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Interesting locations in West Africa

Interactive map of touristic destinations in Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso

Click on the image below to open a full-screen interactive tourist map with interesting places you can visit on your tour through Ghana, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso with Jolinaiko Eco Tours.

We make an effort to include many community-based eco-tourism projects in our tours. You'll find most of these destinations on this map. We will continue to add new destionations over time.

Alphabetical list of destinations

If you somehow are not able to view our interactive map of destinations, we have alphabetically listed all destinations mentioned on the map below for reference:

Abomey, capital of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey

Abomey Royal Palace MuseumAbomey is the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey where, over the years between 1695 and 1900, twelve kings ruled over the powerful empire of the Fon people. The empire derived its wealth by trading prisoners of war as slaves with European merchants, and each of the kings built a Palace within the same mud-built enclosure at Abomey.

Crucially for a society without written documents, decorative bas-reliefs were used on the palace walls, illustrating the most significant events in the evolution of the empire, the military victories and the Fon people's myths, customs and rituals.

Besides the UNESCO Royal Palace Museum and remnants of the mud wall, Abomey is known for its strong voodoo culture, its powerful magic sorcerers and ceremonies.

Accra, the capital of Ghana

Makola market, AccraFor a city tour in downtown Accra, you'll need to be prepared for the extremes. A tour will take you through the narrow streets of the overcrowded but charming colonial neighborhoods Ussher Town and James Town, set against the cosmopolitan areas with fancy restaurants and modern skyscrapers. There's the hassle and bustle of traffic jams, people and music from rhythmic beats, items being sold everywhere, a dazzling diversity of scents and colors. It's amazing, overwhelming, cozy and some areas are extremely hectic.

There are touristic highlights, such as the Mausoleum, National Museum and Independence Square, some really interesting galleries, art centers and beaches. But the most memorable experience is to wander around down-town and to be part of this daily life in one of the safest capitals of Africa.

Ada Foah, relaxing on the beach

Beach hut in Ada FoahAda Foah is somewhat off the beaten track in coastal Ghana and a perfect place to relax from your journeys. Beach camps, such as Maranatha, offer hammocks under palm trees, with grilled barracuda and sole with chips and drinks. We recommend Dreamland Beach Resort, especially for travellers with children, and the cozy Esime Guesthouse in town.

An idea is to cross the river from Ada to one of the many islands dotting the estuary or to visit the weekly Ananyui market by ferry-canoe.

Adanwomase, royal Kente weaving

Weaving of Kente clothAdanwomase is one of the villages in this area where the centuries-old Kente-weaving tradition is kept alive. Under the guidance of the Kente chief, Adanwomase weavers continue to weave cloths for the Ashanti King, royals, and anyone who appreciates the history and cultural significance woven into the colorful geometric designs of Ashanti Kente.

Take a guided tour to learn about the history, meanings and production steps of Ashanti Kente cloth, offering you a chance to try your hand at thread spinning, warping and weaving.

Adanwomase is a nice place to break you journey to the north.

Adjarra, the source of musical instruments

Adjarra drumming sessionThe people of the village Adjarra are known for their century-old tradition of craft making, inherited from their ancestors. They are excellent in palm leave braiding and basket weaving. They also build traditional musical instruments such as percussions/gong, maracas and castanets. The village has a nice market where, apart from the typical items, you'll find all those traditional handicrafts.

Combine Adjarra with a visit to the pretty village of Avrankou, situated in the coastal savanna woodlands. This is a village where Jolinaiko brings people who have a special interest in voodoo or who like to arrange a voodoo ceremony.

Adjeikrom, cocoa farming

Mr. Osa, our guide in AdjeikromIn the midst of land of the Akim tribe is an independent community of people of the Ga tribe, mainly living of cocoa farming. Historically, Adjeikrom is of political significance as the birthplace of one of Ghana's fighters for indepencence, a member of the 'big six' called Ako Adjei.

It's worth to undertake a cocoa and village tour to see how cocoa is grown, harvested, fermented and dried. Or hike to the top of the escarpment, hanging over the village, and enjoy incredible views. Adventurous travelers like to stay in the basic community guesthouse.

Afram Plains, remote Volta Lake exploring

Ferry over Volta LakeAfram Plains is an adventurous destination. It is off the beaten track and you need to have the time to explore this remote area situated around the southern part of the Volta Lake.

You can try to spot the West African manatee, supposedly living here in the Volta Lake. Renting a canoe or motorboat is a good way of spotting birds on the lake. Accommodation is available in Mpraeso or Donkorkrom. Donkorkrom is also the southern gate to Digya National Park. The area is famous for its annual paragliding festival celebrated during the Eastern holidays (book your accommodation early).

Agongointo underground village

Agongointo underground villageOne of the most impressive archeological finds in Benin are the underground galleries and caves of Agongointo. This UNESCO world heritage village was discovered in 1998, at a depth of 10 meters.

The galleries and caves were used as living quarters and warrior refuge. Agongointo underground village was built around the 16th century by the king Dakodnou. Due to its strategic location near Abomey a visit could easily be included in your itinerary.

Akuapem Hills and Aburi Gardens

Aburi Botanical GardensOnly 30 km north-east of Accra you find yourself in the green rolling hills with a potentially magnificent view over the forest to the city. This area is the first part of the Ghanaian hinterlands where Europeans settled in the 18th century.

The Aburi Botanical Gardens used to be a colonial hill station and sanatorium and you still find the colonial taste in the landscaped garden with a variety of indigenous and exotic trees. Combined with the colonial architecture in the surroundings towns, the monumental orthodox churches, combined with the Latey shrines and flamboyant markets, this area is worth a visit during a daytrip or as a starting point of your tour to the rest of the country.

Akwadum, fair trade cocoa

Cocoa harvestAkwadum / Brong Densuso is in the heart of the oldest cocoa farming area of Ghana. Between the Densu river and the tropical rainforest are more than 300 cocoa farms. All cocoa here is grown organically, without pesticides. The farmers are united in the Cocoa Organic Farmers Association (COFA).

Take a guided tour and meet the traditional farmers living in the forest. Learn all about organic cocoa farming methods and the impact of 'fair trade' certification on these communities. We offer Akwadum as a destination on the journey from the Volta Region to the Ashanti region.

Amedzofe and Mount Gemi

Hiking to the top of Mount GemiAmedzofe is a pretty settlement on the slopes of Mount Gemi, one of the highest mountains (760 m) in Ghana. Enjoy the panoramic views and let your heart beat while taking an adventurous descent to the Oti waterfalls.

Our guide likes to take you to one of our befriended communities where you enjoy the hospitality of the chief by drinking palmwine or fresh coconut juice.

Ankasa Conservation Area

The Bamboo CathedralAnkasa Resource Reserve and Nini Suhien National Park are two protected forest areas that come together to form a rich reserve of about 510 square km of virgin forest, the last tropical rainforest still intact in Ghana. Being the area with the highest rainfall in Ghana, Ankasa is the richest forest in terms of botanical diversity in the country.

Ankasa is known for its wide variety of birds and butterflies and a popular destination for serious birdwatchers. Quite spectacular is the Bamboo Cathedral, which is located at Nkwanta, about 8 km from the Ankasa gate of the park. The giant bamboos lean in toward each other and look very much like the arched ceiling of a cathedral.

