(Bamako, Timbuktu, Mopti, Bandiagara, Djenne, Segou)
(Accra, Elmina, Kumasi)
Culture, nature and history is the theme of this Grand Journey through West Africa. The main highlights of these uniqe areas are: the Isle of Goree and the salt gatherers at the unusual Lac Rose in Senegal, the legendary city of Timbuktou in Mali, the slave castles at Cape Coast in Ghana, fetish markets in Togo and Ouidah, the birthplace of Voodoo in Benin. On the Isle of Goree you will learn about the turbulent past as you walk through the Maison des esclaves (house of slaves). You'll speak to salt harvesters at the Pink Lake and learn about the techniques of extracting salt. You'll also explore the streets and markets of Bamako with your local guide. Then continue on to Ghana, Togo, and Benin where you'll explore historic slave castles, learn about ancient kingdoms, cultures, voodoo and more. Finish by visiting a local village for your own naming ceremony where you'll receive your traditional Ghanaian name. Return to Accra for some final souvenir shopping and sight seeing before flying home from this unforgettable adventure! Includes internal transfers, accommodations, and meals as listed.
Airport transfer with private vehicle and guide.
King Fahad Palace sits proudly on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in the capital of Senegal. Surrounded by 35 hectares of luxuriant green foliage, it offers a beautiful setting for guests, with breathtaking views of the sea and easy access to water sports, deep-sea fishing, golf and tennis. Comprising 374 rooms and suites, the large atrium in the centre of the property gives a sense of spaciousness that is reflected in the rooms. The decor within the rooms varies from lush, muted tones to a natural colour palate. There is a restaurant that overlooks the ocean, as well as a bar lounge, an outdoor swimming pool, steam bath, fitness centre, 9-hole golf course, 4 floodlit tennis courts, night club, hairdresser and gift shops that are all located on the property.
Visit the Pink Lake one of the rarest natural phenomenon of the world: the lake takes its pink colour from some micro-organisms and shows a high concentration of salt, as a mirror it sparkles in the middle of sand dunes. You will meet the “salt harvesters” with their colourful tackle, meet and interact with the Fulani ethnic groups leaving in the surrounding villages.
The Radisson SAS Hotel, Bamako offers a restful and luxurious oasis away from the bustling city centre of Bamako. The hotel is enviably located in the newly developed district of ACI 2000, just west of the city centre and home to the government's Administrative City. With beautifully-equipped guest rooms, a gourmet restaurant and a world-class fitness centre , the hotel is bringing an unsurpassed level of luxury to one of Africa's fastest growing cities, Bamako. The hotel is perfectly situated just west of Bamako's city centre in the newly constructed ACI 2000 district. The hotel is close to notable landmarks such as the National Library, Bamako Grand Mosque and the Pont du Roi Fahd.
Private vehicle for the day with your english speaking guide.
Today you will visit the National Museum, highlights include the stylized antelope mask of Bamana; various Senoufo statuary, and, of course, the world-renowned antique Dogon Sculptures. The artisan center houses an abundance of shops and stalls selling crafts and curios such as leatherwork, fabric, silverware, masks, carvings and bronze figurines. There is also the artisan’s workshop where you can watch woodcarvers, silversmiths, drum makers and other craftspeople at work.
Lunch at a local restaurant (included in tour price).
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
Take your flight from Bamako to Timbuktu today. The flight duration is approximately 2.5 hrs.
Explore Timbuktu and the surrounding areas with your private vehicle and english speaking guide.
Lunch at a local restaurant
Timbuktu is a legendary city at the border of the Sahara, which was in the past a strategic place in the trans-Sahara trade. At the same time it was an important centre of study of law and theology. In this city you’ll visit the Djingareiber-mosque, built in the 14th century, the Sidi Yahiya –mosque, the Sankoré-mosque, the house of the explorers (Gordon Laing, René Caillé and Heinrich Barth),the Ahmed Baba centre (manuscripts) and the museum. Later in the afternoon you'll go for a sunset trip on the back of a camel to visit the Touaregs(Blue Men of the desert).
