Valid for all trips departing January 1st, 2014 - December 31st, 2014 Last Updated: October 6, 2014
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Introduction

Get off the beaten track and into the hills, forests and villages that make up the 'Voodoo Trail' of West Africa for an immersive experience that few travellers get to have. Meet African royalty and witness tribal dancers fall into trance-like states as you enjoy an authentic cultural experience like no other. An expert CEO will guide you through the stunning landscape, helping with the cultural and lingual hurdles, ensuring you come away with deep insight into the origins of Africa’s mystical animist religions. This is a truly mind-blowing experience. Interested?

  • Witness authentic voodoo ceremonies and dances
  • Explore the forests of Kpalime
  • Meet African spiritual leaders and even royalty
  • Attend a traditional Bwa mask ceremony
  • Visit ancient mosques and modern cities
  • Learn about the slave trade in Ouidah.
Duration: 16 days
Start/Finish City: Lomé to Ouagadougou
Service Level: Standard
  • Great value, reasonable prices, quality experiences
  • Comfortable and varied tourist-class accommodations chosen for location and character
  • Mix of public and private transport for the best overall experience
  • All the top highlights included, plus plenty of time to explore on your own
Physical Grading: 2
There'll be some light walking and hiking. Suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.
Travel Style: Classic
The trips we've built our reputation on.

Designed for maximum variety, these trips are geared towards travellers searching for a healthy mix of active exploration, uncommon landscapes, amazing wildlife and local cultures.

Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.

Itinerary

Route map for The Voodoo Trail (DVVT)

Day 1 Lome

Arrive in Lome at any time, an arrival transfer is included. There are no planned activities today, so check into to the hotel (check-in time is approx 3pm) and enjoy the city.

At the hotel, you will meet your CEO and fellow group members to review the details of your trip. Look for a note at the reception (or ask reception) to see the exact time your CEO has arranged this meeting (this could be in the evening of Day 1, or in the morning of Day 2, depending on everyone’s arrival schedules).

If you arrive late, no worries, the CEO will leave you a message at the front desk as to the plan for Day 2.

Lome has been the capital city of Togo since 1897, when the German colonial rulers of the time moved the capital from Aneho, as coastal Lome was in the middle of their then territory. After WWI the Germans lost the colony, and Togo was shared between France and Britain. Borders here have changed significantly: the border of the Gold Coast was moved by the British to the periphery of Lome, and today Lome is located on the border with Ghana.

Lome has a population of 900 000, and is divided into two main areas: the business area, with the central market and many other shops, and the administrative area, with some old colonial houses, government buildings and embassies. Two parts of town in particular are of interest to the visitor: the fetish market and the central market.

Day 2 Kpalime (1B)

Approximate Distance: 140 km
Estimated Travel time (with Lome tour, travel time, and afternoon activities): 9 hours

Today we explore the vibrant capital of Togo, Lome. The only African town to have been colonized by Germans, British and French, and one of only a few capital cities on a border with another country, Lome is a crossroads for trade and people from many cultures, cosmopolitan despite its small size.

Visit the central market with its famous “Nana Benz,” and their near-monopoly on expensive European pagne (cloth), sold all over West Africa. The colonial buildings in the administrative quarter are a photographer’s dream, and retain a flavour of earlier times. Of course, not to be missed is the “fetish market,” with its eclectic assortment of ingredients for love potions and magical concoctions. Locals head here to buy ingredients for amulets, sacrifices or treatments of diseases; we visit with a guide to help us understand the use of the various goods in traditional African religions. It’s wise to be cautious when buying in the market, as merchants tend to take advantage of tourists with inflated prices! Be careful to avoid being cheated.

Later we travel to the Kpalime region, where we join a Voodoo ceremony in one of the local villages. The compelling rhythm of the percussion and the chants of the participants help to invoke the voodoo spirit, which takes possession of some of the dancers who fall into a deep trance.

