Day 1. Arrive in Cotonou
Our local, English-speaking guide, a great connoisseur of the customs of his country, awaits us at the airport to move us to our accommodation.
Dinner in the centre of Cotonou.
Day 2. Porto Novo – Bohicon – Dassa
Today we will visit the center of Porto Novo, the old Portuguese city and current political capital of Benin. Porto Novo is an interesting city with several museums and important vestiges of the golden age of triangular trade between Europe, Africa and America. It gave rise to the so-called Afro-Brazilian culture when freed slaves from Brazil returned to Africa.
Then we went to Abomey, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey , one of the historical cities of Benin and a World Heritage Site. Here we will visit the disturbing market of fetishes of Bohicon , where you can see skulls of all kinds of fauna and material to perform voodoo rites; the palace – museumwhere the monarchs of the kingdom of Dahomey lived until the victory of the French troops over King Behanzin in the 19th century. A few years ago, UNESCO restored the whole complex and adapted rooms where you can admire the real thrones made with human skulls and the Dutch ceramic cups that were used to trade with the local chiefs. From Abomey we follow our route to Dassa .
Day 3. Dassa – Nattingou
Dassa is a town surrounded by hills that have a very special meaning because here the royal family and the local population take refuge when the Kingdom of Idasha was invaded by the powerful Kingdom of Dahomey in order to get men for the flourishing slave trade . We will climb some of these hills to enjoy a beautiful landscape and see how they venerate the spirits of the ancestors here.
At mid-morning we will continue our trip to Natitingou .
Night in hotel.
Days 4, 5, 6 and 7. Trekking in Somba Country
The Somba have managed to preserve their customs and traditions, despite the advance of Islam and we will be surprised by their Tatas or double-storied adobe castle houses, with a large upper terrace and decorated with friezes similar to the facial scarifications of their inhabitants. Bordered by the mountain chain of Atakora, these constructions are guarded by great fetishes that represent the protective ancestors of the family. This is the magnificent setting of our trekking through one of the least explored regions of Benin .
Some of the villages that we will visit during the trek: Koukouankouangou, Koussonougou, Kouwetakouangou, Koussou, Tedonta, Kounacogou, Koutagou, Koutamma, Goukounagnigou, Boukoumbe.
The last day of trekking will end in the town of Kounadogou on the border with Togo, from where we will go on the way to the National Park of the Pendjari .
Night in villages with mosquito nets and 7 in hotel.
Day 8. Pendjari National Park
On this day we went very early in the Park accompanied by local guides to try to see the varied fauna that inhabits it.
Pendjari contains a wide variety of ecological environments that allow the maintenance and expansion of an animal and plant biodiversity characteristic of the West African savannah: cheetahs, leopards, western African lion, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes, antelopes, an incredible variety of birds … make this Park the most important protected area in West Africa .
Night in hotel.
Day 9. Tanougou Waterfalls – Nattingou
In the morning we will visit on foot the waterfalls of Tanougou where we can take a bath to return in the afternoon to Nattingou.
Day 10. Natitingou – Lake Aheme
Today we leave behind the north of Benin and return to the south in a day of intense road to reach Laho Aheme where we will spend the night in a shelter built on its waters.
Day 11. Lake Aheme – Grand Popo
We embarked on a motorized pirogue to get into the river and sail to its mouth in the Atlantic and from here we move to the beaches of Gran Popo .
Grand Popo has a beautiful beach, very wild and in which there is a settlement of Ghanaian fishermen , do not miss the spectacle of boarding the boats to the beach at the end of the afternoon.
Night in hotel located next to the beach.
Day 12. Grand Popo – Route of the slaves – Ganvie
We continue route to Ouidah , slave center and headquarters of the Annual Voodoo Festival.
We visited the Portuguese colonial fort, the sacred forest of Kpassé and the Temple of the Pythons , a sacred animal for the Fon.
We will walk along the Slave Route to the Door of No Return , which recalls the last steps of the slaves before leaving African soil, one of the largest diasporas in history.
Transfer to the Calavie pier where we embark on our canoe to tour the waters of Lake Nokouéand discover the lake settlement of Ganvie , a group of villages built on the lake and where all life runs at the rhythm of the pirogues, a really nice place and picturesque.
We will stay in the same lake in a hostel from which we can enjoy this peculiar way of life.
Day 13. Ganvie – Cotonou
Last canoe tour before going to Cotonou where we will also visit the Dantokpa market , the largest in West Africa before heading to the airport to catch the return flight.