La Maison is a unique find in Timbuktu. Located in the town, this 9 room hotel offers a roof top patio with great views of the dunes as well as the medina.
Take your morning flight from Timbuktu to Mopti today. The flight duration is approximately 1 and a half hour.
Explore Mopti with your english speaking guide in your own private vehicle.
Upon arrival into Mopti you will have a tour of the harbour followed by a canoe-trip at sunset to the junction of rivers Bani and Niger. Mopti is built on three islands at the junction of rivers Bani and Niger. It is an important trade center and a lively town where a lot of ethnic groups live together: the Bozo, Dogon, Bambara, Bella-farmers, Tuareg and the Fulani. The market and the port are full of colours and smells. You can see in the port how the colourful ‘pinasse’-boats are made.
The Kanaga hotel is located on the banks of the Niger, in Mopti. The rooms are pleasantly decorated with local Malian handicrafts, offer good size bathrooms, air-conditioning and satellite TV. The hotel also has a swimming pool and restaurant, with the opportunity to dine outside.
Today you'll have a full day trip with a ‘pinasse’ on the river Niger with picnic. The canoe will bring you to the place where the rivers Bani and Niger meet and further. You can enjoy the wonderful landscape and fishing scenes, watch the wide variety of birds and with a bit of luck observe hippopotami. Lunch will be eaten on the pinasse or at the banks of the river. A few stops will be included to visit the villages near the river.
Drive to Dogon Country (1.5 hs). Today you will visit several Dogon villages.
The Dogon left the Mandingue-country to escape from the Islam and settled themselves in the 15th century in the region that is now known as Dogon country along the cliffs of Bandiagara which are about 200 km long and 200 m high. When the Dogon arrived they encountered the Tellem, pygmies who lived from hunting and collecting fruits and lived in caves in the cliff face. After two centuries of living next to each other the Dogon drove the Tellem away but the houses of the pygmies in the cliff face still exist; they were and still are used by the Dogon as a place for offerings. Because of their isolation the Dogon had few influences from outside and could maintain their culture.
Private vehicle and english speaking guide for the day.
The Hotel Kambary is an interestingly designed hotel, with dome shaped rooms and round portal windows is on the road from Mopti as you enter Bandiagara. The hotel has a swimming pool, nice bar, dining area, and even miniature golf!
Today you will visit different Dogon villages. Djiguibombo, a beautiful village on the plateau where you see the first ‘tounga’, the ‘discussion hut’, and the house of traditional medicine. In Kani Kombole you will discover its beautiful contemporary mosque, called ‘the small mosque of Djenne’; Teli, a beautiful village built on the slope of a rock, and Begnematou, a village where three religions (Islam, Christianity and animism) live together in peace. Begnematou offers a beautiful view and authentic scenes of village life. Finally on to Songo, known for its’ two yearly circumcision rituals and accompanying rock paintings.
Drive from Bandiagara to Djenne (3hs) with private vehicle, driver and English speaking guide.
Private vehicle and english speaking guide for the duration of the day.
Djenne, founded in the 9th century, received ivory, gold, slaves, wool and cola nuts from the south and transported these products to the north. Since the 12th century the city became very important for this trade. For Muslims, Djenne is an important religious city because of the mosque and the many Koranic schools. Your visit to Djenne, will include its phenomenal mud mosque, the grave of Tapama Djenepo, the young Bozo-girl buried alive to save the city from a flood, and the architectural remainders of Moroccan colonisation.
Hôtel Djenné Djenno is a modern and elegant interpretation of Malian style, decorated by its owner Sophie Sarin, a Swedish artist and interior designer, who has used the ancient West African textile tradition ‘Bogolan’ to create the charming interiors of the hotel.
Drive from Bamako to Segou (4.5 hs) with private vehicle, driver and English speaking guide.
Visit to Segou, the old capital of the Bambara kingdom and an important city during the colonial period which is still visible in the architecture of some old houses in town and to Segoukoro, the old village of Segou.
Hotel Le Djoliba offers clean comfortable rooms with a great location near the Niger River
Drive from Segou to Bamako with private vehicle, driver and English speaking guide.
