West Africa: People, Past & Present - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2020)

Be swept up in the colour and movement of local festivals, the healing magic of voodoo, tribal drumming and trance-dances on this enchanting journey to a surprising and still largely untraveled part of Africa that will leave you truly amazed.

Journey Overview

A fascinating cultural odyssey to the vibrant West African nations of Ghana, Togo and Benin, home to some of the world’s most welcoming people. Explore bustling colonial cities, palm-fringed beaches and tiny fishing villages. Visit vast forts and castles built on the back of the gold and slave trades by European colonists: Portuguese, Dutch, German, French and British. Immerse yourself in the long history of ancient African kingdoms and cultures that predate colonisation by centuries, and experience the vital rituals and traditions that still survive and shape life today. Be swept up in the colour and movement of local festivals, the healing magic of voodoo, tribal drumming and trance-dances on this enchanting journey to a surprising and still largely untravelled part of Africa that will leave you truly amazed.

Journey Highlights

  • Witness the splendid Akwasidae Festival in Kumasi
  • Attend a voodoo ceremony in Togo and meet a traditional ‘witch doctor’
  • Understand the stories of Ghana’s tragic past when you visit the Slave Castle at Elmina
  • Celebrate a life at a traditional Ashanti funeral
  • Take a private boat excursion to the famous stilt fishing village in Ganvie
  • Visit remote coastal and inland villages where ancient fishing and farming traditions are still observed
  • Tour UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites including the Royal Palaces of Abomey
  • Meet local African artisans especially revered for their sculptures, carvings and whimsical coffin
Itinerary

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Accra, Ghana

On arrival into the Ghanaian capital, you are met and transferred privately to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure before a tour briefing and welcome dinner.
Labadi Beach Accra (Deluxe Room) | Meals: BL

Day 2: Accra | Cosmopolitan Coastal Capital

Spend the day touring Accra. Start off in Jamestown, the city’s old quarter, which began as a community that developed around the 17th century British James Fort and gradually merged with Accra as the city grew. Today, Jamestown is one of the poorer neighbourhoods but is wonderfully vibrant and full of beautifully dishevelled colonial buildings, clapboard houses and corrugated iron shacks. For a great view of the city and the colourful fishing harbour, climb to the top of the old lighthouse. 

Continue to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and memorial park dedicated to Ghana’s first President who liberated the country from colonial rule in 1957. The complex, established in 1992 on the former British polo grounds, houses the bodies of Kwame Nkrumah and his wife Fathia. 

Next, is a unique visit to a fantasy coffin building workshop. Admire the collection of special handcrafted coffins which reflect a variety of shapes from fruit and animals to fish, cars and planes. These flamboyant coffins are now collected worldwide and exhibited in museums.

This afternoon, enjoy one of these Design Your Day activities.

  • Art enthusiasts may choose an immersion in Accra’s vibrant art scene visiting galleries including the Africa Artist Alliance gallery which is run by Ablade Glover, the grandfather of Ghanaian art, and showcases artworks, sculptures and carvings from established and emerging African artists.
  • Garden lovers will be fascinated by a visit to the 65-hectare Aburi Botanical Gardens on the lower slopes of the Akwapim ranges. Created by the British in the image of London’s Kew Gardens, Aburi is a botanist’s paradise with its extraordinary collection of rare plant species and memorial trees.
  • Or for something entirely different, discover why Accra has produced so many world champion boxers when you head into Bukom, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Jamestown. Step inside some of the many boxing gyms and understand how the sport has become entrenched in the local culture. Hear about home grown superstars like Ike "Bazooka" Quartey, David Kotei (a.k.a. DK Poison), Azumah “the Professor" Nelson and Joshua Clottey and how boxing motivates the young to escape the cycle of poverty.

