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Togo & Benin: Cultural Explorer

Group Tour

15 Days From £2,995

Overview

Home to a fascinating variety of vibrant cultures, Togo and Benin are lands of quite extraordinary scope and spectacle, being the spiritual home of voodoo and steeped in the tragedy and horror of the tragic trans-atlantic slave trade. Beginning in Lome, Togo’s lively capital, our journey takes us into the heart of some of West Africa’s most culturally diverse regions and geographically varied landscapes.

We’ll explore the tropical forests along the slopes of Mount Klouto and visit the ...
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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

14 x Breakfasts
14 x Lunches
14 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use a minibus, a boat and your own two feet!

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will stay in hotels and guesthouses. Please be aware that accommodation on this trip is not luxurious, but of a good standard and comfortable. Please note that any accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE/HIGH: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-4hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-5 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 5-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Togo & Benin: Cultural Explorer
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN LOME (TOGO)

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN LOME (TOGO)

The tour begins this evening in Togo’s lively capital city, Lome. Overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, the city has been at a crossroads of trade and cultures for centuries, a fact reflected in the character of its people and architecture. After checking into our hotel we’ll take the chance to talk about the exciting trip ahead over our first group dinner.

Hotel Napoleon Lagune or similar
Dinner

DAY 2: LOME - KPALIME

DAY 2: LOME - KPALIME

The only African city to be colonised by the French, the British and the Germans, Lome is home to a fascinating fusion of styles and influences and includes amongst its more intriguing attractions a unique fetish market, which we will visit this morning. Departing the city we drive north-west towards the Ghanaian border and the market town of Kpalime. The land here is rich in coffee, cocoa and cotton and provides us with some of the most fertile panoramas in the country.

Hotel Gess or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: IN & AROUND KPALIME

DAY 3: IN & AROUND KPALIME

The forest around Kpalime is home to a staggering array of butterflies, with some 500 different species to be found amongst the delicate eco-systems around the slopes of Mount Klouto. This morning we’ll join a local entomologist to learn more about the native insects and pristine wilderness, before discovering some of the colonial heritage, art centre and the market in Kpalime later in the afternoon.

Hotel Gess or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: KPALIME - SOKODE

DAY 4: KPALIME - SOKODE

Continuing north this morning we head for the city of Sokode, situated between the waters of the Mo and Mono Rivers. Multi-ethnic and multi-religious, the city lies in the heart of agricultural farmland and provides an opportunity to enjoy the rich diversity of rural life. On arrival we’ll check in to our hotel and after dinner head out to witness a traditional fire dance in a small village close by, a truly hypnotic ritual combining the handling and even swallowing of glowing coals, frenetic drum rhythms and, dare we say it, magic!

Hotel Central or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: SOKODE - DEFALE

DAY 5: SOKODE - DEFALE

This morning we’ll notice the change in the landscapes and visit some of the region around Sokode which is inhabited by the Bassar people. Living in large clay houses with conical roofs, the Bassar are famous for their skilful iron production and the customs that go with it. Here the elder women are the only ones allowed to climb the mountains that surround the villages to collect rocks that contain the iron ore, whilst the men must refrain from sexual activity during the smelting process if they want it to be successful. In the villages we will meet with traditional chiefs and learn about the role of traditional chiefdom today, before continuing to Defale for the evening.

Hotel Defale or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: IN & AROUND DEFALE

DAY 6: IN & AROUND DEFALE

Today we drive off into the mountains of Togo to meet with the Kabye people, whose traditional soukala huts are laid out in large circles and home to patriarchal families. Settled on high plateaus the Kabye women still form clay pots in the time-honoured fashion, whilst the men fashion iron tools with rocks rather than hammers, reminiscent of the early Iron Age. This afternoon we will then make our way to the Sarakawa Wildlife Reserve, once the private reserve of President Gnassingbé. Now open to the public we will have the chance to spot zebras, antelope, buffalo and other wildlife whilst we explore the 50,000ha Savannah.