Golden Tulip Accra is conveniently located just a 5-minute drive from the Kotoka International Airport, Accra. The hotel is easily accessible to and from the city centre and government ministries.
Drive from Accra to Kakum National Park, one of West Africa’s surviving tropical rainforests. Extending over 360sq km, Kakum is the home to over 40 large mammals and 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflies, flora and fauna. Enjoy this drive as you pass through villages, towns, and along the coast to the rainforest. The drive from Accra to Elmina takes approximately 3hrs plus stop time.
Drive through the historic Denkyira Kingdom to Kakum National Park, one of West Africa’s surviving tropical rain forests. Extending over 360sq km, Kakum is the home to over 40 large mammals and 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflies, flora and fauna. The most popular attraction is the Canopy walkway which is made up of seven bridges extending 330m, hanging 30m (100 feet) above the forest floor. Choose between a 2 km nature walk through this forest to discover the wide variety of exotic floral species and the medicinal values they offer or take a walk on the canopy walkway.
In the afternoon, enjoy some time on your own to relax.
Coconut Grove Beach Resort and Conference Centre is located in Mmoframa Akyinim, on the coast of Elmina the historic Capital of the Gold Coast. All rooms are air-conditioned, with hot and cold water, mini bar, satellite multi channel TV reception, and Wi – Fi connection. The Ocean View Restaurant has an enviable reputation for the best sea food served fresh in the region.
Embark on a tour of the infamous Forts, Castles and Slave Dungeons of Ghana. Learn and watch as history unfolds the story of the slave trade in West Africa. Begin with visiting Cape Coast Castle. The largest of its kind, this castle was built by the Swedes in 1653 and was later taken over by the British. Walk the path of slaves as your guide takes you through each section. This castle also houses the West African Historical Museum established by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government in 1994. It is filled with artifacts, stories, photos and more.
After lunch, visit the Elmina Castle. Built by the Portuguese in 1482, it is also known as St. George's Castle. This castle was the first European structure built in Sub–Saharan Africa and is the oldest castle in Ghana on the West African slave trade route. The colorful harbor nestled below the Elmina Castle, full of pirogues preparing to go to sea offers one of West Africa’s greatest photo opportunities.
Includes private guide and vehicle for the day.
Drive from Elmina to Kumasi. Drive through the forest zone to Kumasi, the seat of the Ashanti Empire to explore the legends of the famous Ashantis, whose legacies are still evident today. En route visit Assin Manso, the site of the “last bath” where slaves were taken for bathing before being shipped to the new world. It is also the burial place of two former slaves whose remains were returned to Ghana from the US and Jamaica. Then continue on to Kumasi. This transfer takes approx 3-4hrs, but can take more time depending on how long you spend at Assin Manso and stops made along the way.
Visit the Manhyia Palace Museum, to obtain firsthand information on the legacies of the Ashanti kingdom. A regal history that dates back to 1700 is told with relics and artifacts. Enjoy a drive through the city with monuments dedicated to the memory of the great Ashanti people. End the day’s tour at the National Cultural Center which features the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum and various studios of the brass makers, potters and batik makers.
Golden Tulip Kumasi City is the only four star hotel of international standards in Kumasi, only 20 minutes away from the airport and located close to the city center of the second biggest city of Ghana. This remarkable hotel, the Golden Tulip Kumasi is set in extensive tropical gardens in the central business district. This magnificent hotel has 160 rooms with various room types, a well- equipped Business Centre, a Forex Bureau for your finanacial transactions, a swimming pool specially designed for adults and another one for children. Enjoy this first class African style experience!
This day is devoted to visiting the three famous craft villages in Ashanti: Ahwiaa - the wood carvers’ village, Ntonso - the home of Adinkra, and Bonwire - the Kente weaving village. You will have the opportunity to see how African sculptures are craved, how Adinkra wax prints are made and how the famous kente cloth is woven using an amazing local technology. You will also have the opportunity to buy directly from the artisans who make each craft.
Includes private guide and vehicle.
