Granaries of tribal Benin

Our West African odyssey reveals a panoply of traditional cultures, including the Gourounsi tribe, whose thatched village granaries store the season’s crop. The Gourounsi are known for their unique architecture of round adobe dwellings painted in spectacular geometric patterns.

Photo by Michel Renaudeau / age fotostock

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Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin

Royal Festivals, Mask Dances, Voodoo Spirits, Castles of Clay

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6295  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Accra, Ghana
Depart: Accra, Ghana
Lodging: 14 nights in hotels & guesthouses
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Rugged road travel, cultural exploration, easy walks
3

Highlights

  • Kumasi, the heart of the vibrant Ashanti culture, known for their colorful handicrafts and elaborate funerary rites
  • The surreal voodoo world of the Togo and Benin coasts
  • Elmina Castle, fetish priests of Taneka, the Tamberma and Somba people with their castles of clay
  • Each departure features vibrant festivals: Akwasidae Festival and Egun Mask Festival


This was an unforgettable trip, featuring cultural exchanges and visits to unbelievable festivals and sites. Every day held something of interest, and we had the benefit of meeting friendly people and participating in authentic festivals such as the tribute to the Ashanti king and the voodoo ceremony.Sara K.—Las Cruces, NM

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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Thriving traditional cultures, renowned art forms, flamboyantly colorful festivals, mask dances, and a dazzling ethnic mosaic are the golden gems of tribal West Africa. Our fantastic cultural odyssey brings us across remote reaches of Ghana, Togo, and Benin to discover lost tribal worlds guided by ancient spirits.  Along the way, we meet unforgettable people including the Tamberma, whose fairytale clay castles are spectacular examples of uniquely African architecture. We finish on the coast, the heart of voodoo country, visiting practitioners, watching trance-dances, and learning about the awesome power the voodoo spirits still hold over people. We attend the colorful Ashanti Akwasidae Festival in Kumasi honorings the Ashanti king, and witness the exuberant mask dances of an Egun Mask Festival in the Yoruba and Fon villages of southern Benin.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Accra, Ghana / El Mina Castle

We visit Ghana’s National Museum, with its striking ethnographic collection, then head along the palm-fringed coast to the 15th century Portuguese fortress of St. George de la Mina, entering its evocative slave dungeons and peaking through the “Door of No Return,” where captives were taken to awaiting ships. We also visit Kakum National Park, which protects a fragment of Ghana’s former rainforest.

Days 4-5
Kumasi and the Ashanti

The Ashanti Kingdom was once one of the most powerful nations in Africa. In Kumasi, the Ashanti “capital,” our explorations include the market as well as the fascinating Ashanti Cultural Center.

Days 6-9
Traditional Tribes of the Savanna / Castles of Clay

Traversing a baobab-dotted landscape that was once a caravan route between Ghana’s Gold Coast and the vast Sahara, we visit the tiny villages of the Gondja tribe. Entering northern Benin, we meet the Dagomba people, with their round clay huts with thatched roofs, and the isolated Tamberma and Somba, famous for their spectacular defensive architecture of fortified adobe castles complete with turrets. We also visit an ancient Taneka village inhabited by fetish priests and the encampments of Fulani herders.

Days 10-14
Voodoo Priests and Fetish Markets of the Coast

As we head south through Benin toward the coast, we visit Abomey, with its eerie Royal Palace of the Dahomey king.  Near Lome, Togo’s capital, we meet traditional healers at a “voodoo hospital,” visit a fetish market, and watch a real voodoo ceremony accompanied by hypnotic rhythm of chanting and drums.

Days 15
Accra, Ghana / Depart

The Krobo region near Accra is world famous for its glass beads, long used as trade goods. This morning we visit a bead workshop to see how these complex multi-colored glass beads are made. Evening departure on homeward-bound flights.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 3, moderate. Tourist facilities are very limited in the remote savanna regions and small villages we visit.

