Last Modified: 19 Mar 2014
Ghana, Togo & Benin
Trip code: DDOD
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
This remarkable trip through Ghana, Togo and Benin boasts all of the best bits of these three diverse and fascinating West African countries. From the butterfly sanctuary of Mount Klouto to the ancient voodoo culture of Ouidah and the unbelievable two-storey mud huts of the Tammari people, there’s no shortage of authentic West African sights on this jaunt. Journeying from Ghana by truck and bush camping along the way presents bucketloads of opportunities to really appreciate the stunning landscapes and diverse scenery of this part of the continent. Wildlife lovers will be thrilled at the chance to witness elephants, hippos, buffalos and some of the last populations of West African lions in Pendjari National Park, while chill-seekers will get their kicks lazing on the lovely beaches of Grand Popo. This comprehensive 21-day adventure showcases these three wonderful countries and offers an unrivalled way to experience a healthy slice of West African life.
Warning - this is a new trip for us!
While we have thoroughly researched this area to put together this trip, it still must be remembered that this is a relatively new trip for us. To be frank, we expect some things to go wrong. When we head to new destinations, we usually find there are more pleasant surprises in store than unpleasant ones, but the warning is sincere. If it concerns you then we recommend that you wait for a year until we get any bugs ironed out.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
- The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Day 1 Accra
Meeng-gah-bou! Welcome to Ghana.
The trip begins with a group meeting at 10am.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Accra, Ghana's sprawling capital, is a bustling coastal city with a whole load of beaches that would please even the most discerning sun worshipper. Some of the beaches are more touristy than others and they can all get very busy on Saturdays and Sundays; and whenever you go you should expect to be entertained by an endless stream of musicians and acrobats and pursued by souvenir sellers. Away from the beach, the Perpetual Flame at the Cenotaph in Revolution Square is worth a look, plus the National Museum houses one of the best collections in all of West Africa. Next to the museum you will also find a good craft market, perfect for a bit of souvenir shopping. In the evening you can sample Accra's lively night life, heading out to one of the many bars and restaurants that can be found all over this surprising city.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Akosombo/Lake Volta
We leave Accra after breakfast and head north to Akosombo by Lake Volta, where we stay at a campsite.
A small town, Akosombo is the home of the Akosombo Dam. Built as a hydroelectric scheme, this damming of the Akosombo gorge on the Volta River resulted in the creation of Lake Volta, the largest man made lake in the world, covering almost 4% of Ghana's land mass.
We will explore the dam and its workings before setting up camp for the night.
Lake Volta in Ghana spreads over a massive 3275 square miles and runs for over 320 miles from the most northern point, to the most southern point. The White Volta River and The Black Volta River combine to form the Volta River which eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean. There are tropical temperatures most of the year round, which has created the opportunity to find many local fisheries.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Mount Klouto
Today we have a full day's drive, which brings us across the border into Togo, and to the spectacular Mt Klouto. We camp here for two nights, and there is also the option to upgrade to dorm accommodation. During our stay we will enjoy an evening of drumming and voodoo.
Hidden away in mountains of Togo, Mont Klouto is a couple of hours north of Lome, a welcome relief from the heat of the coast. The mountains here are covered in dense forest, punctuated by gently cascading streams and waterfalls. A nature reserve has been established in the area because Klouto is an important habitat for butterflies, over five hundred different species can be found here, many of them incredibly beautiful. It's an ideal place for hiking and you can take a guided walking butterfly safari through the forests with a local naturalist guide.
- Day's guided butterfly walking safari - USD20
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Bush Camp
Another full-day journey today as we head further north through Togo to the border with Benin. We will wild camp this evening.
Due to the unpredictable nature of this region, a spare day has added here to build some flexibility into the itinerary. This day will be used at the discretion of the leader and crew.
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Days 7-8 Tata Somba Region
Today's journey brings us to the Tata Somba region, close to the town of Tanguieta, where we will spend two nights in an eco-lodge. During our stay we will tour the fascinating local mud Somba houses.
The Tata Somba region is famous for their two-story fortified houses, from which the region takes its name. The ground floor is used for housing livestock at night, the internal alcoves are used for cooking, and the upper floor contains a rooftop courtyard used for drying grain and sleeping quarters.
- Tour of Tata Somba houses
Lodge (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Pendjari National Park
From the Tata Somba region we have a short journey north to the stunning Pendjari National Park. We will camp for two nights in the park. Our days will be spent exploring the park, taking game drives in the truck.
Pendjari National Park is situated in the north-west of Benin and is named for the Pendjari River which flows through the park. Known for its wildlife, Pendjari is home to some of the last populations of big game in West Africa, including elephants, West African lions, hippos, buffalo and various antelopes.
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 11 Bush Camp
Today we have a full day journey heading south through Benin. Tonight we will bush camp en route.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Abomey
We continue the journey today to Abomey where we stay in a campsite for the next 2 nights.
Abomey is the ancient capital of the Dahomey kingdom, once one of the most powerful empires in Africa.You can still see some of the original Dahomeyan palaces and temples here, and the Musée Historique d’Abomey is a good place to learn about the history of the region. The palace is full of gold, silver, thrones, tapestries of bloody battles, testament to the proidigous wealth of this once great kingdom.