Drive from Kumasi to Accra. En route stop at Besease to visit the traditional shrine of the Ashantis. Explore the beliefs, history and bravery of the Ashantis. You will be captivated by the Ashanti historic oral account as it is told by an old and knowledgeable Ashanti traditional linguist. From here, continue on to Accra. This transfer takes approx. 6hrs, but can take longer depending on time spent at Besease and any stops made along the way.
Drive between Accra, Ghana and Lome, Togo today. Your guide will help you at the border crossing and point out interesting sights along the way. Just ask! This drive will take approximately 3 hrs.
The Mercure Sarakawa hotel sits at the heart of a 62 acre (25 ha) coconut grove on Lomé Beach, close to the center of Lomé. The hotel has 211 rooms, including 82 with a sea view, and offers two restaurants (including the gourmet "Le Mercure" restaurant), two bars, an Olympic-size pool, two tennis courts, a golf course and a riding center.
Today will be a full day. You will drive today from Lome, Togo via Ouidah to Cotonou, Benin. Stop along the way for sights and tour. This drive will take approximately 3-4hrs.
Today visit the cradle of African traditional Religion, Ouidah. Tour the temple dedicated to the sacred Python, which is believed to give vitality and protection; you will also visit the sacred forest which houses many shrines dedicated to various deities. Visit the historical Museum of Ouidah located in an old Portuguese fort built in 1721. This Museum portrays Benin's role in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Later visit the Port of No Return; a monument built by the Benin Government to commemorate the Africans that were taken from the Dahomey Empire during the Slave Trade.
The Novotel Orisha Cotonou is a 3 star hotel enjoying a seaside location in the centre of Cotonou, close to the two major convention and events centres, the Palais du Congres and the CIC. The hotel offers 110 air-conditioned rooms, a restaurant and two bars. The hotel also features a private car park, a swimming pool and a tennis court. The hotel has 2 restaurants that feature both French and local specialties.
Enjoy this sensational visit to Ganvie (the village on water), commonly referred to as the Venice of West Africa. Witness firsthand, the people of Ganvie carrying out their daily routine as vendors in dugout canoes make transactions with one another and with tourists. Try shopping amongst the local vendors in the floating market whilst taking a relaxing canoe ride on the waterways of this exotic 300-year-old village. After lunch, drive through the multicolored center of the administrative and commercial capital of Benin to view it’s many statues and monuments.
Depart for Accra. Today will be a full day of driving with a stop for lunch in Lome. This drive will take approximately 9hrs.
Today you will cross the border into Togo. Your guide will assist you with the border process before continuing on your journey.
This evening spend time at leisure or relax at your hotel.
Visit the Arts Centre where you will have the opportunity to use your bargaining skills to shop from an open-air market for artifacts from Ghana and West Africa. For finer artwork, check out the beautiful art gallery next to the market. For musical instruments, see artists at near the front of the market. Ask them for a lesson in drumming and negotiate a price, then groove to Afro-beats!
A private vehicle with driver will provide a transfer to the airport.
Depart from Accra international airport - end of itinerary.
November 08, 2012
"I am a world traveller and this was one of my Top 3 vacations ever! Kensington Tours did a great job with EVERY little detail, from the planning to being met and catered to every step of the way. Our favorite lodges were Tau Pan in the Kalahari, Botswana & Moon Mountain in Sossusvlei, Namibia. We especially loved the Batswana people and all the animals we saw at Camp Moremi on the Okavanga River. The highlight of our trip was actually our stay in Swakopmund when we stayed on the South Atlantic & went for an exciting boat ride to see all the sealife up close and personal (like a seal coming onboard the boat!), a rollar coaster dune ride in a 4 X 4!! the balloon ride over the red sand dunes over Namibia and several champagne brunches in the middle of the desert. Also, will never forget all the sundowmer game drives which ended with our favorite cocktail, watching the sunset with wildlife close at hand!
Unforgettable. Thanks Ivona for planning it all!"
October 26, 2012
"35 Goose Pond Road
Lincoln, MA 01773
Re: Steven Weru Kinyua, Kenya tour guide
We recently returned from a wonderful 8 day tour of Kenya with Steven, he is an exceptional individual. But one example: As we returned to the Samburu lodge from our first game drive, Steven pointed out a young, sick-looking lion in the shade of a tree. We observed it momentarily and soon returned to the lodge for dinner.
