Expedition to Voodoo festival and tribes of Benin and Togo

BENIN + TOGO

January 3 to 12, 2020.
Tour Niger

tour to Benin Togo expedition to Voodoo festival Ouidah Fulani tour to West Africa travel Africa Tata Somba

The times of slavery in Africa sank into oblivion, and at the time it created and left a legacy of amazing cultures and even religions. Every year, Voodoo worshipers gather in southern Benin for a large and colorful festival to invoke their ancestral spirits and celebrate their deities.
Our expedition heads to the Voodoo festival, as well as explores the tribes of southern and northern Benin and Togo, where the Tamberma build their famous fortress houses.

The times of slavery in Africa sank into oblivion, and at the time it created and left a legacy of amazing cultures and even religions. Every year, Voodoo worshipers gather in southern Benin for a large and colorful festival to invoke their ancestral spirits and celebrate their deities.
Our expedition heads to the Voodoo festival, as well as explores the tribes of southern and northern Benin and Togo, where the Tamberma build their famous fortress houses.

SHEDULE AND COST:

Dates: January 3 to 12, 2020

Duration: 10 days / 9 nights

Number of participants: 6 to 12

Cost per person: EUR 1980 subject to 10 persons, EUR 2100 subject to 8 persons or EUR 2300 subject to 6 persons, based on double accommodation.

Everything is included, except for international flight to Cotonou, medical insurance for international trips, Benin and Togo visas and dinners.
Estimated cost of flight Moscow - Cotonou - Moscow: EUR 650 - 800 (bought on your own).
Benin visa obtained in your Consulate in advance (Visa upon arrival is not available for Russian citizens). Visa fee – USD 100. Togo visa obtained upon arrival while crossing the border. Visa fee is USD 20 to 50.


Single supplement: EUR 380





TRAVEL PROGRAM: TOUR TO NIGER


Day 0. Monday. Your city - Niamey
Leaving for Niamey by air (The flight with Turkish Airlines is recommended).
Meals: no
Accommodation: no

Day 1. January 3th, 2020. Arrival in Cotonou
Arrival in Cotonou by international flight. Meeting the guide, transfer and accommodation at the Hotel du Lac or similar.
Flight via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines is recommended (arrival time in Cotonou is 21:25)
Accommodation: Hotel du Lac 3* or similar.
Meals: no