There are few first-class hotels anywhere outside the cities, but rest assured we always try to obtain the best possible. For the most part, the hotels are comfortable, but they are very basic. Hotel air conditioning in West Africa does not cool a room to American standards of comfort, and may not work sometimes, and there may be occasions where the hotel electricity goes off for periods of time. We travel by one minivan or by two 4WD vehicles, depending on weather and road conditions. Our support staff travels in another vehicle with cooking supplies. On our road journeys, we make frequent "outdoor bathroom" stops and you have ample opportunity to stroll around villages and markets to see and experience the differences in architecture, dress, and culture among the many tribes in West Africa. On travel days, our staff prepares a lunch for us ahead of time in the morning and we enjoy it in a roadside restaurant en route.

Although we are accompanied by a support crew staffed by experienced veterans of West Africa, participants should understand that this trip involves long drives, lack of proper bathroom facilities, hot and humid weather, and somewhat basic hotels outside of Accra. The physical shape you are in will be an important factor in your enjoyment of your trip. We recommend you bring Gatorade-type powdered mixes or packets of OHS (oral hydration salts) to add to your water bottle from time to time on really hot days. Dehyration is a serious risk and should be prepared for.

There are dangers inherent in any expedition traveling to remote regions. These dangers include everything from the possibility of a vehicle accident or sickness without access to the means of rapid evacuation. The availability of medical supplies, or the adequacy of medical attention once provided, cannot be guaranteed and cannot be expected to measure up to Western standards. If you have any chronic health problems (respiratory or cardiac problems, a bad back, or diabetes), we recommend you consider a different trip.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Nov 15-29, 2014  Paul Agboglo
2015
Feb 7-21, 2015  Paul Agboglo
Oct 17-31, 2015  Paul Agboglo

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014
$6295 (8-12 members)
$6595 (5-7 members)
Single supplement: $1090
Forced single supplement: $890
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Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included
  • Land transportation, airport transfers
  • Bottled drinking water with meals, plus a supply in our vehicle

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, any additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Minimum fee: None per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Paul Agboglo

Paul Agboglo, raised in the south of Togo, earned his BA in Foreign Languages (German and English), with a thesis focused on the translation and interpretation of 150 proverbs in the Ewe language of Togo. Paul's thesis has since become a standard reference in Lomé for studies of the moral and philosophic teachings of the Ewe people as transmitted by oral tradition. Paul was an assistant on a National Geographic and NPR expedition to Taudenni and has worked with TV documentary crews from Australia. He has personally been “blessed” by having twins, which in West African culture is surrounded by mystical considerations—parents of twins are revered and honored. Paul has led European and American groups in West Africa since 1999 and is himself a “blessing” for trip members with his vast knowledge and lively personality.

Upcoming Trips:

Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin, November 15-29, 2014
Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin, February 7-21, 2015
Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin, October 17-31, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Paul is very intelligent and a great teacher, with an encyclopedic knowledge of West Africa and voodun. He also has a warm personality and a great sense of humor! Sara K., Las Cruces, NM Paul is an outstanding guide. He is multilingual, speaks English very well, has an in depth knowledge of the culture for all three countries, and is able to meet the needs of group members. Marcella G., Blacksburg, VA
Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin
I can't say enough good things about Paul. He is highly experienced and educated, fluent in four language, seems to know everyone in all three countries, always very meticulous about providing us the best quality experience, and most of all a wonderful person and great travelling companion. Paul joins my list of truly outstanding trip leaders I have had on WT trips. Jack S., Evergreen, CO
Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin
I can't say enough good things about Paul—highly experienced and educated, fluent in four language, seems to know everyone in all three countries, always very meticulous about providing us the best quality experience, and most of all a wonderful person and great traveling companion. Paul joins my list of truly outstanding trip leaders I have had on WT trips. Jack S., Evergreen, CO
Tribal Ghana, Togo and Benin

Client Comments

This was an unforgettable trip, featuring cultural exchanges and visits to unbelievable festivals and sites. Every day held something of interest, and we had the benefit of meeting friendly people and participating in authentic festivals such as the tribute to the Ashanti king and the voodoo ceremony. Sara K., Las Cruces, NM
This was a very worthwhile and horizon-expanding trip. This part of Africa is not a heavily-travelled tourist destination, and tourist facilities are often basic, but the wealth of cultures, tribes, and customs makes this a great trip for those who have already experienced the more 'popular' Africa destinations. Jack S., Evergreen, CO