The next day Steven mentioned he had reported the weak young lion to the local Samburu ranger. Steven explained that due to the arrival of a new alpha male in his pride the young lion had likely been chased out before he was able to hunt for himself. He further explained that the young lion would be welcome back in a week or two, if he were alive. I pursued the full story w/Steven. The ranger Steven had reported the weak lion to had been unresponsive, indicating he would do nothing. Steven, unsatisfied w/that response told the ranger to report it to the Head Park Ranger, or he would. The Head Ranger agreed with Steven's analysis of the situation; bought 10 kilos of meat for the young lion; and directed his staff to feed it appropriately.
Steven understood the workings of that lion pride, and has an exceptional knowledge of all the wild animals of Kenya. Furthermore he has a passion for their well-being. He would not accept a lazy, disinterested response from the local ranger. During our trip in Kenya I had occasion to speak to groups of secondary school students. I related Steven's actions as an excellent example of a Kenyan's knowledge, passion and commitment.
One day Steven pointed out a cheetah. We saw the cheetah w/a young impala in its mouth. After the cheetah had choked the young impala, Steven explained the mother cheetah was calling her cubs --it was thrilling to see the 3 cubs come tearing across the plain creating a mini-dust storm in their wake. The mother gave the kill to her cubs. Steven explained they had to learn to open it up. Shortly she sent them off the kill, twenty paces or so, then froze, looking westerly. A lion, smelling the kill Steven explained, was moving off to the north about a 1000 yards away. Intent on the lion the mother cheetah remained frozen in place (as we're the cubs, mimicking their mother). After the lion passed the mother called the cubs back to the kill. Not 15 minutes later the lion came back, followed by yapping jackels, this time moving off to the east of the cheetahs. As soon as the lion appeared, the mother cheetah repeated her previous actions, sending off the cubs and freezing over the kill, intently watching the lion. Steven explained that the jackels were distracting the lion from the kill, knowing if the lion found the kill, nothing would be left for them. Again the lion passed off to the southeast, never able to find the cheetah kill.
This summary highlights events that played out over a 90 minute period. In that time several tourist rovers and vans came, took pictures of the cheetahs, and left. None of those tourists had a complete explanation of the scene that was playing out before us. Game-viewing w/Steven is a rich experience, a clear cut above the average.
In our time w/Steven we had lengthy conversations about the pluses and minuses of grass-burning, the challenges of maintaining wildlife corridors, park encroachment by locals, roadway underpasses for big game, etc. in addition we discussed ukabila and other political challenges facing Kenya. Steven Kinyua is an exceptional Kenyan guide. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and made our Kenya safari a wonderful learning experience we will cherish for years.
Mark Masterson, Ed.D."
October 18, 2013
"I am so happy that I used Kensington Tours to help with my dream trip to Cape Town South Africa. I was looking for a well respected tour company that planned private guided tours that was not going to cause me my leg, lol. I begin searching companies by reputation and value. I narrowed it down to Kensington Tours because of the quality and value. I felt taken care of prior to my departure due to the detailed itinerary.
From the time of got off the plane to the time I headed back to the states, I was in excellent hands. The service was EXCELLENT! I will definitely use Kensington again. Certainly, a trip of a lifetime!"
October 29, 2013
"My husband and I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime in Egypt. The sites were amazing and overwhelming. Everything was as promised. We had the most amazing pyramid view and Nile view from our hotels. Our itinerary included the most magnificent sites and we were accompanied by the most informative and friendly people. I highly recommend visiting Egypt. It is totally safe. Thank you to everyone at Kensington for this experience. It was so beyond our expectations!"
October 31, 2013
"From our greeter, who whisked us through customs in Johannesburg, to all our excellent drivers, guides and associates in Lions Sands, Cape Town and the wine country, everyone was highly professional, well dressed, well mannered, and well informed. Overall our tour worked like a superbly designed, technically perfect Swiss watch. An experience for the ages. Bravo!"