Asumura Forest Reserve

The White Necked RockfowlFor 40 years it was thought that the White Necked Rockfowl was extinct, but in 2003 it was discovered that the bird still lives in the forests of Asumura. Around Asumura are three forest reserves: Subim, Ayum and Bonsam Bepo. Together they are about 500 square km.

Eventhough tourism is not yet well developed, it is possible to arrange a guided tour through the beautiful forest, or hike the Bonsam Bepo trail, on which you'll see nests of the bird.

Atakpamé, iron tools and stilt dancers

Forging of iron tools in AtakpaméAtakpamé seems like an ordinary town, but it has an interesting history. In the olden days, Atakpamé was a strategic trading post where farmers from the neighboring kingdoms came to buy farming and hunting tools, and other metal products. The people of Atakpamé were known for their iron tool making skills. You can still visit the blacksmith quarters as well as Kete weavers.

For travelers interested in tracing German history, Atakpamé has some historical landmarks like the Camina Radio Station used for broadcasting during the 1st World War. Another highlight is a performance by the stilt dancers.

Atsiekpoe and the Jolinaiko Cashew Village Lodge

The ferry canoe to AtsiekpoeThe village of Atsiekpoe is only a one and a half hour drive from Accra, after which you find yourself in a peaceful place surrounded by beautiful nature. To get to Atsiekpoe you need to cross the Volta river by ferry-canoe. Local life is very much centered around the river where local fishermen prepare their boats and nets, children play and swim, and women do their laundry.The village consists largely of termite clay houses with thatched roofs.

The Cashew Village Lodge, built by Jolinaiko Eco Tours, is situated right on the riverbank, offering a great view and a welcoming breeze. The lodge consists of two mud-brick/termite clay buildings with thatched roofs offering five basic guestrooms. There is a simple bathhouse (bucket shower), self-composting toilet, local-style kitchen and a summer hut at the waterfront. During your stay at the Cashew Village Lodge, you can take part in various 'community experiences' which are organized by the villagers.

Avu Lagoon, wetlands and community conservation

Avu LagoonAvu Lagoon is a community-based conservation and ecotourism project in the lower part of the Volta region. The wetland surrounding the lagoon is home to the world's only aquatic antelope, the Sitatunga, reptiles, mammals an a wide variety of exotic birds. It's the combination of nature, culture and adventure which makes this place so appealing.

You'll visit Bludo, a picturesque village surrounded by sugarcane plantations and leaders in bamboo gin distillery. A talented boatman will take you in his canoe and use a bamboo pole to navigate the streams and cut channels to the lagoon.

Banfora, in Burkina's most fertile region

Sugar cane fields around Banfora. Photo: Rita WillaertThe small town of Banfora is situated in a fertile area full of rice fields, farms and sugar cane plantations. It's a great base to spend the night and explore the touristic highlights in the country-side such as Lac Tengrale, Sindou Peak and Falls (see them on this map). The most visited and most recommended hotel found in Banfora is hotel ‘Canne à Sucre’. There is a nice swimming pool, and the hotel serves delicious food and self-brewed rum made from local sugar. Banfora is also a good place to buy wooden craftwork from the market or the timber workshops.

Baobeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary

Monkey in Baobeng FiemaThe Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary was created to protect the monkey population around the villages Baobeng and Fiema.

The inhabitants of the villages regard the Mona monkey as sacred and this is the reason that the significant monkey populations have survived here in contrary to most other parts of Ghana. It is a special experience to see this normally shy forest monkeys interact at such close distance.

Bassar, home of the masters of iron extraction

Preserved blast furnace from the 19th centuryThe Bassari people have been masters of iron extraction for centuries. Banjeli is said to be the original settlement for iron extraction, before this was expanded through the surrounding region. Iron extraction in West-Africa was seen as a sacred and highly complex process.

Even though the people don't extract iron from the mountain anymore, you can still visit the ancient furnaces located close to Bassar (currently on the list to be accredited by UNESCO). An obstacle is the permission you need from the District Office before you can visit the site.

The power the local people used for iron extraction is also illustrated by the fire dance they perform, which could be organized by Jolinaiko Eco Tours around Sokode and Bassar, preferably in the evening.

Bazoule, Sacred Crocodile Pond

Bazoule has become a well-known tourist spot. The reason is the lake, the habitat of crocodiles that are believed to be sacred. If you are less interested in crocodiles (or especially in seeing alive chicken being fed to the crocs), even though the story that's being told to visitors is fascinating, it's a good place to have a rest before you hit the road to Bobo.

Beyin, sea turtles

Sea turtle hatchlings crawling to the oceanAlongside several other resorts along the west Coast of Ghana, Beyin Beach Resort is dedicated to the conservation of (endangered) sea turtles that live, nest and hatch along the shoreline. Visiting Beyin between October and the end of December enables you to see both the hatchlings and their mothers. Watching the baby sea turtles struggle out of the nest and make their way to the ocean early in the morning is an amazing experience. Combined with the palm-fringed beach and the nearby Nzulezu stilt-village, Beyin offers enough reasons for spending a couple of days of your holiday.

Bobiri Forest and Butterfly Sanctuary

The Bobiri guesthouseThe Bobiri Forest, about 10 km from Kumasi, is one of the best preserved tropical rainforests with many tall and ancient tries and a flamboyant flower garden attracting over 500 species of butterflies, mainly from April till June.

The guesthouse is one of our favorites. Enjoy your meals and the serenity while sitting on the veranda of the pretty wooden guesthouse in the middle of the beautiful forest.

Bobo Dioulasso, the bustling cultural city

Mosque between Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso. Photo: Rita WillaertThe second largest city in Burkina has a relaxed atmosphere, plenty street cafés and an active nightlife. A magnificent highlight is the old mosque, the 'Vieille Mosque', built in 1880 in the well-preserved, Sudanese style.

The old neighbourhood Ibidwe is also worth a visit, which hosts separate parts for animists, Muslims, griots (story-tellers and poets who maintain a tradition of oral history) and blacksmiths. Every two years, the 'Semaine Nationale de la Culture (SNC)' is organized, a colourful spectacle with international flair where traditional dancers and singing groups perform.

Bolou, a pottery village

Bolou potteryBolou is a pretty Ewe village near the Ghana border where women make clay pots as a source of income.

Clay pots are used for cooking, storage of water in the village or decoration. The reception of tourists is well organized and the chief is very welcoming.

Boukoumbe and the Tata Somba

Tata Somba architectureThe area around Boukoumbe is one of Jolinaiko's favorites. The combination of the vast savannah woodlands, the view on Mount Koussou-Kouangou, and the extra-ordinary architectural style of the Tata Somba villages is stunning.

Tata Somba houses are build like miniature fortresses dispersed across the fields and inhabited by people who have kept their tradition alive and pure.

Every fourth day a small but enjoyable market is held and visited by Somba people from the surrounding region to trade commodities and where you can still find some exotic items such as bows, arrows and smoking pipes. Experience a memorable overnight stay in one of these village, like Tata Koubetti or Tata Kaussaukougou.

Bunso Arboretum

The Bunso GuesthouseBunso Aboretum is a protected forest reserve and is home to an extensive variety of plants, trees and herbs. More than 100 bird species have been recorded and there is a butterfly sanctuary within the aboretum. It's a nice place to break your journey to Kumasi.

