Jolinaiko Eco Tours - Experience West Africa!
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Meet the Jolinaiko team

We are proud to introduce our greatest asset, our team!

Over the years, we have built a reliable team and the loyalty and professionalism of our drivers and guides is a fact. We enjoy working with the same people for many years. We intimately know their personalities, their capabilities, interests and preferences, and always try to match the right person to the tour request. For example, we have guides who are great with families and children, those who are very sporty and adventurous, and those who are specialized in a specific field (for example history, archaeology and traditional religion).

The Jolinaiko Eco Tours teamThe Jolinaiko team

With our mixed West-African and European (Dutch) backgrounds we are able to bridge cultures and understand the environment where you as a traveller are coming from. These cross-cultural skills enable us to understand your expectations and translate your travel wishes into a memorable travel experience.

portrait of Apollo PanouApollo Panou

Meet the founder, director and occasional tour guide Apollo Panou

Apollo is the founder, director and the driving force behind Jolinaiko Eco Tours. His motivation to become a professional in tourism was fuelled by his upbringing in different West-African countries like Ghana, Benin and Nigeria, his ability to speak local languages and his interest in traditional cultures.

Apollo has his professional qualifications in the area of tourism and is a member of the Ghana Tour Guide Association and Tour Operators Union. In the early years when the company was a one-man business, his main role was being a tour guide. Nowadays, since the company has grown and we have a capable team, he only offers his tour guiding skills on specific requests. His main duties are operational and logistics management of the company, the fleet and our Bed & Breakfast the Sunbird Lodge.

Together with his wife Cindy Noordermeer-Panou, he's the visionary and strategic brain behind the company. You can read more about Apollo and Cindy on this page.

portrait of Cindy Noordermeer-PanouCindy Noordermeer-Panou

Meet Cindy Noordermeer-Panou, office manager

Cindy was born in a small town in The Netherlands, Heerhugowaard, in 1977. She earned her professional degrees in Nutrition (BSc) and International Public Health (MSc) at VU University in Amsterdam. She has been living in Ghana since 2003 where she gained her working experience in the health and development sector in urban and rural parts of the country. Ghana revealed her entrepreneurial skills and a great passion for social responsibility and development. She became involved as an administrator in 2006 after Jolinaiko's first website was launched. She worked full-time for the company shortly after their children were born.

Today, Cindy's focus is on managing the office team, new product development and the public-private partnership with the Stepping Stones for Africa Foundation, a Dutch registered charity. Cindy is also the co-founder of this foundation.

portrait of Isaac AziawoIsaac Aziawo

Meet your guide: Isaac Aziawo

Being proud of his African culture made him decide to engage himself in tourism. After studying Geography at the University of Lomé in Togo, he finished several tourism courses at the HOTCATT (Hotel, Catering and Tourism) Academy in Accra.

Isaac's sociable and pleasant character, his ability to speak English, French and several local languages fluently, and knowledge of the African traditions and beliefs make Isaac an excellent guide for all our Ghana, Togo, and Benin tours. He is also the initiator of the Davedi Village Lodge in Togo.

If you travel with Isaac, it is like travelling with a newly adopted family member. He will treat you like family and will look after your best interests and comfort. Our guests mention the fact he is very trustworthy, treats you with consideration and thoughtfulness, and is very helpful, patient and kind.

A video of Isaac can be found on Youtube.

portrait of Wisdom AkpabliWisdom Akpabli

Meet your driver/guide: Wisdom Akpabli

"No matter what kind of question you ask, you will get an answer." This is one of the responses we receive from people travelling with Wisdom.

Wisdom is a professional guide with a deep understanding of Ghanaian culture. He is very knowledgeable and professional, he knows the facts and is very accurate, especially in the fields of history and local traditions. He completed his degree in geography at the University of Legon in Ghana, along with various tourism courses at HOTCATT (Hotel, Catering and Tourism) Academy in Accra. He reads a lot and keeps himself updated. He has been a guide for fourteen years now, has worked for several tour companies. He is a great asset to Jolinaiko Eco Tours.

Next to his professionalism and his agreeable, friendly character, he gets along with a wide variety of personalities. He always wants to assist our visitors the best he can. People also love the traditional African fairy tales he tells, the so called Anansi Stories, which are a welcome entertainment on the long dusty roads or during a drink in the evening.

Wisdom mainly does our tours in Ghana, but occasionally also takes tourists around in Togo and Benin.

portrait of Boris MedatinsaBoris Medatinsa

Meet your guide: Boris Medatinsa

Our partnership with Boris started as a friendship when he was studying Marketing Management in Accra. Our interest in tourism turned out to be contagious and Boris' professional career turned to the same direction.

