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Mud Palaces and Voodoo Ceremonies – a Tour to Burkina Faso – Benin  - Togo


Day 1, Welcome to Burkina Faso, the "Land of the honest people"


Our tour guide will meet you at Ouagadougou International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. 


Day 2, Ouagadougou

This morning you will be given detailed information of your trip. After this we will have time to explore Burkina Faso's capital city.

Ouagadougou was founded in the 11th century by the Yonyonsé who named the settlement Kombemtinga, which means „town of warriors“. It was conquered in the 15th century by the Mossi and became capital of the Mossi Empire. In 1681 the first Mossi emperor, Moro Naba, was crowned and the town was renamed Wogdgo, which means “come and pay tribute”. It was the permanent residence of the Mossi rulers and over the time became Wagadugu. Ouagadougou is the French name for it.


The modern capital with a population of about 1.5 million, does not offer many architectural marvels, but it is rich in gardens, parks and outdoor-bars. The inhabitants proudly present their town as Africa’s art capital. Indeed, there are festivals throughout the year including the largest film festival in Africa, the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) and many art exhibitions.


In the morning we take a city tour to explore Ouagadougou’s sightseeing marvels. We visit the distinctive red-brick building of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception built in 1934. It has served as the centre of the Christian community ever since. From here we continue to a bronze workshop.The bronze workers have different roles, including artists who shape the initial model out of wax, mould-makers who create a cast of the wax image and bronziers, who melt the metal and cast the object. Finally, workers smooth and shine the finish on each item. Then we visit the “Village Artisanal de Ouagadougou”. More than 300 artists exhibit at this arts and crafts centre and the quality of work is outstanding. You can see the artists at work and visit their workshops. Textiles, jewellery, leatherware, wooden sculptures, musical instruments and a lot of other handicraft are on sale. It is a non-stressful, hassle-free shopping. But don’t forget to negociate!

Later today we depart the capital and head towards the village of Laongo,  lying 30 km east of Ouaga. This village features a garden with huge granite slabs that were designed by international artists. The outdoor gallery displays works of art carved in the rock formations by sculptors from across the globe who meet every year at Laongo to add more carvings. A big monument at the entrance featuring the differences between tradition and modern times was inaugurated in the year 2000 by Burkina's president Blaise Campaoré. A competent guide will explain the history of the sculpture park and some of the most important sculptures. 


Day 3, Ouagadougou - Bobo Dioulasso


This morning we will leave Ouagadougou and its friendly people heading to Bobo Dioulasso. The road is lined with strange-looking baobabs and huge mango trees. In the early afternoon we will reach the bustling town of Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina's second-largest city. The country was named Upper Volta by the French after its three major rivers, the Black, White and Red Volta.The Republic of Upper Volta has since changed its name to Burkina Faso. It was renamed in 1984 by President Thomas Sankara to Burkina Faso which means "the land of upright people" in Mòoré. A name that suits the population, because people are helpful, friendly and open minded.

This afternoon, we have time to visit Burkina’s second largest town, which was founded in the 15th century when the first people settled in the area. It was then called Sya. Bobo Dioulasso means “house of the Bobo and Dioula”, after the two tribes living in the area. Today Bobo, as it is affectionately called by its inhabitants, is the country’s most important commercial centre and capital of music.

We start our tour with the visit of the magnificent Great Mosque, built at the end of the 19th century by the religious leader Almamy Sidiki Sanou. It is Burkina’s largest mosque and may be visited by non-Muslims if accompanied by a guide. The mosque can accommodate hundreds of worshippers. Climbing up one of the “sugarloaf” minarets we reach the top of the mosque to see the clever ventilation system consisting of many holes in the roof which in the dry season provide light and fresh air and during the rainy season are covered with individual little clay caps to prevent the rain getting in.

Across the road from the mosque, we enter the old town, known as Dioulassoba. It has four quarters, an animist and a Muslim one, as well as the quarter of the griots and the one of the blacksmiths. During our walk through the old town we’ll see fetishes of the animists, we’ll be introduced to the art of brewing millet beer, discover the sacred catfish in the Houet river and meet the town’s blacksmiths and bronze artists. The bronze workers have different roles, including artists who shape the initial model out of wax, mould-makers who create a cast of the wax image and bronziers, who melt the metal and cast the object. Finally, workers smooth and shine the finish on each item.