Buoyem, batcaves and views

Bibiri fallsSurrounded on three sides by dramatic cliffs and hills, Buoyem offers beautiful views, cave exploration and extensive hiking opportunities. Tour the Sandstone Canyon that surrounds the village with a guide. Trail highlights include a stunning view from above a rock shaped remarkably like Africa, as well as Bibiri Falls and three major caves. Go underground to explore three of Buoyem's caves and see their resident bat colonies.

A good physical condition is required as each hike involves some rock scrambling or squeezing through small passages. Buoyem has a nice visitor centre and guesthouse where you can arrange your tours and stay the night if you wish. Time your visit for the annual two-week-long Yam festival during September - December.

Cape Coast Castle

Cape Coast CastleThe Cape Coast Castle was built for the slave-trade and is one of the most impressive of Ghana's old forts. It was originally built by the Dutch in 1637, later expanded by the Swedes, finally the British took control of it in 1664 and turned it into their colonial headquarters. It stayed that way for the next 200 years until they moved the capital to Accra in 1877.

The Cape Coast Castle is now an excellent museum with information about the history of Ghana, the slave-trade and local culture. Tours through the Castle will take you through the dungeons and the "door of no return".

Cedi Beads Factory

Colorful bracelets from glass beadsMeet Mister Cedi, member of the Nene Nomoda family, who runs a local glass beads factory. Watch the century old process of beads making from start to finish.

Even though Cedi Bead Factory exports their products far across the borders of the continent they stick to their traditional process of bead making using recycled glass bottles, termite clay and water.

There is also a small shop, where you can buy beautiful traditional jewelry made from the beads.

Cotonou, vibrant capital of Benin

Zemidjans in CotonouLike most West-African capitals, Cotonou is a place that cannot be described as attractive. It is overcrowded, terrible dusty and zillions of Zemidjans (motorcycle taxis) clog up the streets day and night.

It could be worthwhile spending some time in city, strolling through the outskirts, bargaining with the tough and cheerful traders at Dokpata market and enjoying a cold drink along the 'Route des Pêches'.

For the artistic travelers, the gallery of the Zinsou Foundation is a real treasure and displays the work of Beninois most famous artists.

Daboya, Fugu cloth weaving

Weaving of FuguDaboya is the most famous of Ghana's Fugu weaving communities. Like Kente, Fugu fabric is hand woven, but the strips are narrower and have indigo and white stripes, rather than Kente's geometric patterns. Fugu is virtually the only economic activity in Daboya and nearly all of its residents are involved with its production. Residents are very welcoming and eager to share their heritage.

Tour the village with a guide to see all aspects of Fugu production – making dyes with local materials, dyeing cloth, creating designs, weaving strips, and sewing clothing. In the process, you'll see much of the village and feel its rhythms of daily life.

Danyi Plateau, natural serenity and seminary

Plateau de DanyiThe Danyi Plateau is a range of green mountains between Klouto and Badou. It's a beautiful area to explore in a day or two. Visit the friendly villages surrounded by cacao and coffee plantations, and tropical forest and farmland. There are a number of waterfalls to discover.

A serene place to spend the night is the Catholic Seminary where you can also try some of local products like honey, chocolate and herbal medicines.

Dapaong and the caves of Nano

The caves of NanoDapaong is the capital of the northern Savannah Region and home to a variety of northern ethnic tribes like the Morsi, Moba, Mamprussi and Dagomba among others.

The reason for including Dapaong in your itinerary is the suburb Nano, where situated on the highest mountain of the province are remarkable caves in the cliffs of the mountain. The caves were created and inhabited from the 17th to the 19th century for defensive purposes. People used to take refuge here in times of invasion by other powers, mainly Ashanti, Dagomba and later slave raids and colonial armies.

Entering the caves in the cliffs of the mountains was adventurous, but the area is more accessible now with the steps that have been created. If you spend the night in Dapaong, it's a splendid place to enjoy well-grilled and seasoned guinea fowl in a road-side restaurant.

Davedi, Jolinaiko Pineapple Lodge

Palm oil production in DavediDavedi is a rural village, situated about 60 kilometers northeast of Lomé. Typical for Davedi are its vast pineapple fields. Like any other rural population in West Africa, the majority of the people are farmers. For Davedi oil palm trees and pineapples are the main cash crops. While men are mainly engaged in palm wine distillation, women are enganged in processing palm nuts into palm oil.

Jolinaiko is building basic accommodation in Davedi: the Pineapple Village Lodge. A mud-brick building with thatch roofing is completed, offering two guestrooms. Turning Davedi into a small-scale eco-destination was the initiative of our guide Isaac Aziawo, who was born in Davedi. During your stay at the Pineapple Village Lodge, you can take part in various 'community experiences' which are organized by the villagers.

Digya National Park

Digya National ParkIf you really like to go off the beaten track, arrange a trip to the northern part of Digya National Park with us. The wildlife rangers can take you on a hiking safari through the savannah woodlands combined with a canoe trip on the Sene River.

The rangers’ camp offers a great camping ground and Jolinaiko will provide the necessary equipment (tents and mattresses). The longer you stay the more chance you have to spot wildlife species such as antelopes, monkeys, warthogs and if you are really lucky, elephants. The serene nature, colorful river birds and friendly fishing communities are the main ingredients for a memorable camping adventure, preferably in dry season from November till April.

Dédougou, the grain silo of Burkina Faso

Dédougou is the capital of the province Mouhoun. The area is also called the ‘grain silo of Burkina Faso’. The climate is favourable for cultivating sorghum, maize and cotton. Sorghum is mostly used to brew the local beer called ‘dolo’, which is served in a calabash in the so-called ‘cabarets’ where you can enjoy listening to balafon music.

It's a nice place to experience life in the savannah; how the men are looking after their cattle, building houses with local materials and how the women are involved in farming, cleaning and pressing cotton for export. Dédougou is the place to be early march when the mask festival ‘Festima’ is celebrated. All masks which are otherwise only found on special occasions are shown and displayed at this vibrant festival.

Elmina Castle

Elmina CastleElmina Castle was built by Portugal in 1482 as São Jorge da Mina (St. George Castle). It is a beautiful place with a dubious past. In 1637 it was seized by the Dutch from the Portuguese. First established as a trade settlement, the castle later became one of the most important stops on the route of the Atlantic slave trade. The slave trade continued under the Dutch until 1814; in 1871 the Dutch Gold Coast, including the fort, became a possession of the British Empire. The castle is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

You can visit the fort and its museum, climb St. Jago Hill and enjoy the view of colorful Elmina and its lagoon and fishing harbour. Also worth a visit is the Dutch Cemetery. You can combine your visit with the nearby Cape Coast Castle.

Ganvié, stilt village in Lac Nokoué

Ganvié stilt villageThe extraordinary stilt village of Ganvié has been called “the Venice of Africa”. It is a unique village built in the middle of the Lake Nokoué, just an hour north of the capital.

It's almost unbelievable that 20,000 people live on the surface of the water. It's commonly believed that the Tofinu people settled here around 400 years ago and built their lake village to escape the slave traders.

