Benin is a land where the supernatural and the modern worlds intertwine almost seamlessly, where voodoo gods walk the streets and the magical never seems far away. This Benin tour transports you to a world far removed from our own, where spirits and deities are ever present and traditional ceremonies seemingly around almost every corner.
Starting in the largest city Cotonou we learn a little about modern Benin before heading along the coast to the crumbling capital of Porto Novo, with its Afro-Brazilian architecture and voodoo temples. From here we head north to Ketou, seat of a traditional Yoruba kingdom, where we meet the king and his courtiers to get to grips with the complex traditional hierarchies of the country. We see dances of the Guelede and Egun masks – powerful manifestations of voodoo gods and spirits, and see voodoo in action at Savalou, the most powerful shrine in the country.
Heading north the landscape changes and becomes more arid, and it is here that we meet the Taneka people, a small ethnic group led by fetish priests. Nearby are the Tamberma people, who live in in a remote area in the fortress style houses called ‘tatas’. Returning south we meet the semi-nomadic Fulani people and learn about the ancient kingdom of Dahomey at Abomey, before witnessing more of Benin’s complex spiritual world with the Celestial Church and a dance of the Zangbeto masks.
In Ouidah we explore the legacy of colonialism and slavery, then visit the enormous stilt village of Ganvie, before returning to Cotonou to fly home.
Benin is perhaps the best country in West Africa to experience and witness traditional beliefs and ceremonies, and this trip covers some of the most interesting. A journey into the realm of magic, almost……