Ancient Gods of West Africa

Off the map for a few years due to social and political problems, Ivory Coast is back and beckoning intrepid travellers. This trip takes in the highlights of the north of the country, starting and ending in the lively capital Abidjan. Much of the focus is on discovering the rich and varied cultures that thrive here. We spend our time trying to uncover the secrets of the land.

We visit the Dan, Fulani and Senoufou people, witnessing their vibrant traditional mask dances and rituals.

No visit to the country would be complete without Yamoussoukro, where we visit the enormous basilica and see how a tiny village was transformed into the political capital of the country, very much at odds with the rest of the country. In Grand Bassam, we relax and soak up the languid tropical atmosphere, surrounded by the fading glory of French colonial architecture.

Cote d’Ivoire is a fascinating land. Like most of the region, it is firmly embedded in the culture of the ancestors while making steps towards the future. Few people make it this far, and it’s not for everyone. But for those looking for a country almost completely unused to tourism, this trip fits the bill.

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Ancient Gods of West Africa

Highlights

  • Incredible mask dances
  • Meet the Fulani people
  • The vast basilica at Yamoussoukro
  • Colonial architecture of Grand Bassam

Day 1 - Abidjan

Arrive in Abidjan and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Novotel or similar.

Abidjan

Cote d’Ivoire’s largest city, Abidjan is a sizeable metropolis that some say is the third-largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris and Kinshasa. A cultural hub of West Africa, it is a busy and vibrant city, with glitzy skyscrapers a testament to the fact that this is the economic capital of the country. It wasn’t always so – Abidjan was originally a small fishing village until it became the capital of the French colony in 1900. Since then it has grown enormously, and only Lagos is larger in the region. Like many African cities, it is not especially endowed with traditional tourist sights, but is great for people watching and soaking up the atmosphere.

Day 2 - Abidjan – Bouake

Spend the morning exploring Abidjan, with a boat trip through the lagoon, a visit to its lively market and the elegant residential district of Cocody. After lunch, we fly to Bouake. Overnight Hotel Mon Afrik or similar. (BLD)


Day 3 - Bouake - Kong

Bouake is home to the Baoule people, who are related to the Ashanti of Ghana. We visit their villages to see how they have maintained their traditions of handicrafts and statues, and also see a dance of the Goli masks. In the afternoon drive to the small town of Kong and visit its striking mud built mosque. Overnight Auberge de Kong or similar. (BLD)


Day 4 - Korhogo

Drive to Korhogo, the main town of the north. In a small village, we visit a local blacksmith to see how the age-old practice of iron smelting is still continued here. Overnight Hotel Olympe or similar. (BLD)


Day 5 - Korhogo

Spend today exploring the lands of the Senoufou. Renowned for their craftsmanship, the Senoufou are also seen as rather a mysterious people, traditionally believing in a collection of different gods and following animist principles. We visit the interesting craft market with its traditional wooden sculptures and textiles and see one of their most important dances, the bolo or panther dance. Overnight Hotel Olympe or similar. (BLD)


Day 6 - Fulani villages

Travel through regions inhabited by the Fulani, a semi-nomadic group with a lifestyle centred around cattle herding. We visit their settlements and meet local women, often tattooed and with elaborate jewellery and hairstyles. Overnight Hotel Le Paysan or similar. (BLD)


Day 7 - Odienne

Head into the lands of the Malinke, once renowned as famous warriors and descendants of the old empire of Mali. We meet the local chief and on foot accompany hunters into the surrounding savannah where we learn about how they use local plants in their rituals, as well as seeing traditional dances. Overnight Hotel Les Frontieres or similar. (BLD)


Day 8 - Man

Today we visit a village belonging to the Dan people, known for their amazing mask dancers who perform on stilts. Explore the area to learn more about their local customs, before driving to Man for the night. Overnight Hotel Les Cascades or similar. (BLD)


