Rejser til Ghana

Ghana er en rejse ind i Vestafrikas åndelige hjerte, hvor myte, religion og virkelighed flettes sammen til en berusende blanding af ekstraordinære oplevelser med ilddans, voodooritualer og spektakulære festivaller.

I regionen Ashanti ligger storbyen Kumasi, som er tidligere generalsekretær i FN Kofi Annans fødeby. Her afholdes Adae Festivalen, som er en helt speciel oplevelse. Alene forberedelserne er et kapitel for sig selv. Adae festivalen kan ikke beskrives – den skal opleves.

Ghana byder på et væld af fantastiske attraktioner, der omdefinerer begreberne kulturchok og eventyr.

Læg vejen forbi regionens koloniale arv ved Elmina, som var den første europæiske bosætning i Vestafrika eller tag nordpå og få oplevelsen af at være havnet i et helt andet land med en anden religion, anderledes geografi og traditioner, selvom du stadig er i Ghana.

I Ghana eksisterer kulturernes, stammesamfundenes og naturens mangfoldigheder i skøn harmoni med hinanden til stor glæde for de rejsende, der lægger vejen forbi.

Grupperejse 1 ► Ghana - Kongeriger af guld
Grupperejse 2 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festivalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Vestafrikas ånder

Grupperejse 1 ► Ghana - Kongeriger af guld

Generel information om grupperejser i Ghana

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Ghana foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Ghana.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Ghana.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Trip Summary

Stretching from the dusty borderlands of the north to the tropical coast in the south, Ghana encapsulates all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Ghana is vibrant and seductive, and it’s no wonder that it’s many people’s introduction to West Africa. Ghana is the sort of place that remains in your soul long after you have visited.

Fitness** | Adventure*** | Culture**** | History*** | Wildlife***

Day 1 – Accra

Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore this vibrant African capital. Overnight Novotel or similar.

Accra
Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas. The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town (British protected area) and was inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. There is even an area for the fabrication of special coffins that take the forms of fish, fruit, animals, or your favourite car, traditionally based on the occupation of the deceased, but customisable upon prior request.

Day 2 – Accra - Sogakope

Explore Accra, taking in its main sights including the atmospheric old quarter of Jamestown, the National Museum and something unique to Ghana – the coffin makers. These craftsmen build elaborate coffins in many weird and wonderful shapes including fish, cars, animals and aeroplanes! We will then head towards the Volta region to attend a Voodoo ceremony at the heart of a remote village. During the ceremony some Voodoos may take possession of some adepts giving way to amazing trances. Overnight Cisneros Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 – Sogakope - Wli

The Monkey sanctuary of Tafi Atome was created in 1993 in order to protect the community of sacred monkeys living in the bordering forest. We will also visit the Wli waterfalls, the most amazing in the area, located on the border between Togo and Ghana. Overnight Wli Water Highs Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 4 – Wli - Nkwanta

Today we travel from the tropical forest to the Northern Savannas, stopping off on our way and passing by the numerous coffee and cocoa plantations. Overnight Gateway Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 5 – Nkwanta - Yendi

Today we will visit the Dagomba villages, a tribe that represents one eighth of the Ghanaian population. Their villages are made of round huts covered with high thatch roofs. We also have a stop in a Kokomba village where we will be welcomed by women who bear the burden of being ‘witches’. Overnight Kamil Legacy Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 – Yendi - Bolgatanga

We take a walk to discover a sacred hill. In this mysterious place we will find pinnacles made of huge stones stacked up in an unbelievably irregular way. Local people consider these vestiges as the former homes of the gods. Inside a deep crack on the higher side of the mountain is found the cave of the oracle. It is a place of pilgrimage but to be allowed inside, one has to be accompanied by adepts who go there to practice their rituals and make sacrifices. Overnight Crystal Hotel or similar (BLD)

Bolgatanga
The hills around here consist of numerous pinnacles formed by enormous rocks, which the local people consider as the ancient homes of the gods. A deep fissure on the side of the highest mountain hosts an oracle. One goes there on a pilgrimage, but in order to enter, it is necessary to be accompanied by holy men who come to practice rites and perform sacrifices. Under the spiritual protection of the oracle, the Talensi live there as a united clan. The typical fortified home, which can accommodate up to 60 people, is built with mud and wood. It resembles a labyrinth surrounded by walls, which can be entered through only one door. The narrow passageways, the small stairways, the covered hallways, the rooms in the shape of eggs, and the terraces, combine to create quite a striking impression.