Day 2. January 4th, 2020. Cotonou – Ganvie – Porto-Novo. 120 km
Breakfast and departure for Ganvie, the biggest lake city in Africa, where live more than 33,000 Tofinu people doing their activities aboard small pirogues. Ganvie is also known as the "African Venice", appears a great concentration of Tofí fishermen families who used to hide in Lake Nokoué escaping from slavery in the 18th century. Tour along the 'water channels', meet the people, learn about Tofí culture.
Head for Porto-Novo, the administrative capital of Benin via Cotonou. This city is an incredible fusion of the original Yoruba culture with the Portuguese legacy and the French and English colonial influences of the XIX century. Walk through the Afro-Brazilian neighborhood, visit Honmè, former palace of King Toffa and ethnographic museum arranged around important themes of the Birth, Life and Death without forgetting an important collection of mask Gelede, a wealth Yoruba inscribed Intangible Heritage of UNESCO. Check-in at the Freedom Palace Hotel or similar. Overnight in Porto-Novo.
Accommodation: Freedom Palace Hotel or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 3. January 5th, 2020. Porto-Novo – Dassa. 225 km
Breakfast and private audience at King Toffa's palace. Departure from Porto-Novo towards Kétou, an important center of the civilization Yoruba. Yoruba are the main group in this part of Africa and possess a millenary culture that transmit through dance and music. We will have the chance to meet in the vicinity a famous people, the Holi (Yoruba subgroup), eminent farmers and animists, they are also unstoppable by tattooing their bodies and faces. Road to Agonli, stop at the nomadic camp of Peul people who keep their traditional tattoos and make complex hairstyles. Accommodation at Jeco Hotel 3* or similar.
Accommodation: Jeco Hotel 3* or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 4. January 6th, 2020. Dassa – Natitingou. 340 km
Nestled at 440m altitude in the Atakora massif, Natitingou is also the most dynamic city in northern Benin thanks to the funding granted by President Kérékou who originates from this region. Natitingou is the back base for visiting the countries of Tata Somba people. This tradition is a reflection of their strong individuality that seems to have resisted both Dahomean slave hunters and the advance of Christianity and Islam.
In the afternoon we visit art museum of popular traditions.
Overnight at the hotel Tata Somba.
Accommodation: Hotel Tata Somba.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 5. January 7th, 2020. Tata Somba - Tamberma (Togo) – Kara. 210 km
After breakfast we explore some Tata Somba villages. Commonly called Somba the Betamaribe people, animists, they live mainly south-west of Natitingou in the plains of Boukoumbé near the Togolese border. The Somba live isolated in the middle of their crop fields rather than clustered in villages. Their dwellings, the Tata Somba are a typical constructions which resemble miniature fortresses. There are more than 10 kinds among which Otchaou which resemble the constructions of Tamberma, their Togolese neighbors. The uniqueness and sophistication of this architecture has been recognized since 2004 by UNESCO as a world heritage site, with the statement, "it is an outstanding example of territorial occupation by a people in constant search of harmony between man and the surrounding nature".
We will do border formalities and also customs to cross the border and arrive in Tamberma in Togo. The Tamberma valley is home to fortified villages, unique in their kind, which were founded in the seventeenth century by a people fleeing the raids of the kings of Dahomey in Benin who captured the slaves.
There are several villages, among the most important is Nadoba village that we visit.
Here we meet the tribes of Tamberma (Somba) and Kabyé. The Somba people are known for their traditional body scarring rituals, starting between the age of two and three. These special marks are a form of lifelong identification marks (tattoo ID), which identify a person as belonging to one's tribe as well as more coded personal information. Additional marks are added at puberty, readiness for marriage, post-child birth as a form of visible communication. These scars range from some on the face, to belly and back.
Night in Kara according to the distances and the administrative formalities.
Accommodation: Hotel Kara
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 6. January 8th, 2020. Kara - Djougou (Benin) – Abomey. 380km
After breakfast, very long distance is to be covered, but except the border formalities, we can quickly go via Djougou, to return to Benin. Continuation to Abomey, cultural and spiritual center of Benin and center of the powerful kingdom of Dahomey.
Abomey is a remarkable city, with its winding streets with mud houses (mud brick and dried), as well as temples and palisades erected by the kings of Dahomey. Visit the restored Royal Palace which now houses the museum, UNESCO heritage site. Accommodation at Sun City Hotel or similar.
Accommodation: Sun City Hotel 3* or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 7. January 9th, 2020. Abomey – Allada – Ouidah. 105 km
After breakfast head to Allada, origin of the great kingdoms of southern Benin. Attend the launch ceremonies of the annual Voodoo Festival. Continuation to mythical city of Ouidah, capital of the African Voodoo. Visit the sacred forest Kpassè with its innumerable convents and shrines. Experience the Slave Route to the Gate of No Return by the Sea. Accommodation at the Diaspora Hotel or similar.
Accommodation: Diaspora Hotel or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 8. January 10th, 2020. Voodoo Festival in Ouidah.
Breakfast at the hotel. Here comes the big day of the Voodoo festival where come people from all over the world from Africa to America and the Caribbean. The Voodoo religion, very unknown and misinterpreted by some theorists is a religion with more than 60 million followers around the world. Every person who attends to this celebration will discover that Voodoo and Evil are different things. In the collective imagination, Voodoo is the mutation of the ancient African beliefs of those persons who were reduced to slavery and taken to Brazil and the Caribbean. But that has nothing to do with evil, quite the opposite. Voodoo believes that the ancestors and natural forces decide life of its believers. At that time thousands of devotees go to Ouidah, the main center of this cult to receive the blessing of the Voodoo leader of the city. Today, the great priests and their faithful from all over Benin and even neighboring countries meet to magnify the deities through songs, dances, drums, animal sacrifices, libations and prayers. Attend this important festival with high dignitaries and other crowned heads. Overnight in Ouidah.
Accommodation: Diaspora Hotel or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 9. January 11th, 2020. Ouidah – Possotome. 56 km
After breakfast, visit the History Museum, former Portuguese fortress and the Python temple. Drive to Possotomé on the shores of Lake Ahémé - Benin's Voodoo sacred lake. Lake Ahemé, beautiful, inhabited by communities that have kept the animistic traditions that slavery brought to Brazil, the Caribbean and south USA. Boat trip on Lake Ahémé to discover the different fishing techniques. Back to the village. Accommodation at the Hotel Chez Theo 3* or similar. In the afternoon, hikes through the village learning about the importance of sacred forests; the Voodoo deities. Overnight at Possotomé.
Accommodation: Hotel Chez Theo 3* or similar.
Meals: breakfast, lunch

Day 10. January 12th, 2020. Possotomé - Grand Popo – Cotonou. 110 km,
After breakfast, departure for Kpétou. In the company of local guides, walk in the forest to meet the mona, a species of monkey endemic to the region. Cape on the island of Mitogbodji by canoe to discover a variety of birdlife. Return to Peru; visit to women weaving mats. Head to Grand Popo between the Mono River and the Atlantic. Late evening in Cotonou for its souvenir shops. Shower rooms at the hotel.
Transfer to the airport and flight back home.
Flight via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines is recommended (departure time from Cotonou is 22:10)
Accommodation: day-use hotel in Cotonou.
Meals: breakfast
Cost includes:

· accommodation on TWIN/DBL basis
· breakfasts and lunches as indicated in the program
· 1 bottled water daily
· transfers
· all transportations: comfortable minivan/bus with a/c
· visits and entrance fees, participation in festivals
· contribution to local communities
· service of a professional English-speaking tour guide and Russian and English speaking team leader throughout the trip



To be addidionally (personally) paid:

· international flight to Cotonou (roundtrip)
· travel medical insurance
· dinners and drinks during meals
· Benin visa with 2 entries
· Togo visa 1-entry
· Individual photographing fees for tribal people
· single supplement
· tips



To take with:

• Wear sets fitting weather conditions, set of clothes for hot weather and one warm set
• long sleeve wear set,
• repellents (is a must!),
• mosquito net for sleeping place (is a must!),
• comfortable closed shoes and open shoes,
• forehead torch,
• big backpack for luggage,
• small backpack for personal items and camera,
• sunblock set (cream, sunglasses, cap),
• personal hygiene items,
• personal medical kit (analgesics, sanitizers, antibiotics, your personal medicine),
• certificate on vaccination from yellow fever, meningitis and cholera,
• anti-malaria prevention pills (up to you but recommended),
• photo and video camera
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