The next morning we visit the Abomey Palace and Museum.
- Guided Tour of Palace and Museum, Abomey
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 14 Ganvie
This morning we have a short drive to Abomey-Cavali before jumping aboard pirogues to Ganvie, a town built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon. Tonight we will stay in the stilt village.
Ganvie is home to more than 10,000 people, even though it is built entirely on stilts in the middle of a lagoon and can only be reached by pirogue (dugout canoe). The ancestors of the Toffinu people used the lake as a refuge from the slave traders, and the Toffinu have lived on the lagoons ever since. Possibly the largest lake village in the whole of Africa, the local people here depend on fishing and fish farming for their livelihoods.
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 15 Ouidah
This morning we take our pirogues back to the truck and continue a short distance to Ouidah where we camp in the grounds of an auberge.
Whilst in Ouidah there is free time to explore some of the many sites on offer such as the Temple of the Python where the serpent deity Dangbe has been revered for years. You may also like to check out the Slave Route or 'Route des Esclaves', La Maison Bresil and the Ouidah Museum of History.
Benin is a country that takes Voodoo very seriously, so much so that it is recognised as an official religion and is practised by over 60% of the population. It all centres around the small town of Ouidah, which is the centre of voodoo culture in Benin; voodoo is part of everyday life here and Ouidah hosts many voodoo festivals and celebrations throughout the year. The Musée d’histoire d’Ouidah gives an interesting insight into voodoo history and culture in the area. The town also has a fascinating and colourful history, having been an important centre during the slave trade. The Portuguese, English and French all constructed forts here to protect their trading interests, one of which now houses a museum that gives you a unique glimpse into the terror and destruction that the slave trade wreaked on this part of the world.
- La Maison Bresil at Ouidah - USD3
- Temple des Serpents - USD1
- Route des Esclaves - USD3
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Days 16-17 Grand Popo
A short drive from Ouidah brings us to Grand Popo where we have two nights of well-deserved relaxation on the beach. Here we will camp for two nights at an auberge.
Grand Popo is a great place for a bit of rest and relaxation on the beach, West African style. Located in south west Benin, the town originally grew as a port servicing the slave trade, although coastal erosion has destroyed most of the old buildings. Today it's a good getaway spot for travellers, a pleasant spot to spend a lazy couple of days.
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 18 Agbodrafo
Leaving the beach behind, our journey continues over the border from Benin and into Togo. We head to the quiet town of Agbodrafo on the shores of Lake Togo, where we will camp for two nights at an auberge.
Agbodrafo, an old Portuguese city formerly known as Porto Seguri, is a quiet small town on the shore of Lake Togo. The real draw here is the lake itself, a 13 square kilometres. This is a really idyllic place to relax and do some watersports. There are a number of water resorts, which are very popular with the Togolese from Lome. The lake is surrounded by a number of small villages and fishermen ply the waters in dug-out canoes. It is possible to get a ride across the Lake to Togoville in a dug out canoe with the local fishermen. These 'pirogues' ply the lake between Agbodrafo and Togoville and if you wish to travel by pirogue, the truck will be driving around to Togoville.
During our time in Agbodrafo we take a pirogue trip to Togoville, the centre of the voodoo culture, where we have a guided city tour and church visit.
Togoville is a small town on the shores of Lake Togo, renowned as the historic centre of voodoo culture. Many practitioners of voodoo were taken from here to Haiti as slaves, which is why there is also a strong voodoo culture in Haiti even though it's thousands of miles away. There are still a few voodoo shrines and fetishes around the area today. Interestingly, there is also a German church here, dating back to 1910. Chief Mlapa III signed a treaty with German explorer Nachtigal in 1884, giving Germany the rights over all of Togoland. The church sits on a large terrace, dominating the lake with the village spread out in a semi-circle below, decorated with painting of African Saints and a statue of Our Lady of Lake Togo.
- Guided city tour of Togoville
- Pirogue (dug out canoe trip) on Lake Togo
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 19 Keta
We cross back into Ghana today for a night stop at the beach in Keta, where we stay in a small, local hotel.
If you don't fancy lazing on the beach, perhaps check out the remains of Fort-Prinzenstein, a slave den built by the Danes 300 years ago as a transit point for transporting slaves to the Americas.
Keta is part of the Volta estuary region, comprising several small islands and a complex of lagoons. The area is abundant with bird, fish and butterfly species and also the endangered waterbuck. The Keta Lagoon Complex is the largest wetlands site in Ghana covering 1,200 sq. km. from the eastern shores of the Volta River to the international border with the Republic of Togo.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 20-21 Accra
One last drive day takes us back to Ghana's capital, Accra. We will most likely head out for a final group meal tonight before returning to our hotel.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (1 nt)
We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Please note that some of our included activities are contingent on weather conditions. We'll arrange an alternative if an included activity is deemed unsafe.