Day 7 – Bolgatanga - Wa

We take a morning trip to see the painted houses of the Gurunsi culture. The geometrical designs of the frescoes blend in perfectly with the round and rectangular shapes of the building. We then continue along the savannah to Wa. Overnight Upland Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Gourounsi people
The Gourounsi are renowned for their fabulously decorated houses that are multi-hued with symbolic friezes of animals and spirits that are built in and coloured on the ‘banco’ walls. Each year after the harvest, women work together to restore and repaint their mud dwellings. Although this is world-class traditional art, you will never see any in a museum. It is alleged that luminaries such as Picasso and the architect, Le Coubusier, were inspired by this art and its abstract symbolism.

Day 8 – Wa

A day to explore Wa, home of the Lobi. The town of Wa is also the seat of the kingdom of Wa where, up until recently, the ‘Wa Na’, or king, held court in his Sudanese styled palace. Since the Wa Na’s death, pretenders have quibbled endlessly over the succession and no one currently has the authority to rule. It is possible to visit his palace (although you probably won’t be allowed inside), and outside you can find the graves of the former Wa Nas. Tucked away in the backstreets are also a couple of interesting Sudanese style mud and stick built mosques which are worth a look. Overnight Upland Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Lobi People
The Lobi are thought to have originated in Ghana but now also live in neighbouring Burkina Faso. Their name means literally ‘children of the forest’. Today they live in villages consisting of several fortress style dwellings, excellent protection against slave raids of old. The Lobi follow animist traditions, worshipping fetishes and ancestors, and are renowned as excellent warriors, putting up fierce resistance to colonial occupation. The Lobi are still very traditional and adhere to old customs, one of which is their initiation ceremony where young men and women head off into the bush for several weeks, performing secret rituals and speaking a secret language.

Day 9 – Wa - Techiman

We start our journey South passing through a landscape that slowly changes from the colours of the Savannah to put on the ones of the forest. The dust road follows the tracks left by the former caravan road that used to connect the biggest trading centres of the Sudanese kingdom such as Djenné or Timbuktu to the area of Kumasi, great producer of gold and of the famous cola nut. Overnight Encom Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 10 – Techiman - Kumasi

We travel to the centre of the Ashanti kingdom, Kumasi. We visit traditional Ashanti houses, recently renovated and famous for their unique decorations. We may also be lucky enough to witness an Ashanti funeral – a colourful and exuberant affair which gives a great insight into the complex culture of this once powerful kingdom. Overnight Hotel Miklin or similar. (BLD)

Kumasi
Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit, vegetable, and provision. We visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house.

Ashanti

The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed Ashanti country, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they dress themselves with it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.

Day 11 – Kumasi - Anomabu

Continue our exploration of Kumasi by visiting the Royal Palace Museum, with its unique collection of golden jewellery. From here we drive to Anomabu on the coast. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Elmina - Accra

We visit the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as holding centre for slaves. We explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. From here we drive back to Accra, where day use rooms are available to freshen up before your flight. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BLD)

Elmina
Elmina is best known for its Castle of St George, built in 1482 by the Portuguese and occupied by the Dutch and British in the following centuries. The Castle and its museum are of considerable interest and the town is now a colourful thriving fishing port where hundreds of colorfully painted wooden fishing canoes are anchored. The best time to see the port is in the morning when fishermen arrive back with their catches, and traders crowd the area. In addition to the Castle of St George Elmina boasts another – the smaller Fort St Jago, situated on top of a hill as a protective measure against the castle being bombarded from above. There are also numerous animistic shrines throughout the town built by Posuban societies to protect the fishermen.

Grupperejse 1 ► Ghana - Kongeriger af guld
Grupperejse 2 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festivalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Vestafrikas ånder

Grupperejse 2 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festivalen

Generel information om grupperejser i Ghana

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Ghana foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Ghana.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Ghana.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Denne rejse kombinerer Ghana med Togo og Benin.