Leaving the old town we continue our visit in the modern city of Bobo Dioulasso. Its centrepiece is the vibrant Grand Marché which burnt down in 1998 and was rebuilt in 2001 in neo-Sudanese style.  We’ll have a stroll through the bustling market hall with its fruit and vegetable stalls, meat and fish sections. In another part of the huge market household wares and colourful fabrics are sold. As the market cannot accommodate all vendors, it spills over onto the surrounding streets. There are also curio shops for tourists with souvenirs on sale. They offer a good opportunity to buy masks, sculptures, bronze or jewellery. Pottery you’d better buy on the pottery market close to the old town. Next to the market, we’ll visit Bobo’s impressive cathedral and from there we’ll reach the extravagant train station. During colonial times the French had planned to connect Abidjan with Niamey, a vision they could never put into practice. Due to the beginning of World War II and increasing costs they had to abandon their project, so the railway could only be constructed from Abidjan to Ouagadougou. Trains from Bobo to Ouagadougou are still running today. The station was built in 1934 in colonial architectural style.

Towards evening, we return to our hotel in the town centre.


Day 4, Bobo Dioulasso – Banfora

In the morning we leave the charming town of Bobo Dioulasso heading to Banfora. The drive takes one and a half hours. Banfora is surrounded by lush sugar-cane fields and offers some outstanding tourist attractions which we will discover today.

Near the town lie the amazing Domes de Fabédougou. On arrival at Banfora we make a short drive to visit this miraculous nature wonder. These lime stone formations which were formed some 1.8 billion years ago, seem to be otherworldly. During the Tarkwaian era, the whole area was covered by an ocean. Sediments have been laid down, over time they turned into rocks of differing hardness. Due to erosion caused by wind and rain, the softer layers were worn away leaving a unique landscape of stone sculptures. We walk through the stunning scenery of sugar-loaf shaped or mushroom-like rocks and formations resembling pyramids to reach the picturesque Karfiguela falls, which consist of several distinct cascades. This is one of the most famous natural tourist attractions in Burkina Faso. From the top we enjoy the spectacular view over the lush valley with large orchards of mango trees. We stop and take breaks along the way at each of the cascades. At the bottom, there is a natural pool where we can swim and rest in the afternoon.




Day 5, Banfora - Excursion to the Peaks of Sindou

This morning our journey takes us to the small town of Sindou, located about 50 km from Banfora. The magnificent, otherworldly Sindou Peaks are one of Burkina’s most spectacular landscapes. This is Senoufo country which straddles the Burkina-Mali border. Mount Tenakourou, at 749m the highest point in Burkina Faso, is in the area of Sindou, tucked up against the Malian border. The Senoufo consider this fascinating wonderland of Sindou sacred and initiation rites are held in this place. Coming from Banfora we have a fantastic scenic view of the spindles of sandstone rising into the air. We spend today walking through this labyrinth of remarkable rock formations and remote Senoufo villages accompanied by an experienced local guide.

In the afternoon we continue our excursion to the nearby lakeside village of Tengrela. Boatmen will take us out on to the lake in a typical pirogue – a local wooden canoe.  The lake offers a good opportunity to spot hippos. The Senoufo consider the hippos sacred therefore they live in harmony with the animals. This herbivore lives in herds of about 15 animals presided over by a dominant male. The shores of the lake are home to numerous bird species. African jacanas run on the water looking for prey. Pied kingfishers dart into the water to catch a fish and colourful bee-eaters sit in tree branches. White water-lilies spread out theirs leaves over the water surface like a carpet. They shine in the setting sun. Towards evening we return to our hotel at Banfora.


