- 3 December
- 28 January next year
- 1 December.
Togo and Benin are perhaps the most rewarding countries in West Africa to visit – small, compact and with a wealth of amazing attractions that redefine the notions of both culture shock and adventure. Undiscovered Destinations offers small group tours and private tailor made holidays to these fascinating nations, rich with intriguing cultures and traditional customs.
Togo and Benin offer the visitor the chance to witness voodoo ceremonies in remote villages, to wander through glorious old colonial towns and to stay in remote Somba villages with strong and ancient traditions and incredible architecture. Add to this the chance to see some of West Africa’s most amazing wildlife, including lions, elephants and buffalo on a safari in Pendjari National Park, and you know that this is an adventure holiday with a difference. Delve into the secrets of Togo and Benin with Undiscovered Destinations.
Witness voodoo ceremonies that will take your breath away and wander through the delightful old colonial towns of Porto Novo and Ouidah. Explore the fortified villages of the Somba and meet the reclusive Taneka people, one of Africa’s most intriguing tribes, before searching for wildlife in the stunning Pendjari National Park – one of the best places in West Africa for elephant, lion, buffalo and much more.
Day 1: Lome. Arrive in Lome, capital of Togo, and transfer to hotel. Overnight Hotel Ibis or similar.
Day 2: Lome. Take a tour of the city, including its lively and colourful market, before heading to the fetish market, where all manner of animal parts are on sale for spells and potions – a truly West African sight! In the afternoon we take a canoe through swamps and marshes to a remote village, where we hope to experience a voodoo ceremony. Overnight: Hotel Ibis or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Porto Novo. We cross the border into Benin and head to the sleepy capital, Porto Novo, full of delightfully ramshackle colonial architecture and a stronghold of voodoo. We have time to explore the city and perhaps visit a voodoo temple. Overnight: Hotel Beaurivage or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Ganvie. The stilt village of Ganvie, in the center of Lake Nokwe is our goal today. We take a boat onto the lake and explore the village, hopefully seeing a local market where all the trade is conducted on small boats. On our return to land we visit the town of Abomey-Calavi where we hope to have an audience with the king of the region. Later we head to Grand Popo and our hotel situated virtually on the beach. Overnight: Auberge de Grand Popo or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Ouidah. Ouidah gained notoriety as a slaving port and remnants of its European population can be found in its buildings, not dissimilar to those in Porto Novo. We visit the Python Temple, the history museum situated within an old Portuguese Fort, and the sombre Gate of No Return, a symbolic monument erected to commemorate the innumerable Africans who left these shores in the hands of the slave trade. Return to Grand Popo for the evening. Overnight Auberge de Grand Popo or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Abomey. Abomey was the center of the notorious kingdom of Dahomey, a fiercesome people who struck terror into the hearts of the surrounding tribes. We visit the Royal Palace, its walls reputed to be forged from the blood and bones of captives, to gain an insight into this once great African power. It may also be possible to witness a Guelede ceremony in a nearby village. Overnight: Hotel Dako or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Djougou. We leave the lush coastal belt of Benin behind and head north into a different landscape, where Islam replaces Voodoo as the dominant religion. We stop en route at the Dankoli fetish, the most powerful fetish in Benin, where we may see sacrifices being performed to ask for the favour of the gods. There will be time to explore Djougou, which has a very different feel to the Benin of the south. Overnight Hotel La Tonga or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Taneka Villages – Pendjari National Park. Heading off on a dirt track into the bush, we visit the fascinating Taneka villages. The Taneka people remained ‘undiscovered’ by the western world until relatively recently and today still live a traditional lifestyle, some still wearing only animal skins. Accompanied by a local guide we explore their fascinating culture, meeting the local healer and blacksmith, who forges tools using centuries old methods. Later we drive to Pendjari National Park. Overnight Campement de la Pendjari. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Pendjari National Park. We take morning and afternoon game drives, relaxing during the heat of the day when wildlife is less likely to be seen. Pendjari harbours good numbers of elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, hippos and antelopes and also has excellent birdlife to be observed. The joy of Pendjari is that you will not find here the masses of tourists that frequent the national parks of East Africa – at times you will feel as if you have the whole area to yourself, making a safari here an immensely special experience. Overnight Campement de la Pendjari. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Pendjari – Naititingou. We take a final game drive through the park, hoping to spot more of its amazing wildlife, before heading to the town of Naititingou. Overnight Hotel Tata Somba or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 11: Somba Villages. The villages of the Somba people, straddling the border between Togo and Benin, are one of the undoubted highlights of the region. Each house is built out of earth as a fortress, able to be defended against the slaving raids of old and capable of shielding an entire family and their livestock from invaders. We spend today visiting several of these magical and enchanting structures, and meeting the Somba people, some of whom still wear headgear made from the horns of gazelles and sport bones through their lips. We cross the border into Togo. Tonight we camp in the bush – a very special, and intrinsically African, experience. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Kara – Sokode. Drive further west, to the region inhabited by the Bassar. They live in large clay houses with conical roofs and keep the secret of the very old procedure of iron production: a mixing of geology and alchemy. We meet with traditional chiefs of the area, who tell us about their role today. This evening we witness a fire dance. Overnight Hotel Central or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Kloto. Drive to the mountains and the village of Kloto, surrounded by rainforest. This afternoon we take an easy hike through the forest accompanied by a local naturalist in search of the many species of butterflies that live here. Overnight Campement de Kloto or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Lome. Return to Togo and the capital, for our final night. Overnight Hotel Ibis or similar. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Lome. Tour ends. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Africa Benin Togo Local Culture Cultural Journey Pilgrimage/Spirituality