Trip Summary

A journey to the spiritual heart of West Africa, where myth, religion and reality intertwine to create an intoxicating blend of extraordinary experiences. Stretching from the dusty borderlands of the north to the tropical coast in the south, Ghana, Togo and Benin encapsulate all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Starting in Accra we cross first into Togo and the capital Lome where we visit its bizarre fetish market, and then head to Ouidah in Benin. Here we witness one of the region’s most incredible cultural experiences, the annual festival of voodoo, where people perform unique rituals and ceremonies in devotion to ancient gods, and where you can expect to bump into the earthly manifestations of voodoo spirits. We learn about the history of the region in the once powerful kingdom of Abomey, discover the fortified houses of the Tamberma people, and travel to the heart of the Ashanti kingdom in Kumasi. Finally we end up back at Ghana’s coast, where we visit the castles of the first Europeans to reach these shores and relax on the beach. Discover the soul of West Africa.

Fitness*** | Adventure*** | Culture***** | History*** | Wildlife***

Day 1 – Accra

Arrive in Accra, capital of Ghana, and transfer to hotel. Overnight Novotel or similar.

Accra
Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas. The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town (British protected area) and was inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. There is even an area for the fabrication of special coffins that take the forms of fish, fruit, animals, or your favourite car, traditionally based on the occupation of the deceased, but customisable upon prior request.

Day 2 – Accra - Lome

Explore Accra, taking in its main sights including the atmospheric old quarter of Jamestown, the National Museum and something unique to Ghana – the coffin makers. These craftsmen build elaborate coffins in many weird and wonderful shapes including fish, cars, animals and aeroplanes! From Accra we cross the border into Togo and head to the capital, Lome. Overnight Ibis Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 – Lome - Ouidah

Take a tour of the city, including its lively and colourful market, before heading to the fetish market, where all manner of animal parts are on sale for spells and potions – a truly West African sight! From here cross in to Benin and head to Ouidah for the night. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa. (BLD)

Lome
Lome is a lively city situated on the coast, virtually on the border with Ghana and with a population of just under a million. It retains a slightly shabby, but in the right light decidedly enchanting, feel and was sorely affected by the civil disturbances in the 1990’s that rocked Togo. Founded by the Ewe people in the eighteenth century, it became the capital of German Togoland under colonial occupation. Lome’s formal attractions are relatively sparse but include its Grand Marche, celebrated for its rich textile businesswomen known as ‘Nana Benz’ who monopolise the sale of cloth in the country. Lome has several buildings dating back to the colonial period including a 19th century Gothic style cathedral which looks rather out of place in a West African city.

Day 4 – Voodoo Festival

Spend today delving into the mysteries of voodoo at Ouidah’s annual voodoo festival. Although there are many festivals around the country, this is the largest. You can expect to see followers and adepts of the various voodoo gods, from the elaborately costumed Zangbetos, to the followers of Kokou, renowned for injuring themselves as a way to reach the divine. Around the edges of the main performance area you can find groups from various voodoo temples performing their own rites and rituals. This is a fascinating insight into a much maligned religion, and unlike anything you may have seen before. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa. (BLD)

Day 5 – Ganvie - Abomey

The stilt village of Ganvie, in the centre of Lake Nokwe is our goal this morning. We take a boat onto the lake and explore the village, hopefully seeing a local market where all the trade is conducted on small boats. From here we continue to Abomey. Abomey was the centre of the notorious kingdom of Dahomey, a fiercesome people who struck terror into the hearts of the surrounding tribes. We visit the Royal Palace, its walls reputed to be forged from the blood and bones of captives, to gain an insight into this once great African power. Overnight Hotel Sun City or similar. (BLD)

Abomey
Abomey was once the capital of one of Africa’s greatest nations, Dahomey, whose rulers struck terror into the heart of surrounding tribes as they made war, conquered land and captured slaves. Its kings built numerous palaces, only two of which remain, the rest having been burned to the ground when the French attacked. Dahomey was a powerful kingdom, and put up fierce resistance to French occupation but in the end was defeated. The kingdom employed a large army, including regiments of female ‘Amazons’. The remaining palaces have been turned into a museum which contains artefacts from Dahomey including a throne which sits on top of human skulls.