Day 6, Banfora – the land of the Lobi – Ruins of Loropeni - Gaoua

This morning we head east. En route we stop at the ruins of Loropeni, since 2009 Burkina’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. The amazingly well-preserved 7m high and 1.5m thick walls of the ancient site stand up in the middle of a cool forest. Little is known about their origin. Some presume that they date back some centuries, but until today historians and archaeologists could not agree on the construction date and the purpose of the place. It may be the enclosure of the courtyard of a king’s palace or an ancient settlement linked to the tradition of gold mining. These are only two of the theories which might explain the existence of the ruins. At Loropeni we have reached the land of the Lobi and spend some time with a local guide, making the most of the opportunity to learn a little something about this ethnic group. The Lobi make up about 7% of Burkina’s population, they are also found in the north west of Ghana and Ivory Coast. In Burkina Faso we find their settlements around the town of Gaoua. We stop near the town of Loropeni to visit a typical village and become acquainted with the Lobi’s traditions. They still adhere to many of their traditional customs and animist practices, worshipping wooden fetishes and continuing to hold fast to their age-old beliefs. Their large mud houses, known as soukala, are similar to miniature fortresses, an architectural style they once developed to defend themselves against attacks from their enemies and wild animals. Their compounds are constructed well away from each other, which is another protective measure. In the past the Lobi were traditionally hunters and fishermen, nowadays they are farming and raising livestock.


After visiting these usually reclusive people we continue our journey to Gaoua, the capital of the Lobi country, which we’ll reach in the early afternoon. At the surprisingly well presented ethnographic museum Musée du Poni, we will have an opportunity to discover more of their remarkable history and traditions. A knowledgeable guide will show us the artefacts, statues, musical instruments and hunting weapons. A number of black and white photographs taken during the 1920s and 1930s allow us to get an informative image of the Lobi culture. In front of the French colonial edifice there is a small open-air museum featuring the interesting Lobi and Gan architecture.



Day 7, Gaoua – Nazinga Ranch

Today we continue our journey heading north-east. Our destination is Nazinga Ranch which is home to a huge elephant population. At the waterhole near the camp we can watch herds of elephants coming to drink and bathe. But be careful: sometimes the hairy beasts walk through the camp! Along with elephants, who are doubtlessly the star attraction of the reserve, 38 mammals are found at Nazinga Ranch among them more than 500 buffalos, as well as antelopes, warthogs and several thousands of primates. The park is also a good place for bird watchers, as it is home to 275 species. Today the protection area is 94,000 hectares. It was established in 1979 by the Canadian brothers Robert and Clark Lungren, who grew up in Burkina Faso. The late afternoon is the perfect time to spot the animals and take fantastic pictures! Enjoy the real “Out of Africa” atmosphere!





Day 8, Nazinga Ranch – Tiébéle – Ouagadougou

In the early morning you have one more opportunity to see the wildlife which lives here and observe elephants. Then our drive takes us to Tiébele via Pô. Tiébéle is a small town east of Pô with a population of approximately 18000. It is the best place to see well-preserved Kassena houses. Passing villages contain the first hint of the magnificent architecture to come. We start our visit at the Royal Court, the chief’s compound where more than 400 family members live. The houses are decorated with a repetition of geometric signs. They are circular, square ore figure-eight-shaped depending on the status of the occupants. Round huts are for bachelors, rectangular houses for newly married couples and the figure-eight-shaped dwellings are for grandparents and grandchildren, with connecting circular chambers. The hut-painting is done by women. Every year, at the beginning of the dry season they renew the expressive decoration. The black colour is made of a mix of pounded graphite and volcanic rock and the white colour of soapstone and calcium. The red paint comes from kaolin. The wall coating is made from earth, cow dung and ash. They apply the geometric patterns onto a final base layer which contains pounded laterite, water and boiled seeds of the nere tree using brushes fashioned from the feathers of guinea fowl. Each pattern represents a symbol, the most popular symbol is the calabash which is extremely important in a Kassena woman’s life. It is used as a drinking goblet, paint-pot and receptacle for sacrifices and retains its importance beyond death. By tradition, a calabash will be broken on the fourth day after a woman dies.