The traditional religion on the Gulf of Guinea coast, all along the coast of Benin and Togo, Voodoo is an animist religion, passed down through generations and still practiced today. The religious experience is richer and more complex than most westerners realize. Voodoo practices are not a form of black magic; to millions both here and abroad, Voodoo represents a religion that gives meaning and order to their lives.

Kpalimé is a city in Plateaux Region near the Ghanaian border, with an economy focussed on weaving and farming, including coffee, cocoa and various products of the forest. Notable features include the Roman Catholic Church, built in 1913, and Kloto Hill (meaning “turtle”), famous for butterflies, where we spend the night at a simple hotel (enjoy the cooler, fresh air this night, because of the altitude).

Day 3 Ouidah (1B)

Approximate Distance: 280 km
Estimated Travel time: 8 hours

With its lush green vegetation, the Kloto forest is the perfect place for a short hike to start our day. Start near a small village with a local ethnologist guide, and continue on some paths in search of some of the many types of butterflies, while learning a bit about the region’s flora.

Continue back towards Lome for a stop for lunch, then in the afternoon we cross the border into Benin, and on to Ouidah for the evening.

The small city of Ouidah was developed by the Portuguese as slave-trading post in the 16th century, and is now know as the spiritual Voodoo center of Benin.

Day 4 Porto Novo, via Lake Nokwe (1B)

Approximate Distance: 75 km
Estimated Travel time (including boat ride and stops): 10 hours

Learn about the Slave Route in Ouidah, a town where it is believed that thousands of slaves passed through en route to the Caribbean and the Americas. You will also visit the Temple of the Python, as Ouidah is an important centre for voodoo activity.

En route to Porto Novo, we take an excursion on Lake Nokwe to the intriguing stilt village of Ganvié. A local guide from the village will show us around, and give us a bit of perspective as to what life is like for the villagers.

After lunch, we cross Lake Nokwe eastwards toward the capital of Benin, Porto Novo, where we meet up with our vehicle(s) and luggage, and check in to our hotel for the evening.

Ganvié is the largest and most beautiful stilt village in Africa. The approximately 18 000 inhabitants of the Tofinou (“water people”) ethnic group build their huts on teak stilts over the water and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. The entire community is situated in the middle of Lake Nokwe for various reasons: as the inhabitants live exclusively on fishing, this puts them closer to the deepest parts of the lake where fish are plentiful.

Access to Ganvié is possible only by boat; there is no bridge, or land access to the shore—one reason why the village has been able to preserve its unique customs, traditions, crafts and modes of building. Fishermen continue to build their houses as their ancestors did, with beams and ribs of palm leaves, and traditional costume is still the norm. The men, women and children guide their canoes using brightly coloured poles, and use these same canoes to farm and fish, deliver goods to the market, and take children to school.

A port on an inlet of the Gulf of Guinea, Porto Novo is Benin's second largest city, with a population of over 200 000. Even though it is the official capital of the West African nation of Benin, Porto Novo (also known as Hogbonou and Adjacé) is second in importance to the city of Cotonou, both culturally and politically.

Porto Novo was probably founded in the late 16th century by the legendary King Te-Agdanlin of Allada. The city received its name from the Portuguese for "New Port;" it was originally developed as a port for the slave trade. 

In 1863, the British, who were active in nearby Nigeria, bombarded the city. This convinced the Kingdom of Porto Novo to accept French "protection;" the neighbouring Kingdom of Abomey objected to French involvement in the region, and war broke out between the two states. In 1883, Porto Novo was incorporated into the French "colony of Dahomey and its dependencies," and in 1900 it became Dahomey's capital city.

Day 5 Bohicon (1B)

Approximate Distance: 190 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities): 10 hours

Enjoy a city tour of Porto Novo, when the tour comes to the end we will then travel to Ketou. Ketou is said to have been founded by Ede, son of Sopasan and grandson of Oduduwa, who ruled the Yoruba kingdom of Ile-Ife. The dynasty in Ketou is directly tied to the Ife Kingdom. The present king of Ketou is the 50th Oba and he has been in power since 2005. He will receive us at his royal palace, surrounded by his court. We will be granted the honour to talk to him and get to know a little more about his role of traditional chief in a modern state.

