Benin: Lake cities. voodoo and tattoed tribes

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Trip Duration Days - 17 Days

Benin: Lake cities. voodoo and tattoed tribes

Price Starts from € 2850

Very complete route through one of the most fascinating destinations in West Africa. The key is that the guide is Spanish but born in Benin, this cultural mix allows him to have access to the most isolated villages and to all the ceremonies and to be able to explain what we are experiencing. The trip is done in a comfortable minibus and we stay in nice hotels and also spend a couple of nights in tents so that we can experience the tribal world up close. The route runs through the south, center and north of the country to see various ethnic groups and landscapes.
Date: 1 April 2021 - 17 April 2021

Duration: 17 days - 15 nights

Guide: Stanis Davakan, Beninese and Spanish by adoption graduated in African history and professional guide in cultural tourism in West Africa since 2008. Discovering Benin with Stanis is a real luxury.

Individual supplement: 190€

The price includes:
-
International flights
- All transfers
- Spanish speaking guide specialized in Beninese culture
- Minibus with a / c
- Accommodation in hotels and tents
- Camping equipment (clients must bring a sleeping bag)
- Meal regime according to itinerary. BB = Accommodation with Breakfast, HB = Half Board, FB = Full Board
- Mineral water
- Basic travel insurance

Price does not include:
- Meals and drinks not included
- Visa
- Tips
- Cancellation insurance
DAY 1: EUROPE - COTONOU
International flight to Benin. Arrival in Cotonou ... The guide will wait for you at the airport and take you to the hotel. Accommodation at the Hotel du Lac. BB

DAY 2: COTONOU - SOTCHANKOUE - GANVIE - COTONOU (1h)
Peaceful breakfast. Talk with the guide about the activities of the day. Cotonou is a port city with vestiges of the communist era that have marked the appearance of the economic capital of Benin. To perceive the essence of the city, we will enter the Dantokpa market, one of the largest in the Gulf of Guinea. We will visit the fetish stops and to give a first introduction to the voodoo world. From the market we will take a canoe to Sotchankue, a lake city governed by an animist priest in charge of the protective fetishes of the town. After chatting with voodoo fans we will continue to Ganvié, the famous "African Venice." A lake town founded by a large concentration of fishing families of the Tofí ethnic group who took refuge in Lake Nokoué in the 18th century, fleeing from slavery. At the moment they have formed water ‘streets’ where people do all their activities. After the visit we will return to Cotonou to spend the night. Accommodation at Hotel. BB

DAY 3: COTONOU
Discovery day of your geomantic sign Ifa (primitive divination that is made using lines, circles or points drawn on the earth). We will go to meet the priests who will accompany us throughout the consultation. After consulting the oracle several times and making the appropriate sacrifices (that according to the inner desire of each one), the personal geomantic sign that will guide you throughout your life will be revealed. Accommodation at Hotel. BB

DAY 4: COTONOU - PORTO NOVO (1h)
Breakfast and route to Porto Novo, the political capital of Benin and a fabulous city to get lost in for a few hours as history is everywhere. Morning walk through the Afro-Brazilian neighborhood of Porto Novo. Visit some houses of the descendants of the Portuguese merchants who discovered the Gulf of Guinea in the 15th century. This city is an incredible fusion between the Yoruba culture, native to the region, with the Portuguese heritage and the English and French colonial influences of the S-XIX. Walking tour through its narrow streets. Accommodation at Hotel Songhay. BB

DAY 5 PORTO NOVO - ONIGBOLO (2h)
After breakfast we will continue to the Holi territory, an ethnic group that stands out for being animists and because women of a certain age wear complex body tattoos. It is also worth highlighting its beautiful bamboo architecture. 3-hour excursion through the fields and sacred forests of this animist town. We will spend the night in a traditional town where we can learn about some unknown aspects of tourism. Night in tents. FB

DAY 6: ONIGBOLO - KETOU - COVE (2h)
Breakfast with our hosts. I walk back to the road. Visit a local market, which in this area are very authentic and with many scarified people. After the visit we will continue to Cove. Lunch stop in Ketou, Yoruba Kingdom. Visit of the old palace with carved columns and tour of the center. The city is one of the oldest in Benin. Night at Hotel TG. HB (picnic lunch)

DAY 7: COVE - MONTES AGONLIN - POBLADOS FULANI - COVE (soft trekking - 2h)
Breakfast and excursion to the Agonlin hills to learn about the way of life of the two ethnic groups that populate this unknown region of Benin. The Fon Agonlín - animist farmers - and the Fula, Islamized nomads. We will walk through the mountains (soft walk) through traditional villages, chatting with its inhabitants. One of the objectives is to visit one of the nomadic camps of the Fula and learn about their way of life marked by cattle, transhumance and the cult of beauty of both men and women: hairstyles, hats, tattoos ... a fascinating people! Late return to Cove for the night. Night at Hotel TG. HB (picnic lunch)

