360 degrees tour of Togo, a country characterized by diverse environments and populations; we travel from the forests around Kpalimé and Atakpamé to the Atakora hills, in the north.
Along the way, we come across different people: from voodoo adepts to Kabyé blacksmiths, from Tamberma architects, who shabbily handle clay, to traditional Bassar chiefs.
A journey rich in discoveries, encounters and celebrations, made more enjoyable by a friendly population who will share with us the African vibes.
Day 1: LOME IN, GULF OF GUINEA
Arrival in Lomé and transfer to the hotel.
Day 2: LOME CITY TOUR
Lome, the vibrant capital of Togo, is the only African town which has been colonized by Germans, British, and French and it is one of the rare capitals in the world that borders another nation. These elements have led to the development of a unique identity reflected in the lifestyle of its inhabitants and in the architecture of the town. Lomé is indeed a cosmopolitan capital and a cross-point for people, trade, and cultures. Our city-tour includes: the central market with its famous “Nana Benz”, women who control the market of the “wax fabrics” (batik-stile printed cloths) sold all over Africa and well-known for being part of the African fashion. We continue with visiting the administrative quarter where the vibes of the colonial time are still there, as shown by the colonial buildings. Once left the administrative quarter, we enter the world of animism, we visit the largest Fetish Market in the continent, where an eclectic assortment of all the ingredients for love potions and magical concoctions are sold – it is here that the adepts of the local animist religion come to buy the necessary items to practice their cults. The market’s masters will introduce us to some of their homemade “gris-gris” used to solve daily life issues.
Our visit ends with “Le Palais de Lomé”, a vibrant art centre in the former governor’s palace built in 1890’s and surrounded by an 11-hectar park overlooking the ocean, interesting fact: the park is home to a precious biodiverse environment of centuries-old-threes. The goal of the centre is to reinvent natural and historical heritages to foster creative talents in Africa. As a matter of fact, Lome is an important transit place for tribal art, folk art, modern paintings and general handicraft and some art galleries are known for displaying old ritual objects highly valued by collectors as well as paintings from the Togolese school of art.
The day is not yet over! In the evening a cooking class is scheduled: feel free to enter the kitchen of a professional chef and cook your own dinner. You will discover the properties and the flavours of raw local products and how they can be mixed with other ingredients, you will also learn the cooking techniques coming from abroad. If you prefer having a rest in your room, you can meet the group afterwards and have dinner together.
On Friday night, many places perform live music: jazz, African music… follow the rhythm and discover the the vibrant Lomé by night with your guide!
Day 3: GARDENS AND CRAFTS
Kpalimé lies in a mountainous area, a main area for the cultivation of coffee, cacao, and oil palms. Spots worth mentioning are the Roman Catholic church, built in 1913, and the Mount Agou, the highest point in the country. We will visit the handicraft centre where all kinds of products, from paintings to wood carving, are to be found.
Day 4: TROPICAL FOREST
Early in the morning, we will take part to the Sunday ceremony of the Celestial Church, a good example of syncretism which mixes Voodoo and Christianity. During the ceremony, we might meet believers and priests, attend exorcisms, prophesies and trances.
Later on, we drive to the edge of the forest where we take a nice walk to meet with the majesty of tropical trees, the cheerful greetings of its human inhabitants in the background of the filtered green emerald light. Under the guidance of a local entomologist, we will learn about endemic butterflies and insects, finally we will be initiated to the art of painting using natural colours. At the end of the walks, we will visit tiny villages , cocoa and coffee plantations.
Day 5: FIRE DANCE
We drive along the mountains, luxurious forests and farms which make up the natural border between Togo and Ghana. On the way, we stop at Atakpame, a typical African town built on hills, here we can find all kind of goods from the nearby forest. Dating back to the XIX century and initially settled by the Ewe and Yoruba, Atakpame lies along the main railroad connecting Lome to Blitta and it is at the middle of an important cotton-growing area. In Atakpame men, through their skilled work on small weaving looms, make the brightly coloured fabric called “Kente”.
In the late afternoon, we arrive in Sokode where we will attend the fire dance. At the centre of the village, a large fire lights up the faces of the dancers and the audience, the dancers start dancing following the hypnotic beat of the drums, eventually leaping into the glowing embers, picking up burning coals, passing them over their bodies and even putting them in their mouths … the whole performances without hurting themselves or showing any signs of pain. It’s difficult to explain such a performance. Is it matter of courage? Self-suggestion? Magic? Maybe it really is the fetishes that protect them from the fire.
Day 6: DRIVE TO NORTH
Crossing the mountains will bring us to encounter the Kabye ethnic group. Kabye dwellings, called «Soukala», are made up of by several adobe huts joined by a wall and each dwelling is the domain of a patriarchal family. In the villages located at the top of the mountains, women work as potters using an ancestral technique which does not reckon on the wheel, while men are blacksmiths still working iron with heavy stones, instead of hammers and anvil as in the early down of Iron Age.