We will reach Bohicon in the afternoon to finish the day with a visit to Abomey Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the palace displays the items belonging to the ancient kings: thrones, ancient cult alters, statues, costumes and arms. Learn about this Kingdom whose economy was based on the slave trade for many years. A perpetual status of war enabled the Kings to capture and sell thousands slaves.

In the middle of the royal courtyard is a temple built with a mixture of clay and human blood. At the height of their power there were up to 4,000 women in the palace harem. As travellers walk amongst the buildings the previous splendor of the court is very apparent.

In town, in a separate area, we meet with ancient community of blacksmiths. For centuries they have been at the service of Dahomey Kings and their army. See how they have preserved their traditions and enjoy a demonstration.

Day 6 Bohicon/Dassa (1B)

Approximate Distance: 415 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities): 9 hours

Dassa was the capital of an ancient kingdom founded by Olofin in 1385. We will visit some remains of this long-lasting dynasty.
First we will stop at the wooden horse, given by Portuguese merchants in 1903 to the chief who was complaining that four of his horses had died from a mysterious disease. Continue walking up the Royal Hill, where the kings used to be buried. As we are now in the voodoo world, we will not fail to notice how the site is “protected” by many statues and the remains of recent rituals.

Attend a performance of Egun masks, this is a traditional celebration of the Fon and Yoruba of South Benin. 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 multi-coloured clothing they emerge from the forest and form a procession through the village streets, leaping towards any foolish spectator who dares to get too close. You don’t want the Egun to touch you because if he does there is danger of death, so watch out! Some people touched by the Egun immediately collapse into a heap on the ground but fortunately they recover quickly. On arrival the masks perform a kind of bull fight which is designed to create fear but is greeted with peels of laughter by many.

Overnight in Dassa.

Day 7 Natitingou (1B)

Approximate Distance: 50 km
Estimated Travel time: 1-2 hours drive

We then transfer to the northern region. On the way, we stop at the fetish of Dankoli, the gateway to the Voodoo world. Pilgrims plant thousands of wood sticks to testify their prayers to the fetish priest. When they are satisfied, they come to sacrifice the promised ransom: a goat, a chicken, a cow. A mound of blood, palm oil and sodabi (local liquor) are presented to the long line of pilgrims, all looking for a solution to their existential problems.

Transfer to a Fulani encampment to spend time with locals and learn about their traditions. The Fulani people are one of the largest nomadic groups in the world and are known for being the first group to covert to Islam in Western Africa. The word fulani means beauty. Beautiful tattooing on the face sends a message to people who understand the language. Beautiful bodies standing as a dot on the horizon looking at their herds; beautiful eyes able to contain so many landscapes contemplated during the migrations to find grazing. These nomadic people have learned how to tame time and space, history and geography.

In the afternoon transfer to Natitingou.

Day 8 Atakora Region (1B)

Approximate Distance: 80 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities): 9 hours

Today we will be walking in Somba land. Somba in the local language means nude. In certain isolated villages people still dress in a simple cloth and the women are covered with only amulets. These traditions, due to the geographic isolation of the tribe, have not yet been contaminated by outsiders. The Somba architecture is characterized by small castles three stories high that serve as the families' dwellings. These beautiful fortified dwellings are separated from the others for reasons of ownership determined in accordance with the size of the cultivable land and also to guarantee the privacy of a group of people who are, by nature, individualists.

We will walk from this village to the next, through a hilly landscape. Our day will be enriched by friendly meetings with locals along the path.

Day 9-10 Dapaong/Gurunsi Region, Burkina Faso (2B)

Approximate Distance: Day 9 : 200 km ; Day 10 : 250 km
Estimated Travel time: Day 9 : 4 hours ; Day 10 : 9 hrs

As we travel further north-west in Togo, we encounter the region of the Moba people, the most populous tribe of the Savanes region, the northernmost of the five Regions of Togo.

