WF2 WEST AFRICA TOUR

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Senegal, Gambia, Ghana, Togo & Benin

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Metropolitan Dakar & Goree Island Colonial St-Louis & fabulous Djouj Bird Sanctuary Vibrant Kumasi street life Kakum N.P. rain forest canopy walk Impressive Elmina & Cape Coast castles Tiny Gambia - Cultural and natural experience Ouidah: Voodoo birthplace Stilt village of Ganvie lake

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (see note below, if applicable) - All pricing reflects twin-sharing, per-person pricing for the TOUR AND INTERNAL FLIGHTS ONLY; however, we can book flights from your home airport to join the tour for an added cost. Contact us for a no obligation quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 09 Feb 2018Tue 27 Feb 2018 $5770 USD
Sun 14 Oct 2018Thu 01 Nov 2018 $5770 USD

The above prices are subject to an additional $163 for taxes/fees levied on flights that occur as part of the tour. The internal airfares ARE included, but we list the taxes separately on your invoice as they are beyond our control and can change at any time.


Optional Single Supplement: $1700 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $852, if twin-sharing accommodation is unavailable.


Tour Overview


We are delighted to bring West Africa back to our roster for 2017 and beyond, featuring some old favourites while avoiding some current trouble spots. We are especially pleased to reintroduce The Gambia, a tiny, often overlooked country tucked into Senegal, featuring a unique culture and history and some of the friendliest people on Earth. We have a long track record of offering unique itineraries in this region, a place where independent travel can be very daunting or impossible. Our expertise in planning and executing trips in this special place ensures a smooth, safe and highly-memorable travel experience. Though a little rough around the edges in spots, West Africa offers incredible variety and true adventure to the intrepid traveller. We hope you can join us!

Regions visited: North And West Africa
Countries visited: Senegal; Gambia; Ghana; Togo and Benin


Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrive in Dakar
Today we arrive in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

Overnight in Dakar.

Meal plan: Dinner

Day 2 Dakar & Goree Island
This morning we take a short ferry ride to the nearby island of Goree. Discovered by the Portuguese, the island was disputed in the following 450 years between the Dutch, the British and the French and changed hands many times. Goree is a World Heritage site (UNESCO) and is infamous for being one of the main gathering and embarkation points for millions of enslaved Africans who were crammed into ships and sent to the Americas.

On the island we visit the chilling House of Slaves where captives were chained in tiny cells waiting to be shipped overseas. Our walk around the island also takes to the impressive fortress, the Catholic Church and the old colonial quarter. Goree boasts many former grand buildings from the 18th & 19th centuries and since there are no cars on the island, it is a beautiful place to unwind and wander among the historical remains away from Dakar's hustle and bustle.

Back in Dakar, we have a tour of the city, the westernmost point on the African continent. Dakar is a dynamic and modern urban center with a strong French colonial flavour. Our city tour shows us the Independence Square, the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral and the Grand Mosque. We drive around the Corniche for scenic views of the rugged Atlantic coastline.

Overnight in Dakar.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 3 Dakar - Saint-Louis
This morning we head northward to historic Saint-Louis which, until 1958, was the capital of French-administered Mauritania and Senegal. En route we stop at the Rose Lake, a center of salt extraction where traditional methods are still in use. This is the finishing line of the demanding Paris-Dakar rally.

Tide-permitting, we may be able to travel some of today's journey "off-road" along the beach in 4X4 vehicles. Alternatively we will continue by bus.

We reach Saint-Louis at the end of the afternoon driving along a road bordered by large and impressive baobab trees. The city of Saint-Louis is situated on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River and, like the island of Goree, is recognized as a World Heritage Site.

Overnight in Saint-Louis.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 4 Saint-Louis & Djoudj National Bird Park
Heading out early this morning, we drive to the Walo Delta of the Senegal River, a vast area of marshes and wetlands. This river has its source in the Fouta Djalon Mountains of Guinee (where the great Niger River also rises) and marks the border between Senegal and its northern neighbour, Mauritania.