Day 6 – Sokode

We leave the lush coastal belt of Benin behind and head north into a different landscape, where Islam replaces Voodoo as the dominant religion. We stop en route at the Dankoli fetish, the most powerful fetish in Benin, where we may see sacrifices being performed to ask for the favour of the gods. We then cross back into Togo and drive to Sokode, and this evening we witness a traditional fire dance. Overnight Hotel Central or similar. (BLD)

Sokode
Sokode is Togo’s second largest town, and an important trading centre in the north of the country due to its strategic location. It has a couple of very good markets, selling all manner of goods.

Fire dance
In the centre of the village a large fire lights up the faces of the participants, who dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums eventually leaping into the glowing embers. They pick up burning coals and pass them over their bodies and even put them in their mouths without injuring themselves or showing any sign of pain. It’s difficult to explain such a performance. Is it matter of courage? Magic? Maybe it is really is the fetishes that protect them from the fire.

Day 7 – Tamberma Villages - Kara

The villages of the Tamberma people, straddling the border between Togo and Benin, are one of the undoubted highlights of the region. Each house is built out of earth as a fortress, able to be defended against the slaving raids of old and capable of shielding an entire family and their livestock from invaders. We spend today visiting several of these magical and enchanting structures, and meeting the Tamberma people, some of whom still wear headgear made from the horns of gazelles and sport bones through their lips. This evening we witness a fire dance. Overnight Hotel Kara or similar. (BLD)

The Tamberma people
The Tamberma live in the far north of Benin and Togo. Once famous for their nudity, increasing outside influences mean that they now wear clothes, although many people will still sport traditional adornments. The Tamberma are both hunters and farmers and it is not uncommon to see groups of Tamberma men returning from a hunt with their bows and arrows. The big draw however is the fantastic architecture found in this region. Tamberma houses, called ‘tatas’ are robust fortress type dwellings, with separate enclosures for humans, livestock and grain, and were easily defended in case of slave raids. Some houses also contain wells, meaning that a family could remain there for some time, prompting raiders to give up and look for easier prey.

Day 8 – Dagomba villages

We cross back into Ghana. Travel to a little visited region to discover the villages of the Dagomba, characterised by round clay huts with thatched roofs. In one village we meet a large settlement of witches, exiled from their villages, and find out about their lives. Overnight Gariba Lodge or similar. (BLD)

Day 9 – Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary - Techiman

Visit the the impressive Kintampo Waterfalls before we continue on to the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, an area of forest home to mona and colobus monkeys which are considered sacred by the local population, and can be found here in good numbers. From here we drive to Techiman. Overnight Premier Palace Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 10 – Kumasi

We travel to the centre of the Ashanti kingdom, Kumasi. We visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre with its rich collection of Ashanti artefacts. Kumasi is also home to a bustling market selling all manner of goods from crafts to everyday items. We may be lucky enough to witness an Ashanti funeral – a colourful and exuberant affair which gives a great insight into the complex culture of this once powerful kingdom. Overnight Hotel Miklin or similar. (BLD)

Kumasi
Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit, vegetable, and provision. We visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house.

Ashanti
The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed Ashanti country, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they dress themselves with it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.

Day 11 – Kumasi - Elmina

We spend today exploring Kumasi further, and also meet a traditional Ashanti chief. There may be time to visit some nearby villages as well. We then head back to the coast and the fishing town of Elmina. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Elmina - Accra

Explore the old quarter of Elmina as well as the Castle of St George, the oldest European constructed building in Africa once used for holding slaves. We also see the unique Posuban shrines, built by traditional local societies that were once responsible for the defence of towns along Ghana’s coast. Return to Accra where day use rooms are available until 1800 and your onwards flight. (B)

Elmina
Elmina is best known for its Castle of St George, built in 1482 by the Portuguese and occupied by the Dutch and British in the following centuries. The Castle and its museum are of considerable interest and the town is now a colourful thriving fishing port where hundreds of colorfully painted wooden fishing canoes are anchored. The best time to see the port is in the morning when fishermen arrive back with their catches, and traders crowd the area. In addition to the Castle of St George Elmina boasts another – the smaller Fort St Jago, situated on top of a hill as a protective measure against the castle being bombarded from above. There are also numerous animistic shrines throughout the town built by Posuban societies to protect the fishermen.