After lunch, we visit small villages spread over the desolate landscape, which, depending on the season, can be lush green or the color of earth. We will see what agricultural products these communities farm, and perhaps try some of their produce, and learn a bit about the Moba's round clay homesteads, which are topped with a conical straw roof typical of the area.

On Day 10, we continue our journey and cross into Burkina Faso and after lunch, meet the Gurunsi people, who live in colourfully decorated fortified houses.

Learn how they live as we stay with a local family in their compound (enclosed area), where we sleep on their roof in tents! We of course don’t just sleep there, but rather have the chance to interact with the family (and their animals who are always nearby) – a cultural exchange where we can learn from them, and they from us.

Gurunsi society is organized around gender: In this society men do the building, while women are in charge of painting and decorating the home. Homes are constructed by layering clay over support pillars and arches; walls and terraces are waterproofed by coating them with zebu (cattle) dung. Over the dung, the woman paint intricate frescoes that flow over the homes and slope down to the surrounding walls; colours are natural, sometimes using black and white patterns, other times red and white. These beautifully patterned designs are an excellent example of African art and architecture merging into a fluid masterpiece of style and substance. One cannot truly appreciate the intense beauty of these works of art without seeing them first hand.

Gurunsi (or Kasena) architecture is not only elaborate in terms of function and building technology; it also represents a reflection of the people and their spirit of independence. Writings of European explorers repeatedly described these compounds as "fortresses," "castles," and "citadels," evidence of their highly defensive aspect, in addition to their aesthetic beauty. Gurunsi compounds consist of related individuals from several generations and vary in size. The smallest can house a single family (2-6 people) while the largest can hold many dozen distinct but related families (up to 180+), with walled-off indoor and outdoor structures surrounding a common yard. Average population of a compound is 12 people.

Day 11-12 Gaoua (2B)

Approximate Distance: 360 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities): 10 hours

Wake to the sounds of the Gurunsi village as the women start painting and the village starts to stir.

Travel west through southern Burkina Faso, and after lunch, we stop at the villages of the Dagarti peoples, made in a fortified style similar but distinct to the Lobi style we see on Day 12. Here we may take a walk through a number of villages, viewing many aspects of the culture and agriculture.

On Day 12, we head out to visit the shy, traditional Lobi people of Burkina Faso: men still carry bows and arrows, and old women wear lip disks, while wooden statues are carved for an ancestor cult. Visit their unique villages with a Lobi translator.

The Lobi of Burkina Faso are perhaps the most shy people of this region. Spread throughout Burkina Faso, Ghana and Ivory Coast, the Lobi also have the most characteristic villages; thanks in part to their shyness they have maintained their traditions intact.

Each family lives in a large, clay fortified building. During our visits we are accompanied by a local Lobi dialect guide and translator, a necessity to allow us to overcome the innate distrust of these people.

Day 13 Banfora (1B,1L)

Approximate Distance: 220 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities): 10 hours

On the way to Banfora, our first stop will be at Loropeni, at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre of Loropeni Ruins. The ruins are surrounded by mystery. The 11,130m squared property is made up of an array of stone walls, one of the best preserved examples of fortified settlements in West Africa. The area is linked to the tradition of gold mining, which seems to have persisted for at least seven centuries.

Close to Loropeni we will meet the chief of Obire, the 29th of his dynasty. This long lasting kingdom is deep-rooted in West African history. This is the location where the Guen settled centuries ago. The meeting will be a great opportunity to know more about the traditions of these people.

We continue to Banfora, stoping to meet gold diggers along the way. Men dig deep holes and bring out clay which is washed and filtered by the local women to turn into gold dust. This reminds us of the times when caravans were carrying gold to the north, only to return later with caravans of salt.

Day 14 Bobo (B)

Approximate Distance: 95 km
Estimated Travel time (including day's activities, such as a boat ride): 9 hours

We start our day with the visit of the region around Banfora. This region is home to some of the country’s most spectacular natural sites, such as the enigmatic Pics of Sindou. Opt to take a hike to the viewpoint for fantastic views.