Our destination this morning is the Djouj National Park, considered one of the most important bird sanctuaries on the planet. Situated on a major migratory route, this park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts and was awarded World Heritage status and a World Biosphere Reserve. Some of the world's greatest concentrations of white pelicans and other migratory birds can be seen here. We board a motorized boat and cruise along the splendid waterways to observe the immensely rich birdlife. Various ethnic groups live along the Senegal River, notably Fulas, Tuculors and Moors.

In the afternoon we return to Saint-Louis for our city tour. We visit the Provincial Museum, the Faidherbe Square, the Central Mosque, and pass by the old Slave Market, a gum Arabic warehouse and countless colonial buildings painted in flaking pastels. At the height of the French period some 4,000 French nationals lived here. We finally drive through the lively fishing community of Guet Ndar and its huge wholesale fish market.

Overnight in Saint-Louis.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 5 Saint-Louis, Senegal - Banjul, Gambia
Today we travel by road across the border to The Gambia.

The Gambia, officially the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, is mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline bordered with the Atlantic Ocean at its western end. It is the smallest country in mainland Africa. The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the nation's namesake, which flows through the centre of the Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese, during which era it was known as A Gambia; later, on 25 May 1765, the Gambia was made a part of the British colony when the government formally assumed control, establishing the Province of Senegambia. On 18 February 1965, The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom.

Overnight in Banjul.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 6 Banjul Area Touring
Today we'll have tour of the city of Banjul, the National Museum, Albert Market, and to view the mixture of architecture and Mosques in this bustling capital. Then we head off to Serekunda (which means 'the home of the Sere family') market, which is the largest in town packed with local shops, merchants, craft sellers, street peddlers from all over West Africa and some Arab countries. Here you will see the batik tie and dye in action with an opportunity to buy some souvenirs, wood carvings or jewellery.

Continue to tour the Gambia River. We visit the bird sanctuaries and native villages in the creeks of the river. We visit the Mandingo villages near the southern Senegal border.

Overnight in Banjul.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 7 Southern Gambia
Today's excursion takes us away from the normal tourist track to the traditional settlements of the countryside on the south bank of The River Gambia. Stop to view the production of local arts like tie/dye making, salt processing, pottery, soap making also learn about the harvesting of oysters and the various stages of honey making.

We then continue to a riverside lodge for lunch, and relax before proceeding on a boat trip along the river. We will re-join the truck and make our way back to our hotel with a stop at the Brikama craft market (one of the oldest in Gambia) with some time for shopping.

Overnight in Banjul.

Meal plan: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 Banjul, Gambia - Accra, Ghana
Today we fly to Accra, the large and vibrant capital of Ghana. Formed by the merger of the British Gold Coast and part of the German Togoland, English-speaking Ghana was the first country in colonial Africa to achieve independence in 1957.

On arrival we'll commence our sightseeing program.

Overnight in Accra.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 9 Accra: City Tour
Today we tour Accra and its surrounds, including La Township to see uniquely-designed special caskets at the Teshie and Nungua areas which reflect the beliefs of the people in life after death (ie, a bus driver may be buried in a bus, a waiter in a large beer bottle etc). We also visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum Park and drive past the Independence Arch and Black Star Square, Accra's ceremonial grounds, and view in the distance Christiansborg Castle. This afternoon we'll stop at the city's arts and crafts market to try out our bargaining skills.

Overnight in Accra.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 10 Accra - Cape Coast & Elmina Castles
Today we depart for the Cape Coast; upon arrival we embark on a tour of the infamous Forts, Castles and Slave Dungeons of Ghana.

History will unfold the story of the slave trade which the impact is still felt beyond the shores of Africa today. Visit the Cape Coast Castle built by the Swedes in 1653 and was later taken over by the British. This castle also houses the West African Historical Museum established by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government in 1994. Visit the Elmina Castle built by the Portuguese in 1482 and is also known as St. George's Castle. This castle was the first European structure built in Sub-Saharan Africa. The colourful harbour nestled below the Elmina Castle, full of pirogues preparing to go to sea offers one of West Africa's greatest photo opportunities.