We explore the village accompanied by a local guide who will also show us the interior of the houses. Be ready for a special experience! The houses are secured by a clever system. The entrances are very low and they are blocked by interior walls. So we need to climb over the wall in a squatting position. What is a funny gymnastic exercise for us, serves as a safety mechanism for the inhabitants to defend themselves against enemies.


From Tiébéle we continue north to Ouagadougou which we reach in the afternoon.




Day 9, Ouagadougou - Pendjari National Park

Today we make a long drive to cross the border into Benin at Tindangou. En route we have time to visit a Gourmanche village. This ethnic group lives around the towns of Pama and Fada N’Gourma. Animal husbandry is much common in this poor region and the Gourmanche are also known as skilled hunters. We will reach the Pendjari National Park later this afternoon.


Day 10, Pendjari National Park


The Pendjari National Park was founded as a Conservation Area in 1954 and was declared a National Park in 1961. In 1986 it was classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The park covers an area of 275.000 hectares und lies amid the majestic landscape of the extension of the Atakora range spreading to the Benin - Burkina Faso border. Pendjari is set at an altitude of 100 to 500m. It was named after the Pendjari River which flows through the park.

The park’s main attraction is the cheetahs, but they have been spotted only on rare occasions. The park is also home to lion, leopard and spotted hyena. The African wild dog has once lived in Benin and is rumoured to be in the Pendjari. Smaller predators include the side-striped jackel and the African civet. Elephants are widespread and often sighted in Pendjari which has the largest elephant population in West Africa. Over 2.000 individuals were recorded at the last count. Hippos can often be seen in the rivers and near the lakes. African buffalos are present in large numbers as well as various antelope species. The roan antelope, the Defassa waterbuck, the western hartebeest and several species of duiker are the most common antelope species in Pendjari. The easily spotted primates include baboons and vervet monkeys.

The best time of the day to see the animals is early in the morning and in the afternoon. We will make our game drives at the most rewarding times.






Day 11, Pendjari National Park – visit Tata Somba - Natitingou

This morning we leave the National Park and go on an excursion to explore the land of the Somba people, beautifully set in the Atakora, chain of mountains that starts in southeast Ghana and cuts through Togo and Benin.

The Somba have lived in and around the Atakora Mountains in north-eastern Benin for centuries. Body and face scarification is very common among the Somba who are also known as Betammariba which means “real architects of the earth”. Not surprisingly, for the Somba are famous for their unique fortified dwellings. They built these castle-like homes called tatas in order to protect them from wild animals, marauding slave traders and other enemies in the past. Unlike most African communities the Somba do not live in close proximity to one another in villages but they construct their houses well away from the next nearest house, so they can see enemies approaching from a distance and defend themselves. The mud fortresses have a small entrance which is  pointing west, because rain is usually coming from the east. The tatas are two-storey houses: the ground floor is reserved for the livestock, kitchen and a bed for old people. The first floor is dedicated to the storage of crops and from here they have access to the family living area by a ladder which can be withdrawn at the sign of danger. On the upper floor there are thatch-roofed turrets which serve as granaries. In front of the tatas the fetishes of each family are kept to protect the house from evil spirits.


Early in the morning we drive to the village of Boukoumbe. En route we have stunning views of the Atakora Mountains whose heights reach only to about 600m, but for a country as flat as Benin the mountain range is impressive. Strange-looking, centuries-old baobab trees are scattered among the grasses of the dry savannah. We visit several mud fortresses of the Somba tribe. Excited children come running towards us, young men sell miniature tatas made of clay. We approach the first castle-like tata walking through maize and vegetable fields. Accompanied by an inhabitant we are allowed to visit inside the building which we enter through a small and low entrance. It is dark inside and only due to the smell of the charcoal fire we know that we are passing the kitchen. Carefully we grope our way to the next room, from where a steep carved ladder leads upstairs to the next floor. Here maize, chilli peppers and ladies’ fingers are dried in the sun. Those with a good head for heights can climb up another rickety ladder to have a look into the turrets used as storage rooms which are entered through the roof. Our local guide will also show you how to get inside of the living rooms. He nimbly slides backwards through the narrow opening!


