West Africa Adventure Trip: Mali-Burkina Faso-Benin-Togo-Ghana



Day One: All Day: Arrive Bamako - transfer to hotel (Int'l flights arrive late afternoon)
Night: Stay the night in Bamako
Day Two: Morning: After breakfast we will visit the Artisanat (craft market) located in the grande marche in the center of Bamako before departing for a 3-hour drive to Segou, located along the banks of the Niger river.
Afternoon: After lunch we will visit Segou Koro, located 8 km from Segou. It is the old town of Segou and is the ancient capital of the Bambara Empire
Night: Stay the night in Segou
Day Three: All Day: After breakfast we will depart for a 6-hour drive to Mopti, stopping for lunch & refreshments along the way
Late Afternoon: After we check into our hotel, we will visit the town of Mopti with its bustling harbor and markets
Night: Stay the night in Mopti
Day Four: Morning: After breakfast, we will head for Dogon country where these vibrant people still live as they have for centuries and are the object of study by anthropologists around the world: We will leave the paved roads behind in Mopti and travel along a dusty dirt road (3-hour drive) to the village of Nombori, located at the foot of the Bandiagara escarpment. The views will be breathtaking as we descend the escarpment
Afternoon: We will have lunch in Nombori and visit the village*
Late Afternoon: Depart Nombori for a 3-km trek to Idjeli
Night: Stay the night in Idjeli
Day Five: All Day: After breakfast, we will visit the village of Idjeli and drive 2-hours to Koro, our last destination in Dogon country - we will be traveling through the sahel savannah, some sand dunes and Dogon villages along the way
Afternoon: We will have lunch in Koro and then cross the border into Burkina Faso. We will have to go through border formalities on both sides of the Mali/Burkina border (Koro and Thiou). Once we clear customs, it is a 2-hour drive to Ouahigouya
Night: Stay the night in Ouahigouya
Day Six: All Day: After breakfast, we will travel along the sahel landscape to Gorom-Gorom, a traditional village very similar to Dogon and is famous for having one of the most colorful and fascinating markets in all of West Africa - market day is Thursday
Night: Spend the night in Gorom-Gorom
Day Seven: Morning: We will spend the morning exploring Gorom-Gorom
Afternoon: After lunch we will drive along the sandy track to the Songhai village of Marakoe near the Niger border for a visit and then continue on to Dori where we will spend the night
Night: Spend the night in Dori
Day Eight: Morning: After breakfast, we will depart for a 4-hour drive to Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, stopping in some interesting villages along the way with interesting mosques and architecture
Afternoon: Free afternoon in Ouagadougou-the main attraction is the Grand Marche
Night: Stay the night in Ouagadougou
Day Nine: All Day: Depart Ouagadougou after breakfast for a 1 and a half hour drive to Sabou, where we will see the sacred crocodiles. The local people swim with them, straddle them and feed them live chickens-for those of you who are brave, you can sit on one of the crocodiles while the local people feed it. Continue on to Bobo Diolasso, stopping for lunch along the way. Arrive in Bobo late afternoon where we will spend the night - Bobo is the music capital of Burkina Faso and has a great nightlife
Night: Stay the night in Bobo
Day Ten: Morning: After an early breakfast and short visit of Bobo Diolasso, we will depart for a 2-hour drive to Banfora where the scenery changes to a greener landscape with waterfalls and small lakes
Afternoon: After an early lunch, we will visit the surrounding area: Drive 1-hour along a dirt road to Sindou, located 50 km west of Banfora, to see its incredible rock formations - on the same dirt road back to Banfora, stop at Lake Tengrela, habitat of more than 100 hippos, where the fisherman will take us onto the lake in one of their pirogues and then we will continue on to the Karfiguela Waterfalls, just 12 km west of Banfora (it's a full schedule: If time does not permit, we will visit the waterfalls the next morning before departing for Lobi country)
Night: Stay the night in Banfora
Day Eleven: All Day: We will depart after breakfast for Gaoua (210 km south-east of Bobo), center of Lobi country, stopping in Loropeni along the way to visit its ancient ruins, known by the Lobi as the maison de refus. Lobi country is fascinating because of its architecture (mud-constructed compounds that are rectangular & sometimes multi-storied) and many preserved traditions such as the dyoro initiation rites, severe physical tests of manhood which young boys undergo during a three-six month period every seven years
Late Afternoon: We should arrive in Gaoua mid-late afternoon in time to visit the village
Night: Stay the night in Gaoua
Day Twelve: All Day: After breakfast, we will head for Nazinga Reserve, 300 km from Gaoua. The main attraction are the elephants and there are also antelopes, monkeys, baboons, wart hogs, crocodiles and birds. We should arrive mid-afternoon in time for a late afternoon game drive
Night: Stay the night in the town of Po, about 25 km east of Nazinga, close to the Ghana border