October 29, 2013
"This was a trip of a life time for me and I was never disappointed. Sylvia listen to me and give me exactly what I wanted in the way of a photo Safari as well as full tour of Cape Town and the wine country. I never had to wait one minute for a guide or any of the transportation provided. The people I dealt with along the way could not have been more courteous and friendly. I just cannot say enough about my experience with Kensington Tours, it was fabulous! "
Hanne Jones ,
October 24, 2013
"I have travelled all my life. I've combed much of Europe, from The arctic north in Norway to the streets of Seville in Spain, the beaches of Cannes and Nice in France and the medieval heart of Bologna in Italy. I've been on two African safaris (one tented, one not), both "luxurious." I've been on more than a dozen jaunts to India, some guided, others not. Over the years I have discovered that I had rather be lost and disoriented in a foreign country than submit once again to the unbending schedule of a guided tour. Hence I had given up tours of any kind, until Molly Kelly, an American Express travel agent, suggested I might want simply to list the places my friends and I wished to see in Morocco then let Kensington Tours make accessing them in an orderly way not only possible but thoroughly enjoyable as well. And this Kensington Tours did. They pulled our disparate destinations together and designed a far, far better route than we could ever have done on our own. They satisfied all our requests and threw in delicious additions, areas of interest we had never considered or even heard of. Our accommodations were well within our means and wonderful. Our guide and driver, not to mention our Mercedes SUV, could not have pleased us more. In other words, thanks to Molly and her recommending Kensington Tours, we had a sensational holiday. "
Anthoula Korina ,
September 05, 2013
"Africa had always been a myth in mind since I was child that was up until a week ago. I just returned from an epic safari adventure! Kenya, Tanzania and the Maasai are sorely missed.
Words cannot fully express the magic of this ever-flowing journey. It was awe-inspiring, breathtaking, free and powerful. My mind keeps playing tricks on me; thinking rather hoping that I'm going to see a giraffe cross a busy NYC street :)
The memories will resonate for a lifetime. To boot, I went on this trip solo; female traveler. Not sure any of it would have been possible w/out Kensington Tours!!! Thank you..."
July 12, 2013
"I had a wonderful trip visiting the mountain gorillas in Uganda. We were able to get really close to the gorillas and watched their interactions with each other. The local people are so gracious and made every minute a delight. The accomodations were great. I loved waking up in the morning to the sounds of the forest. The added luxury of a massage was a great way to end the trip!"
July 26, 2013
"Our family of 6 traveled to Morocco for a 9 day Imperial cities discovery, I was absolutely amazing. Our guide Lahcen Zaaim was the best guide we have EVER had and we have traveled to many countries. There was not one subject that he was not knowledgeable about. He made the trip sooooo memorable. He was so flexible and when he picked us up in the mornings to head out, he was talking nonstop to tell us soo much about everything we were seeing. There was soooo much to see in Morocco and he made sure we saw it all.. He truly has a gift in the touring business, you feel as if your leaving your best friend when the trip is over. When we got to the airport in casablanca, he spotted us before we saw him and of course, we asked him, how did you recognize us? He even went as far as to get the King of Moroccos artist to meet us at our riad the night before we left to return home late to do our names in moroccan arabic to frame, They were beautiful, He showed us a picture of the Kings Face he had done for the Palace! Lily Baffour from Kensington planned our trip and she was amazing, planning everything as she thought we would like based on what I told her. She did an Outstanding job and literally sent our Iteniaries by next day air in a beautifully done spiral bound personally book for each family that was going on the trip, SOOOOOO IMPRESSED and she even got the guide we requested!!!! I cant say enough about this trip and Kensington, we will definitely use again!!! We experienced a VERY different culture in going to Morocco and thats what we wanted, a Very different exotic trip and thats what we got!!!! Again our accomodations we Top Notch, staying in the TRuly authenic Riads, they were SOOOOO Luxurious, Plan on taking another suitcase or buying one there because you will buy more things to bring home than any other trip because of all the Handicrafts there, especially in Fes!!!
Stay in the know: Subscribe to our newsletter to have our hand-picked trips & specials delivered to you!
Please enter a destination