We will take a boat excursion on the Lake of Tengrela, it is not uncommon to spot animals such as the famous hippopotamus.
Travel back to Banfora, famous for its market, with a large variety of handicrafts or sale. The groups living in the region (Gouin, Karaboro and Turka) supply the markets with items made of raffia, terracotta and cloth.

The town of Bobo-Dioulasso is the greenest of the urban areas in Burkina Faso. Several quarters in Bobo have kept their colonial atmosphere. The train station was built in Neo-Moresco style. In sharp contrast is the old Mosque and surrounding quarter, which was built in the Sudanese style. Although Bobo is the second largest city in Burkina, life still moves at a slow pace here. Bobo’s sweeping avenues lined with mango trees, the Sudanese style colonial buildings, and the rich mixture of people give the city a texture all it’s own.

Day 15 Ouagadougou (1B)

Approximate Distance: 385 km
Estimated Travel time: 10 hours

En route to the Ouagadougou, we search out a Bwa ceremonial dance. This dance uses wooden masks, with each mask representing characters in family myths. The Bwa wooden masks represent a number of characters in the myths of their families and clans. Some masks represent animals, other represent bush spirits; particularly striking are the “plank” masks, featuring a stylized face surmounted by a tall, rectangular plank. Plank masks tend to be two-dimensional with impressive geometrical patterns. Like all masques of the Volta basin region, these masks are chromatic with the predominant of white, red and black.

The traditional dance ceremony is an important aspect of village life, and masks are considered the spirits of the village, providers of the agricultural bounty that the village depends on. As such, the spirits are to be appeased through cult offerings. Masks are symbols relating human beings, nature and spirits. With the start of a drumbeat, the spirits arrive in shape of wooden owls, butterflies, antelopes, buffaloes, and hyenas; spectators participate with songs, comments and laughter. The dance is a form of street theatre that melds sacred, traditional and entertainment elements.

Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, is seen as part village, part town. Life in the city plays out in the streets, in a unique fusion of village and town ambiances: old taxis, bicycles, scooters, donkeys pulling carts, porters caring loads on their heads. Streets are lined with informal traders offering colourful goods, small open-air restaurants serve beer, music blares, and everywhere chickens and goats run free. Street barbers shave their clients in the shade of mango trees, while in the street markets the colours and smells assault the senses. On the outskirts a large area is dedicated to craftsmen displaying their wares—a great chance to appreciate the skills and the products of African artisans.

Arriving in the capital in the late afternoon, enjoy a final night out with the group as you share stories of the many unforgettable experiences that you have had in this part of West Africa where very few other foreigners travel.

Day 16 Depart Ouagadougou (1B)

You are free to depart at any time today, though remember check out from the hotel is approximately 10am.

What's Included

Arrival transfer. Lomé city tour. Voodoo ceremony experience. Kpalime guided nature walk. Slave route guided walk (Ouidah) with Python Temple visit. Ganvié stilt village visit (Lake Nowke). Porto-Novo city tour. Audience with Yoruba king (if his schedule permits). Abomey palace guided tour. Egun dancing mask ceremony. Fulani tribe visit. Moba tribe visit. Somba and Tamberma adobe castles visit. Gurunsi tribe visit and traditional dance ceremony. Dagarti and Lobi tribes visit. Loropeni visit. Guen king and tribe visit. Senoufo village visit. Banfora town tour. Bobo city tour. Bwa mask ceremony. Craft market visit. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

Highlights

Witness authentic voodoo ceremonies and dances, explore the forests of Kpalime, meet African spiritual leaders and even royalty, attend a traditional Bwa mask ceremony, visit ancient mosques and modern cities, learn about the slave trade in Ouidah.

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Important Notes

1. This tour goes to some very basic, undeveloped areas of Africa, which is the least developed continent. This means that standards of roads, food, hygiene, and customer service will be far from what you are used to. Accommodation is rustic and basic in many places.

2. The Itinerary can be modified because of changes in traditional festivals, roads conditions, or major causes or events. We travel through this region in order to meet many local people and visit many villages, and part of this cultural journey through these very non-Westernized places is being flexible enough to make changes that will benefit the tour. If we learn of something interesting happening in the area, your CEO may decide to make adjustments to the itinerary, but this will always be to given you the best, most unique experience.