Grupperejse 1 ► Ghana - Kongeriger af guld
Grupperejse 2 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Ouidah Voodoo Festivalen
Grupperejse 3 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Vestafrikas ånder

Grupperejse 3 ► Ghana, Togo og Benin - Vestafrikas ånder

Generel information om grupperejser i Ghana

Happy Lama Travels eksklusive grupperejser i Ghana foregår i små internationale grupper med lokal engelsktalende rejseleder. Derfor er rejsebeskrivelserne på engelsk.

En lokal rejseleder kender sit land bedre end en dansk rejseleder. Det er desuden vores erfaring at en lokal rejseleder giver dig et bedre indblik i, hvordan livet leves i Ghana.

Passer rejsedatoerne dig ikke eller vil du selv have maksimal indflydelse på dit rejseprogram – Kontakt os hvis du ønsker et tilbud på en individuel rejse i Ghana.

afrika@happylamatravel.com

Denne rejse kombinerer Ghana med Togo og Benin.

Trip Summary

Ghana, Togo and Benin are home to an amazing diversity of traditional cultures, from the once mighty kingdom of the Ashanti to smaller groups living in isolation in the bush. This tour explores all three, starting in Accra, one of West Africa’s liveliest cities before crossing into Togo to witness a traditional voodoo ceremony deep within the swamps. We explore stilt villages and ancient kingdoms, and visit the fiercely traditional Tamberma people, with extraordinary fortress style houses designed to protect them from invaders. In Ghana we look for sacred monkeys in the forest and travel through the lands of the Dagomba, as well as visiting the fishing village of Elmina, home to an imposing slave castle dating back more than five hundred years. You will have the opportunity to witness the Akwasidae festival of the Ashanti, a glittering showcase of traditional culture honouring the Ashanti king.

Fitness*** | Adventure*** | Culture***** | History*** | Wildlife***

Day 1 – Accra

Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is free to explore. Overnight Novotel or similar.

Accra
Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas. The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town and is inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. Most interesting is the area where coffins are made – here they make them with the most outlandish designs, in the shape of fish, aeroplanes, or just about anything else you can think of.

Day 2 – Accra - Sogakope

Spend the morning exploring Accra, visiting the National Museum and the old quarter of Jamestown, as well as the quarter where craftsmen design flamboyant coffins for the deceased – a uniquely Ghanaian experience. From here we head to Sogakope, on the banks of the River Volta. Overnight Cisneros Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 3 – Sogakope - Lac Togo

We cross the border into Togo and head to Lome, the only African city to have been colonised by the French, British and Germans. Explore the city including its central markets and the fascinating – if rather gruesome – fetish market, where animal parts are sold for use in traditional medicines. We continue to a remote hidden village where we will join a Voodoo ceremony. The frenetic rhythm of the drums and the chants of the adepts help to call the voodoo spirits who take possession of the dancers who fall into a deep trance: eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions, insensitivity to fire or pain. An amazing experience and a highlight of this trip. Overnight Hotel Le Lac or similar. (BLD)

Lome
Togo’s capital is a vibrant city situated on the coast, sitting right on the international border with Ghana and with a population of just under a million. Slightly dishevelled, it is quite an atmospheric little city and is now recovering from the civil disturbances suffered by the country in the 1990s. Its origins date back to the 18th century, when it was settled by the Ewe people, one of Togo’s largest ethnic groups. Like many African cities it doesnít have too much in the way of formal sightseeing but there are a few things worth exploring – the Grand Marche with its exuberant businesswomen known as ‘Nana Benz’ who monopolise the sale of cloth in Togo. Not be missed is the fetish market, where animal parts are sold for use in traditional medicines. This is not a great place for animal lovers, with heads and body parts of everything from sharks and crocodiles to gorillas on sale, but offers a fascinating insight into a belief system very different from our own. Lome has a number of buildings which date from the German occupation, most noticeable of which is a rather bizarre looking 19th century Gothic style cathedral which looks rather out of place in a West African city.