There's an annual 3-days festival “Fespolac” in November, find out details from Jolinaiko Eco Tours.

Gaoua, capital of the Lobi culture

Lobi family house. Photo: Rita WillaertGaoua is the traditional capital of the Lobi people, a tribe known for their well-kept traditional way of living and distinctive culture. For example, Lobi men still hunt with bow and arrow and it is common to see them carrying these weapons as they walk around.

The architecture of the Lobi culture is fascinating, the compounds are rectangular and sometimes multi-storey. The houses are made of mud and surrounded by high walls, giving the appeal of a fortress. Ancestors play an important role and authentic offering is still commonly practiced. Musée de Poni in Gaoua provides more insight in the Lobi cuture by exhibiting traditional art, Lobi lifestyles and style of houses, together with interesting pictures of the colonial period.

Gorom-Gorom, a taste of the Sahel

Mosque at Bani, a small town on the way from Ouagadougou to Gorom-Gorom. Photo: Rita WillaertGorom-Gorom in the northern part of Burkina is where the Sahel desert starts.The village marks itself with a mix of local houses and narrow dusty streets with numerous mosques. Gorom-Goroms main attraction is its colourful market held on Thursdays; where the Tuareg, Fula and Bella nomads go to the mostly Songhai-run market. Amongst others foodstuffs, leather goods, jewellery and textiles can be bought. Camels, goats, sheep and donkeys are bought and sold at the animal section of the market.

Gorom-Gorom is a starting point for expeditions to nearby Tuareg villages where have a real feel of the Sahel desert.

Grand Popo beach life

Sea turtle hatchlings at the beach of Grand PopoGrand Popo offers a perfect blend of beautiful nature, cultural heritage and historical remnants. The palm-fringed beach is a good place to relax at the end of your journey.

It's worth it to explore the Mono-river and 'Bouche du Roi', where the river meets the sea, by pirogue. Grand Popo is also known for its vibrant voodoo tradition. The annual voodoo festival in January is an excellent time to be here and gain insight in the mystery of the voodoo culture for which Benin is famous.

Gwollu, slave trade defense wall

The historical defense wall in GwolluGwollu is a very remote village near the border of Burkina Faso. The main attraction is the historical defense wall, a reminder of the ancient slave routes that led through this region. The wall was built in the 19th century to protect the village from slave hunters.

Besides the wall, you can visit the local weavers, blacksmiths and basket weavers. Gwollu could be visited during your journey in the far-north from Wa to Bolgatanga or vice versa.

Kakum National Park

The Canopy Walkway in KakumHalf an hour drive from Cape Coast and Elmina, you find Kakum National Park. The 375 square km area is covered with tropical rainforest and contains many endangered animal species.

Kakum National Park is famous for its long series of hanging bridges at the forest canopy level known as the "Canopy Walkway." At 40 meters height, the visitor can approach the plants and animals from a vantage point that would otherwise be inaccessible to people. The Canopy Walkway passes over 7 bridges and runs over a length of 330 meters.

What about an overnight stay at the Kakum Tree House, a 30 meter high platform in the middle of the rain forest? Hearing the sounds of the forest, especially the birds and monkeys will certainly become a memorable experience.

Kamaté-Shakaloké, pure eco-tourism

CPN Les Papillons butterfly sanctuaryThe village of Kamaté-Shakaloké, nicely situated between green rolling hills, has developed an eco-tourism project in collaboration with the local organization CPN Les Papillons (CPN = 'Connaître et Protéger la Nature' - 'Knowing and Protecting Nature'). The aim of the project is the sustainable management of the environment and at the same time creating better livelihood for the local people.

Get introduced to this initiative during a guided tour through the butterfly sanctuary, the plantations and village itself. Take part in activities like organic gardening or relax and taste delicious home-made products like tea, honey and liquor. It's also a nice destination when travelling with children.

Karfiguela falls and the domes of Fabedougou

Dômes de Fabedougou. Photo: Rita WillaertKarfiguela falls is a good place to visit for a nice excursion and picnic from Banfora. There is plenty of opportunity to walk around, to swim or to sunbathe. The large pool at the base of the falls is set in a shaded area and an easy 10-minute climb will take you to the top. Great views, a grassy picnic area and a series of natural jacuzzis are found here. You may walk around and continue upstream from the falls to encounter some less spectacular, but still attractive falls.

Close to the falls, within walking distance, are the domes de Fabedougou. These bulbous rock formations created by water erosion and the top (which is relatively easy to climb) give you a great view over the sugar cane fields.

Karimenga village experience

The Green House guesthouseAnother favourite destination of Jolinaiko Eco Tours is Karimenga, a small village about 25 km south of Bolgatanga in North Ghana. The village welcomes tourists since 2010. Visitors can take part in everyday village life, or just enjoy and relax in this beautiful place. Income from tourism is used to let village children go to school.

There are lots of things to do. For example fishing in the White Volta river, or a 'herbal tour' on which you learn about plants and traditional healing. Listen to stories of the storytellers or take part in village life (fetching water, working on the land, cooking, making shea butter). You can stay in homestays or in the Green House guesthouse, a combination of western comfort and Ghanaian tradition. Unforgettable is spending the night on a flat rooftop watching millions of stars.

Kaya, centre of the leather industry

Kaya, the capital of the province Sanmatenga, is a small and cosy town known for its leather industry. Behind the cattle market, you find leather workshops where you can see how amongst others shoes, purses and bags are being made from goat leather. In the dry season you can pay a visit to the traditional weaving sites in the centre of the city. The flourishing market is selling many regional and local crafts and the hills which surround the town give a good opportunity for hiking. Don't forget to try Kaya's tasty ‘brochettes’.

Kokokodji, relax at Bab's Dock

Bab's DockBab's Docks is located on the bank of a lagoon near the ocean at about 20km from Cotonou. The area is known as one of the last ornithological reserves of West Africa.

Bab’s dock is a leisure place and a paradise for the entire family. You can explore the lagoon by canoe with a guide, it's an excellent place for bird watching and kayaks are offered for rent. Bab's Dock is open during weekends only, and the right place to go if you want to escape the crowded city of Cotonou.

Koudougou, the Les Nuits Atypiques Festival

Mosquée de Koudougou. Photo: Guillaume ColinThe laid-back town of Koudougou is particularly interesting during its annual five-days festival ‘Les Nuits Atypiques de Koudougou’.

This cultural festival shows musicians, traditional and modern dancers, street theatre and clowns from both Africa and Europe. It's most often organised end of November and a must-go if you happen to be in Burkina by this time.

Kpalimé, a pretty town at the foot of Mount Klouto

KpaliméKpalimé is one of Jolinaiko's favorite destinations in Togo, the lively capital of Togo's most fertile region.

The ultimate start of your day in Kpalimé is enjoying the typical café au lait in one of the road-side cafeteria from where you get a real sense of life in this town.

From Kpalimé, you can start your exploration of Kouma Konda and the Danyi Plateau. Kpalimé's Centre Artisanal is the ultimate place to buy woodcraft souvenirs.

Kpetoe, Kente cloth weaving

Kente weavingKpetoe is an Ewe village, about 30 km of Ho in the Volta Region, near the Togo border. Kpetoe is known for its Kente weavers. Kente weaving is a particular style of weaving and Kpetoe is renowned throughout Ghana for the quality of its weaving. There also is a yearly Kente festival.

