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Dogon Masks / Vodou Festival Tour – 14 days
Mali · Burkina Faso · Benin


Experience of two of Africa's most colorful cultural spectacles !

13 nights hotel; no camping


This tour is private, scheduled for your party only, on 29 December 2012 - 11 January 2013.

Contact us for prices. Groups of any size are welcome. Be sure to specify how many persons are in your party—prices are digressive, so a better value per person for a party of four than a party of two, etc.

*** Alternatively, Mali can be omitted; tour can start in Ouagadougou and end in Cotonou for a total of 7-8 days.



Day 1 Ssturday 29 Dec. 2012: Arrival in Bamako, MALI
International flight arrives in Bamako in the evening; our staff will meet you in the Arrivals hall of Bamako airport, and provide your hotel transfer; overnight in Bamako (Grand Hotel, or similar).



Day 2 Sunday 30 Dec. 2012: Bamako - Segou (235 km; ~3hrs)
Begin your West African journey with visit to Mali's National Museum (see www.mnm-mali.org), with its impressive collections of textiles from the 11th to the 20th century; ancient Bamanan, Dogon and Senoufo sculptures; terracotta objects from archeological sites; and contemporary African paintings and sculptures. AFter the museum we will drive to Segou, Mali's former colonial capital.
In the late afternoon we will visit Segou, with its interesting mix of traditional and colonial architecture. We will stop by the Kasobane boutique with its high-end traditional and contemporary textile art; we will visit the Nieleni cooperative, which makes hand-woven high-quality wool rugs. And we will end the day with stroll through the traditional pottery market on the waterfront. Overnight in Segou (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 3 Monday 31 Dec. 2012: Segou – Djenne (330 km; ~4½hr) – Mopti (130 km; ~1½hr)
8h00 AM departure (or earlier) for our onward drive to Djenne, ancient sister-city of Timbuktu, to arrive in time to see the large and colorful weekly market. Djenne was one of the first commercial centers of the Sahel region: it was the meeting place of the nomads from the Sahara, the local farmers and cattle herders, and the fishermen from the inland delta of the Niger.
After exploring the market, we will stroll the ancient alleys and narrow streets, and see the oldest house in Djenne, dating from the XIIth century; also see the magnificent Great Mosque, the world's largest mud brick architecture, originally constructed in the XIIIth century, this is one of Unesco's World Heritage sites. We will visit the Djenne museum as we depart, and onward to Mopti for overnight (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 4 Tuesday 01 Jan. 2013: Mopti / Niger River
Happy New Year ! Today we spend the day exploring Mopti, the "melting pot" of Mali, located between the Bani and the Niger rivers; we will see the Sudanese-style Komoguel mosque, the fishing port (see pirogues being made by hand), and the bustling market where many of Mali's ethnic groups come to trade: Bambara, Bobo, Bozo, Dogon, Fulani, Tuareg and Songhay—shop for gold or silver jewelry, hand-made cotton or wool blankets, or some of Mali's beautiful wood carvings (masks, statues, etc.). We end our day with a relaxing private sunset sail on the Niger River in a traditional river boat. Overnight in Mopti (Hotel Kanaga, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 5 Wednesday 02 Jan. 2013: Mopti - Dogon country (120 km; ~2hrs)
Today we proceed to to Mali's fascinating Dogon country. The Dogon tribe originated in the south of Mali, which they fled to preserve their animist religion from the spread of Islam. When they arrived at the Bandiagara cliffs, they found the Tellem people occupying grottos carved in the face of the cliff; they eventually displaced the Tellem people, and used the grottos to bury their dead—funerary rites are an important part of the Dogon culture.
We will visit the Dogon village Songo, renowned for its rock paintings and circumcision grotto. Traditional circumcision ceremonies are held here every three years, for all Dogon boys aged 9-14 years; the rock paintings are historical representations of noble Dogon families. We continue to Sangha, on the edge of the Bandiagara escarpment. We will take a walking tour of Sangha, comprised of 10 distinct animist and Islamic villages. Overnight in Sangha (Hotel Campement Guina, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 6 Thursday 03 Jan. 2013: Dogon country
We continue our exploration of Dogon country: we will descend the Bandiagara escarpment to visit the villages Banani (note the ancient Tellem cave dwellings in the cliff face), Ireli, Amani (visit the sanctuary of sacred crocodiles, a totem animal of the Dogon people), and Tireli village, where we will witness a traditional Dogon mask dance—this is an authentic representation of one of the Dogon people's mourning rituals. Overnight in Bandiagara (Hotel La Falaise, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 7 Friday 04 Jan. 2013: Dogon country - Bobo Dioulasso, BURKINA FASO (560 km; ~7½hrs)
Breakfast, then 8h00 AM departure from Dogon country, on our way to Burkina Faso; we cross the border and contiue to Bobo Dioulasso for overnight (Hotel Auberge, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 8 Ssturday 05 Jan. 2013: Bobo Dioulasso - Ouagadougou (360 km; ~4½hrs)
This morning we visit Bobo Dioulasso, the "house of the Bobo merchants" in the local language; this is Burkina Faso's second largest city. We will see the old mosque, the Houet Museum, and visit the old Kibidwe artisans' district where we will see traditional blacksmiths, potters, and dyers at work. In the afternoon, we drive to Ouagadougou for overnight (Hotel Independance, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 9 Sunday 06 Jan. 2013: Ouagadougou - Natitingou, BENIN (485 km; ~7hrs)
In Ouagadougou we will visit the National Museum, with its interesting collection of regional clothing, masks, household utensils and ancestral statues; we will also make a brief stop at the Artisans' Center, where we will find basketry, batik fabrics, wooden statues and masks, jewelry, leatherwork and bronze castings. Then drive to Fada N'Gourma, onward to the Burkina-Benin border and continue to Natitingou, in Somba country; overnight in Natitingou (Hotel Tata Somba, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 10 Monday 07 Jan. 2013: Natitingou – Abomey (420 km; ~6hrs)
This morning we visit the Natitingou Museum for an interesting overview of the Somba culture. Then drive to Abomey, the former Danhomey kingdom, where we will visit the Royal Palace Museum, site of the ancient palaces of the twelve kings of Danhomey, who reigned from 1620 through 1900; we will also visit the artisans' center, renowned for traditional tapestries and bronze castings, formerly reserved for the royal court only. Overnight in Abomey (Motel d'Abomey, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 11 Tuesday 08 Jan. 2013: Abomey – Allada – Cotonou (135 km; ~3hrs)
This morning we continue our southerly route to Allada, site of the first kingdom formed by the Adja descendants of Tado, Togo; the road through town is part of the original slave route used by traders from the ancient Allada kingdom. We will visit the royal palace of the 16th King of Allada, and perhaps meet the King. We will also visit Togoudo's sacred forest, which has several fetishes and is the site of many vodou ceremonies. And ultimately we continue to Cotonou for overnight (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 12 Wednesday 09 Jan. 2013: Cotonou - Ouidah (one-way 40 km; ~¾hr) - Cotonou
Today we enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then depart on our short drive to Ouidah for a city tour on the eve of the Vodou Festival. Ouidah is important traditional religious center and ancient slave depot, which sent thousands of slaves to the new world. We will visit the Museum in the old Portuguese fort, the Temple of Pythons, the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Kpasse sacred forest. We will trace the route of the famous "Slave Road" which leads to the slavery memorial of Zoungbodji. Then we return to Cotonou for overnight (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 13 Thursday 10 Jan. 2013: Vodou Festival in Ouidah
This morning we head back to Ouidah for the Vodou Festival; emjoy the festivities ! At day's end we will return to Cotonou for overnight (Hotel du Lac, or similar).
with Breakfast