After the visit of some mud fortresses we return to Natitingou where you can relax in the swimming pool of our hotel.





Day 12, Natitingou - Abomey


Heading to Abomey we visit one of the fascinating Taneka villages embedded in a scenic area in the surroundings of Djougou. The villages are scattered over a rocky and scrubby land and surrounded by millet fields. The Taneka, like their cousins, the Somba, have preserved their age-old traditions and beliefs. The chief, an impressive personality, welcomes us to his village and introduces us to the community’s everyday life. At the village square local brandy from palm-trees is made and here we can find the healer and the blacksmith. Our visit to the Taneka village is one of the highlights of our trip to Benin.


Near the town of Savalou we come across another interesting site: the Dankoly fetish. This phallus-shaped tree-trunk stained with sacrificial blood is West Africa’s most powerful fetish with hundreds of believers arriving every day. They make their requests to the gods hammering wooden pegs into the fetish, pouring palm-oil on to it and spitting specially made rum at the stake. You can also make your requests but don’t forget: if your wish comes true, and it is said that anything you ask for will come true within a year, you have to return and make your sacrifice. If you don’t do so, the gods will be very angry.


This afternoon we’ll arrive at Abomey, the capital of the powerful Kingdom of Dahomey. On arrival we will meet His Royal Majesty, King Gbêhanzin II. This likeable monarch and doctor has no political power but he is highly respected by his people as their spiritual leader and advisor. He will introduce us to the kingdom’s history and culture and at the end of the audience loves to pose for photos with you. 



Day 13, Abomey – Ganvié - Ouidah


There are many stories and legends of the ferocious one-breasted warrior women, the so-called Amazons. But the only place known to have ever had real-life Amazons is the kingdom of Dahomey. There is little historically proven evidence of these female warrior units. It is said that they were developed because there were insufficient men to fight as the kingdom had numerous bloody campaigns at the same time. The monarchs of the Dahomey kingdom were said to be blood-thirsty kings whose names were whispered in fearful awe by the citizens of the surrounding kingdoms and send a shiver down the spines of everyone in the drawing rooms of 19th-century Europe. The kings are even said to have built the walls of their palaces using human blood.


This morning you can draw your own conclusions for we visit the Royal Palaces of the pre-colonial kingdom of Dahomey. Today, they are among the most important sites of West Africa. The first palace was built in 1645 by king Houégbadja. Because it was considered bad luck for a new king to live in his predecessor’s palace each new king added a new building next to the old one. By the time the French conquered the country twelve magnificent royal palaces were constructed covering an area of 44ha which was surrounded by a 4-km long and 10m-high wall. Today only two of the twelve original palaces remain, those of Kings Glélé and Ghézo. The other ten palaces were burnt down by King Gbêhanzin I in 1892 to prevent the approaching French army from conquering the royal homesteads. The impressive remaining complex was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985 and today houses the Musée Historique d’Abomey and a craft centre. Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide we see simple tools and everyday objects along with the kings’ thrones and insignias. King Ghézo’s throne mounted on top of the skulls of four of his enemies is especially impressive. We also explore the tomb of King Glélé which still has his bed in it. To this day a princess of the royal family comes to the tomb on market days to put some food on the plates laid out next to the bed so that the king’s spirit does not become hungry. In the nearby Temple of the Ahossis 41 (the number 41 is considered sacred in the Voodoo religion) of the king’s wives were buried alive after his death. It’s said that more than 200 volunteered but only 41 were given the honour of being selected for this tradition.


