The Grand Tour of Benin and Togo

The Grand Tour of Benin and Togo

Benin and Togo - two neighbours on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. These two peaceful French-speaking countries are often lumped together and visited on the same trip. The distances are comfortably short and the roads are in pretty good condition. The countries are very similar in nature and culture. Both countries have voodoo, long sandy beaches and tropical nature. Both Benin and Togo are definitely worth visiting in their own right, but we've bundled them together in this tour. You can customise the trip as you wish, starting and ending in Lomé, for example!

With us, you will experience the countries in detail with a knowledgeable and reliable guide. Safely, of course.

Day 1

Arrival in Cotonou, Benin's largest city. We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Accommodation in Cotonou.

Day 2

Cotonou, country's business hub, is home to around 700 000 Beninese. Although the metropolitan area is home to up to two million people. However, Cotonou is not the capital, but the smaller Porto-Novo, a short distance to the east, is.

We explore Cotonou with a morning city tour, during which we see various monuments, the red and white Catholic Cathedral and Dantokpa Market, known as the largest open-air market in West Africa.

After the city tour, we drive about 40 minutes to the small town of Abomey-Calavi, north of Cotonou. We board a wooden boat known as a pirogue at the town's marina, which takes us to the village of Ganvié, in the middle of the lake. Ganvié is built on stilts and is navigated by boat. The people originally moved to the middle of the lake about 400 years ago to escape slave traders who would not venture onto the lake. Accommodation in Cotonou.

Day 3

After breakfast, we drive about 2.5 hours to the town of Abomey. Abomey was the capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey. Dahomey was one of the most powerful kingdoms in West Africa and covered the southern part of present-day Benin. Between 1625 and 1900, Dahomey was ruled by a total of 12 kings. Then France subjugated the Kingdom of Dahomey and stripped the king of political power. We will explore the many royal castles of Abomey, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We will also visit the historical museum. We stay overnight in Abomey.

Day 4

Early in the morning, we set off for the town of Djougou in northern Benin. Travel time is approximately five hours. Djougou has been a major centre for the salt and kola nut trade, and has also become a melting pot for countless tribes such as the Sombi, Fulani, Dendi and Gourmantché. We will try to meet the local king when we arrive in the city. Accommodation in Djougou.

Day 5

We travel about 40 minutes to the tiny village of Tanéka Koko, which is a collection of beautiful round clay houses. We meet the spiritual leader of the village, who is also a priest of the local Vodun religion. The spiritual leader, after being crowned leader, does not wear clothes until his death.

From Tanéka Koko we drive another hour to Natitingou, where we visit the town museum and market. We stay overnight in Natitingou.

Day 6

Benin is mostly flat land, but there is a low mountain range in the north, the Atakora Mountains, whose highest peak reaches 658 metres above sea level. We drive for just over an hour towards small villages in the mountains, such as Boukoumbé and Koutagou, which live from agriculture. The village of Koutagou is famous for its two-storey clay buildings resembling a medieval fortress, known as Somba Tata. We will explore the village and its villagers, who belong to the Somba tribe. We will stay overnight in Boukoumbé.

Day 7

We cross the border into neighbouring Togo via the Nadoba border crossing and travel to Betammariba country. The Betammaribas are of the same Somba tribe and their buildings are similar two or more storey mud structures built with defence in mind. The buildings are known as 'tamberma'. We will learn about their construction and meet the locals. With their permission, we may also gain access to a few local homes. We will stay overnight in Kara.

Day 8

We drive for about four hours to the hilltop town of Atakpamé, one of Togo's cocoa and coffee producing centres and the fifth largest city in the country. The town's history dates back to the 19th century, when the Yoruba and Ewe arrived to settle the area. Later, the town served as a refuge from attacks by the Kingdom of Dahomey. We stay overnight in Atakpamé.

Day 9

Today we will make the two-hour journey towards south west and the beautiful town of Kpalimé, close to the Ghanaian border. The town is known for its woodcarving tradition, but pottery and weaving are also flourishing. The region has plenty to interest tourists, from cocoa and coffee plantations, to waterfalls, valleys and, nearby, Togo's highest mountain, Mont Agou, which tops out at just over 900 metres above sea level. For example, we can walk a short distance through the forest to the Womé waterfall and take a dip in its refreshing waters. We stay overnight in Kpalime.

Day 10

The day starts with a hike to Mont Agou. The challenge is not very demanding due to the modest height of the mountain: 986 metres above sea level. We pass through forested slopes from one "mountain village" to another, seeing the local people and their farms. Both bananas and avocados thrive on the mountainside. There is no road access to the villages, and all goods have to be brought in by foot or with the help of a donkey. After admiring the views from the villages, we descend the mountain and make the two-hour journey to Lomé, the capital of Togo. We stay overnight in Lomé.

Day 11

Lomé is the capital of Togo and home to around 1.3 million people on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. It has a pleasant small-town atmosphere. During the day, we will visit the markets, including Assiganmé, which specialises in fabrics. The most interesting, however, is the Akodessewa fetish market selling ritual objects of the Vodun religion, where we learn about the religion itself, but also see various dead animals, from crocodiles to monkeys and dogs. Dead animals, or fetishes, are used in the religion's rituals. We also see the National Art Museum and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, which stands in the centre of Lomé and was completed in 1902, a reminder of Togo's history as a German colony. We stay overnight in Lomé.

Day 12

Today we return back to Benin. The border crossing is swift and in about two hours we are in the fishing village of Grand-Popo on the Benin side. We visit Villa Karo, a Finnish-West African cultural centre on a long stretch of sandy beach. We take a boat trip on the Mono River, where we explore the mangrove vegetation and see local fishermen. We stay overnight in Grand-Popo.

Day 13

Grand-Popo is only about an hour's drive from the nearby city of Ouidah, which is particularly known for its slave trade. We start our tour of the city with a walking tour of the historic centre. We will see the Python Temple, the city's beautiful cathedral and "Brazilian houses". We walk to the sacred forest of Kpassé, with centuries-old trees and a temple of the Vodun religion. A visit to Ouidah is not complete without exploring the "slave road", the route along which slaves travelled on their way to the slave ships waiting on the Atlantic shore. The ships took the slaves out of Africa, and these people never saw their homelands again. Accommodation in Ouidah.

Day 14

The distances on the southern coast of Benin are comfortably short and now we are only driving an hour back to Cotonou, Benin's largest city, where we started our exploration of these two magnificent countries. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant known as the maquis and, depending on the timing of your flight, we still have time to explore Cotonou.

General information about the tour

Price: inquire with us

The price of the trip includes:

  • All accommodations
  • All transports
  • All entrance fees
  • English-speaking local guide
  • Meals and bottled water
  • Visa invitation letter

Not included in the price:

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations and anti-malaria medication
  • Personal expenses, such as souvenirs and tips