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back to the journey

1 - Round-trip Benin Noukoué lake
2 - Round-trip Benin voodoo festival
3 - Round-trip Benin Pendjari Park safari lion
4 - Round-trip Benin Fulani
5 - Round-trip Benin Taneka country

FROM DAY TO DAY

Round-trip Benin with voodoo festival
In the footsteps of the Kings

 

day 1: 5 January - arrival Cotonou
The day is dedicated for the journey to Benin. The arrival time at Cotonou’s international airport depends upon the airline chosen. The warmth of the African continent welcomes us. After having taken care of the necessary customs formalities, our guide takes care of the transfer to our accommodation.
night in: Cotonou
meals included: -
travel distance and estimated time: -

day 2: 6 January - Lake Noukoué
Before setting out, we take some time to get to know the guide and our fellow travelers, to take care of practical issues (such as money exchange) and to go through the itinerary.
Our destination for today is Porto Novo, the capital of the country. In Cotonou we go on board for a trip on Noukoué Lake. The lake is known for its stilt villages, that were long ago built by the Tofino people to protect them against attacks of hostile tribes. The trip takes us across the lake, visiting stilt villages, including Ganvié, the largest stilt village in West Africa. Our arrival in Porto-Novo is expected in the late afternoon.
night in: Porto-Novo
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 40 ks

day 3 and 4: 7 and 8 January - Porto-Novo festival
Two days long we take part in the festivities of the annual International festival of Porto-Novo, which has a focus on voodoo. Traditional dances, music and cultural events are on the festival’s program. In between the festival activities we explore Porto-Novo: we walk through the old neighborhoods, along the mosque and the cathedral, visit the botanical garden and the ethnographical museum. When time allows we add a visit to nearby Adjarra, a village known for its craft market and the black river.
night in: Porto-Novo
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: -

day 5: 9 January - Allada voodoo festival
Time has come to move on. Benin is getting ready for national voodoo day. We travel to Allada, where a small-scale festival is taking place in the afternoon.
In the late afternoon we continue to Ouidah, where the evening is dedicated to the preparations of the big day. We visit the Royal compound of the Savi, which is the starting point for the rituals of the festival and take part in the evening ceremonies.
night in: Ouidah
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 80 ks – 2 hours

day 6: 10 January - national voodoo day
Today is all about voodoo. Thousands of people gather at the beach near the Door of No Return. The voodoo followers and their Kings perform dances and ceremonies. We see people fall in trance and perform ceremonies. Today offers an insight into the celebration of the voodoo religion and most certainly we lack eyes and ears to take in all the colors and sounds and the dancing and the singing of the Kings and their followers.
If the festivities and crowds in Ouidah are just a bit too overwhelming, we can ask our guide about the possibility to do a side-trip to Grand Popo, where a more intimate voodoo festival is taking place today.
night in: Ouidah
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: -


day 7: 11 January - Ouidah
While most of the festival goers have left, we take advantage of another day in Ouidah to explore the other aspects of the town. With our local guide we walk the 4k long slave road, taking us along landmarks as the Tree of Forgetfulness and the well, where people had to wash off their African sins; reminders of a dark part of the West African history. The Door of No Return marks the end of the road. We visit the museum, the python’s temple and the sacred forest.
A side-trip is made to the village of Ouakpé, where the village women introduce us to the extraction of salt.
night in: Ouidah
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: -
 

day 8: 12 January - Ouidah to Djougou**
Today we head towards the North of Benin. Our destination is Djougou, where arrival is expected in the afternoon. We visit some of the town’s craft centers, including a leather workshop and a workshop where aluminium is being recycled.
night in: Djougou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 460 ks – 7 hours


day 9: 13 January - Taneka country**
After breakfast we travel to the land of the Taneka people. Not widely known this area has well-preserved its culture and traditional way of living. Before going to a village, the cultural bank is visited. The objects displayed belong to the inhabitants of nearby Taneka villages. Each object serves as a pledge for a micro-loan granted to its owner. Once the loan is paid off, the owner reclaims the object, and the bank grants a loan to someone else.
Leaving the asphalt road, we’re entering a different world. A world where time stood still, and everyday life is lived by the rhythms of the seasons and days. The picturesque villages of the Taneka offer an insight in Benin’s rural life and a chance to connect with the people and their traditions. The King and the spiritual leader are highly respected by the villagers, and play an important role in the community. Courtesy visits are made to the wise men and blessings for our journey are given.
After lunch we continue our road-trip further North, destination Tanougou. In the late afternoon we visit the village and the water fall, where we can go for a refreshing swim. The night is spent in the village; a homestay with a local family.
night in: Tanougou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 160 ks – 2 hours