Overnight in Elmina.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 11 Kakum National Park & Elmina Walking Tour
Early morning departure for a 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 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.

After lunch, embark on a guided walking tour of Elmina, which was the first point of European contact in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was once the most cosmopolitan city in Tropical Africa. Climb the Jago Hill to Fort Saint Jargo, which was used by the Dutch as a post to snatch the Elmina Castle from the Portuguese. You will be thrilled by the various Colonial Dutch Cemeteries as well as the colourful safo (Fante Traditional Soldiers) posts with their philosophical symbols.

Overnight in Elmina.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 12 Elmina - Kumasi: City Tour
After breakfast, 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 with a stop at Assin Manso. We visit the site of "Donkor Nsuo", the former Slave River and market and the final transit point for a large number of enslaved Africans. This is the final resting place for two ancestors whose mortal remains were returned from the USA and Jamaica and re-interred there.

Kumasi comes as a shock, being the most dynamic marketplace in WA and the second largest city in Ghana with a population of almost three million. It is a vibrant commercial center, visited by traders from all over. Kumasi has quite a collection of British colonial buildings and it is the heart of the Ashanti culture.

We 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.

Overnight in Kumasi.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 13 Kumasi Area Tour
We'll spend the day in and around Kumasi, taking in 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.

We also visit some of the craft villages of the surrounding lush countryside, and the ancient Ejisu Ashanti Shrine, a World Heritage Site. We'll see the weaving of the famous Kente cloth, the making of the Adinkra, a type of fabric worn at funerals, and prized for its intricate hand printed symbols, and the work of woodcarvers -- stools, fertility figures, drums, etc.

Overnight in Kumasi.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 14 Kumasi - Volta Region
We depart early morning for scenic drive to a beautiful village located on the lowe course of the splendid Volta River. We will have the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the paramount chief and elders amidst traditional drumming and dancing by the villages and also participate in a 'naming ceremony' whereby you will be given a traditional African name. Other activities include a demonstration of pottery making which is the main occupation of the women in the village.

Overnight in the Volta Region.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 15 Volta Region, Ghana - Lome, Togo
Today we follow the coast dotted with Ewe villages, tranquil lagoons and tropical vegetation before we reach Togo and the capital Lome (we depart Ghana/enter Togo via the Afalo border post).

Lomé, with a population of 837,437 (metro population 1,570,283), is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial center and its chief port. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels. It also has an oil refinery. The city was founded in the 19th century by German, British and African traders, becoming the capital of Togoland in 1897.

Upon arrival we will have a scenic drive of Lome: an ocean drive, market area, public buildings, main boulevards and the new International Museum of the Gulf of Guinea.

Overnight in Lome.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 16 Lome, Togo - Ouidah, Benin - Cotonou
This morning we drive along the scenic Togo Lagoon from Lome to the colonial town of Aneho, capital of the former German Togoland, where we exit Togo (border post Aneho).

After entering Benin (border post Hilla-Condji), we drive to Ouidah, an important historical center and the cradle of the Voodoo religion. Ouidah offers a calm and relaxed atmosphere with its colonial buildings and it tropical atmosphere. Our Ouidah tour will include the Temple of Pythons and the Sacred forest, both important Voodoo Shrines as well as the Portuguese Fort now housing the History Museum. The exhibit focuses on the slave trade and Benin consequent cultural links with the Caribbean and the Americas.

From the city center, we retrace part of the infamous slave route, passing a former slave market and numerous shrines and memorials erected by the African Diaspora of the New World. We travel all the way to the ocean and the Door of No Return.

After lunch we drive to Cotonou, the commercial capital of Benin.

Overnight in Cotonou.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 17 Cotonou & Porto-Novo
Today we travel the short distance to Porto Novo, the capital of Benin and its second largest city of approximately 250,000 people -- a nice change of pace from the bustling Cotonou. Porto Novo, named by the Portuguese in the 1500s, is still today showing significant Portuguese influence. For its size, Porto Novo has an interesting culture and tourist attractions.