Hotel Defale or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: DEFALE (TOGO) - ATAKORA (BENIN)

DAY 7: DEFALE (TOGO) - ATAKORA (BENIN)

Today we will cross the border and make for the beautiful Atakora region in the north of Benin, sticking close to the Atakora Mountain range that extends from Ghana through central Togo and north west into Benin. For centuries these mountains have provided a haven for the Tamberma people, who took refuge amongst their inaccessible heights to escape the slave traders from Muslim North Africa. Closely related to the Dogon people of Mali, the Tamberma’s fortified dwellings are considered amongst the most beautiful examples of Africa’s ancient architectural legacy, as we will see for ourselves as we enjoy some traditional Tamberma hospitality today.

Hotel Tata Koubetti or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: IN & AROUND ATAKORA REGION

DAY 8: IN & AROUND ATAKORA REGION

After breakfast we will head out to visit the Betammaribe people, also known as the Somba and close neighbours of the Tamberma. Geographically isolated, the Somba’s traditions have been little affected by the outside world for centuries and their remarkable two and three-storey dwellings bear close resemblance with the fortified structures of the Tamberma. Today we’ll learn more about the initiation rites of these fascinating people, including learning about the delicate and complex geometrical patterns that are scarified on the bellies and backs of the young men and women. We’ll also have the opportunity to speak to some of the young people themselves about their experiences and beliefs.

Hotel Tata Koubetti or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: ATAKORA - DJOUGOU

DAY 9: ATAKORA - DJOUGOU

This morning we’ll venture up on to the Taneka plateau and walk amongst the villages of the Yom, a people who are believed to have settled in the region around the 9th century, when their Kabye ancestors first arrived in the area. The upper part of the village is inhabited by fetish priests and their initiates, dressed in goatskins and carrying long pipes. As we wander around along alleys bordered by a series of smooth stones, we will meet people going about their everyday life, which in itself is considered part of a rite of passage for all. From here we’ll start heading south as we drive to the town of Djougou for the night.

Motel Du Lac or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: DJOUGOU - DASSA

DAY 10: DJOUGOU - DASSA

Today we’ll first head to Dankoli, an important place of voodoo worship and long considered the gateway to the voodoo world. On arrival we’ll learn about fetishes and witness some of the rituals the religion is famed for. Depending on who is around we may get to witness an animal sacrifice so be prepared! Driving further south to the town of Dassa, once the capital of an ancient kingdom, the town can trace its royal ancestors back to the latter years of the 14th century. Today it’s still possible to find evidence of its regal past and the graves of the old kings are said to still be protected by voodoo magic. Later today we will get to experience a traditional voodoo Egun mask dance, which starts off with a kind of bull fight designed to create fear and respect amongst the crowd. Be warned that though the Egun may look colourful, the locals believe them to be the dead themselves so people tend to keep well back as the performers emerge from the forest and form a procession through the village streets. Remember you don’t want the Egun to touch you because if he does, there is danger of death, so watch out!

Hotel Jeko or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: DASSA - KETOU

DAY 11: DASSA - KETOU

Dassa is the seat of an old kingdom founded by Olofin in 1385, and this morning we'll take a quick tour of the town to see what sites remain from this dynasty. We'll then walk though the hills around Dassa to a scared place where kings are buried and still protected today by several voodoos. Next we will visit the Royal Palace of Abomey, a monument to the ancient Dahomey kings. Inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, it is a rich repository of weaponry, statues and bas-reliefs that tell of a kingdom in a perpetual state of war. We will then head to our overnight accommodation in Ketou.

Hotel Residence Celine or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: IN & AROUND KETOU

DAY 12: IN & AROUND KETOU

This morning we will get the chance to meet with Benin royalty, Oba (King) Adedu Loye and his dignitaries. Ketou is the capital of the ancient and prestigious Yoruba Kingdom that "rules" on the border region of Benin and Nigeria. After completing the mandatory protocols we will be introduced to the King and will be able to ask his majesty about the history of Ketou. Next we will learn about and witness the Gelede celebrations, a tradition of the Fon and Yoruba people of Southern Benin. Gelede is dedicated to Mother Earth and celebrated by the whole community to promote the fertility of both the people and the soil. Each Gelede mask represents a different character with only the initiates knowing the true nature and secrets of the symbolic characters. The masks are brightly painted and they move like puppets as they relate myths and moral stories using mime in a fascinating mix of theatre.