Labadi Beach Accra (Deluxe Room) | Meals: BL

Day 3: Accra – Lomé, Togo | Pearl of West Africa

After breakfast, drive into Togo and on to Lomé, the vibrant capital of Togo. Lomé is the only African city which was a colony of the Germans, the British and the French and has developed a unique identity reflected in the lifestyle of its inhabitants and in the architecture of the town. Arrive at the hotel in time for lunch with the rest of the day at leisure.
Hotel 2 Fevrier Lomé (Standard Room) | Meals: BL

Day 4: Lomé | Art, Textiles & Markets

Your day in Lomé starts at the central market where the famous “Nana Benz” women control the sale of the expensive colourful wax printed fabrics made world famous by the women of Togo. Continue to the administrative quarter with its colonial buildings and then the voodoo market where an eclectic assortment of all the necessary ingredients used by traditional healers for magic charms is on offer. Later today meet a local artist in their workshop. The modern Togolese school of artists has become renowned with exhibitions of their work in Europe over many decades.
Hotel 2 Fevrier Lomé (Standard Room) | Meals: BL

Day 5: Lomé – Ouidah, Benin | Voodoo Traditions

Depart Lomé and head to a remote village to visit a voodoo priest, commonly known as a witch doctor, to get a deep understanding of the voodoo culture and healing powers of its spirits. Then join in a voodoo ceremony: the frenetic rhythm of the drums and the chants of the mediums helps call in the voodoo spirit which takes possession of some of the dancers who fall into a deep trance. Afterwards cross the Benin border and board a boat for the journey to the coastal town of Ouidah. Stop along the way at remote fishing villages to see how the locals live, and learn about their traditional farming and fishing techniques. Dine tonight in the resort’s French restaurant.
La Casa del Papa Resort & Spa (Sea View Cottage) | Meals: BLD

Day 6: Ouidah – Ganvie – Abomey – Ouidah | Stilt Village & Mask Festival

Drive to Lake Nokwe and on by motor boat to Africa’s largest stilted village, Ganvie, situated in the middle of the lake. After lunch continue to Abomey and visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Palace. Now a museum, it displays items belonging to the ancient kings: thrones, cult altars, statues, costumes and weapons. The kingdom’s main economy was for a long time based on the slave trade. A walk around the site helps the visitor recall the court’s past splendours. Return to Ouidah stopping en route to attend an Egun dancing masks festival. Egun masks represent the spirits of the deceased and according to the local population they “are” the deceased. The men wearing the masks representing Egun are initiates of the cult. Dressed in brightly-coloured clothing they emerge from the forest and form a procession through the village streets performing a kind of bull fight.
La Casa del Papa Resort & Spa (Sea View Cottage) | Meals: BLD

Day 7: Ouidah | Built on the Slave Trade

A day spent in Ouidah, one of the main slave ports in the 18th century. Visit the python temple and learn of its importance to voodoo culture. Stop by the Catholic Cathedral and continue on foot to the Ouidah Museum displaying a collection of local contemporary art. After lunch visit the Portuguese Fort, now a museum on the history of Ouidah and the slave trade and continue to the nearby slave market where thousands of slaves were paraded and sold to the highest bidder. The city tour ends by following the “slave road” to the beach, the point of “no return” where slaves were loaded on ships.
La Casa del Papa Resort & Spa (Sea View Cottage) | Meals: BLD

Day 8: Ouidah – Kpalimé, Togo | Village Life up Close

Most of the day is spent on the road travelling to the Togo border and beyond into the rainforest region that surrounds Kpalimé, a town with a rich colonial past, now an important trade centre. Along the way, stop at local villages where harvested goods are prepared for sale, beer is brewed and served in village “bars” and where you may visit a village school. Arrive into Kpalimé this evening.
Parc Residence Hotel (Standard Room) | Meals: BLD

Day 9: Kpalimé | Coffee & Cocoa Plantations

Hidden deep amidst lush coffee and cocoa plantations, this region boasts some of Togo's most impressive scenery and is a paradise for hikers. Take a morning walk in the nearby forest with an entomologist, who reveals many endemic butterflies and insects, and gain an understanding of how plants are used in local art and medicinal remedies. After lunch, enjoy time at leisure or visit Kpalimé with its colonial buildings, bustling market place and local arts centre.
Parc Residence Hotel (Standard Room) | Meals: BLD

Day 10: Kpalimé – Akossombo, Ghana | Sacred Monkeys

This morning head to the Ghana border crossing and on to the Monkey Sanctuary of Tafi Atome which was created in 1993 to protect a community of sacred monkeys living in the forest. Take a leisurely walk led by a local guide to see the resident mona and colobus monkeys. Arrive into Akossombo late this afternoon and check into your lovely resort overlooking the Volta River. The evening is at leisure.
The Royal Senchi Resort (River View Room) | Meals: BL

