Wander Across Benin and Togo

May. 11 — May. 25, 2023
15 days
3/12 spots booked
BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: To reserve your spot on a tour, a $500 deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be 100% refundable for 30 days (or until 90 days before the tour starts, whichever comes first).
Wander across two off-the-beaten-path countries in West Africa on this incredible small group tour through Benin and Togo!
Enjoy the unique and vibrant cultures of West Africa through genuine local interactions
Learn about the ancient practice of voodoo and visit local fetish markets
Take a boat ride to the stilted lake village of Ganvie known as the "Venice of Africa"
Experience the beauty and wonder of West Africa's natural landscapes exploring national parks and UNESCO World Heritage sites
Visit remote tribal villages and engage with locals to learn about traditional life in some of Africa's oldest tribes
Petra
Travel back in time at some of West Africa's most historically significant castles and forts
Taste all the excellent local dishes, many of which will be prepared by our local hosts
Observe traditional rituals, ceremonies and celebrations unlike anything you've ever seen

Prepare yourself for a one-of-a-kind trip to this brilliant and exhilarating region of West Africa! We’re going to experience this area through the cultures and people who live here, with fascinating visits to the villages of a variety of ethnic groups. We’ll meet and interact with the Fulani, the Holi, the Taneka, the Kotokali and more as we learn first-hand about their traditions, rituals and way of life.

We’ll also learn first hand about the practice of voodoo by exploring local fetish markets and observing traditional voodoo ceremonies in villages where voodoo is practiced.

Every day of this trip will be incredibly rewarding and you won’t want to miss a moment as we encounter vibrant cities, stunning national parks, excellent local cuisine, endless UNESCO World Heritage sites and warm West African hospitality at every turn!

This tour is focused on providing a genuine, off-the-beaten-path experience by relying on our local contacts and friends who can help us offer something truly unique. We can’t wait for you to join us!

