Royal Festivals, Mask Dances, Voodoo Spirits, Clay Castles

Overview

Traditional cultures, renowned art forms, flamboyant festivals, mask dances, and a dazzling ethnic mosaic are the golden gems of West Africa. Our cultural odyssey brings us across 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. Our journeys witness four festivals: the Akwasidae Festival in Ghana honoring the Ashanti king, and the exuberant Egun, Gelede, and Zangeto mask dances.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Accra, Ghana / Elmina Castle

From Accra, we head along the palm-fringed coast to the lively trading town of Elmina, with its harbor full of wooden boats. Here we explore the 15th century Elmina Castle, entering its eerie slave dungeons and peeking through the “Door of No Return.” We’ll also take a walk in the rainforest of Kakum National Park and visit 17th century Cape Coast Castle, with its museum on the slave trade.

Days 4-5
Kumasi / Ashanti

The Ashanti Kingdom was once one of the most powerful nations in Africa. In Kumasi, the Ashanti “capital” and spiritual center, we explore the open-air market and enjoy the pageantry of the traditional Akwasidae Festival.

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

In a baobab-dotted landscape that was once a caravan route between Ghana’s Gold Coast and Timbuktu, we call at remote villages that rarely see outsiders. We meet northern Togo’s Dagomba people, with their round clay homes, and the isolated Tamberma, known for their fortified adobe castles. Among the Bassar and Kabye tribes, we watch a “fire dance” and meet traditional blacksmiths.

Days 10-15
Voodoo Priests, Dancing Masks, Fetish Markets

Ouidah, Benin, is captivating, with its python temple and slave monument on the coast, and we boat through the vast stilt village of Ganvié. Around Lomé, Togo, we meet traditional healers, visit a fetish market, and witness an authentic local voodoo ceremony accompanied by the rhythm of chanting and drums. Depart on Day 15 via Lomé.

Highlights

Highlights

Traditional Ashanti culture, with its kente cloth, bead-makers, and elaborate funerary rites
The stilt village of Ganvié, the voodoo capital of Ouidah on Benin’s coast
Elmina Castle, Abomey’s Royal Palace, the Tamberma people with their castles of clay
Vibrant Akwasidae, Egun, Gelede, and Zangeto mask festivals on every departure

Details

Length: 15 days
Cost From: $7395  
Arrive: Accra, Ghana
Depart: Lomé, Togo
Lodging: 14 nights hotels and guesthouses
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel, cultural exploration, easy walks