The town is built around Kente, the clicks and clatter of the weavers are the beat of this town. You can visit the local weaving centre and buy beautiful Kente cloth.

Kumasi, Ghana's second capital

Kumasi Kejetia marketKumasi is the second capital of Ghana and the city holds an important place in the history of the Ashanti people. The for tourist interesting spots are located in the city centre, referred to as Adum. And right there is the huge trotro station and one of West-Africa's biggest open-air markets, Kejetia.

The National Cultural Centre offers an excellent craft market. In the interesting Prempeh II Jubilee Museum you'll gain some insight in the rich Ashanti Culture. A visit to the Menhya Palace Museum is also recommendable especially on Adae Festival Days which occur every sixth Sunday. During these days, the Ashantehe receives homage from his subjects and subservient chiefs, a spectacular show with traditional dressing, large horn blowing and drumming.

Kyabobo National Park

The Breast Mountains in KyaboboLocated in the northern part of the Volta region, is Kyabobo National Park, one of the more remote places of Ghana. It stretches over 360 square kilometres and is contiguous with Fazao Malfacassa National Park in Togo. Kyabobo may not be easy to reach, but it is well worth the effort.

Everyone who enjoys the outdoors will find something exciting at Kyabobo, especially the network of trails for hiking, waterfalls, biking, camping, canoeing and wildlife viewing.. There are some great hiking trails only a couple of hours long, others span the entire park and can take several days. Travellers can even enjoy settling into village life with an overnight homestay. You can also stay in Nkwanta or on the camp site near the park.

Kétou, rich Yoruba voodoo culture

The King of Kétou on his throneClose to the Nigerian border, this predominantly Yoruba town has a rich spiritual history involving the Nigerian Kingdom of Oyo and Orisha, the Yoruba form of voodoo.

The main highlight in this town are of spiritual nature, like The Scared Garbage Pile (Aitan Ola) and Sacred Door of Akaba Idéna. The latter was once the only entrance to the historical town of Kétou and still the centre of the Orisha Cult.

It's possible to pay a visit the King of Kétou who welcomes you in his Royal palace, and of course must be treated with the utmost respect.

La Ginguiette, a fresh bath in the forest

One of the most popular attractions nearby Bobo is La Ginguiette, a natural crystal-clear bathing area located in a lush forest, Forêt de Kou. Rather packed with people in the weekends, you may want to explore the river a little upstream, where you can also find a small but pretty waterfall. It's nice to spend a full day here, and you can easily get there from Bobo (18 km).

Lac Bam

A farmer leads his cattle to Lake Bam. Photo: CIFORLac de Bam is an artificial lake 100 km from Kaya. It's very interesting to see the large number of cattle from the area being brought here to drink.

In addition, people practice their gardening around the lake. It is not safe to swim at the lake, however it's a superb spot to have a picnic.

Lac Togo - Togoville, Agbedrago and Aneho

Statue in Togoville: tradition and present day face to faceA few places of historical significance are situated around Lac Togo, a sweet water lake between Lomé and the Benin border. A leisure place on weekends but during the week these towns are rather deserted.

The Portuguese where the first foreign powers that came to Agbedrafo, settled and built a fort. From Agbedrafo, you can cross the lake to Togoville, where the treaty was agreed which made the Germans protectors of present-day Togo and part of Ghana. Memorabilia of this event are shown in the old chief palace, La Maison Royale.

Aneho was the capital of German Togoland. Besides Christian influence of the Western powers, a strong voodoo religion is maintained.

Lake Bosumtwe

Lake Point GuesthouseLake Bosumtwe is the largest natural sweet water body of Ghana and once created by a meteorite. The lake surrounded by lushy vegetated steep crater walls offers a superb relaxing scene. There are many opportunities for bird watching and hiking. Various taboos and traditional beliefs exist about the lake.

Normal fishing pirogue are not allowed and local fishermen use their hands or calabash to peddle, offering a wonderful scenery during sunset hours. Jolinaiko prefers spending your nights around Lake Bosumtwe and visiting Kumasi as day trip as an alternative for spending the night in the crowded urban setting.

Lake Tengrala, hippo's and the Sacred Baobab Tree

Hippo's up close in Lake Tengrela. Photo: Rita WillaertSurrounded by rice fields and sugarcane plantations you find lake Tengrela. The lake is known for its hippos and the fishermen from the villages around happily show you the hippos from close by. The villagers believe the hippos are holy, therefore the fishermen are not afraid to get close to them. However we recommend you to be considerate, especially when the hippos have little babies.

Even more special is the sacred Baobab tree near Banfora and an absolute must-see! How often do you get to sit inside a tree with a local animist priest?

Laongo Sculpture Park

Sculptor in Laongo - photo by Sam MoraudA nice stop is the village of Laongo, where you'll find a remarkable outdoor gallery of rock sculptures. Artists from all over the world came to Laonga and made these amazing giant sculptures from granite rocks in the landscape. Less giant but still wonderful are the iron statues made by an old craftsman in the middle of the park.

In 1989 a sculptor from Burkina, Siriki Ky, organized an international sculpture symposium for the first time. Since then, every two years the park was enriched with new sculptures. At first, the scultpures where freely accessible, but now the park has a wall around it, and you have to pay an entrance fee.

Larabanga ancient mosque and mystic stone

Larabanga mosqueLarabanga is well-known for its 13th century mosque constructed of mud-plaster and wood in a Sudanese architectural style. The building has to be renovated each year, because of the damage of the rains to the mud structure. You can also visit the 'Mystic Stone'. Larabanga is an interesting excursion to combine with a visit to Mole National Park.

Liati Wote, Tagbo Falls and Mount Afadjato

Liati Wote and Mount AfadjatoLiati Wote is one of Jolinaiko's favourite ecosites. This pretty village in the Volta Region, close to the Togo border, is located at the foot of Mount Afadjato. The country's highest peak (885 m) offers great hiking possibilities to the top of the mountain or through the tropical forest to the Tagbo waterfalls.

The delicious meals served in Stella's Inn are enough reason alone to travel all the way to Liati Wote. Jolinaiko offers 2-3 days hiking and camping tours in this area on request.

Lomé, 'Petit Paris'

Voodoo market in Lomé'Petit Paris' was Lomé's nickname before the political turbulence in the 90's brought the country in a down-turn. It was a pearl in West-Africa with tranquil beaches, exotic markets and friendly people. It still retains some charm, and the mix of urban sophistication and rural informality make it so much more relaxer compared to the frenzied atmosphere in the much larger cities of Cotonou and Accra.

Life is centred around the flamboyant market 'Mama Benz' which is a great place to buy African wax-print cloth. Another place worth visiting is Le Marché des Féticheurs, the voodoo market where people buy mystifying items from animal skin, bones to skulls, or arrange their traditional ceremony. Lomé is a great place to just have fun and enjoy your coffee-au-lait or cold beer in one of the pleasant road-side cafeteria or bars.

Loumbila, water museum

The water museum in Loumbila (situated 25 km outside Ouagadougou) is focused on the bare essential of life: water. This museum explains the role of water in society, the methods used to fetch water, various types of wells and methods to purify water into drinking water. Very interesting in a country where life is very much centred around (the shortage of) water.

