Benin, Cradle of Voodoo

Duration

11 Days

Physical rate

Moderate

Starting city

Cotonou

Available

January 2021 / December 2021

Cities to visit: Cotonou, Ganvié, Portonovo, Onigbolo, Covè, Dassa Zoume, Savalou, Abomey, Bopa, Possotomè, Grand Popo, Ouidah,

Detailed day by day description

Day
Welcome to Benin!
Upon arrival at Cotonou´s airport, we will be received by our representative who will take us to our accommodation. We will have the rest of the weekend free to rest from the trip or to go for a walk over the city.
Benin is a small country located in the heart of Africa, in the middle of Gulf of Guinea. It´s story is one of the most interesting of the continent, a characteristic that can be felt all over the city, markets, and roads. Benin is a paradise of the voodoo, the scarified faces, the unknown ethnic groups, wild landscapes and, above all, the personified kindness of their people. A journey to the heart of Africa.
Today we´ll visit Dantokpa, the central market of Cotonou, considered the largest in Western Africa. This market congregates every ethnic group of the country, and it is a place where we can find absolutely everything. An interesting point is the fetish zone, one of the most impressive parts of the market.
We will also discover some inherited monuments from communist times as Benin was a Marxist state for more than a decade.
From Cotonou we will travel to the north, where we´ll take a motorized kayak to Ganvié, the famous African Venice. The town of Ganvié, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is a lake city of 60,000 inhabitants, founded in the 16th century as a refuge for the Tofí ethnic group who, in this way, avoided being enslaved. We will live a fascinating experience touring the canals and seeing the daily life of its inhabitants.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will travel for an hour along the busy road that links the big cities of the Gulf of Guinea: Abidjan - Accra- Lomé - Cotonou - Lagos.
We will arrive at Porto-Novo, political capital of Benin and historic city founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century. The old town is full of buildings of different eras that, despite its poor condition and conservation, it can provide us relevant information about the history of the city.
We´ll visit the colonial neighborhood and the central market, where the pure Afro-Brazilian Mosque style stands out. The dominant ethnic group is the Yoruba and the deities of the voodoo-orixa pantheon are worshiped.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will go north to visit the town of Onigbolo, where one of the most fascinating ethnic groups in Benin is found. We will talk about the Holi, also called Ije, animist people that have maintained, to these days, the tradition of tattooing and body scarification.
We will enjoy a walking excursion through the cultivated fields and small sacred forests to discover the Holi villages and their inhabitants, not used to the presence of Western travelers.
Our guide will help us to communicate with the head of each clan and we will be able to enjoy a world of ancient tradition that, in this part of Africa, has been preserved from Western influences.
We will resume the route to Cove, but first, we´ll do a short stop to visit Ketou, a Beninese commune and one of the first Yoruba cities of Benin.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will start the day on the way to Gbanamé, town from where we will make an excursion to the Agonli hills to learn about the life of the two ethnic groups that live in this unknown region of Benin: the Fon Angoli, animist farmers; and the Fulani, nomadic people by excellence of Africa.
The Fon Angoli, also called Dahomey, is the principal ethnic group in the country. In the XVII century it was one of the most powerful kingdoms and actively participated in the slave trade. Despite the external influences, they maintained one part of their religion and tradition (voodoo) intact.
The Fulani or Mbororo, on the other hand, despite the Islam influence, continue with a deeply rooted tradition where men and women keep facial tattoos.
We will walk through the mountain (soft hiking) passing through traditional Fon Angoli villages and sharing moments 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, both for men and women: hairstyles, hats, tattoos... a fascinating town!
Meals included: Breakfast
We will travel to Dassa, a big rocks zone. We´ll stop in the town of Panouignan, a farmer’s place where women dedicate to the production of gari and tapioca, all derived from cassava.
Later, we will follow to the city of 41 hills, where each granite hill houses a voodoo temple which is accessed for funerals of kings and princes, rituals, and ceremonies. This area is the heart of the Yoruba country, where many orixa-traditions are still preserved.
Meals included: Breakfast
Today we will go to Savalou, one of the most important places of animist pilgrimage of the country. We´ll visit their royal palace and, if we are lucky, we will have a meeting with the monarch.
Near the royal palace, we will see the representation of some of the voodoo deities and, in every corner of the city, we´ll see small temples with the familiar fetishes.
Later, we will take the route, between crops, towards the south of the country and continue to Abomey, for sure the most important city in Africa during the 16th and 17th centuries.
The sovereigns of Abomey became exorbitantly rich thanks to the slave trade. Abomey is also the city that gave the country its name (called Dahomey until the communist era). Later, the country adopted the name of the People's Republic of Benin in homage to a nearby kingdom (Nigeria) of the same name.
We will visit the royal palaces and the museum of art and history declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This city breathes history and royalty everywhere, as well as the tradition of the different guilds. We will walk through its streets and visit its night market.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will head towards Bopa, traditional fishing town. We will visit one of the most known priests and the guardian of the divinity of the storm, called “Hevioso”. We will be able to know his temple and his powerful fetish, an incredibly interesting visit. If we are lucky, we can attend to a ritual in the enclosure.
Then, we will go on to Possotomé, a city near Bopa, also of fishermen, by the lake Ahemé, where we will stay at a charming hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast
We will leave to the coast making a stop in the town of Sé, known for the work of women in making ceramics. We will visit some of the families that work in the production of these materials and see their pottery techniques.
Already on our way to the south will also make a stop in the town of Come and its market, made up, mostly, by Togolese inhabitants who settled in the area for more than 20 years ago.
We will arrive to Grand Popo, a colonial and fishing village where we will visit some colonial houses and, in the afternoon, we will be able to relax on the beach and in the hotel pool.
Meals included: Breakfast
From Grand Popo we´ll go to Ouidah, that was the principal commercial and pro-slavery port in Black Africa since the 14th century until mid-19th century. Candidate for Heritage by UNESCO for its Portuguese fortress, a detachment of Portuguese until 1961, the way of slaves, the Afro-Brazilian houses, the sacred forest of the voodoo deities and the temple of the pythons.
In addition, Ouidah is one of the spiritual centers of the voodoo. Every January 10, since 1993, the great festival of animist beliefs is celebrated here, where spirits and animal elements play a unique role and act in connection between the individual and the dead.
An intense visit that will take us into the reality of slave trade.

Meals included: Breakfast
Today we will return to Cotonou passing through the fishermen's route. We will have time to make the last visits and purchases in the artisan market.
At the indicated time, we will be taken to the Cotonou airport to take the international flight to the next destination.
Meals included: Breakfast

Map Tour

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From: From USD 3,366