Voodoo
Voodoo, or Vodoun as it is known here, is one of the most important religions in this part of West Africa. Forget what you may have seen on TV about it being a form of black magic – here it has the same legitimacy as any other belief system and has been adopted as an official religion by Benin. Voodoo is a complex and intricate way of seeing of the world, with literally hundreds of different gods responsible for various areas of daily life – some are benevolent, some less so, and in order to communicate with them and ask for favours local people will seek the assistance of followers, or adepts. There are numerous voodoo temples scattered around the coastal regions of both Benin and Togo, each headed by a priest who for a suitable donation will intercede on your behalf. Voodoo is not limited to the temples though and travelling around the region it is not unlikely that you will see some ceremony being carried out. Also worth looking out for are the Egunguns – earthly manifestations of the dead who roam the streets in outlandish costumes, striking fear into the heart of local people. Sacrifice and blood are important within voodoo rituals, and any ceremony worth its salt is likely to involve a chicken being killed, its blood spilled onto a shrine in order to seal the pact. You’re also likely to see fetishes dotted around villages – these are inanimate objects such as rocks or trees in which a spirit is believed to reside, often covered in candle wax, feathers and blood where sacrifices have been made. Gaining some understanding of voodoo allows you a glimpse into a magical world where nothing is quite as it seems, and is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of travelling here.

Day 4 – Lac Togo - Ouidah

Today we cross the border into Benin visiting Ganvie and the Tofinou ethnic group, who build their huts on teak stilts, and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. Fishing is their main activity and you will see the canoes that men, women and children lead with ease using brightly coloured poles. It is with these canoes that the men fish, women deliver goods to the market and children go to school and play. We then head to the coastal town of Ouidah, a stronghold of voodoo and once an important slave port. We visit the python temple, where snakes are venerated as representations of gods, the old Portuguese fort and finally head to the beach and the sombre ‘Gate of No Return’, the point from which slaves left Africa for the New World. Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa or similar. (BLD)

Ganvie
On Lake Nokwe lies the stilt village of Ganvie, a settlement of 25,000 people isolated from the land and only accessible by boat. Legend has it that the Tofinou people fled here in the 18th century to escape the depredation of the more powerful Dahomeyans on the lookout for slaves, and that they were transported to their new home by crocodiles. Whatever the truth behind it, Ganvie is an interesting place to drift through in a boat, watching how people go about their daily lives on the water, stopping at local markets watching the fishermen casting their nets, and is far removed from the busy towns making this a real delight to explore. The market on the mainland is also worth a look, if only for the rather gruesome section dedicated to voodoo.

Ouidah
Founded in the fifteenth century and made famous by Bruce Chatwin’s novel, ‘The Viceroy of Ouidah’, Ouidah was once a centre for the slave trade in this part of West Africa and many of its buildings bear witness to a strong European influence. As well as a rather imposing and out of place cathedral, Afro-Brazilian architecture and crumbling colonial buildings, the Portuguese fort holds an interesting history museum which gives an insight into the past life of the town. Of equal interest is the Python Temple, where a collection of snakes are venerated as earthly representations of voodoo gods. A thought provoking excursion is the 3km walk along the ‘Slave Route’, where those boarding the boats across the Atlantic were herded like cattle to the shore. At the end on the beach lies the modern ‘Gate of No Return’, built in memory of the thousands who never made it back.

Day 5 – Ouidah - Bohicon

Today we travel to Abomey where we visit the Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. Now a museum listed on the World Heritage by the Unesco, the palace displays the items belonging to the ancient kings: thrones, ancient cult alters, statues, costumes and weapons. Learn about this Kingdom whose economy was for a long time based on the slave trade. A permanent state of war made it possible for the Kings to capture thousands of prisoners that they then sold as slaves. In the middle of the royal courtyard is found a temple built with a mixture of clay and human blood.Overnight Hotel Dako or similar. (BLD)

Abomey
Once the capital of the powerful kingdom of Dahomey, Abomey gained a notorious reputation as the centre of a fierce civilisation, whose rulers preyed mercilessly on the surrounding tribes as they conquered neighbouring lands and captured slaves. During the ‘Scramble for Africa’ Dahomey put up strong resistance against the French colonial armies but in the end were no match for modern weapons, and the kingdom fell in 1892, its king Gbehanzin setting fire to the city. Abomey had been renowned for its palaces, and although many were lost, two still remain which give the visitor a fascinating insight into this once mighty nation. Now museums, they contain a number of interesting exhibits from earlier times, the most impressive of which is a throne which sits on top of human skulls. Also worth a look is the nearby temple whose walls are said to have been made with the blood of enemies.