Manega, sacred artifacts

Manega museumThe Manega museum is located about 50 km north of Ouagadougou. The museum has a rich collection and is full of mystery as it deals with sacred artefacts. You'll see sacred masks, used in voodoo rituals and funerals, tomb stones and stone guns.

Mognori eco village experience

Mognori eco villageMognori is a village where people live in total in harmony with their natural surroundings. You can do a guided tour through the village, on which you will encounter several important people, like the council of elders and the traditional healer. There are dancing and drumming sessions under a large tree in front of the house of the chief. You can do a canoe safari on the Mole river, to Mole National Park, or sleep in an adventurous bush camp (camping equipment is available). A home-stay is a good but basic alternative for Mole Motel.

Mole National Park

Elephants in MoleWith 4849 km2, Mole National Park is Ghana's largest National Park. If you do an early morning or late afternoon safari, you can see lots of animals.

Most commonly spotted are elephants, warthogs and various species of antelope, monkeys and birds. If you are lucky you'll even see buffaloes. It's very enjoyable to watch elephants taking their bath from the pool-side terrace of Mole Motel. On request we offer special bird-watching tours in the park.

Mount Kabye and Tcharé craft village

Blacksmiths forging tools in TcharéThere are a number of interesting villages situated on the slope of Mount Kabye. Tcharé is one of them.

As soon as you enter the village, blacksmiths welcome you with the sounds of their forges. It's amazing to see these blacksmiths holding on their traditions. They use stones as their working tools. In the past, they got iron from the Bassari people at the iron market in Kabou, but today they purchase old railways and broken car wheels. The women of Tcharé are known for their pottery.

Other surrounding villages like Pagouda and Ketao are interesting to visit during market days.

Mount Klouto and organic coffee from Kouma Konda

View from Mount Klouto with the Volta Lake in Ghana in the distanceMount Klouto is one of the highest mountains in Togo. There are numerous hiking trails through lush vegetation. This area is also known for its variety of butterflies.

Combine a visit to the mountain with a visit to Kouma Konda, villages where the local people process locally grown coffee beans into coffee. The coffee from Kouma Konda is organically certified. On the way you meet some local artists who use natural colours from the forest for their art work

Natitingou waterfall - Chutes de Kota

Chutes de KotaSituated at 15km southeast of Natitingou, the waterfall “Chutes de Kota” is a pleasant place for a refreshing adventure.

Natitingou, the lively town far north

Mud architecture of the Somba peopleIt's a pleasure to spend some time in this increasingly cosmopolitic town inhabited by a melting-pot of ethnic tribes like the Fon, Dendi, Ditarami, Fulani and many more. Jolinaiko Eco Tours includes a stop-over here in your tour before your wildlife adventure or journey into Togo or Burkina Faso. The best time to get a real feeling of the town and its people is during the flamboyant market days.

Worth visiting is the Natitingou ethnographic museum located in an old French colonial house, built in 1915, where you will find details about the Somba people’s lifestyle and extra-ordinary mud architecture.

Nazinga game reserve

Elephants up close in Nazinga game reserve. Photo: Guillaume ColinRelatively small in size (940km2), it is basically guaranteed to see some of the 800 elephants. In addition, you may also see antelopes, monkeys, buffalos, hyenas, wild boars or crocodiles in the park as well as lots of birds. The best time of the year to visit the park is during the dry season, when the animals are drawn to the few remaining water sources. There's a camp but it is also easy to visit as a daytrip from Po or Tiebélé.

Niansogoni – the Dogon of Burkina Faso

Grain barns. Photo:Guillaume ColinAfter arriving in the village of Niansogoni, also called the Dogon of Burkina Faso, the visitor attraction is to climb the mountain with a guide. Here, small houses were built in the wall of this mountain when villagers had to hide themselves from the enemies. The little huts and grain barns are still in considerable state and the views from the mountain on its surroundings are magnificent.

You can also see how the villagers climb to the top of a ten-metre high palm tree in order to collect the juice used to make palm wine. Spectacular to see!

Niaouli forest reserve - birds and bats sanctuary

La Forêt de NiaouliLa Forêt de Niaouli is worth visiting for travelers who have a special interest in flora and fauna. The reserve contains some of the remaining natural forest areas in southern Benin. It offers two types of ecosystems: a wetland-tropical forest and a dry land-tropical forest-situated on a plateau, and consequently an enormous ecological diversity. During your visit you will be introduced to the variety of giant tropical tree species and its local and traditional uses as well as the numerous species of colorful bird and butterflies. The forests are a also home to a number of mammal species, reptiles and other animals.

Nkoranza, Hand in Hand Project

Guesthouses on the premisesJust out of Nkoranza, Dutch doctor Ineke Bosman realised her dream of creating a safe and loving place to live for mentally handicapped children, the Hand in Hand Community. These children are still often undervalued and abandoned, mostly as a result of the widely spread fear for "evil spirits". According to a difficult to eradicate superstition in Ghana, these spirits are the cause of the handicap of these children. Therefore their histories often are unbelievable sad, full of stories about rejection, neglect, abandonment and even maltreatment or worse.

You can stay at the premises of the community to help, play with the children at the pool, or just to relax and enjoy the special atmosphere. On the premises of the community, attractive overnight accommodation has been set up.

Ntonso, Adinkra cloth printing

Printing of Adinkra symbolsAnother nice road stop is the Ashanti village Ntonso, 20 km northwest of Kumasi. Ntonso is the traditional production centre of Adinkra cloth.

Adinkra are visual symbols, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, that represent concepts or aphorisms. Adinkra symbols are printed on cloth, which is principally used for funeral purposes, although nowadays it is not uncommon to see people wearing it on a normal day. The dye used to print the symbols is made by mashing the bark of Bedia trees. The stamps are made from calabash wood in which the symbols are carved.

Ntonso has its own visitor's centre called the Ntonso Craft Village. Here they have a museum and you can stamp your own symbols. The museum guide can show you around the village.

Nzulezu Stilt Village, Amansuri Wetlands

Houses on stilts in NzulezuNzulezu Stilt Village is an amazing community built entirely on stilts in the middle of Lake Tadane. All structures are suspended over the water and transport is only by canoe.

The excursion to Nzulezu involves a fascinating canoe trip through the Amansuri Wetlands and across the lake. It is a lovely trip on which you can see many different kind of water birds. Most of the inhabitants are farmers and fishermen. According to tradition, ancestors of the village were brought to their present place under the guide of a snail.

Nzulezo is situated in the south-west corner of Ghana, about 5 km from the town of Beyin. From November till February, a trip to Nzulezu can be combined with a sea turtle expedition.

Ouagadougou, one of the liveliest cities of West Africa

Daily market in Ougadougou. Photo by Rita WillaertThe capital of Burkina Faso is one of the liveliest cities of West Africa and has an endless selection of gardens and outdoor bars with live music and is rich of culture and arts. Art lovers would appreciate a visit to the Musée National with artefacts from the different ethnical groups of the country, Le Centre National de l’Artisanant d’Art and the more exclusive gallery of Mattias Lafon. Jolinaiko recommends Village Artisinal for your hassle-free local craft shopping. The best places to really feel bustling urban life are the vibrant markets, like Grand Marché de Rood Wooko, Le Marche Katré Yaaré or Burkina Pas Chére.

