(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.
Le Méridien President 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 of the various Markets of the capital city of Senegal: Kermel, Sandaga, and the handicraft market of Soumbedioune, you will also go through Tilen market famous for its medicinal herbs and its traditional healers Visit of the Great Mosque, stop at the president’s palace and the parliament house. Going to Cheick Anta Diop University you will visit the picturesque district of Medina and the residential district of Fann. Just twenty minutes from Dakar Port, the ferryboat will arrive at Goree. Goree Island carries the heavy burden of 300 years slave trading in West Africa. The island ranks today among the classified monuments of the World Patrimony. You will visit the Slave-House and will listen to a lecture delivered by the curator. Visit of the auction block, the ethnographic Museum, the fort and interact with the inhabitants.
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.
Depart for a scenic drive along the Accra plains to the beautiful village of Torgorme located on the lower course of the splendid Volta River. You will have the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the paramount chief and elders amidst traditional drumming and dancing by the villagers and also participate in a naming ceremony, where you will be given traditional African names! After the sensational naming ceremony amidst drumming and dancing in your honor, choose among embarking on an event village tour of Torgorme, participate in a passionate do-it session on pottery making or an educative kente weaving session. Transfer time approx. 1.5hrs from Accra.
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.
VISA/PASSPORTA passport and visa are required for both US and Canadian citizens. Visa Processing generally takes 3 working days along with a visa processing fee of approximately $100 for a Single Entry Visa and $120 for a Multiple Entry Visa. Visas are not routinely available at the airport. Visitors to Benin should also carry the WHO Yellow Card (“Carte Jaune”) indicating that they have been vaccinated for yellow fever.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you contact the Embassy of Benin for the most current visa information. HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Medical facilities are poor quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/benin.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Porto Novo (administrative). Government: Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960. Language: The official language is French. However, many ethnic groups have their own languages: Bariba and Fulani are spoken in the north, Fon and Yoruba in the south. Some English is also spoken. Religion: 35% animist/traditional, 35% Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) and the majority of the rest are Muslim. Time: GMT + 1. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Telephone: Country code +229. Mobile Telephone: Some roaming agreements exist. Coverage is limited. Internet: Public access is available in Cotonou.
VISA/PASSPORTA passport and visa are required, as is evidence of a yellow fever vaccination for both US and Canadian citizens. Visa processing generally takes 4 working days along with a visa processing fee of approximately $65 for a Single Entry Visa and $150 for a Multiple Entry Visa.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the embassy of Ghana for the most up to date visa information.
HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Medical facilities are poor quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/ghana.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Accra. Government: Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1957. Language: The official language is English. Local Ghanaian languages are widely spoken, including Akan, Moshi-Dagomba, Ewe and Ga. Religion: Christian, Muslim and traditional beliefs. All forms of religion have a strong influence on Ghanaian life. Time: GMT. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz; usually three-pin plugs. Single phase three-pin plugs are used in larger buildings. Telephone: Country code +233. Mobile Telephone: Coverage is good around main towns and patchy to non-existent elsewhere. Roaming agreements exist with numerous companies. Internet: Internet facilities can be found throughout the country in most towns but connection is usually very slow (56K). Hotels have faster access. Internet popularity is rapidly growing and service is improving to keep up with demand.
VISA/PASSPORTA passport and visa are required for both US and Canadian citizens. All travelers must have international vaccination cards with a current yellow fever immunization.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you obtain the latest visa information and entry requirements from the Republic of Mali Embassy . HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Medical facilities are poor quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/mali.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Bamako. Government: Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960. Language: The official language is French. There are a number of local languages. Religion: Majority Muslim, with indigenous and Christian minorities. Time: GMT. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Larger towns in Mali have their own locally-generated supply. European-style plugs with two circular metal pins are used. Telephone: Country code +223. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with several international mobile phone companies. Coverage is limited to main towns. Internet: There is an Internet cafe in Bamako. Some hotels offer access.
VISA/PASSPORTA passport is required for both US and Canadian citizens. For U.S. and Canadian citizens, a visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days. Current yellow fever vaccination is mandatory to enter Senegal and meningitis vaccination is highly recommended if the traveler is arriving from or has recently traveled to an endemic area. Travelers unable to provide proof of vaccinations may be required to pay for and receive vaccinations at the Dakar airport.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you obtain the latest information on entry requirements from the Embassy of Senegal. HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Medical facilities are poor quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/senegal.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Dakar. Government: Republic since 1963. Gained independence from France in 1960. Language: The official language is French. There are many local languages, principally Wolof. Other languages include Pulaar, Mandinka and Diola. Religion: Around 94% Muslim, 5% Christian (mostly Roman Catholic with some Protestants) and a minority holds traditional beliefs. Time: GMT. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Telephone: Country code +221. Mobile Telephone: Mobile phone coverage is limited to the main cities and tourist areas. Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Internet: There are Internet cafes in Dakar, Saint Louis and other major towns.
VISA/PASSPORTA passport and visa are required for both US and Canadian citizens. Travelers are encouraged to obtain visas prior to arrival due to recent difficulties in obtaining them at the airport in Lomé or at some of the land borders. A Single Entry Visa costs approximately $75 and a Multiple Entry Visa costs approximately $85. Visas issued in Togo are limited to 7 days and can take an hour or more to be issued. Travelers applying for visa extensions can also experience significant delays. Vaccination against yellow fever is also required before entry. U.S. and Canadian citizens should carry copies of their passports and vaccination records with them at all times while traveling in Togo.
Please note obtaining a visa is your responsibility. These requirements change often and therefore it is best that you check with the Embassy of Togo for the most up to date visa information.
HEALTHHealth insurance is essential. Medical facilities are poor quality. We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. The doctor or health-care provider will determine what vaccinations and medication you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities. For more information on travel requirements, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/togo.aspx COUNTRY INFOCapital: Lomé. Government: Republic since 1967. Gained independence from France in 1960. Language: French is the official language, while Ewe, Watchi and Kabiyé are the most widely spoken African languages. Very little English is spoken. Religion: 50% traditional or animist, 35% Christian and 15% Muslim. Time: GMT. Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz single phase. Plugs are square or round two-pin. Telephone: Country code +228. Mobile Telephone: Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies. Coverage is good around urban areas and patchy elsewhere. Internet: Public access is available in Internet cafes all over the country.
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