Day 14 Friday 11 Jan. 2013: Cotonou / Ganvie - final departure (B)
Today we will visit colorful Cotonou, including the huge Dantokpa market, the second largest in West Africa (after Kumasi in Ghana), and the large artisans' center, where artisans can be seen working their crafts.
In the afternon we will take a pirogue excursion to visit Ganvie fishing village, built on stilts over the lagoon waters of Lake Nokoue. This village was created in the 18th century by the Tofinu people, to escape the slave-raids of their neighbors; women sell fish, fruits and vegetables from their canoes, and fish-farming is practiced within enclosures of trees and branches that surround the village. We return to Cotonou, and in the evening, transfer to the airport for final departure.
with Breakfast


1 km ~ 0.6 mile; distances are approximate
Driving times are approximate, depending on local conditions, stops, and border crossings


NB: Hotels subject to availability; see proposed hotels description.

The tour with these hotels is our default "Better" standard (3-4* hotels where available).
Upgrade to "Best" standard (4-5* hotels where available) also possible.
NB: in rural areas there is little choice of accommodations, and we utilize the same "best available" hotels for all tour standards.


Tour package includes:


Tour package does not include: international flights to Bamako, MALI and onward from Cotonou, BENIN; tourism visas (Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin); lunches, dinners, drinks/bottled water; tips and personal expenses.

Hotel upgrades in the capital cities are available upon request.



NB: Posted itineraries are subject to change, and quoted prices are accordingly subject to change; itineraries and prices are locked-in when a tour is booked.

Please note: Saga Tours does not handle international air reservations and ticketing.

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