Day 7: ADOBE CASTLES
Morning drive, once in Kante, a track across the Atakora Mountains takes us to the land of Tamberma people. Over the centuries, these people have been seeking refuge in the heart of the Atakora, a land so difficult to access that they could be saved from any attacks, especially from those of the slave traders coming from North Africa. According to the anthropologists, their origins are close to the Dogon people of Mali with whom they share an absolute faithfulness to their animist traditions. Their strong traditional believes are confirmed by big shrines – of phallic form – at the entrance of their homes. Those fortified dwellings, similar in form to medieval castles, are one of the most beautiful examples of ancient African architecture. Their style impressed Le Corbusier so much that he spoke of «sculptural architecture». As a matter of fact, the houses are built by hand, layer after layer, adding round mud balls and shaping them as per the plan of the house. The whole process is a kind of sensual gesture mixing strength, care and beauty. With the permission granted to us by the inhabitants, we enter their homes to better understand their way of life.
Drive back to Defale and stop to Sarakawa Game Reserve. In a bushy savannah we will discover this fenced park of 50.000 hectars; the park was the private game reserve of the former President Gnassingbé Eyadéma. Today it is open to visitors and thanks to the 4wd vehicles of the rangers we will enjoy a short “safari” looking for zebras, buffalo, antelope, and many bird species. It is not difficult to spot them around the three points of water.
Day 8: CHIEFTANSY
Early morning wake up call. Further to the West, we visit the region inhabited by the Bassar. They live in large clay houses with conical roofs and they keep following a very old process of iron production: a combination of geology and alchemy. For instance, old women are the only ones allowed to climb the mountains surrounding the villages to get the stones containing the iron and men cannot be sexually active during the melting process if they want it to be successful.
In the royal palace, a lawsuit takes place. Peacefully, the community gathers and, with the help of the chief and the elders, they try to solve daily disputes. If we’re lucky, we could attend this unique moment when the role of traditional chiefdom is made clear. If something goes wrong, and the cannot agree to a sentence, the Bassar have a «strange» way to find if anybody is guilty: accuser and accused have to put hands in…. boiling oil!
Arrival in Atakpame is supposed to be in the evening.
Day 9: IN THE LAND OF VOODOO
On the way back to Lome, we will leave then the main road to discover a fascinating region rich in tiny villages, culture and … voodoo!
Meeting with adepts of Kokou voodoo, considered able to reveal the witches. In an isolated village, we will have the chance to be part of their voodoo ceremony, which often takes place in a typical African courtyard. At the increasingly hypnotic rhythm of tam-tam and enchantment songs, some dancers will fall into a deep trance: eyes rolled over, grimaces, stretched muscles, insensibility to pain and fire.
In the afternoon, the market of Vogan starts to come into life, this market is one of the most impressive of the country, here you can meet any kind of sellers including glass beads and fetishes sellers! The market of Vogan is famous for lasting till night time, when small oil lamps will light the sundowner, darkness and light will play together creating a mysterious atmosphere…
We reach the Lake Togo.
Day 10: FETISH PRIESTS
We will visit a sacred village inhabited by the Guen; originally from the surroundings of Accra, the Guen has brought their fetishes and worship them in their temples. We will meet with the religious authorities of the village.
Later, we will meet with a traditional healer who treats his patients with voodoo rites and herbs. The treatments are good for almost all diseases, especially for insanity. His shrine is impressive and the long list of voodoos shows the endless powers concentrated in the site.
In a remote hidden village, we will join a Voodoo ceremony: the frenetic rhythm of the drums and adepts’ chants call the voodoo spirit who takes possession of some of the dancers who fall into a deep trance. Sakpata, Heviesso, Mami Water are some the Voodoo spirits who show their presence by taking possession of their adepts. In this narrow village, surrounded by the magic atmosphere of a voodoo ceremony, we will finally understand how traditions are still deeply rooted in African soul.
Drive to Lome, where the tour ends at the airport
VISAS: Togo – single entry visa. The visa can be obtained at the airport with 15-30 euro. It lasts one week and it can be extended in Kara.
VACCINATIONS : Yellow fever – compulsory; malaria prophylaxis – highly recommended.
COVID-19 , All passengers arriving in Togo must complete before travelling an online immigration and health form voyage.gouv.tg and pay for a COVID-19 test (on the same website) before travel. The cost of the test is CFA 40,000 (approximately euro 65). You will need a print-out of the electronic receipt to be allowed to board the aircraft. The COVID-19 PCR test will be carried out on arrival at Lomé international airport. Before leaving the airport you must download the Togo Safe application, which will allow you to specify the location where you will self-isolate until you receive your test results. This application is available from App stores.
All passengers departing from Togo must enrol again and pay the same amount for a second Covid-19 PCR test at the airport to be done within the 72 hours before the day of departure.
Tests result should arrive in 24 hours.
MEALS: lunch, picnic or at local restaurants (tourist menus); dinner at the hotel restaurant (tourist menu)
LUGGAGE: due to the itinerary please contain the weight in 20 kg ( 45 Lbs), preferable use duffle bags.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: Not included. Mandatory for medical assistance, repatriation, material and physical damages. We are not responsible for any material and physical damage during the tour.
Discover our insurance policy proposal: https://transafrica.biz/en/travel-insurance-en/
TRANSPORTS: microbus or minibus
All our trips are designed to be flexible so that we can adapt to weather conditions, focus on the group’s interests and take advantage of opportunities that arise once there.
Considering the special nature of the journey, some parts may be modified due to unpredictable factors and are based on unarguable decisions of the local guide. Costs originating from such variations will be sole responsibility of the participants. Of course, the guide will do his/her utmost to adhere to the original program.
Prices could change in case of major changes in services costs, beyond the organizer’s will