Boris is a great tour guide. He is very social, professional and has in-depth knowledge about the rich culture of his country Benin, as well as Togo. As a native Beninese he is the perfect guide if you are interested in the voodoo religion and would like to explore the role of the voodoo culture on the daily lives of the people. He is open-minded and likes to share interests in philosophy and anthropology. Boris has become Jolinaiko’s representative in Benin.

portrait of NathanNathan

Meet your guide: Nathan Otoo

Jolinaiko Eco Tours started engaging Nathan for guiding our group tours. He is very experienced, well-spoken and his speeches about Ghana are excellent. He is very knowledgeable, professional and diplomatic and has an answer to every question, giving the groups great insight. It doesn't matter how large or challenging a group is, Nathan is always in control. As a team player, he is good in solving minor issues along the way and taking care of the clients. He also likes adventure and handles our 'off-the-beaten-track' tours with great success, and it's fun to be with him.

Nathan is the secretary of the Ghana Tour Guide Association, very much connected to the tourism industry in Ghana and a good advisor to the company.

portrait of Nii LaayeNii Laaye

Meet your guide: Nii Laaye

Do you like to go jogging in the morning, undertaking one strenuous hike after another or camping adventures, just ask for our professional tour guide Nii Laaye. He is energetic and enthusiastic. Unique in his own way, he is very sociable and an all-round person. Nii is very energetic and he is especially good with youth groups.

Nii Laaye introduced Ghana Beach Soccer and is involved in empowering the youth in downtown Accra. He normally assists us during our young student group tours, and alternative Accra City tours.

portrait of Ben MensahBen Mensah

Meet your driver: Ben Mensah

Ben is originally from Agbadrafo in Togo, but grew up in Ghana. He is a reliable, confident, courageous and hard working person and gained lots of experience as a driver working for various tour operators organizing tours from the West African coast to the Saharan countries. He has been a very stable asset to our company for many years and he takes our clients through Ghana, Togo, Benin or Burkina Faso. No place is too far and no tour is too long for him. He has a lot of knowledge on his vehicle, and will make sure it is in excellent condition both before and during the trip.

Although your first impression of him will be that he is a very quiet person, he will answer all your questions you ask him and he will come with his own suggestions. After some time he will open up and you will see a completely other side of him.

We must not forget to mention his cooking abilities, he is the master-chef in cooking and coffee making, and he will happily share his own-prepared dishes with you, prepared at the side of the road with his little gas-stove and other items that are a standard part of his car equipment.

portrait of AgoroSalifou Abdourahim (Agoro)

Meet your driver: Salifou Abdourahim (populary known as Agoro)

Agoro used to be a professional driver in Togo but the tourism industry suits him perfectly. You will experience immediately that he really likes his work, he has a sociable and pleasant character and his happiness is contagious. Agoro is a very good driver and doesn't mind to go the extra mile to satisfy our guests. He speaks English, French, Hausa, Kotokoli and Ewe and this enables him to take our tourists through Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso.

Agoro is Togolese and lives in Kpalimé. If you travel with him in Togo and you happen to pass by his home village, he will be so excited to introduce you to his family. Since 2014, we have started bringing tourists to his original home town Tchamba in Northern Togo.

portrait of Kossi Dodzi Aziawo (Fofo)Kossi Dodzi Aziawo (Fofo)

Meet your driver: Kossi Dodzi Aziawo (Fofo)

Fofo has his professional background in car mechanics however he loves his new 'career-move' and the fact he is now able to travel with people. He enjoys to travel very much. He speaks English, French and other local languages fluently.

Trustworthy, punctual and friendly are keywords travellers use for describing Fofo. It is very important for Fofo to make his clients happy and feel comfortable. He is caring, very loyal, likes to joke and has a lot of energy. He knows the lesser-known places and little stops which will pop-up unexpectedly along the way and makes sure something exciting will happen there for you.

Another reason why people are confident with him is his professional mechanical background which enables him to solve minor car problems. This is a valuable skill, knowing the challenging road conditions in this region.

portrait of James AmazuJames Amazu

Meet your driver: James Amazu

James is an excellent driver, sociable, caring, fun and he provides great company during your tours. He is very energetic, open minded and has the ability to make things happen due to his good connections everywhere.

James is originally from Aflao in the Volta Region, however he was born in Accra and lived there all his life. He has been working as a personal driver for the Dutch Embassy staff for more than 15 years (between 1989 and 2012). In fact, that is how he got so well acquainted with the western, and especially Dutch, culture and family life. James and Apollo have been very good friends for many years and after he left his job at the Dutch Embassy, he started to work as a driver for Jolinaiko Eco Tours.

Since James gets along with children very well, he is a fantastic driver for our specialized tours with parents and children. He is very sporty, and loves to play football, to swim and to run.

A quote which would describe James well is the following: James knows what he knows, but also knows what he doesn't know. However if needed, he knows where to get the information.