Day Thirteen: All Day: Depart after an early breakfast for a long drive to Natitingou (about 550 km), located in the Atakora mountains in northern Benin. We will visit the Betamaribe people either late afternoon when we arrive or the next morning. The Betamaribe, who still hunt with bows and arrows, have avoided Islamic and Christian influences and are mostly animists. They live in huts called Tata-Somba, which are small, round and tiered and look like small fortresses. The animals live on the ground floor, the kitchen is on the second floor and the sleeping/day-time living rooms are located on the roof. The Betamaribe do not like their picture taken
Night: Stay the night in Natitingou
Day Fourteen: All Day: After breakfast, we will continue traveling south to Abomey (520 km), which is in the heart of Fon country and ancient capital of the great Dahomey kingdom, one of the greatest empires in West Africa. We will arrive mid-afternoon and visit the restored Royal Palace, a must-see; before the arrival of the French, (the 10th King ordered the palaces to be burned when he fled from the French), the palace compound was one of the most incredible structures in West Africa. Each Fon King built his own palace within this compound and the remains of 2 are still standing today
Night: Stay the night in Abomey
Day Fifteen: All Day: After breakfast, continue south (about 100 km) to the village of Ganvie where the 12,000 inhabitants live in huts on stilts several km out on Lake Nokoue. The original inhabitants settled here because it was a safe haven from the warring Fon and Dahomey empires as the warriors were forbidden to venture into the water due to a religious custom. We will travel across the lagoon and visit Ganvie in a pirogue -- a 2-3 hour boat trip
Afternoon: We will have lunch in Ganvie and then return to our 4x4 to travel along the coast to Grand Popo, renowned for its beaches, passing through Cotonou along the way. The white flags that you will see in the villages along the roadside between Cotonou and Grand Popo indicate Voodoo practitioners
Night: Stay the night in Grand Popo
Day Sixteen: All Day: We will enjoy a well-deserved day at the beach enjoying the Golf of Benin
Late Afternoon: Around 4PM we will depart for a 2-hour drive to Lome, Togo where we will spend the night - there is a wide choice of restaurants and bars
Night: Stay the night in Lome
Day Seventeen: Morning: We will spend a free morning in Lome. Besides its beaches, the market is one of the best in West Africa and you can also visit the fetish market for traditional medicine and "gris gris" to protect you against evil
Afternoon: After lunch we will depart for a 3-hour ride to Atakpame, situated in the heart of Togo's mountainous area and the center of Togo's cotton belt
Night: Stay the night in Atakpame
Day Eighteen: All Day: After breakfast, we will visit the picturesque Ayome Waterfalls, about 17 km from Atakpame, before heading off for a 1 and a half day journey across Togo and Ghana to our next destination, Mole Game Reserve. We will travel north to Sokode (150 km) and continue west crossing the border into Ghana traveling towards Yendi (150 km) and on to Tamale (100 km)
Night: Stay the night in Yendi or Tamale
Day Ninteen: All Day: Depart after breakfast for Mole Game Reserve, about a 5 hour drive from Tamale - the first 63 km will be on asphalt, but the rest of the journey will be on either a dusty or muddy road, depending on the season. However, the park is really worthwhile the inconvenience of getting there. The Mole hotel is built on top of a hill with a view of the plains and the elephant drinking hole below. There is a restaurant and a swimming pool
Night: Stay the night in Mole Game Reserve Hotel
Day Twenty: All Day: Accompanied by a local guide, we will have a "walking safari" in African nature. We will have one safari in the early morning and one in the late afternoon and will most likely see wart hogs, antelopes and, if we are lucky, elephants - in between the 2 safaris, we can relax at the hotel and enjoy the restaurant and swimming pool
Night: Stay the night in Mole Game Reserve Hotel
Day Twenty-One: All Day: We will depart Mole Game Reserve early and head for Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, built on rolling green hills. It will be an all day journey as we have to travel back for along the dusty or muddy road before we hit asphalt and then travel 250-300 km south before hitting Kumasi, site of West Africa's largest cultural center, the Palace of the Ashanti King and old fort which is now a museum. They have numerous colorful festivals in the summer and authentic Akan religious ceremonies held at 42-day intervals. Kumasi has the largest market in West Africa - the tailors will be able to make a shirt or a pair of trousers for you in one afternoon
Night: Stay the night in Kumasi
Day Twenty-Two: Morning: We will have a free morning in Kumasi for those of you who want leisure time to shop. We will also visit the nearby Ashanti villages where they specialize in crafts such as goldsmithing, kente cloth weaving, adomkra cloth printing and the carving of the Ashanti stools for those of you who would like to do this
Afternoon: After lunch, we will head for Accra (250 km), capital of Ghana and our final destination on this West African trek
Night: Stay the night in Accra
Day Twenty-Three: All Day: Free program until transfer to airport for departure
*For groups of 7 people or more, we will arrange a free Dogon ceremony with spectacular masked dancers