Ouaga hosts yearly and two-yearly returning festivals like the FESPACO (the biggest movie festival of Africa) and the SIAO (a large international African Arts festival).

Ouidah, voodoo and history

Door of No Return memorial archOuidah offers a large range of interesting places. The 'Route des Esclaves' is one of the historical highlights remembering the thought-provoking history of the slave trade. It's a 3.5 km sandy road leading from Ouidah to the beach and forms the final stage of a trek that may have begun hundreds of kilometers inland for the many slaves. Combined with the Slavery Monument, the Historical Museum and beautifully restored Brazil House.

Ouidah is also called the 'seat of voodoo' and related highlights are the Python Temple and Sacred Forest of Kpasse. The snake represents the God Da who is the bringer of life and fertility and favorite god.The Annual Voodoo Festival is celebrated in Ouidah on the 10th of January.

Paga Sacred Crocodile Ponds and Nania Slave Camp

Crocodiles in PagaHave a face-to-face encounter with crocodiles near the Chief or Zenga Pond. The crocodiles are regarded as sacred since the local Kassena People believe that the souls of the ancestors reside in these animals.

We also visit the relics of the The Nania Slave Camp, a hidden northern slave market that fed the southern slave sales in the 19th century.

Parakou, 'the city of everyone'

Parakou Musée de Plein AirParakou is the hometown of the Batanou people and with a population of 200.000 inhabitants, it is the third city of the Benin and the capital of the North. It originally sprang to life on money from the passing caravan trade routes that took gold and products of Africa north over the Sahara to the Mediterranean and later, with goods trading to Africans themselves.

The name Parakou derived from a Dendi word meaning "La ville de tout le monde" which literally means "the city of everyone", named for the city's diversity of ethnicities. Nowadays Parakou is still an interesting market place and itssurroundings host some touristic sites such as the Open Air Museum that represents the traditional housing of the local Batanou people. The the surrounding villages are known for woodcarving, the Yoruba arts and unique pottery.

Pendjari National Park, the big three and more

Wild buffalo at Pendjari National ParkIt’s common to hear that you visit West Africa for the people and not for the wildlife. In a certain way this is a fair comment but National Park Penjari is an exception. This park in the far north of Benin was created in 1961 and added to UNESCO’s world biosphere reserves list in 1986.

It's impressive to stay and drive through the natural habitat of elephants, lions and buffalos, many species of antelopes, primates, hippopotamus, leopards and numerous birds. The best time to visit is during the dry season from November/December till April/May.

Ponsomtengou weaving factory and pottery village

women corporation where they weave traditional cloth for all kinds of items, from table cloth to local dresses. A little further along the road, there's a village where women are making pottery artefacts. The scenery is very interesting on market days when you see the women carrying their pottery to the market along the road.

Porto Novo, an intellectual and artistic city

Grand Mosque of Porto NovoPorto Novo was the capital of French Dahomey and is still the administrative capital of Benin today. This is hard to believe if you compare the tranquil atmosphere with the overcrowded and hectic city of Cotonou.

With 225,000 inhabitants, Porto Novo is still the second largest city of the country and offers a variety of artistic and intellectual highlights. The Porto Novo Museum of Ethnography (Yoruba Culture), the Da Silva Museum (Life of returning Afro-Brazillians) and the Brazillian-style church which is now a mosque are a few examples.

Possotomé, nature and voodoo cuture around Lake Ahémé

Guesthouse at Lac AhéméPossotomé is a small town on the bank of the tranquil lake Ahémé.

A guided walk through picturesque villages and the sacred forest brings you to the heart of the culture. This is where you get a real impression of the role of voodoo in day to day life. You will pass by numerous shrines and temples.

The view of the lake is beautiful, and it's also possible to rent a boat, or bicycles. Possotome is also a thermal water source.

Sara Kawa Park

Zebras in Sara Kawa ParkSara kawa Park is a small nature reserve where you can spot buffalo, antelope and zebras during a driving safari.

Savalou and the fetish of Dankoli

The fetish of DankoliThis ordinary town at the foot of rocky hills claims to have one of the strongest and most powerful voodoo fetishes in the country.

The shrine, situated under a magnificent tree, is embellished with white sheets and organic matter including palm oil, animal parts and blood. This popular site of pilgrimage receives streams of believers who wishe to ask for help and guidance from the spirits.

As a traveler, it's perfectly possible to make a request by buying a wooden peg from the Vodounon (priest) and hammering it into the tree, all the while whispering the request and promising to return and make a sacrifice when your request is answered. There are various ways to seal this deal and the Vodounon is there to assist.

Se, women pottery village

Making clay pots with no potter's wheelIt's so impressive to meet these hardworking women in Se who produce wonderful clay pottery with their bare hands and without significant tools. They welcome you in their workshop and show you the process.

You easily recognize the village with their numerous roadside stands displaying pots in various sizes. They also sell some smaller items that are easy to carry and make for nice souvenirs.

Shai Hills, wildlife reserve

Boabab tree in Shai HillsShai Hills Resource Reserve is a 51 square km wildlife park. It is situated only 50 km from Accra and it takes less than an hour to reach the park on the road to the Volta lake.

Shai Hills has a varied package of wildlife, archaeological sites, caves and granite hills.

The vegetation of Shai Hills is dry, coastal evergreen savannah and part of the park is made up of imposing hills covered with dry forest. Major wildlife to be seen include olive baboons in large numbers, green monkeys, kobs and bushbucks, as well as lizards, snakes and hundreds of species of birds and butterflies.

Sindou peaks

Sindou Peaks. Photo: Rita WillaertThe village of Sindou is about 50 km from Banfora and is well-known for its ‘peaks’. You may walk around the three-kilometre-long chain of crags which are particularly beautiful at sunset or sunrise. Spending time at the Peaks around this time of the day is absolutely amazing – and especially a good moment to make photographs.

Sirigu Village and Traditional Arts Centre

Traditional house in SiriguSituated close to the Burkina Faso border, the sub-Saharan village Sirigu is well-known for its pottery, basket weaving and unique symbolic wall decoration.

There is a community guesthouse built in the same style as the surrounding compounds. It is breathtaking to spend the night at the top of the roof viewing a heaven full of bright shining stars.

For more info visit the website of the Sirigu Women Organization of Pottery and Art.

Sognaayilli village experience

Sognaayilli villageExperience village life in the tradional Dagomba village Sognaayilli where our friends of the Meet Africa organization offer a unique experience.

You can learn about the rich Dagomba culture and traditions during an attractive village walk. You can stay in the local guesthouse or with a host family. Your contribution is used for the development of the village.

Songhai centre for sustainable agriculture

Songhai Centre in Porto NovoSonghai Centre is an oasis in the middle of the city of Porto Novo. It's a lush garden and training center for the production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices.

Guided by one of the student of the centre, you will be introduced to small-scale farming practices such as composting, fish cultivation, snail farming and animal husbandry. They also produce organic soaps, syrups and offers delicious meals in the restaurant. The Songhai Centre i an institute that is an example for the region.

Sonyo, a maze of ladders

Sonyo villageSonyo is a village with a unique architecture. Houses can only be reached over the roofs and don't have front doors. Women go from house to house over ladders even with large water bowls.