Day 9 - Man

This morning we head out into the surrounding area to see the incredible liana bridges that exist in the forest here, built from living vines by initiates from local tribes. In the afternoon we visit the sacred ‘forest’ of Gbepl, a place of spiritual importance for the local community, and at a nearby village see the mask dances of the Guere people. Overnight Hotel Les Cascades or similar. (BLD)


Day 10 - Yamoussoukro

Drive to Yamoussoukro, once just a village but now Cote d’Ivoire’s bizarre administrative capital. Yamoussoukro is dominated by the gigantic Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, reputedly the largest Christian place of worship on earth, and we spend time exploring this vast complex. Overnight Hotel President or similar. (BLD)

Yamoussokro

The city of Yamoussoukro, rising out of the jungle, was little more than a village fifty years ago, but its status as the birthplace of Cote d’Ivoire’s first president has led to a dramatic transformation. Felix Houphouet-Boigny began his ambitious construction project in the 1960s, with the intention of creating a model city.

Today Yamoussoukro is home to grandiose government buildings that seem rather out of place given the overall conditions of the country, and has become the administrative capital of the country. It is not, however, the hub of economic activity – Abidjan, the previous capital, retains this honour. Compared to most African cities Yamoussoukro can seem rather sterile and devoid of the chaos that makes African travel fun, but it is nevertheless a fascinating place to explore and muse on the dreams of the former president.

The most impressive building is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, reputedly the largest church in the world and bigger than St Peter’s in Rome. A controversial project, the basilica cost $300 million to build and prompted questions as to whether the money would have been better spent improving the lot of the general population rather than on what many see as a vanity project – there is an image of Houphouet-Boigny next to Jesus in one of the stained glass windows.

Day 11 - Grand Bassam - Abidjan

Drive to the city of Grand Bassam with its old colonial buildings and atmosphere of yesteryear, to explore and learn about the history of the country. From here return to Abidjan and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (BL)

Grand Bassam

The historic town of Grand Bassam was a former French colonial capital, but not for long. Having attained this status in 1893 it was promptly evacuated three years later after an outbreak of Yellow Fever. The shipping industry on which the town depended gradually declined, and eventually the population diminished to such a level that virtually the only inhabitants were squatters, although now about five thousand people live here. Today the place has the aura of a ghost town, with grandiose abandoned buildings lining the streets, and in 2012 the town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in light of its special historic value.

We arrive in Abidjan in the afternoon of the final day and you should not book any departure flight before the evening.

Note that we sell this trip in conjunction with our local partner and therefore you should expect people of different nationalities on this tour. The maximum group size for this tour is 16.

Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.

    Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    Please note that it is not always possible to secure twin rooms as many hotels in West Africa only have rooms with one large bed. If you would like a twin room you must check with us beforehand that this is possible.

  • Guides

    Although we try to use guides from the countries that we visit, on occasion this is not possible. The tourism industry of Ivory Coast was decimated during the long civil war meaning that almost all guides left the country to work elsewhere, and few have yet returned as the low level of tourism here does not yet justify it. It is likely that your guide will be from a neighbouring country.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however, you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers will require a visa to enter Cote d’Ivoire, which must be obtained before travel. You may need an invitation letter in order to obtain this, depending on the requirements of the embassy that you apply at – we can provide this for you. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations, you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Cote d’Ivoire and you must bring this with you.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum, you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Cote d’Ivoire is the West African CFA, a currency that is shared with many other countries in the region. It is not, however, the same as the Central African CFA, and the two are not interchangeable. It is best to bring Euros for exchange purposes as the CFA is not obtainable outside of the region.

It’s not difficult to change money either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this. There are also an increasing number of ATMs in larger towns. However, these are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in Abidjan and Yamoussoukro and Abidjan only) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Cote D’Ivoire that we visit on our tour.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Updated May 2019

Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa
Ancient Gods of West Africa
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
28 December 2019
Price (PP) -
£2,449
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
18 January 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,399
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
29 February 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,899
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
11 April 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,899
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
05 August 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,899
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
07 November 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,899
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Guaranteed
Date -
26 December 2020
Price (PP) -
£2,999
Single Supplement -
£430
Trip Status -
Available