Day 6 – Bohicon - Sokode

Today we make our way to Sokode and we will stop at the Dankoli fetish, an important place of the Voodoo cult. Here, thousands of little sticks are pushed in to the fetish as witnesses of the countless prayers made to the local god. Once the prayers are answered, people return to sacrifice what they promised to the fetish, be that a goat, a chicken or a cow according to the nature of the prayer. Traces of blood, palm alcohol and palm oil on the fetish prove that a lot of pilgrims had their prayers answered. We then cross the border into Togo and this evening get to witness a fire dance. In the centre of the village a large fire lights up the faces of the participants, who dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums eventually leaping into the glowing embers. They pick up burning coals and pass them over their bodies and even put them in their mouths without injuring themselves or showing any sign of pain. It’s difficult to explain such a performance. Maybe it really is the fetishes that protect them from the fire. Overnight Hotel Central or similar. (BLD)

Day 7 – Sokode - Kara

We head into the Kabye Massif, populated by a people of the same name. They live in houses called ‘soukala’, consisting of a number of dwellings linked by walls which hold one family. From here we drive into the lands of the Tamberma, one of the regionís most traditional groups who live in fortified houses known as ‘tatas’ – quite a spectacular sight. Overnight Hotel Kara or similar. (BLD)

The Tamberma people
The Tamberma are one of the region’s most intriguing and traditional groups. Straddling the border between Togo and Benin (where they are known as Somba), they live deep in the bush in fortress style houses which are utterly unlike anything else. Rather than settling in villages each family has its own compound, an arrow’s flight from anyone else, and the mud built dwellings, known as ‘tatas’ are built for defence, with strong walls and traditionally only accessed via a ladder which would be withdrawn in times of trouble. Inside the tatas are separate areas for people, livestock and grain, and some contain wells, meaning that the inhabitants could hole up for days when slave raiders came, making attacks on the Tamberma a far less attractive proposition than weaker, less defensive peoples. Although modern influences are now starting to creep in, the Tamberma are still very traditional and it’s possible to see groups of men heading off into the bush to hunt, armed with bows and arrows and accompanied by their bogs, while many of the older women still wear polished bones through their lower lips and wear impressive headgear adorned with gazelle horns.

Day 8 – Tamale

Cross the border back into Ghana and continue to a little visited region inhabited by the Dagomba people, who we stop to visit. In one settlement lives a population of ‘witches’, exiled from their own villages for fear of bad luck or harm. This offers us another opportunity to understand the complex belief systems that hold sway here. Continue to Tamale for the night. Overnight Modern City Hotel or similar (BLD)

Day 9 – Boabeng-Fiema - Techiman

We head to Boabeng-Fiema as in the forest here live a population of mona and colobus monkeys that the local people consider to be sacred. As a result of this they are not harmed, and therefore not afraid of people, so your chances for seeing them are excellent. We explore the forest on foot, then drive to nearby Techiman for the night. Overnight Encom Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Day 10 – Kumasi

Continue to Kumasi, Ghana’s second city and home of the old Ashanti Kingdom. Explore the city including the Ashanti Cultural Centre, which gives a great insight into what once was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region. If possible, we will be able to see a traditional Ashanti funeral, quite a spectacle at which visitors are welcome. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Kumasi
Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit, vegetable, and provision. We visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house.

Ashanti people
The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed Ashanti country, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they dress themselves with it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.

Day 11 – Kumasi - Anomabu

Continue our exploration of Kumasi by visiting the Royal Palace Museum, with its unique collection of golden jewellery. Depending on the time of year we may be able to see the Akwasidae festival, a flamboyant ceremony honouring the Ashantehene, the traditional ruler of the Ashanti people. From here we drive to Anomabu on the coast. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Day 12 – Elmina - Accra

We visit the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as holding centre for slaves. We explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. From here we drive back to Accra, where day use rooms are available to freshen up before your flight. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BL)

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