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  • 1
    Day 1Cotonou [Benin]
    Cotonou [Benin]
    Arrival Day
    Included: Dinner
    Upon arrival at the airport, our private driver will be waiting to take you to our centrally-located hotel. You'll then have the rest of the day to relax before we have an orientation meeting and a group welcome dinner in the evening.
  • 2
    Day 2Cotonou » Ganvie » Cotonou
    Cotonou » Ganvie » Cotonou
    Highlights: Dantokpa fetish market, village of Ganvie
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    We start our first full day of the trip by visiting the Dantokpa market in order to gain a true feel of the essence of West Africa. This is the largest market in the Gulf of Guinea and among its vast maze of lanes is everything from spices, traditional crafts and the fascinating market of fetishes. Our tour will also take us to the floating village of Ganvie, situated in nearby Lake Nokoué. With a current population of 20,000 people, this village was founded in the 16th century by the Tofy ethnic group who were hiding from their persecutors. After lunch, we'll visit the local mosques, churches and the local beach to get a complete understanding of life in Benin's largest city.
  • 3
    Day 3Cotonou » the Holi » Porto Novo
    Cotonou » the Holi » Porto Novo
    Highlights: Tour of Porto Novo, Adiarra craftsmen, with to the Holi ethnic group
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Today will include a wide variety of activities as we learn about a range of cultures. Our first stop is Porto Novo, the administrative capital of Benin. With its magnificent architectural wealth - churches, mosques, voodoo temples, French colonial buildings and Afro-Brazilian architecture - it was mostly built by slave-owning descendants who returned from Brazil to the country of their ancestors. We will explore this city on food and also learn about the incredible fusion between the Yoruba culture and Portuguese heritage. After lunch, we'll head to Adjarra, the center of artisan production of percussion instruments where we'll learn how these drums play an important role in every day life. Then, we'll head north to see the Holi, an animist people who stand out because women of a certain age wear complex body tattoos. The beautiful bamboo architecture of these people is also fascinating, as is the intentional facial scarrings of the people.
  • 4
    Day 4Proto Novo » the Fulani » Dassa
    Proto Novo » the Fulani » Dassa
    Highlights: Visit with the Fulani nomadic tribe
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Driving west, today will involve interacting with another interesting ethnic group, the Fulani, one of the last nomadic peoples in Africa. We will spend time in their villages, learning about their unique way of subsisting, their architecture (unlike other groups, their homes are not made of mud) and their facial decorations. Given their traditions, they tend to b a fairly closed ethnic group but we'll have a great opportunity to visit and learn about their beautiful culture.
  • 5
    Day 5Dassa » Abomey » Dassa
    Dassa » Abomey » Dassa
    Highlights: Tour of the old capital of Dahomey, travel to the Dassa region
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Today we'll visit the original capital of Benin, the old Dahomey, which gave its name to the country during French rule. This is the location of the royal palace and several museums of world heritage that are designated under UNESCO. As we tour Dahomey, we'll learn about the region, once home to the kingdom of Danxome, a powerful empire that dominated the Gulf of Guinea and destroyed many enemy tribes. In the afternoon we'll continue farther north into the Dassa region where we will spend the night.
  • 6
    Day 6Dassa » Taneka Tribe » Djougou
    Dassa » Taneka Tribe » Djougou
    Highlights: Visit with the Taneka ethnic group
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Leaving Dassa, we'll drive north in order to discover one of the most fascinating ethnic groups in Benin, the Taneka people. They are known for their unique customs, facial scarifications and style of dress. The Taneka is actually the result of three tribes coexisting peacefully and merging together over time and the three tribes have maintained many of their individual traditions. We'll spend the day with the Taneka, learning all about their culture and traditions as we meet a wide range of locals who have invited us to spend time among their communities.
  • 7
    Day 7Djougou » Boukoumbe
    Djougou » Boukoumbe
    Highlights: Taneka ethnic group, drive to the Somba region
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Today will include even more time with the Taneka as we visit more villages that are home to different sub-groups. While we can't predict exactly what will be taking place in each village, we will be in communication with the village elders who will keep us updated with any local events or celebrations that we can attend. The Taneka are very welcoming and everywhere we go is sure to be an eye-opening, positive experience given their extreme hospitality and overall kindness. In the afternoon, we'll then continue driving north until we reach the Somba region.
  • 8
    Day 8Somba Region » Boukoumbe
    Somba Region » Boukoumbe
    Highlights: Somba ethnic group
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    We'll head out today to meet the Somba. This ethnic group stands out because of their two-story fortified mud houses that house livestock on the ground floor. The Somba oppose forms of centralized power and do not have chiefs whose status is gained through lineage. Their funeral and initiation ceremonies play a major role in their culture and we'll learn how these rituals are carried out and the process for choosing those to lead them. After our day with the Somba we'll return to our hotel in Boukoumbe for some free time.
  • 9
    Day 9Kara [Togo]
    Kara [Togo]
    Highlights: Border crossing into Togo, unique village architecture of Kutammaku
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Leaving after breakfast, we'll head to the border with Togo. Once we cross the border, our first destination will be the Kutammaku region. This is the birthplace of the Batammariba, whose tower houses that are built in adobe have become one of the main symbols of the country. In this region, the rituals and beliefs of the population are intimately linked to nature. Many of the buildings have two floors and those with barns are characterized by their cylindrical base topped by a hemispherical structure. Due to the unique nature of these structures, they are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 10
    Day 10Atakpamé » Kpalimé
    Atakpamé » Kpalimé
    Highlights: Day of driving to south Togo, visit and tour of Atakpamé
    Included: Breakfast
    Today's long drive takes us south. En route to our final destination, we'll stop in the small city of Atakpamé for a local experience and lunch. We'll take a walk through the city, meet some of the local inhabitants and learn about their culture and food. In the afternoon, we'll continue the drive to Kpalimé.
  • 11
    Day 11Kpalimé
    Kpalimé
    Highlights: Time spent with the Kotokali and Loss ethnic groups, nature walks
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    With a full day ahead of us, we're going to spend time in contact two local ethnic groups. We'll meet the Kotokoli people and the Loss people as we enter their villages, speak with the villagers and learn all about their culture. Our visits to these villages will also include nature walks, an important way to understand how these ethnic groups live at peace with the land around them. After our fascinating visits in these villages, we'll return to Kpalimé for excellent dinner and evening experience with the hosts of our guesthouse.
  • 12
    Day 12Kpalimé » Lomé
    Kpalimé » Lomé
    Highlights: Tour of Lomé, free afternoon to enjoy the city
    Included: Breakfast
    After a leisurely breakfast, we'll make the 2.5 hour drive to Lomé, the laid-back capital city of Togo. Upon arrival, we'll check in to our hotel before enjoying a free afternoon and evening to wander the streets, take a rest or join your tour leader as they offer a variety of optional activities.
  • 13
    Day 13Lomé » Togoville
    Lomé » Togoville
    Highlights: Tour of Togoville, amulets market, traditional lunch
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Making the short drive to Togoville, we'll spend the day exploring this city. It's a destination where animism and Christianity coexist side by side and the history of slavery has had a major impact on the culture. During our walking tour, we'll visit monuments, the amulets market and eat a traditional lunch. We'll interact with plenty of friendly people as well. After an afternoon break back in Lomé, we'll head out for dinner in the city center.
  • 14
    Day 14Togoville » Ahemé lake
    Togoville » Ahemé lake
    Highlights: Border crossing to Benin, Lake Ahemé and the voodoo religion
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    We'll cross the border again today as we head back to Benin. Once we do cross, we'll focus on what will be one of the major highlights of this experience - voodoo. As we enter the Lake Ahemé region, we'll begin to learn about this religion and the people who practice it. Voodoo is actually practiced by a large part of the local population who considers the existence of a unique supernatural power that can be reached only through intermediaries with the use of rituals, dances and symbols. As we visit villages that practice voodoo, and meet the villagers, we will have an opportunity to experience this religion first hand by witnessing the spectacular rituals and celebrations that are part of their practice. (This is not a touristy experience. It is a day of genuine experiences that our local friends are able to put together for us.)
  • 15
    Day 15Ouidah » Cotonou (departure day)
    Ouidah » Cotonou (departure day)
    Departure day
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    We'll begin our final day with a complete tour of the city of Ouidah, offering a magnificent summary of Benin. From colonial and Afro-Brazilian neighborhoods to the voodoo religion's Temple of the Pythons to its long and complicated history, we'll visit and learn about it all with our local guide. We'll then travel along the last 4 kilometers of the slave route, the stretch of land that 2 million people were forced to walk before being auctioned off at the beach. After this important and sobering experience, we'll finish our drive back to Cotonou in time to catch departing flights (most of which are in the late evening).

