, who live in fortified dwellings which look just like small medieval castles and are therefore one of the most beautiful examples of ancient African architecture! Their style impressed Le Corbusier, who talked about ‘sculptural architecture’. In fact these houses are entirely hand-built, layer by layer, putting round balls of mud shaped following the design of the house. It is a kind of sensual technique mixing strength, delicacy and aestheticism.

Their strong traditional beliefs are proved by the presence of big shrines of a phallic form, at the entrance of their homes. With the permission of the inhabitants you’ll enter one of their houses so you can better the way they live. Actually their houses are a projection of their anthropology and cosmology: the first floor which is normally very dark, represents death: it is the place where the ancestors rest; the second floor, open to the sky, represents life: it is where the grandmother keeps the new-born baby until she has figured out which ancestor has come back to life through the baby.

The whole family, food and animals are kept inside the house so they would all survive in case enemies attacked the castle like structure. For centuries these populations have been seeking refuge in the hard to access Atakora chain of mountains in order to escape from slave trade practiced by Northern Muslim African merchants.

In the afternoon, you’ll cross the border into Benin, where you’ll be taking to your overnight accommodation at the Hotel Taneka Koko, where the rooms have fans and a private bathrooms.

Day 7:

You shall start the day with a hiking trip with your Russian guide to discover the old Taneka villages located on a mountain of the same name. Those villages comprise round houses covered with conical roofs protected at their top by terracotta pots. The upper part of the village is inhabited by the fetish priests dressed in a goat skin and their initiates. This ethnic group has been living on an archaeological site for centuries. The first inhabitants of Kabye origins moved up in the mountain during the 9th century AD. Since then, more populations have joined them to form a melting-pot of cultures. Each group kept its own cults and initiation rites but at the same time they have settled common religious and political institutions.

After your visit to Kabye, you’ll be driven south. In the afternoon you will reach Dassa, the capital of an ancient kingdom founded by Olofin in 1385. Whilst in Dassa, you’ll visit some remains of this long-lasting dynasty. You’ll be able to walk up the Royal hill, where the Kings used to be buried. In Dassa, you are now back in the voodoo world, you won’t fail to notice how the site is ‘protected’ by many statues and the remains of recent rituals. Overnight you’ll be staying at the Hotel Jeko in rooms with air conditioning and a private bathroom.

Day 8:

Today you’ll be driven with your Russian speaking guide to Abomey where you’ll pay a visit the Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. The Royal Palace is now a museum listed as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO. The palace displays the items belonging to the ancient kings, including: Thrones, ancient cult altars, statues, costumes and weapons. At this site, you can learn about this ancient 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 a temple was built from a mixture of clay and human blood. At the height of the kingdoms power there were up to 4,000 women in the palace harem! Walking amongst the buildings will help you to imagine the past splendour of the court, which also challenged with pride the powerful armies of the West which were colonizing the continent. It will also be possible to meet with an ancient community of blacksmiths who have now been serving the Dahomey Kings and their army for centuries

Later in the afternoon you shall continue to Porto Novo, where you’ll be staying overnight in the Centre Songhai in your air conditioned room with private bathroom.

Day 9:

After breakfast at the Centre Songhai, you will cross the Lake Nokwe in a motorized boat to reach Ganvie, the largest and most beautiful of the African stilt villages. The village is home to approximately 25,000 inhabitants, of the Tofinou ethnic group. The Tofinou build their huts on teak stilts and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. Fishing is their main pastime. The village has been able to preserve its particular customs and environment as despite the long-lasting human presence in a closed environment, the lake is not over fished.

Life begins each day within the canoes that men, women and children manoeuvre with ease using brightly coloured poles. It is with these canoes that men fish, women deliver goods to the market and children go to school and play! After your visit to Ganvie, you’ll continue onwards to Ouidah, where you’ll be staying overnight in the Hotel Jardin Brésilien, in your room with air conditioning and a private bathroom located on the beach

Day 10:

The town of Ouidah was conquered by the Dahomey Army during the 18th century, after which it became one of the main slave ports. Today, Ouidah enjoys Afro-Portuguese architecture, while the python temple and the Catholic Cathedral are found sitting face to face. The laid back attitude of the locals blends with the thunder of the distant waves on the beach and the rhythm of the drums creating an atmosphere outside of current time. It was very well described by Bruce Chatwin in his book, ‘The Viceroy of Ouidah’. The book is based on historical figure: Francisco Félix de Sousa (1754 – 1849). Francisco Félix de Souza migrated to Ouidah and traded in Palm Oil, Gold and slaves. He has been called, ‘The greatest slave trader’. He was known for his extravagance and reputably had at least 80 children with women in his harem. He was apparently so trusted by the locals in Dahomey that he was awarded the status of a chieftain.

Today you will be visiting:

-The “slave road” to the beach where the slaves used to get on board.

-The python temple,

-The Portuguese fort, now a museum about the history of Ouidah and Slave Trade,

-The Zinsou foundation, the first private Beninese foundation dedicated to Contemporary African Art. The museum is set in Villa Adjavon, an interesting and large building dating from 1920 in Afro-Brazilian architectural style, totally restored.

After your visit in Ouidah, you’ll be driven to Cotonou with your Russian speaking guide. The city of Cotonou is plunged into a constant traffic chaos caused by thousands of Zemidjans (moto-taxis) wearing purple or yellow uniforms. As a consequence, the city follows the rhythm of the traffic lights pausing and restarting those Zemidjans all over the city. Enjoy this show of a rare intensity! You then head to your hotel for the use of a day room to freshen up before your departure to connect with your flight, leaving the hotel at 18:00 where you’ll be transferred to the Cotonou Cadjehoun International Airport for your onward international arrangements.



B&B: Bed and Breakfast


Fast Facts

Fast Facts

10 Days / 9 Nights

Accra: Afia Beach Hotel

Akosombo: Aylo's Bay Lodge

Kpalime: Hotel Cristal

Togo: Nouvel Hotel Central

Kara: Hotel Kara

Benin: Hotel Taneka Koko

Benin: Hotel Jeko

Ouidah: Hotel Jardin Bresilien

Accra: Afia Beach Hotel

Akosombo: Aylo's Bay Lodge

Kpalime: Hotel Cristal

Togo: Nouvel Hotel Central

Kara: Hotel Kara

Benin: Hotel Taneka Koko

Benin: Hotel Jeko

Ouidah: Hotel Jardin Bresilien

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