Do the ladder tour, and meet the chiefs. They like to tell about the history of the village and Sonyo's history. There is a yearly Dengfestival in May or April. Sonyo is on the route to Wechiau and Wa.

Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary

Monkey in Tafi AtomeTafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is like a sister sanctuary of Baobeng Fiema as it harbours a similar population of the sacred Mona monkeys. The story goes that the ancestors of the modern villagers came from Brong Ahafo and brought with them the fetish for monkeys and up till date, this fetish still exist. Enjoy spotting these little monkeys from a close distance in this typical little village in of the Volta region.

Tamale, fast growing capital of the Northern Region

Tamale marketIn recent years Tamale has been one of the fastest growing cities of West-Africa and the city centre is a real spectacle. It's totally different from the southern cities, it's modern and very traditional at the same time.

The market is one of the main attractions as well as the area where the leather industry is located and where fetish items are being sold. There are areas where people are weaving the traditional Dagomba cloth and nearby villages where you can see the traditionally handcrafted shea butter being made by women corporations.

Tamberma Valley, mud castles under giant Baobab trees

Tamberma mud castleThe Tamberma Valley is one of the main highlights of Togo. The Batammariba people who originally came from Burkina Faso settled here centuries ago. They are known for their animist way of living and their local houses built like miniature fortresses made out of clay, surrounded by giant baobab trees.

The castle-like nature of these extraordinary structures helped ward off invasions by neighbouring tribes and, in the late 19th century, the Germans. As in the Somba people's tata somba nearby in Benin, life in a tata revolves around an elevated terrace of clay-covered logs, where the inhabitants cook, dry their millet and corn, and spend most of their leisure time.

Taneka villages

Taneka villageThe Taneka villages are fascinating. Architectural masterpieces scattered over a wide area and molded on to the rocky and scrubby hillsides with a commanding view of the surrounding area.

The inhabitants arrived here in the second half of the 18th century from different regions of Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Niger. They were all running away from the gangs of slave hunter coming from the Kingdom of Dahomey and the Ashanti Empire. They built their villages mixing with the other ethnic groups without fear. All paths leading to the villages are blocked by stone walls, built to stop mounted hunters and offer defending archers a shelter from where to shoot their arrows undisturbed. In time they became known as the Taneka.

Only a few villages welcome tourists, like Taneka Beri and Taneke Koko. The people in this area are known for their pure animistic way of living. It's nice to combine a visit with an (overnight) stop in Djougou and its flamboyant market.

Tanoboase Sacred Grove

Rock formations in the forestTano Sacred Grove is a place full of history. It encloses a cluster of striking sandstone rock formations which were one of the earliest settlements of the Bono people. The area offers great hiking possibilities through a beautiful environment of towering rock formation within a semi-deciduous forest.

Tanongou, swimming under the waterfall

Tanongou fallsTanongou is a little village at the foot of the Atakora mountain range and offers the best known waterfalls in Benin.

It's a great spot to swim and, for the most adventurous, leap from a cliff some meters above the pool. There are hiking trails of different duration and difficulty and it's possible to stay with a local family and enjoy a typical northern dish.

Tchamba, popular for its fire dance

Fire dance in TchambaTchamba is a small village near Sokodé, where local people are known for their traditional fire dance. They believe that some people received the gift of the ancestors and can't be hurt by fire. They prove this during a traditional fire dance most spectacular in the evening.

Tiebélé, houses painted with frescos

Painted houses in Tiebélé. Photo: Rita WillaertThe Gourounsi or Kasssana people maintain a very interesting ancient culture of decorating their local houses with colourful patterns. It's mainly done by the women who use natural sources for their paints. A highlight is a visit to the compound of the chief, where you can find all decorative styles together. Also worthwile is a hike to similar nearby villages.

In mid-February the end of the harvest is celebrated with the Tiebélé arts and culture festival called Fescat. It features displays of archery, painting, music, djongo (the local dance), theatre, stories and riddle-telling. It's also nice to visit the lake where local youth like to swim and where people are busy growing vegetables.

Tongo Hills and Tenzug shrines

Tongo rock formationsThe area of the Tongo Hills is unique for its architectural landscape of granite rock formations and is considered one of the most important cultural sites in West Africa. Explore the natural caves that have been used as sacred shrines by the local people for centuries. Visit the yearly vibrant Golob or Boar' daam festival (in October) with Jolinaiko Eco Tours. The Tengzug shrines are a proposed UNESCO World Heritage site.

Vogan, the friday market and God of Thunder

Vogan friday marketVogan is a town known for its flamboyant friday market. People from all over southern Togo come here to buy foodstuffs, pottery and fabrics.

The people of this town are also known for their strong voodoo religion. They strongly worship 'Hevieso', the God of Thunder. Visit this town on a friday to see the market, and discover hidden voodoo shrines in the suburbs.

Wassa Domama, rock shrine and canoe trip

Wassa Domama rock shrineDomama is a village northwest of Cape Coast. Near the village is a large cave, hidden in the forest, which is used as a shrine, to talk to the gods.

You can take a tour with a local guide to the shrine, combined with a canoe trip on the Pra river, the longest river in Ghana. The canoe trip is not organised on wednesdays and during high water conditions in June and July.

There is a visitors center and a guesthouse. A visit to Domama can be combined with a visit to nearby Kakum National Park.

Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary

Hippo's in WechiauThe Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary is the best preserved hippo sanctuary in Ghana. Even though it is located in a remote area, it is highly rewarding to pay a visit and watch the hippo population from a canoe on the Black Volta River.

The sub-saharan area has a lot to offer, like bird watching, mountain biking, and meeting the indigenous Lobi and Dagari people. Spend an extra-ordinary night on the hippo hide-out, a platform built along-side the river.

Wli Falls

Wli FallsThe Wli falls - also known as Agumatsa Falls - are near the Togolese border in the Volta Region. The 50 meter high falls can be reached after a short walk through the forest.

You can climb to the upper parts of the falls and visit the 'Shrine of the Lesser Gods' with a guide.

There is a visitors center, a few small shops and hotels. Wli is one of the more touristy places in Ghana.

Xavi bird watching and canoe tour

Canoe trip on the Lotor riverXavi is an Ewe village with a rich culture of traditional beliefs. Traditional rites are performed every year at different seasons. Several shrines in Xavi are worshipped and many taboos are revered concerning the river and its fishing methods.

Enjoy the abundant flora and fauna early in morning while paddling a canoe on the Lotor river or Avu Lagoon's wetlands. Meet local people and observe their local fishing practises.

Following the river tour, you can visit Xavi's Baobab Tree Grove, lying just west of the Lotor River. This grove is a haven for more than sixty Boabab trees.

Zinvié, the Valley of Sitatunga

Sitatunga aquatic antelopeThe Sitatunga is an aquatic antelope living in the wetlands of la Vallée du Sitatunga, and is nowadays considered as an endangered species.

The Natural Reserve of Sitatunga chose its name to show their engagement in the protection of the habitat of this species. It's a community natural reserve indicating that the project is managed by the local communities.

Besides the Sitatunga, which are difficult to spot, the wetlands are known for its varied flora and fauna. The tourism infrastructure is limited, but worth to explore if travelling with a guide.

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.