Tour Essentials

Physical Level: Medium
While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, walking tours, being outside in potentially warm temperatures, long drives on poor roads, early morning wake-ups, basic bathrooms in between destinations and other similar scenarios.
Accomodation
On this trip, we’ll stay in a combination of 3* hotels and guesthouses. Please keep in mind that given the destinations and remote nature of the itinerary, facilities may be simpler than what you’re used to. For this particular trip there is a maximum of 6 single rooms available. These rooms will be offered on a first come-first served basis. The remainder of the rooms will be shared. Solo travelers will be paired together, two travelers per room in two single beds.
Transport
During the trip, we'll travel in comfort in our private van between each destination. The vehicle is roomy enough to ensure that everyone has sufficient space while also allowing us to access areas that larger vehicles simply can't go.
Meals
Breakfast every day, 10 lunches and 10 dinners are included. With included meals, some will be served family style and other times you will be able to order anything you wish from the menu. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated but might result in limited options.
Sustainability
As with all of our trips, we aim to offer as sustainable an experience as we can. Reusable water bottles and shopping bags are provided to all guests, trash is recycled where possible and we avoid mass tourism activities that cause harm to the environment and/or do not benefit local communities.
Small Groups
This tour requires a minimum of 8 participants and has a maximum of 12 participants in order to ensure the best small group tour experience. With such a small group, you'll be able to enjoy unique, rewarding activities that would not be accessible with more people. That's the kind of trip we love to offer!

What's included

Included
  • Wandering Earl Tours Expert Tour Leader
  • Small group (maximum 12 participants)
  • Accommodation (14 nights – simple 3* hotels, guesthouses)
  • Transportation within Benin and Togo (private van)
  • Local English-speaking guides in each destination
  • All activities, excursions and all entrance fees
  • Breakfast every day, 8 lunches and 10 dinners
  • Bottled water throughout the trip
  • Gratuities at hotels/included meals
  • All airport transfers
Not Included
  • Flights to/from Cotonou
  • Passport/visa fees
  • Meals and activities not mentioned
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Gratuities

What's a Wandering Earl Tour Leader?

A Wandering Earl Tour Leader is more than a guide. They’re a travel fanatic, and this is more than just a job for them. It’s a passion. They’ll be with your group every step of the way, excited to lead you around the next bend and to take care of all the logistics so that you can relax and travel with ease.

They’ll be your ambassador as they introduce you to hyper-local guides who know their part of the world better than anyone else. They’ll work hard every single day to ensure that you have the type of travel experience that brings you the most rewards. With endless connections and the freedom to improvise, our leaders know exactly how to make a trip extraordinary.

And, most importantly, they’ll always be there for you any time you need them.