A three-hour drive brings us to the shores of Lake Nakoué , where we take a boat ride out to the stilted village of Ganvie, reputed to be Africa’s Venice. If there is a town in Africa which can fairly be compared to Italy’s famous lagoon city it surely is Ganvié, sitting pretty on the lake. The town was settled in the 16th century by the Tofinou people, fleeing the slave traders of the Portuguese and the bloodthirsty kings of Dahomey. The name means “the people are saved”. According to legend the king of the Tofinou whose lands originally lay in the region around Allada turned himself to an egret to save his people. He flew across the country looking for a suitable place where his people could hide from the slave raiders of Dahomey. He finally came upon some islands in the heart of Lake Nakoué and he knew at once that this is the right place.  A religious tradition did not allow the enemies to pursuit their human prey on the water. But then he had to solve another problem: how could he get his people there? Of course, if you can turn yourself into an egret then you can also turn yourself into a crocodile. And that is what he did and all the crocodiles of the lake helped him to carry the people and the construction material on their backs out to the islands. To this day the town can only be reached using canoes and boats. During our two-hour ride we see fishermen casting their nets while white egrets are watching them attentively. The 35000 inhabitants of Ganvié make their living primarily from fishing. Our captain navigates us ably through the floating market where women wearing huge straw hats offer their goods for sale. Tasteful meat and fish dishes are displayed in colourful enamel pots and exotic fruits and vegetables are piled up in large plastic bowls. Firewood being a rare item is sold like hotcakes. In Ganvié there are restaurants and hotels, a post-office, a dispensary and schools. A one-of-a-kind filling station supplies the town with fresh water from a deep well.

Returning to the shore we make for the town of Ouidah where we spend the night in nice beach hotel.



Day 14, Ouidah – Grand Popo


This morning we learn more about the infamous period of slave trading. When the Portuguese arrived on the shores of today’s Benin in the 15th century they initially were interested in the trade in gold and ivory. But soon, with the increasing demand for cheap labour in the Americas, the Portuguese and the other European nations who joined them in making regular visits along the coast started the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. African slaves were driven from the north of present day’s Benin and neighbouring countries to Ouidah, capital of slave trade, to be sold at the auction square, also known as Place Cha Cha. This place is located in front of that most infamous of slave traders, Don Francisco Felix de Souza. Bruce Chatwin’s famous novel “The Viceroy of Ouidah” which German director Werner Herzog turned into a movie called Cobra Verde starring Klaus Kinski is based on Don Francisco’s life. From the Place Cha Cha the prisoners were brought to a dark room called the Zomai, where they were kept prior to departure. Zomai means “where the light does not go”. Many of the victims were held in this obscure hut for months in inhumane conditions. The final stage of the slaves’ last trek on African soil was 3156m long and led to the beach from where they were transported to the waiting sea vessels.


Today we walk along the Route de l’Esclavage lined by dozens of statues and monuments depicting scenes of the slave trade. We pass by the Tree of Forgetfulness which the slaves had to circle several times in order to forget their African identity. We see the Tree of Return which the slaves would circle three times to guarantee that their souls would find their way back to their homeland. A mass grave into which dead, but also weak prisoners were thrown is marked by the Zoungbodji memorial erected in 1992. The slaves’ terrible walk ended on the shore. At the head of the beach a high arched gateway called the Gate of No Return was constructed in 1995 by UNESCO. It symbolizes the hopelessness and despair of the people having arrived at this stage knowing that they will never see again the land of their ancestors. But the memorial also represents tolerance, mutual understanding and the peaceful co-existence of nations and races.


Ouidah is not only a town of historical importance, it is also a religious centre of Voodoo. It is considered to be the spiritual home of Voodoo. Every year on 10th January a Voodoo festival is hold on the beach. On this occasion Voodoo practitioners from around the world come to Ouidah to worship their gods and to make sacrifices. We also visit the remarkable Python Temple dedicated to Ouidah’s favourite god Dan. Take a picture with a snake around your neck! This brings good luck and gives you strength and fertility!


We end our city tour of Ouidah at the Sacred Forest dedicated to king Kpassé, Ouidah’s founder. Legend has it that the king once disappeared in the forest and turned himself into an iroko tree. Since this time the iroko is considered to be sacred. Throughout the park is a number of sculptures symbolizing the most important Voodoo gods. It is the only sacred forest in Benin and Togo which may be entered by non-initiated persons.


Later we head east to the shores of the Gulf of Benin at Grand Popo where we will witness a Zangbeto ceremony. The Zangbetos are referred to as "guardians of the night” who act as a kind of policemen patrolling the streets at night. They have their own secret society and their temples are barred to all uninitiated. If a non-member enters one of their temples it would be on pain of death. Before they begin to work at night they dance to get in contact with spirits and gods. The whirling haystacks have some surprises on store! Be prepared for a magical spectacle accompanied by the hypnotic beat of the drums!