day 10: 14 January - Pendjari Park**
We start the day early to cover the 40 kilometers to the entrance of Pendjari Park. At the ticket booth booklets with information on the animals inhabiting the park are for sale.
Park Pendjari is often mentioned as the best park to visit in West Africa and is listed as a UNESCO natural heritage. Herds of elephants, baboons, buffalos, warthogs, waterbucks, several types of antelopes, lions as well as crocodiles, hippopotamuses and several hundred bird species can be spotted. Our guide takes us on a tour through the park. Stops are made at several observation posts and viewpoints and lunch is eaten in one of the park’s accommodations. A second tour is made in the late afternoon, another excellent timeframe for game spotting. The night is spent in one of the accommodations in the park.
night in: Pendjari Park
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 250 ks – 5 hours


day 11: 15 January - Pendjari to Somba country**
By now we have definitely ticked off quite a few of the animal species living in the park. We take advantage of the early morning for another game drive. Wouldn’t it be great if we are the lucky ones spotting one of the rarely seen cheetahs or leopards?
We leave the park in the late morning and travel via Natitingou to Somba country. The Somba people are famous for their tatas: traditional double-story adobe houses with round rooms, connected by small doors and steps. Traditionally the bedrooms are on the rooftop terrace, alongside the family’s granaries. Like the stilt houses in Lake Noukoué and the settlements on Dassa’s sacred hills, the tatas’ primary purpose was to protect the people against attacks, both from hostile tribes and wild animals. Up until today the Somba built their famous tatas the traditional way. While some people had chosen a more modern style for their houses in the years past, most of them are now returning to their tradition.
We spend the night at the rooftop terrace of a tata. The local experience and the night under the star-spangled sky weigh up to the basic conditions.
night in: Somba country
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 300 ks – 6 hours


day 12: 16 January - the Somba architecture
In the morning we set out on a stroll with a local guide, who explains about the houses, customs and the tradition of the Somba, and shares about the animist beliefs of the people. Scarification of the face – while less practised nowadays – has always been part of the tradition of the population. Traditionally the scarification served as an identification, each family having its own specific design, which is also used on the walls of the tatas.
We say goodbye to our host family and continue to Natitingou. After having settled in to our accommodation we visit the regional museum. We finish today’s tour at a local brewery, where we learn about the making of millet beer and are offered the chance to taste the different varieties, as well as the local snack, banana doughnut balls.
night in: Natitingou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 50 ks – 1 hour


day 13: 17 January - Kouandé Kingdom
We set out on a day-trip to Kouandé. En route we see people working on the roadside, either hoping to find some gold or grinding rocks into gravel. In Kouandé we visit your Royal Highness, the King of the Kouandé Kingdom. Chances are that we are guided by one of Kouandé’s princes. Visitors are always warmly welcomed, and it is seen as a token of respect to visit the King, who is happy to answer our questions about his life and his Kingdom.
A visit is made to a family, specialized in the production of shea butter, a rich creamy natural product used for cooking and as a beauty product. It is often an ingredient in the more expensive skin and hair care products for sale in Europe and the Americas.
night in: Natitingou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 100 ks – 2 hours


day 14: 18 January - Fulani village hike
We have already met several population groups, yet there are many more in Benin. Today we set out on a hike in the Natitingou surroundings to visit the Fulani people.
This population group, which is spread over multiple West African countries, still lives a partly nomadic life. The Fulani men are known as the cattle herders. They wander around and depending on the season their families move along. Today’s hike takes us to a Fulani village, where we get an impression of life in the village and of the culture of the Fulani people. After the village visit, we continue to the Kota falls for a picnic lunch and a relaxing afternoon with possibility to go for a refreshing swim.
night in: Natitingou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: -

day 15: 19 January - Dassa's sacred hills
Today we start the journey back to the South. Our road-trip to Dassa takes about 5 hours. On the way we visit the Dankoli fetish. Known as one the most powerful fetishes, it is frequented by followers of the voodoo religion to offer and ask the fetish for help.
Our arrival in Dassa, a town surrounded by hills, is expected in the afternoon. Even though there are more hills, the sacred voodoo number of 41 is used when referring to their number. Many of the hills were once inhabited. They provided a safe haven to those escaping slave hunters. Remains of settlements, which were protected by voodoo ceremonies, are still around, and some of the voodoo palaces are still in use for sacred ceremonies. A palace is visited, and sacred voodoo idols can be seen.
night in: Dassa
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 340 ks – 5 hours


day 16: 20 January - Abomey and departure
The last day of our trip has arrived. After breakfast we depart for Abomey, in times past the capital of the Dahomey Kingdom. From 1645 each of the succeeding Kings had his own palace built in town, leading to a total number of 12 palaces at the time of the French invasion. Not wanting the palaces to fall into the hands of the invaders, King Ghebazin set the town on fire, before fleeing. Only one of the palaces was spared.
Our destination is a nearby village* with a rich voodoo tradition, where a ceremony is performed for us.
In the late afternoon we arrive back in Cotonou, where we can enjoy the sunset on the ocean front. A memorable trip filled with voodoo and everyday life of a range of population groups is nearing the end. We are transferred to the airport according to the departure time(s) of our flight(s).
possibility to shower before departure in: Cotonou
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 250 ks – 4 hours
* If any of us prefers to visit the museum instead, we can ask our guide to drop us off before going to the village and pick us up before starting the journey to Cotonou.