3. Pollution: we do not give away to local people any kind of plastic; gifts are offered to chiefs and teachers; no photos are permitted of police stations, borders crossings, and airports.

Group Leader Description

All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, be your conduit to the local culture and experiences of this tour, recommend some local eating venues, help the group with translation when visiting local communities, and introduce you to our local friends. In West Africa, we actually use the term "guide" more than Chief Experience Officer (CEO), as it comes from the equivalent word in French, which is used regularly there.

In addition to managing the tour itself, you can expect your CEO to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting, but compared to many places, the quality of local guides in this region is low. (Remember very few tourists actually visit these areas. Your leader will speak english, but often English is the 3rd, 4th, or 5th language of our guides. As such, please be patient - English speakers in the French speaking countries is rare.

We also have drivers and a cook, all of whom are an integral part of the team, and add their own contributions to the success of the trip. Often these members of our crew will have limited English language skills.

Group Size Notes

Max 16, avg 8

Meals Included

15 breakfasts, 1 lunch.

Meals

When a evening meal is not included, your hotel will have a restaurant or your will be advised of a good local restaurant. Breakfast in the hotels are usually French style: coffee or tea, and bread with butter and jam. Vegetarian meals and other dietary requirements need to be specified prior to arrival.

Please note all bottled drinking water and other drinks will be at your own expense. Often, in rural areas, especially during days 6 to 12, bottled drinking water is not always available. In addition, small notes and coins for change is very sparse in the regions we travel. As such, often the only way possible for each individual person to buy their own drinks is to pool money together, from which drinks and common items may be purchased.

Meal Budget

Allow EUR145-190 for meals and drinks not included.

Transport

Minibus, walking.

About our Transportation

We use a minibus for this tour, normally Toyota Hiace, or for large groups Toyota Coaster.

With a small group of up to 3 travellers, we may use Toyota Land Cruiser. The 4WD is not compulsory in our itinerary, apart in rainy season when in the convoy we use also at least one 4WD (just in case)

With sliding windows, bench seats, and an aisle on one side, these vans that we use are common in the region and comfortable.

Road conditions can run the full range of conditions from relatively new in the cities to old, deteriorating, very poor, and even almost non-existent. During dry seasons, the roads can become very dusty.

This style of travel is by no means luxurious, but the seats are comfortable and having our own private vehicles allow us the flexibility of making stops when needed and visit far out of the way destinations.

Please note for your own safety it is mandatory to wear your seat belt at all times when in a vehicle.

Solo Travellers

We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.

Accommodation

Simple hotels/guesthouses (15 nts).

My Own Room

Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops

About Accommodation

West Africa is one of the poorest areas of the world, and as such, basic infrastructure such as sealed roads, reliable electricity, constant access to tap water that you will find in other areas of Africa and the world are less common in West Africa.

The hotels and accommodation venues that we use on this trip are unfortunately no exception. Most hotels advertise hot water, but if the electricity is working at the time we are there to heat and pump the water is another question. All hotels and accommodation that we use are simple and basic, but clean and safe.

The nature of the destination means that there is very little choice of accommodation venues. There is little to no local and foreign tourism or travel demand to justify the existence of the hotels that you, as a foreign traveller has come to expect in less developed countries. Choices are thus limited in many of our destinations, so we try to choose the best or most appropriate accommodation in each area.

Joining Hotel

Hotel Napoleon Lagune
01 rue 20 Bê
Lome, Togo
Tel: +228 227 56 66

Joining Instructions

An arrival transfer is included in your tour, when you arrive on Day 1, or when you arrive up to three days prior to the tour, provided that you have booked your pre-accommodation through G Adventures in our joining hotel.

G Adventures is only able to pick you up at the airport if you inform us in advance of your arrival flight's details. If this has not been done, please make your way to the joining hotel. A taxi just outside of the airport terminal costs approximately 5-6€ (3000-4000 CFA) to the Joining Hotel. DO NOT GIVE YOUR PASSPORT TO ANYBODY APART FROM THE POLICE if asked. Take care of your luggage personally and ignore all the people ready to help you (apart from official representative of airport officials).