In addition to a panoramic tour of the city, we will visit the Museé Ethnographique de Porto Novo, an interesting museum that takes an intensive look into the past of Porto Novo's kings, displaying a good selection of fetishes, old Yourba king masks, costumes, and some musical instruments.

We also visit Palais Royal du Roi Toffa. This former residence of King Toffa is now officially called Musee Honmé. This well-maintained, rather simple, palace is a nice look into how African royalty really lived. 1883 was the year King Toffa signed the treaty with French, agreeing to hand over land. The kingdom of Porto Novo was one of the longest lasting in Africa, lasting up until 1976.

We also see the unique and perhaps most colourful building in West Africa -- the 19th century Brazilian style church now converted into a mosque.

Depending on our timing today, your Tour Leader may suggest an informal drive along the coast, seeing the attractive coastal landscape and small villages that dot the shoreline.

Return to Cotonou.

Overnight in Cotonou.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 18 Cotonou - Ganvie - Cotonou
One of the highlights of any trip to West Africa is Ganvie, the African Venice. In ancient times people took refuge on Lake Nokoue from the attacks of the feared Dahomey warriors who were forbidden by a deep belief to fight on water. The Ganvie people over time developed this unique lake culture and way of life which have made them famous.

Our boat cruise takes us along tranquil waterways and fish farms to the lake community of Ganvie. We discover these curious built-on-stilts dwellings, small floating markets and different aspects of the local daily life.

Returning to "terra firma", we pay a visit to the Abomey-Calavi fetish market, the most authentic in the region and (hopefully) meet one of the officiating fetish priests before returning to Cotonou.

Ovenright in Cotonou.

Meal plan: Breakfast and Dinner

Day 19 Departure
Departure from Cotonou.

* LAND ONLY PASSENGERS PLEASE NOTE: This tour ends in COTONOU. Though it may be tempting to book flights out of another West African gateway, we regret that we are unable to book one-way connecting flights from Cotonou to Accra, Dakar, Abidjan, etc.

BON VOYAGE!

Meal plan: Breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Dakar Novotel

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Dakar
Country: Senegal

This 4 star hotel offers 245 air-conditioned rooms as well as two meeting rooms for conferences and seminars. Our restaurant
... two bars invite you to sample regional cuisine in pleasant surroundings or enjoy a cocktail beside the pool.
Read More.

Coco Ocean Resort

Rating: 5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation5 Star Accommodation
Location: Banjul
Country: Gambia

You have arrived at an oasis of natural beauty, relaxation and service. Our commitment is to providing a spirit of
... and real sense of well-being. The people of Coco Ocean are here to look after you and to ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your time here. May you extend the warmest of welcome and wish you most enjoyable stay.
Read More.

Hotel la Residence

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Saint-Louis
Country: Senegal

Located on the River Senegal, the former capital of French West Africa. Discover the wealth of its architectural heritage, the
... of its people with its customs and traditional festivals, but also its fauna and flora, as well as exceptional landscapes and varied crafts.
Read More.

La Villa Ghana

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Accra
Country: Ghana

La Villa Boutique Hotel provides a truly unforgettable experience for those with distinctive taste. Located in the heart of Osu,
... suburb in Accra. Whether you are enjoying a refreshing dip in our private freshwater pool, relaxing with a cocktail in our exclusive bar or sampling the best fresh local produce in our intimate restaurant, you can expect service that is professional, friendly and attentive, without pretension or fuss.
Read More.

Coconut Grove Resort

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Elmina
Country: Ghana

Warm smiles and friendly service is our hallmark. Coconut Grove Hotels in Ghana offers for an impeccable vacation for anyone
... everyone whether you prefer a beach or city. Historical site or country side, there’s a Coconut Grove Hotel waiting to show you the time of your life. Enjoy a memorable stay in our Hotels that offers you a stylish yet relaxing haven where business travelers can escape the city’s hectic pace.
Read More.