**If for security reasons Pendjari Parc cannot be visited, Plan B applies to this part of the trip:
Plan B:
day 8: 12 January - Ouidah to Bassila
Today we head towards the North of Benin. Our destination is Bassila. On the way we stop for lunch, for short visits and to take photos.
night in: Bassila
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 360 ks – 5-6 hours


day 9: 13 January - Taneka country
In the morning we visit the monkey conservation project in Bassila. Following on the visit we continue to Djougou, where we visit some of the town’s craft centers, including a leather workshop and a workshop where aluminium is being recycled. In the afternoon we travel to the land of the Taneka people. Not widely known this area has well-preserved its culture and traditional way of living. Before going to a village, the cultural bank is visited. The objects displayed belong to the inhabitants of nearby Taneka villages. Each object serves as a pledge for a micro-loan granted to its owner. Once the loan is paid off, the owner reclaims the object, and the bank grants a loan to someone else.
Leaving the asphalt road, we’re entering a different world. A world where time stood still, and everyday life is lived by the rhythms of the seasons and days. The picturesque villages of the Taneka offer an insight in Benin’s rural life and a chance to connect with the people and their traditions. The King and the spiritual leader are highly respected by the villagers, and play an important role in the community. Courtesy visits are made to the wise men and blessings for our journey are given.
night in: Taneka village
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 40 ks – 1 hour


day 10: 14 January - Taneka country
Put on your hiking boots! Today we set out on a hike. We explore more of Taneka country, including Mt Taneka Beri and continue our hike to what is locally called a natural pool. Make sure to pack your swim wear and a towel in your day-pack. In the late afternoon we return to the village for the night.
night in: Taneka village
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: -


day 11: 15 January - Taneka country to Somba country
Time has come to say goodbye to the Taneka people. After breakfast we leave the village and travel via Natitingou to Somba country. The Somba people are famous for their tatas: traditional double-story adobe houses with round rooms, connected by small doors and steps. Traditionally the bedrooms are on the rooftop terrace, alongside the family’s granaries. Like the stilt houses in Lake Noukoué and the settlements on Dassa’s sacred hills, the tatas’ primary purpose was to protect the people against attacks, both from hostile tribes and wild animals. Up until today the Somba built their famous tatas the traditional way. While some people had chosen a more modern style for their houses in the years past, most of them are now returning to their tradition.
In the afternoon we set out on a botanical walk along the so-called colonial route.

We spend the night at the rooftop terrace of a tata. The local experience and the night under the star-spangled sky weigh up to the basic conditions.
night in: Somba country
meals included: B-L-D
travel distance and estimated time: 95 ks – 1.5-2 hours



View photo album
View the itinerary

In short

Day 1: arrival in Cotonou
Day 2: Lake Noukoué
Day 3: Porto-Novo festival
Day 4: Porto-Novo festival
Day 5: voodoo festival Allada
Day 6: national voodoo day
Day 7: Ouidah
Day 8: Ouidah-Djougou*
Day 9: Taneka country*
Day 10: Park Pendjari*
Day 11: Pendjari-Somba country*
Day 12: Somba country
Day 13: Kouandé Kingdom
Day 14: Fulani village hike
Day 15: Dassa's sacred hills
Day 16: Abomey-departure

 

* If Pendjari Park cannot be visited Plan B applies:

Day 8: Ouidah-Bassila
Day 9: Bassila-Taneka country
Day 10: Taneka country
Day 11: Taneka country-Somba country
Book this trip

price

€ 1,675 per person
single supplement € 253

dates

5-20 January 2021
5-20 January 2022

Individual extensions possible.
Available as a tailor-made journey.

included

All accommodation (hotels, B&B's and homestays), full board, English and French spoken guides, all costs related to excursions and transport as mentioned in the itinerary, airport transfers, tourist taxes.

excluded

Travel to and from Cotonou, visa, vaccinations, personal insurances (such as travel, health and cancellation), drinks, other meals, souvenirs, personal expenses, upgrade of accommodation and/or transport, optional side trips and activities on days off.

responsible travel

Papillon Reizen values taking her responsibility. That is why we pay a fair price for goods and services. Besides all our activities contribute to the Papillon funds.

transport

Private group transport.

accommodation

Rooms (where possible with fan), based on double occupancy. During this journey nights are spent in hotels, B&B's and in basic facilities with local families.
The single supplement gives the right to a single room. Depending on availability.
Availability of twin rooms cannot be guaranteed. When booking solo, single supplement applies.

group size

4 - 8 people

comfort level
of the journey

Being healthy, open-minded and flexible as well as having an adventurous attitude are necessary for this journey, in which facilities will be simple in several places.

practical information

(Practical) information on Benin is available on our website. After booking extensive travel & practical information and a baggage checklist will be provided.