Day 15, Grand Popo


Today is left free to relax. Grand Popo was once an important centre of trade with Europeans reaching its pinnacle during the people trade. The abolition of slave trade and the construction of a big port in Cotonou towards the end of the 19th century put an end to the town’s heyday. Today, Grand Popo is one of Benin’s best holiday resorts with endlessly long idyllic beaches inviting you to sit back and relax. Walk along the beach but be warned! Violent currants are common and a powerful waves make swimming very dangerous to even good swimmers. However if you want to take an excursion you have the opportunity to join an optional pirogue ride along the Mono River. The river brings us to the estuary which is called “Bouches du Roi” (the king’s mouth) where it meets the ocean.  The banks are lined with sand dunes, palm trees, patches of mangroves and little fishing villages constructed with the branches of palm trees. It’s the ideal excursion for people who want to relax and bird lovers because the river banks are home to a number of water birds.







Day 16, Grand Popo – Togoville – Lomé

After breakfast we leave Grand Popo crossing into Togo. Near the border we reach the historic town of Togoville lying on the northern shore of Lake Togo. In 1884 Chief Mlapa III signed a peace treaty with the representative of the German Empire, Gustav Nachtigal, granting the Germans sovereignty over Togoland. In 1984, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the treaty the former minister-president of Bavaria Franz-Josef Strauß inaugurated a memorial in the town centre.

We reach the town by a boat ride across Lake Togo. We first visit the German-built Cathedral Notre Dame sitting on a large terrace, dominating the lake. It is an impressive building dating back to 1910 decorated with paintings of African saints and a statue of Our Lady of Lake Togo. In 1940 the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared on the lake, prompting the building of a shrine and the Pope John Paul II to visit Togoville in August 1985. On the opposite side of the church we see a well built in 1910 which provided the water for the construction of the church.


Togoville consists of a Christian and animist quarter. From the church we continue to the animist part of the town. We pass by many Voodoo shrines and fetishes. Togoville is known for its voodoo fetishes. In the Xetsavi quarter, there are two voodoo fetishes, one male and the other female. In the centre there is a tall old silk cotton tree which serves as a meeting place for the elders. In this quarter we also meet the most important voodoo-priestess in town, Maman Kponou XIV who will celebrate a welcoming ceremony for us. Upon arrival at her temple we have to put on sarongs and remove jewellery and watches. Then we need to kneel down next to a fetish and ask for permission to enter. Maman Kponou XIV is also the guardian of the Sacred Forest which can only be entered by initiated persons. She is a wise and charismatic woman telling us about her work as a priestess. Experience authentic Voodoo!


From Togoville we continue to Lomé. On arrival at our beach hotel you can take a swim in the ocean.


Day 17, Visit Lomé – Flight to Europe


This morning we explore Togo’s capital Lomé. The town was founded in the 18th century by the Ewe people and became seat of the German colonial administration in 1897. Due to its picturesque location on the Gulf of Benin and some well-preserved colonial buildings Lomé is one of the most beautiful cities in West Africa.


Today we stroll through the central market, the famed Grand Marché, the hub of the city and home to the renowned Nana Benz, the “Mercedes Mamas” who rank amongst some of the wealthiest and most able business people in all Africa. The market is dominated by the impressive neo-gothic cathedral. We visit the National museum containing a collection of artefacts and music instruments. We also visit the captivating Marché des Feticheurs (fetish market), which stocks all the ingredients for traditional medicine and fetishes including dried monkey skulls, snake skins and pulverized chameleon, as well as dead birds, jackal bones and leopard skins. The majority of Togolese retain animist beliefs so the fetishes sold on the market are not only a tourist attraction but an integral part of local culture


In the afternoon we return to our hotel where you can use day rooms until the transfer to the airport. Our tour ends this evening.

Please note that from time to time our itineraries may be amended.


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