Day 11: Akossombo | Volta River

The town of Akossombo was built in the early 1960s to house construction workers involved in the completion of the hydroelectric project which dammed part of the Volta River Basin and. The dam was the largest in the world until the construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam. Today is yours to spend at leisure enjoying the resort facilities. This afternoon there is an optional visit to a bead factory where traditional techniques are still used to create brightly coloured beads from ground down scrap glass.
The Royal Senchi Resort (River View Room) | Meals: B

Day 12: Akossombo – Kumasi | Ashanti Community & Culture

A five hour drive today to Kumasi, the historical and spiritual capital of the old Ashanti Kingdom. The Ashanti were one of the most powerful people in Africa until the end of the 19th century. Visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre where a rich collection of artefacts is housed in a wonderful reproduction Ashanti house.

Later on, attend a traditional Ashanti funeral which is a festive and powerful community occasion where mourners wear beautiful red or black togas – a fascinating sacred experience. Mourning the deceased is the Ashanti way of respecting the place held by the departed in the family lineage.
Golden Tulip Kumasi City (Superior Room) | Meals: BLD

Day 13: Kumasi | Royal Akwasidae Festival

This morning visit the Royal Palace Museum before attending the splendid Akwasidae Festival. This traditional ceremony maintains ancient Ashanti rituals with a procession of royal court attendants bringing gifts to the King, storytellers reciting ancient tales, dancers and drummers performing and trumpeters playing horns of ivory. This afternoon visit the sprawling central market, one of the biggest in Africa. Every type of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, Kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable.
Golden Tulip Kumasi City (Superior Room) | Meals: BLD

Day 14: Kumasi – Elmina | Colonial Relics

This morning drive four hours to Elmina located on the south coast of Ghana. Ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, Elmina has a rich history. Arrive at your seaside resort in the afternoon with time to relax before enjoying sundowners and dinner.
Coconut Grove Beach Resort (Cottage) | Meals: BLD

Day 15: Elmina | Portuguese Castle & Coastal Shrines

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage listed Elmina Castle, the oldest European building in Africa, erected by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the 19th century Dutch cemetery. Outside the castle is the local fishing village, where large colourful canoes are guided by skilled fishermen through strong ocean waves and currents to earn their living. In the old town, see the important Posuban shrines of the old Asafo companies and stroll through the alleyways of the old town with its lively atmosphere reminiscent of colonial times. After lunch, return to Elmina with some free time before a special farewell dinner and gospel choir performance.
Coconut Grove Beach Resort (Cottage) | Meals: BLD

Day 16: Elmina - Depart Accra

Early this morning, you will travel back to Accra. Stop to have lunch en route before arriving at the airport for your departure flight.
Meals: BL

Journey Details

Maximum Group Size: 18
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tour Inclusions  
All accommodation as detailed on a double/ twin share basis with private facilities; meals as specified; bottled water during transfers and touring; airport welcome; assistance with luggage and group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle; services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director; Togo visa; economy flights only if specified as included in itinerary, all entrance fees, planning, handling, operational and communication charges, all tipping.

Tour Exclusions  
International flights not specified as included, visas (unless specified), insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip; items of a purely personal nature such as drinks, laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax or phone charges; transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary; excess baggage charges.

Please Note 
West Africa are still developing their tourist infrastructure. In some locations hotels may not meet normal A&K standards, however they are comfortable and well located. Please do note that at all times, A&K endeavours to use the best accommodation available.

Tailor Made Travel with A&K
If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, talk to your A&K travel specialist or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke journey for your, or a small group.

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Accommodation

Accommodation

Hotel 2 Fevrier

West Africa: People, Past & Present - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2020)

Located in the heart of Lomé, Hotel 2 Fevrier is widely considered the most luxurious hotel in West Africa with accommodation in a select ... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Nov 17, 2020 - Dec 2, 2020
Price AU$12,975pp Single Supplement AU$2,880 Internal Air (From) AU$0 Availability Limited Availability Enquire