If you have provided your arrival flight details for your complimentary transfer, please look for the driver, who will be holding a sign with the G Adventures logo on it. For security purposes, your name will not be on the G Adventures sign. As well, please do not tell the driver your name straight away, but rather ask the driver first to tell you who they are meant to pick up. This will ensure that you go with the right driver. Note that the driver may have limited English skills.

Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned, though a brief departure meeting will be held in the hotel reception area in evening of Day 1, or on the morning of Day 2. Here you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. Upon arrival to the hotel, look for a notice from your CEO with information regarding this group meeting. If you arrive late and miss the meeting, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.

The tour departs Lome in the morning of Day 2.

Arrival Complications

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

AIRPORT TRANSFER 
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures or if an arrival transfer is included in the cost of your tour, please note that:

Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Representative (Lome, Togo)
During office hours, Mon-Fri, 8:30am-12:30pm, 2:30pm-6:00pm, Local Time, Saturday: 8:30am-12:00pm, Local Time
From outside of Lome: +228 2221 6823
From within Lome: 02221 6823

After hours emergency telephone
From outside Lome: +228 9074 0561
From within Lome: 09074 0561

G Adventures Local Office (Nairobi, Kenya)
Emergency number:
From outside Kenya: +254 727 208 832
From within Kenya: 0727 208 832

If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

Finishing Point Instructions

The hotel has a free shuttle bringing guests to the airport upon request. The airport is apporx. 10 minutes away.

What to Take

You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. Your baggage should be clearly labeled and restricted to one soft compact suitcase, or sports bag, maximum 15kg, plus a daypack. Luggage limits on airlines are strictly enforced and space on vehicles is limited. Porters are not often available, so be prepared to carry your own bags. It is important to pack clothes for warm days and cool evenings.

Checklist

Suggested Items:
• 5 shirts/t-shirts
• Sun hat
• 2 pair of shorts
• 2 pairs of long trousers
• Fleece top/sweater/thin jacket (nights can be cool)
• Thin rain jacket/rain poncho/Small umbrella
• Sturdy walking shoes
• Sun block
• Sunglasses
• Watch or alarm clock
• Flashlight (with extra batteries and bulbs)
• Money belt
• Small travel towel
• Personal female hygiene products (as they are difficult to purchase locally)
• First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, band aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, dehydration powder, insect repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)

Optional Items:
Camera and film, reading/writing material, binoculars, cover for backpacks

Documents:
• G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and Trip Details
• Passport (with photocopies)
• Travel insurance (with photocopies)
• Airline tickets (with photocopies)
• EURO cash
• Credit card (see personal spending money - note cards are rarely accepted)
• Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
• Yellow Fever Certificate

Laundry

We change hotels every night so this will be very limited. Best to bring clothes that can be hand washed on the go.

Visas

All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.

It is recommend to arrange visas prior to your departing your home destination.
Togo will require a multi entry visa and Burkina Faso and Benin will require a single entry each.

The following information will be helpful in obtaining your visas:

The Togo-Benin border crossing will occur on Day 3.
Togo border post: Savekondj
Benin border post: Hillakondj

The Benin-Togo border crossing will occur on Day 8.
Benin border post: Bokoumbe
Togo border post: Nadoba

The Togo-Burkina Faso border crossing will occur on Day 10.
Togo border post: Sinkasse
Burkina Faso border post: Bitou

Destination in Togo for visa:
Hotel Napoleon
Blvd de l'aéroport, in front of "Mêches Amina" manufactory
Lome
Togo
+228 226 10 64

Destination in Benin for visa:
Hotel Dako Premier
B.P. 218, Bohicon - Benin
TEL 229 95 06 94 15/95 56 62 88
FAX 22 51 02 38

Destination in Burkina Faso for visa:
Hotel OK Inn
Route de P, 5km S of Ouagadougou
Ouagadougou
Burkina Faso
+226 50 37 00 20

*For some nationalities it is possible to arrange the visas for Togo and Burkina at the border. It is also possible to organize the visa for Benin on Day 2, but we strongly advise against this. If you are unable to get your visas in advance, you MUST let us know at least 10 days prior to your tour start date, as well as provide us with a copy of your passport (with home address written on the same pages).

