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Download Voodoo and Spirits of West Africa Detailed Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive in Niamey, Niger
You are met on arrival in Niamey and transferred to our group hotel. Niamey, located on the Niger River, is the administrative, cultural and economic centre of Niger, and is the capital of this seldom-visited country. We meet this evening for dinner and orientation. Overnight in Niamey.
Day 2: Niamey City Sights
We spend the day exploring the sights of Niamey including the Grand Mosque, which was built by Moamar Khadafi and boasts soaring minarets, glistening domes, and intricately carved woodwork. The Grand Marche, carries an incredible selection of goods, from meats and breads, to almost anything else one could desire. Along the Niger River waterfront women and children bathe and wash clothes while local men harvest the wild rice that grows along the banks of the river. Overnight in Niamey.
Day 3: Drive to Ayorou for a Market Day
We drive through small villages before arriving in Ayorou. We will visit the rustic, tribal market where the semi-nomadic Tuareg and Fulani do their trading. The market features a massive donkey parking-lot and an abundance of local color. Overnight in Niamey.
Day 4: Malanville (Benin) via Giraffe Reserve
Today we depart Niger for the Benin border. Enroute and not far from Niamey is Koure, a giraffe reserve, where we will stop to view the last wild herd of giraffes in West Africa. The gentle long-neck giants can be found grazing on the plentiful acacia trees. We continue our drive to the border and on to Malanville, Benin. Overnight in Malanville.
Day 5: NatitIngou via Djougou
Depart Malanville after breakfast for a long drive through the Benin countryside to Natitingou which is populated with Ditammari, Dendi, Nateni, Fulani, Fon and many other ethnic groups. Natitingou is evenly divided between Christians and Muslims and, like the rest of Benin, is notable for its ethnic and religious tolerance. Enroute, we stop at one of the small village markets near Djougou. Overnight in Natitingou.
Day 6: Village Walk; Meet the Chief and his Wives
Today we visit the incredible village of Taneka Koko, with its idyllic setting. We hike to the village and have the opportunity to meet with the village Chief and also his wives. We return to Natitingou and spend some time at the museum to learn about the Somba Culture. Overnight in Natitingou.
Day 7: To Togo, Koutammakou - Tribal Villages, UNESCO World Heritage Site
We depart Natitingou after breakfast and drive west to Togo. En route, we visit the Somba tribal area and Koutammakou, a World Heritage Site, which is home to the Batammariba whose remarkable mud tower houses (Takienta) have come to be seen as a symbol of Togo. In this landscape, nature is strongly associated with the rituals and beliefs of society. Many of the buildings are two storeys high and are grouped in villages which also include ceremonial spaces and sites reserved for initiation ceremonies. We proceed through the Defale Mountains to the land of the Losso, who build their houses in a unique style called Soukala. Each family compound has the walls attached to the next house, creating a fence around the compound. We visit the famous Kabye blacksmiths, who are unique and revered members of society. Overnight in Kara.
Day 8: Kara to Bandjeli to Notse
After breakfast we drive to Bandjeli, a mountainous region, which is home to the Kokomba, skilled craftsmen who have kept their traditional secrets of iron production. In Bandjeli, we meet with the chief and visit a traditional blast furnace which is used in the processing of iron ore. We also visit the chief's house and witness T'bol, the dance of fire. We drive to Sokode, an historically important trading center because of its location, and then on to Notse. Overnight in Notse.
Day 9: Fetish Mountains
After breakfast, we drive through beautiful mountains where we will have several stops in local villages. In the evening, we enjoy Akpesse folkdance in an Ewe village. Overnight in Kpalime.
Day 10: Kpalime and Dance of the Ewe Hunters
Depart Kpalime after breakfast for Kouma Konda for a morning walk. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in Kpalime. Later we explore Kpalime Market, also a great place to people watch. Overnight in Kpalime.
Day 11: Lome
After breakfast, we depart for Lome, the picturesque capital city of Togo. Enroute, we will stop at Sanguera Voodoo village to witness a Voodoo ceremony which will include a mix of chanting, drumming and trance. We will have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to Lome, the capital of Togo. Overnight in Lome.
Day 12: Sights of Lome - Fetish Market and Voodoo
We will visit some of Lome's sights including Independence Square, the National Museum, the fishing harbour and the fetish market. The famous fetish market is dedicated to the sale of ingredients with which traditional healers can make potions to ward off evil, bring luck or secure love. You may wish to stock up on all the latest Voodoo accessories before our visit with Hounon, a Voodoo expert. Next we will proceed to Lome's central market as well as Art Street and the Artisan's village. We will have lunch at a local restaurant. Overnight in Lome.