Sammuel Kwashie Ametewee (Sammy)Sammuel Kwashie Ametewee

Meet your driver/guide: Sammuel Kwashie Ametewee (Sammy)

Sammy has this perfect combination of being an excellent professional tour guide and a good driver. He is familiar in Ghana and all the surrounding countries (Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast). Sammy has a very fun and friendly personality and will make your tour an unforgettable one. He loves making jokes and entertaining others, and will always go the extra mile to make the guests feel happy, comfortable and safe.

Clearly, he has a great passion for tourism, especially adventurous off-the-beaten track and cultural tours. In his free-time, he likes to be a tourist himself and was able to explore Ethiopia, India and Kenya as a supporting guide. Sammy grew up in Angloga, close to Keta in the Volta Region in Ghana.

portrait of Sekou DembeleSekou Dembele

Meet your driver: Sekou Dembele

Sekou knows the whole of West Africa like the back of his hand. He was born and raised in Burkina Faso and travelled through the entire region as a driver-guide assisting overland trips from Europe to West-Africa. He moved to Ghana a couple of years ago with his family where he joined Jolinaiko as a freelance driver. Sekou is a gentle, flexible but dedicated person. He's positive minded and likes travelling with children.

As a son of a Dutch mother and a Burkinabe father, he has the ability to bridge between cultures which is a real advantage when travelling with tourists. Sekou's specialty is Burkina Faso where he knows the lesser known spots which will make your trip to Burkina Faso very exciting.

portrait of Rachid KauwawaRachid Kauwawa

Meet your driver: Rachid Kauwawa

Rachid Kauwawa has been a driver for over 31 years and joined Jolinaiko Eco Tours a couple of years ago as a freelancer. He loves the tourism industry because it made him visit many different places and cultures within and outside Ghana and consequently he became very passionate about taking tourists around. Through this experience he developed guiding skills, although he also continuously educates himself by reading guiding books and informing himself.

He is very knowledgeable on bird watching and knows all the good sites to go to in Ghana. He speaks many languages, besides English and a little French, he speaks eight local languages. Rachid Kauwawa is very good with families and children, and he therefore often takes family groups around the country.

portrait of Kofi Akakpo AtchoeKofi Akakpo Atchoe

Meet our financial controller: Kofi Akakpo Atchoe

Kofi is our part-time financial controller since 2012. He is responsible for all financially related tasks within the company. Kofi is originally from Togoville, an historical town in the history of Togo, however he was born and grown up in Ghana.

His friends have given him the nickname "Mr. Petty Cash" because of his financial discipline about cash handling. In addition to his financial capabilities, he has a flair for languages and speaks English, Ewe, Twi, Ga and French fluently. His hobbies are travelling, reading and he enjoys doing translation work as well (English to French or vice versa).

Kofi does his work very conscientiously and professional. Furthermore, he would describe himself as a simple man who is enjoying his life as much as he can.

portrait of Bridget Akosua DonkorBridget Akosua Donkor

Meet our secretary: Bridget Akosua Donkor

Akosua is our office secretary and joined our team in 2014. Her main responsibilities are the management of hotel reservations and other administrative tasks, but her knowledge about IT and designing has been very helpful to the company. She is very disciplined, hardworking and independent. Furthermore, Akosua is a bright light in the office. She is open-minded and joyful and enjoys the fieldtrips she at times goes on with Jolinaiko Eco Tours.

I travelled with Apollo for two weeks throughout Ghana, Togo, and Benin. I had the freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted, as fast as I wanted, and change plans daily, all with the security of a knowledgeable guide.

Through Apollo's professionalism, excellent conversation, courtesy, open mindedness, tolerance and enthusiasm I was able to learn and live Africa more so than many of my other trips combined. Africa is no longer a distant place on a map, or a show on T.V. but many faces, smiles, songs, smells, colors and friends to me. Travel needs to be experienced in this way.

The world needs more Apollo's to bring us all a little closer together, understand each other better, break barriers and live and breathe a country that is not our own. Thank you for the fantastic memories, daily experiences, conversation, trust, comfort, laughs and friendship.

Can't think of anything I would have changed.

Ginny,
Canada.
sankofa
I just wanted to send off a quick note to let you know how happy I was with my trip to Benin and especially with Boris. I have done a bit of travelling in my time and I have to say that without a doubt, spending time with Boris as my guide was like travelling with one of my best friends. You should be very proud of his professionalism, the way that he represents your company, and most importantly his country and his culture.

Spending a week in Ouidah walking around, talking with Boris and snapping pictures here and there was more than I could have asked for or expected and can only wish that every travelling experience from now on can be like my one to Benin. Thank you again for helping set up my trip and for giving me the opportunity to make a great friend in Africa, Boris.

Marc Davidson,
Toronto, Canada.