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

The CFA Franc, the common currency in many West African countries, is the currency of Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso, among others.

The CFA Franc has a fixed rate exchange with Euro: 1EUR = 655.957 CFA.

Cash is the best method of money in West Africa. Travellers cheques are not accepted. Credit and Debit cards and not useful in all but on in Lome and Ougadadougou, and even then, it is not guaranteed that the machines will accept your card, work, or have money.

Again, cash is the best method of money in West Africa.

ATMs are rare and where available, often don't work or don't have money, and credit cards (VISA only) are not accepted out of the capital cities, and even rarely in the capitals.

Please bring cash money, in foreign currencies (EURO is best), to change for CFA locally at the start of the tour.

Large denominations are better, as they receive better rates. If you have USD, new bills from the year 2000 or more recent are best, as older bills may not be accepted.

Foreign currencies are rarely accepted outside of the capital cities, and as such, you will need CFA for your tour. And, your tour visits primarily rural areas. As such, it is advisable to change your foreign currency to CFA in Lome, and as soon as possible upon arrival.

At the airport in Lome upon arrival, you can change EURO or USD into CFA if the money exchange office is open at the time when you arrive, and if they have money on hand at the time. You may have to pay a commission on changing money at the airport or at banks.

When changing money, please ask for small notes, as small denominations are important, as local vendors rarely have change. You should ask for “monnaie” (pronounced “mah-nay”) in order to ask for smaller bills. Notes of 1,000 and 2,000 are important.

On the morning of Day 2 (which is a Sunday, and banks will be closed), your CEO will ensure that you are able to change money before departing Lome, with local money-changers, though possibly at a lower rate than the official one.

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Departure Tax

There is no departure tax for these countries.

Tipping

Tipping is appreciated with small service providers such as restaurant and bar waiters, hotel staff, and reception.

Even though this might not be customary to you, nor such common practice in your home country, it is generally expected and of great significance to the people who will be assisting you during your travels.

Depending on your preference and/or that of the group, you may choose to tip individually, organize the tipping with your traveling companions, or your CEO will offer to collect the tip money at the beginning of your tour - and tip as a group with your participation as the tour progresses. A recommendation for tipping small service providers is about $2 USD per day, depending on the quality of the service (this does not include your G Adventures CEO).

Feel free to ask your CEO for the breakdown / distribution of the tips. Note that if you have been really disappointed by a particular service, please inform your CEO right away, and the tip will be adjusted accordingly.

Also at the end of your trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is also expected and appreciated. The precise amount is entirely a personal preference, however $15-20 USD per person per week can be used as a general guideline.

Optional Activities

All prices are listed in Euro amounts, per person, and are examples of the entrances fees charged - this does not include hiring transport to/from the destination. And the majority of the activities should be paid in local currency.

Lome
National Museum 4EUR
Musée de Guinée 4EUR

Ouaga
National Museum 4EUR

Health

Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.

We recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. Malaria does exist in these countries and it is recommended to consult a travel clinic for Malaria prevention. For details on how to best prepare and what to do in the unlikely event you are effected on your Adventure, please consult your physician.You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit, hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements.

Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:


www.gadventures.com/travel-resources/safety/

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility' is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at:

www.gadventures.com/medical-form
.

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation

Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of international charities, local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit www.planeterra.org

Planeterra Dollar-A-Day Program
Our Dollar-A-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar per day for the duration of their tour. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our Planeterra projects.

To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that you'll receive a special discount code for free online prints and we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Please visit http://www.gadventures.com/evaluations

Newsletter

Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at www.gadventures.com/newsletters/

Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.

Travel Forum - The Watering Hole

Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you're interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at wateringhole.gadventures.com.