Day 13: Coastal Togo - Slave Dungeons and the Raising of the Sacred Stone
After breakfast, we drive through the coconut groves for Agbodrafo, a former slave trade post on the coast of Togo. We arrive in Agbodrafo, the Portuguese Porto Seguro where we will enjoy a welcome ceremony by royalty and court. We will also visit the slave dungeons before proceeding to Pedakondji fishermen's village. On arrival, we visit the fishermen's habitat and get acquainted with the everyday chores of the locals. We drive through Aneho, the first capital city of Togo enroute to Glidji, the spiritual centre of the Guen people. Here, we learn about the important ceremony of the raising of the sacred stone. We will also visit the sacred places before driving to Hlande, a lost village in the farmlands. Discover the faces of Africa through the ritual dances of the Zangbeto, the traditional night guardians. We depart Hlande for Togo Lake. Overnight in Agbodrafo.
Day 14: To Ghana; Dzodze Village; Voodoo Ceremony
We arrive at Segbe (Ghana / Togo border) in the late morning where we proceed through customs and immigration. From here, we will depart for Nogokpo. En route we visit Dzodze, an Ewe Craft Village know for its pottery. After lunch we continue on to Nogokpo in the Volta region is known for its Great God of Thunder. This Great God of Thunder is a spiritual judge and if someone steals and the thief is not known, the victim can report the case to the thunder gods of Nogokpo who may strike down the culprit with lighting. This shrine also serves as a court of arbitration where one can speak the truth, only the truth, and nothing but the truth. It is a place to look for fortune in life, prosperity and long life. The group will experience a Voodoo ceremony including spiritual trances and mesmerotic chanting.
Day 15: Volta River and Monkey Sanctuary
We visit Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary near Nyagbo. This unique Monkey Sanctuary lies in a beautiful peaceful village whose inhabitants believe that the rare True Mona Monkeys are sacred and are messengers of the gods and their protectors. We will have the opportunity to walk through the village of Tafi Atome to see the natural wonder of man and monkey living together in harmony and learn about their Voodoo rituals. In the afternoon we will take a boat excursion on the Volta River to enjoy everything from the scenery, to villages to it's wildlife. Overnight on the Akosombo.
Day 16: To Accra - City Tour
After breakfast, enroute to Accra, Ghana's capital, we stop at Krobo-Odumase to visit the Cedi Bead Factory and workshop where beautiful African jewelry is available. We continue to Accra driving past the Shai Hills and Kloyo Mountains and the industrial city of Tema. In the afternoon visit La Township to see uniquely designed special caskets at the Teshie and Nungua areas which reflect the beliefs of the people in life after death. (A bus driver may be buried in a bus, a waiter in a large beer bottle etc.) We visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum Park and the National Museum for History and Ethnography. Drive past the Independence Arch and Black Star Square - Accra's ceremonial grounds, and view in the distance Christiansborg Castle. In the late afternoon, stop at the city's arts and crafts market to try out your bargaining skills. Overnight in Accra.
Day 17: SOS Village, Kumasi and Ashanti King's Palace
We depart Accra and drive inland to Kumasi. Enroute, we drive past several scenic villages and charming towns. We stop to visit Potroase, a typical Cocoa farming community, to meet the Cheif and his elders. We have a unique opportunity to see a traditional cultural performance and to meet and interact with the local people to learn about village life in Ghana.
Day 18: Ashanti Villages UNESCO Sites
We depart on a city tour of Kumasi, visiting the National Cultural Centre, Okomfo Anokye Sword, Prempeh II Jubilee Museum, and drive past the School of Art of the University of Science and Technology. We will also visit a sculpture garden, the Military Museum and the Kumasi central market- the largest open-air market in West Africa. We will have lunch at a local Ghanaian restaurant.
Day 19: Cape Coast and Historic Forts
Today we depart Kumasi and make the three hour journey to Elmina in the Central Region. We drive past several charming farming villages along the way. We arrive at Cape Coast Castle (visited by President Obama and the First Lady on their first visit to Africa in 2009) built by Swedish traders in 1652 and was later taken over by the British. This Castle served as the seat of the former colonial administration of the then Gold Coast ( Ghana's former name) until 1877 when it was relocated to Accra. The Castle also houses the West African Historical Museum. You will experience the slave quarters and Palaver Hall where slaves were bargained for and sold.
Day 20: UNESCO Sites; Kakum National Park and Elmina Slave Castles
After breakfast we visit Kakum National Park were we can enjoy a walk on the "Kuntan Trail" and see the countless trees with their medicinal properties. For the more daring, experience the Canopy Walk suspended 100 feet from the ground for a panoramic view of the flora and fauna which is one of the last remaining vestiges of the rain forest.
Day 21: Return to Accra
We enjoy a morning at leisure before we depart Elmina for Accra. We drive along the coast through several fishing villages and coconut lined beaches and arrive by early afternoon. We can enjoy some free time to explore the markets. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Accra.
Day 22: Departure
We bid farewell to our new friends and Voodoo Spirits and head home.
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