DAY 8: COVE - DASSA - BASSILA - DJOUGOU (8h)
Breakfast and early departure to continue to the Islamic north of the country. Brief stop in Dassa, ancient Nagó kingdom (Yoruba sub-group) and visit one of the animistic temples of the rocky mountains that mark the silhouette of this city. To get to Dassa we will cross the unexplored hills of Agonlin. We will continue to the sacred Dankoli fetish, a voodoo pilgrimage place and we will reach the Sultanate of Djougou after crossing Bassila and its Sudanese forests. Night in the Taneka Koko hostel (rural area). HB (dinner included)

DAY 9: DJOUGOU - TANEKA - NATITINGOU - BOUKOUMBE (2h)

Breakfast and route to Taneka Coco for a beautiful excursion (1 hour on foot, slight slope) to the Taneka hill from where you can see the entire Beninese Sahel plain and where we can visit some very interesting adobe and stone villages. After the excursion we will continue to the Sierra de Atakora, the highest point in Benin where the landscape changes radically and becomes more mountainous with small valleys inhabited by various animist ethnic groups, of which the Ditamarí or Somba stand out, known as adobe artisans. Its famous 2-story houses called ‘tata’ are unique in Africa and are worth visiting in peace. The Ditamarí mark their face and body with fine scarifications. Accommodation at Hostal Tata. BB

DAY 10: BOUKOUMBE - NATITINGOU (1h)
Breakfast at the hostel and day to walk the rural roads of the valley. Stops at the ‘tatas’ and chat with the inhabitants. It is essential to have a local guide since this town is of warrior customs and not very given to socialization. With someone who will act as a bridge, we can enter their world and enjoy one of the most beautiful environments in West Africa. After the walks we will return to the regional capital to spend the night. Accommodation at Hotel Bourgogne or similar. BB

DAY 11: NATITINGOU - KINGDOM OF KOUANDE (2h)
Breakfast and route to the isolated kingdom of Kouandé, ruled by an old Muslim monarch and his court. This small city seems stagnant in time since the road that leads to it is in poor condition and is not a main route of communication as in times past. After greeting her Majesty and touring the center, we will enter the nearby forest to meet the Borgu people, little known to the outside world and characterized by their facial tattoos, hairstyles and beaded headdresses. We will greet the Borgu chief and spend the night in his village. Accommodation in a tent. HB (dinner)

DAY 12 DJOUGOU - ABOMEY (8h)
Breakfast at 7am and day long journey to the royal capital of Benin, the historic Abomey, where the only World Heritage monument, the royal palace and museums of Abomey are located. Arrival in the afternoon and installation at the hotel. Night market tour and dinner. Overnight at Hotel Auberge d’Abomey. BB

DAY 13: ABOMEY - LOKOSSA - BOPA (3h)
Breakfast and morning visit to downtown Abomey. Optional visit of the museum (pieces of art and something about the history of the country). After the visit, we will move to the area of ??Lake Ahemé, a point of sacred water for the Mina and Pedah peoples (ethnic groups from the south-west of Benin). Our goal is the fishing village of Bopa where an old man specializes in traditional medicine lives and who is the guardian of the god Shango (god of thunder). In the animist neighborhood where the ‘temple’ is located, rituals and dances are usually organized to invoke the ancestors and thank them for good harvests, fishing or the absence of serious problems in the community. Night at the Chez Theo Hotel. BB

DAY 14: BOPA - GRAND POPO (1h)
Rest day on the beach of this seaside resort. It is very likely to be able to attend a ‘zangbeto’ ceremony where the ‘spirits’ dance to the rhythm of the drums. Night at the Grand Popo Hotel. BB

DAY 15 GRAND POPO - OUIDAH (1h)
Breakfast at the hotel. We will continue to Ouidah (former center of ‘export’ of black people to Brazil and Cuba). Ouidah is a city with a lot of history and flavor. There are places for African American tourists who come looking for their 'roots' such as the sacred forest, the house of the voodoo pope and the temple of the pythons (they are authentic but you have to pay to enter) but if we get lost in the streets of the Brasil neighborhood we will experience a very authentic environment. The path of the slaves from the black sales plaza to the coast is interesting because of its symbolism, although there is not much to see. Night at the Diaspora Hotel or similar. BB

DAY 16: OUIDAH - COTONOU - EUROPE
Breakfast and route to Cotonou. It is worth going to Cotonou along the route parallel to the sea, passing through fishing communities. In Cotonou we can make the last purchases in the artisan market. International flight. BB

DAY 17: ARRIVAL HOME

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