The Volta Hotel

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Akosombo
Country: Ghana

This relaxed hotel is in rural surrounds, 5 km from Akosombo Dam and 11 km from Adomi Bridge.

Classically
... rooms have airy layouts, free Wi-Fi and satellite TV, as well as tea and coffeemakers, mini fridges and balconies. Suites have living rooms, and views of the Volta Lake and the Akosombo Dam.
Read More.

Hotel du Golfe

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Lome
Country: Togo

Featuring free WiFi throughout the property, Hotel du Golfe is situated in Lomé, 1.3 km from Shopping Centre. Guests can
... the on-site restaurant. All rooms have a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. Rooms include a private bathroom.
Read More.

Hotel du Lac

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Cotonou
Country: Benin

Hotel du Lac offers diverse quality services with 58 rooms all air-conditioned and equipped with bathrooms, telephone and satellite dish
... Hotel du Lac is located on the shores of picturesque Lake Nokoue.


Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (local restaurants and hotels) daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for local guides, drivers, restaurant staff, porters. Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving / late departing passengers who book their extra nights through us.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), international (if applicable) and domestic air taxes, visa fees (see below), and excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance (strongly recommended for this trip). Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on optional meal costs, shopping, and visas (visas can cost approx $600).

VISAS:
All five countries require visas in advance (except Gambia for Canadians, who do not require visas) - Senegal's is the easiest as it is available online. Because of the number of visas required, we strongly recommend you use a visa service. You can visit the sites below for requirements and costs:

Canadians: www.siatcs.com

US Passport holders: www.traveldocs.com

Seasonality and Weather

This tour is offered twice year -- October to March tends to have the best combination of heat and humidity with neither being too high, relatively speaking. This is also the dry season, though temperatures can soar due to hot, dry seasonal desert winds, especially in Senegal. We choose to visit at this time as seasonal rains at other times can make roads impassable and some locations may be closed. Breezy seaside locations enjoy relief from the heat year round.

Transport and Travel Conditions

The itinerary has been designed to be as comfortable as possible, but parts of West Africa are still largely undeveloped. Many road journeys are long and rough and sometimes dusty.

In Senegal, Ghana, & Togo, land transport by private AC bus Toyota Coaster or equivalent with about 24 seats. Sometimes 2 smaller vans are used instead of a larger bus.

In Benin, transport is usually 4X4 SUV vehicles (Toyota Land Cruisers or equivalent). We travel in a convoy with 4 passengers per vehicle plus driver. Though our vehicles are air-conditioned, spare parts and maintenance facilities are scarce and the exterior heat may exceed cooling ability.

In general, this is a tour with a lot of variables and things that can "go wrong" -- roads wash out, tires go flat, hot water simply stops (or never starts), and road journeys can take longer than anyone expects. One must be open-minded, patient, and focused on the task at hand: enjoying the region's myriad cultures, sights, and sounds and its friendly hospitable peoples.

This new itinerary also addresses concerns about security in the region. Avoiding Mali and Burkina Faso on this journey eliminates "problem areas" visited in previous years. All areas visited on this tour are well-policed and currently stable; please also note that no countries on this tour were significantly affected by the 2014 Ebola crisis.

Al always, we encourage you to review all advisories posted by DFAIT (Canada) and the US Department of State before deciding to travel anywhere.

Accommodation

In major cities hotels are generally of international standard (3-4 star) Outside major cities hotels tend to be more rustic & simpler properties where AC may or may not be functioning properly and a fan will then be used. All hotels have en-suite toilet & shower. Though more and more rare these days, you must be prepared for power and/or water failure in some more remote locales.

Hotel porterage is generally available (see inclusions) though you must be independent with luggage. Single rooms are limited and likely smaller than twins.

Please click on 'Map & Hotels' link for full information. In general, most travellers are pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of accommodation, service, and amenities of hotels used on this trip.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local guides, drivers.

Group Size

10-18 plus Tour Leader