On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund managed by travellers. It helps fund for breakfast and lunch on the boat and other small items such as ice, water, snacks and drinks. Travellers are responsible for the preparation of these meals onboard and to shop at port where supermarkets are often very close to the mooring. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. On day 1, the skipper will talk through the kitty and how it will be managed (by yourself or fellow travellers) The kitty will be collected when you arrive at the welcome meeting or in stages throughout your trip.
In West Africa we generally use Euros and not US$. Please note that although we quote kitties, personal spending and other items in US$ (because we operate globally), for trips passing through these countries you will want to use Euros and NOT US dollars for the kitty, tipping and personal spending. As the exchange rate is variable, the trip leader will confirm the exact exchange rate between US$ and Euros to be used for the kitty at the pre-departure meeting.
You may pay your kitty in a mixture of Euros cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!
For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, but in West Africa travellers cheques are almost impossible to change so for that reason we recommend a mix of cash and ATM cards. Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards NOT Mastercard.
You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and moneychangers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are readily available in most areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges. Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult
Please note that you are responsible for your own visas and taxes. Please have these amounts available prior to departing the various countries.
US$50 departure tax is required for all international departures out of Accra.
Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Camping (with facilities) (11 nts), Hotel (3 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (3 nts), Lodge (2 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger - you're part of the crew. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple!
If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
All meals when camping
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Your kitty covers the cost of any meals while staying at camp sites.
A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee.
Lunch is almost always a sandwich with healthy salad and assorted fillings, sometime with fruit to follow. There may be a chance on occasion to buy your lunch.
Dinner might be a BBQ, rice dish, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some African food such as pap / ugali and stew.
One thing is sure: you definitely won't go hungry or lose weight on your safari! When you're not camping you'll have the freedom to decide where, what and with whom you eat.
Overland vehicle, Canoe
Our trucks are purpose-built, self contained safari vehicles. Intrepid’s fleet of vehicles varies depending on your group size, trip route and style. In Southern Africa some departures may use vans and luggage trailers subject to group size and vehicle availability. Your vehicle type may differ from those listed above.
There are many long hours spent driving on rough roads on all African itineraries. While most people love the chance to watch the changing landscape and daily village life, feedback shows that long periods of inactivity does not appeal to all clients. We provide the approximate distance covered each day and how many hours this normally takes to drive so that you can choose the safari experience which is right for you.
African conditions are extremely tough on vehicles. While we fastidiously maintain our vehicles at our workshops, you should not expect Africa to be your traditional touring experience. While it's certainly our aim to avoid them, it's important that you set off on your trip knowing that the occasional breakdown can happen and are best treated as part of the African adventure. Due to wet weather there may be times when we have to take an alternative route which will mean longer travel times.
On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
Niagara Plus Hotel
Joining point description
Our hotel is located in Osu, a trendy area of Accra with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes causing the main street to be nicknamed 'Oxford Street'.
Rooms have private facilities, 24-hour hot water, TV and bar fridge. There is also a restaurant on site.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Niagara Plus Hotel
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
For most nationalities a visa is required and needs to be obtained in advance. If you are entering Ghana on an overland trip please contact your local embassy to do this as it's no longer possible to obtain these visas en route.
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance
Please obtain your Benin visa in advance. We advise you to check current visa requirements with your nearest Embassy or Consulate. Australians & New Zealanders will need to apply through the Embassy in London.
It may also be possible for most nationalities to obtain a visa for Benin in Accra, Ghana. An express visa in Accra takes 1-3 working days but may be subject to additional fees.
Australia: Yes - In advance
Belgium: Yes - In advance
Canada: Yes - In advance
Germany: Yes - In advance
Ireland: Yes - In advance
Netherlands: Yes - In advance
New Zealand: Yes - In advance
South Africa: Yes - In advance
Switzerland: Yes - In advance
United Kingdom: Yes - In advance
USA: Yes - In advance
Please obtain your visa to Togo in advance. We recommend that you check current visa requirements with your nearest Embassy or Consulate.
Please note that it may be possible to obtain a visa for Togo at the Togolese Embassy in Accra. It is sometimes possible to get this visa in 1 day (if you drop your application off in the morning – Weekdays only). However, visa information is subject to change on a regular basis.
This may be a good option if you are arriving in Accra before the trip however we advise that you check with your nearest embassy. Please bring at least 3 passport photos.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
CAMPING EQUIPMENT / MATTRESS:
A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.
We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).
A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.
We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed an outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa, initially identified in forested areas of south eastern Guinea in March 2014. There are a large number of confirmed cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and multiple unconfirmed cases in Mali. We recommend that passengers closely monitor the advice provided by local health authorities and the WHO.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
UNFENCED CAMP SITES:
On some trips you will at times stay in unfenced camp sites within national parks. While this is a fantastic experience, there are a few safety rules to follow. While staying in national parks it's important that you listen to any advice given by your tour leader and the park rangers regarding responsible and safe behaviour.
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards can be conservative in some parts of Africa. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means covering shoulders and no short shorts in culturally sensitive areas: Mosques, small villages, etc. We recommend a mixture of loose, lightweight clothing and warm clothing for the evenings. Topless sun bathing is unacceptable through out the whole of Africa.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 609.00 kgs per pax.
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