Hotel Residence Celine or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: KETOU - GANVIE

DAY 13: KETOU - GANVIE

Today we will drive to Allada, known locally as the 'town of a thousand fetishes', where we will attend a local voodoo festival to prepare us for the upcoming Ouidah Festival. Although a much smaller affair, Allada opens the festivities of the voodoo holiday with much oomph and is attended by key voodoo leaders from Oudiah. Heading further south we’ll continue to the stilted village of Ganvie on Lake Nokoue, the largest of its kind in Africa. We’ll visit the thatched houses of the Tofinou people, whose traditions and lives still revolve around the lake, on which we’ll witness an abundance of pirogues that men, women and children guide with ease using brightly coloured poles. It is with these pirogues that men fish, women deliver goods to the market and children go to school and play.

Hotel Chez M or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: GANVIE - OUIDAH (VOODOO FESTIVAL) - GRAND POPO

DAY 14: GANVIE - OUIDAH (VOODOO FESTIVAL) - GRAND POPO

This morning we make for the coast and the town of Ouidah, long considered the spiritual home of Voodoo. Once one of the largest trading posts along the infamous Trans-Atlantic slave routes, its crumbling Afro-Portuguese architecture still seems to harbour the ghosts of those who suffered such horrors from the barbaric trade. In Ouidah we’ll visit the small Python Temple and follow part of the old slave trail known as ‘La Route des Esclaves’, before witnessing the town’s unique annual voodoo celebration that culminates at ‘The Door of No Return’ on the beach. It’s a truly remarkable event as people dress up in traditional outfits and take part in lively dances, and is sure to be a real highlight of the tour. Later in the day we’ll drive further west along the coast to Grand Popo on the shores of the Gulf of Benin, located on a beautiful stretch of golden sand Atlantic coastline. Be aware that the ocean currents here are notoriously dangerous so please pay attention to what your Tour Leader and the local people say about swimming here!

Hotel Awale Plage or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: GRAND POPO (BENIN) - LOME (TOGO)

DAY 15: GRAND POPO (BENIN) - LOME (TOGO)

After breakfast we’ll enjoy a relaxing morning on the beach at Grand Popo, and then drive back across the border into Togo and along the main coastal highway to Lome airport, in good time for the suggested group flight this evening.

Breakfast, Lunch

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Events

Ouidah Voodoo Festival

Ouidah Voodoo Festival is always a special day for people as they celebrate their ancestral heritage and traditions. The Voodoo adepts meet in Ouidah and convey in a long procession to the ‘Door of No Return’ on foot, motorbike or ‘taxi-brousse’. Festival participants dress up in traditional and elaborate costumes, with white being the dominant colour. The festival is made up of dances, libations, masks and speeches, with the festival reaching its peak as the Dagbo Houno arrives, the chief ‘feticheur’. It’s sure to be a real highlight of the tour!

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
AF 1081 London Heathrow (LHR) 06:25 Chapada dos Guimaraes (CDG) 08:45
AF 0306 Chapada dos Guimaraes (CDG) 10:30 LOME APT Airport (LFW) 17:45
AF 0039 LOME APT Airport (LFW) 20:00 Chapada dos Guimaraes (CDG) 05:30
AF 1680 Chapada dos Guimaraes (CDG) 07:20 London Heathrow (LHR) 07:45

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require visas in advance for both Togo (double entry) and Benin (single entry). For Benin you will need to apply for an E Visa.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements. 

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

December-January is a good time to travel in Togo and Benin as these months fall within the dry season. Average daytime temperatures will vary from as low as 25C up to around 35C, and it will feel humid at times. It may be a little cooler in the northern halves of Togo & Benin. Rainfall is unlikely, though the odd short downpour can happen on occasions so be prepared!

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. However please note that although this trip is not necessarily physically demanding by way of exertion, this is not a particularly touristy part of the African continent so facilities and infrastructure will at times be relatively basic.

As you can appreciate there are not a huge number of trained ‘guides’ in Togo and Benin, so please do not always expect the same standard of service you will find in some other African countries.

Though vegetarians can be catered for, the variety of food will be limited at times. Clients with specific dietary requirements might struggle at times on this tour so this should be discussed with the office before booking. Please be aware that if you suffer from any kind of nut allergy you must discuss this with the office before booking this tour as nuts are used so extensively in food throughout the West Africa region.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.
On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £500 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6252 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

WF SIGNATURE VIDEO

In this short film Wild Frontiers founder and MD explains the ethos behind the award-winning travel company.

REVIEWS OF THIS TRIP