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Benin Voodoo Festival and Ghana

BENIN, JAN. 08 - JAN. 16, 2019  5400 US$DEPARTURE DATES

The festival is, certainly, the most active, passionate, colorful, and biggest of those celebrated in country. And the pilgrims do not come only from corners of Benin but from Haiti, Brazil, and other countries around Benin such as Togo. On this special date thousands of devotees go to Ouidah, the center for the followers of this religion, if for nothing else to receive the blessing from the highest religious representative – the chief Vodun of the city. Far from being anything malignant or dark, the festival and its rituals have become a great and popular party over the years.

HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • Attend the Voodoo Festival
  • Visit the villages and witness the  Voodoo ceremonies and approach the reality as an insider
  • Reach villages that can only be reached in pirogues
  • Set photo sessions the street theater productions.

 

For most when the word Voodoo is mentioned it brings to mind images of mystery and secrets. The reality of the festival is something completely different and distinct from what many imagine. Very little of this system of belief can be described as dark or sinister. It’s the belief in forces of nature or ancestors acting upon the daily lives of the practitioners and which been a source of origin for Santeria (so called in Cuba), Candomble (Brazil), and Voodoo (Haiti).

 

On this special date thousands of devotees go to Ouidah, the center for the followers of this religion, if for nothing else to receive the blessing from the highest religious representative – the chief Vodun of the city. Far from being anything malignant or dark, the festival and its rituals have become a great and popular party over the years.

 

The festival is, certainly, the most active, passionate, colorful, and biggest of those celebrated in country. And the pilgrims do not come only from corners of Benin but from Haiti, Brazil, and other countries around Benin such as Togo.

 

For these faithful it is a special day, and for many citizens who are involved in fishing, agriculture, etc, it is a singular opportunity to spend the day side by side, equal to the nobility, spiritual leaders, and other honored members of society.

 

For all this and many other enchanting surprises that are hidden deep in this tiny but marvelous country, Nomad Photo Expeditions presents you a spectacular trip that takes best advantage of the beautiful chaos of the festival and the country in general.

The trip to Ethiopia was a dream come true. It felt as though I had been dropped right into the pages of National Geographic Magazine, which I read as a child, and which instilled a thirst for travel to Africa.

 

Harry ‘s organization and guidance leave nothing to chance. He uses wonderful people on the ground to drive, guide, and make  each experience seamless. The festivals and amazing opportunities, remote and wonderful locations are trademarks of his trips.

 

Harry is a genuine character, with a wonderful sense of humour, an eye for the magic in photographic situations, and a natural teacher’s ability to explain how to make use of light,

line and composition in our shots.

 

This trip was my third with Harry, and a true testament to his ability and to the opportunities he exposes us to is that I am planning trips number four and five only 10 days after my return from Ethiopia.

 

Thank you Harry for an unforgettable experience.

 

Lynda Greenberg Toronto Ontario



ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in Cotonou.

Upon arrival in the international airport we will transfer immediately to Cotonou and arrive by nightfall. The guide will be waiting for us outside the airport, and we’ll head for the Hotel du Lac for check in. The hotel is in a peaceful area of the city and is complete with pool and other amenities


Day 2: Cotonou – Sotchankou – Ganvie

After breakfast we will have a brief chat about the day’s activities, and set off into the city for some spontaneous shooting and capturing day to day life. Cotonou is a port city with traces of the communist era that marked the face of the economic capital of Benin.
In order to get the essence of the city we will go deep into it until we reach Dantokpa market, one of the biggest in the Gulf of Guinea.


After a chat with the priests and acolytes and a small photo session with them, we will continue on to Ganvie, called Africa’s Venice, which is home to a great concentration of fishermen of the Tofi ethnic group. They fled slavery and sought refuge around Lake Nokoue in the 18th century and have been there ever since. We will speak to them and have time to photograph them in their daily routine, bringing in their catch, inside their homes, and at the aquatic streets where the majority of people perform daily tasks.



Day 3: Ganvie – Ouidah (festival day)
After breakfast we will head back to tierra firma and go by minibus to the mythic capital of African Voodoo: Ouidah. Via the local guide, who is an acolyte himself, we will become immersed in the festival, where the faithful will gather from all over the world to worship and celebrate.

The four kilometers that separate the coast from the city center will transform into a cavalcade of chaos, joy and color; masked men and priests and devotees move in this archaic and disjointed parade but with no particular hurry – the festival is only just starting.

There are small groups going by dance, some ambling and greeting everyone they see, or individuals making small offerings, mothers with baskets balanced precariously on their heads, babies tied to their backs, and men beating drums as the parade moves along.

Even in this beautiful mess it is not difficult to distinguish the high caste, as it were. They are the ones carried along, protected from the inhospitable sun by enormous umbrellas. At the
beach, just next to the historic Gate of No Return, everything is whirling, reeling, happy chaos. And heat.

In precariously placed grandstands these honorables enjoy dance and music dedicated to them, after long and pompous speeches and much presentation. On a central stage griots (minstrels) entertain doing stunts, human castles or demonstrations of balance standing at the end of a high pole; Later, fetishes (representations of deities) straw are brought across the sand, turning wildly.

But the best part of the entertainment comes with the amount of small groups of men coming along beating drums. Around them the devotees, all dressed in traditional garb of bright, vibrant colors, seem compelled to dance to the thrumming, endless beating. Men in ritual clothing bedecked with amulets, faces painted white, and young, recently initiated acolytes dance and reel ceaselessly.

We will stay the whole day in the midst of all this celebration, photo documenting this singular and incredible event.

Day 4: Ouidah – Bopa

This morning after breakfast we will have time for a few last visitis and experiences in this mythic city, still literally overrun with thousands of Voodoo faithfuls.

Then we will bid Ouidah farewell and continue on to the sacred lake of the Benin voduns – Lake Aheme, the great jewel of its animist population. These people have preserved their ancestral customs for countless generations, the customs which were then carried over to the Caribbean, Brazil, and the USA during the slave trade.

The variant of Voodoo here, well, we’ll experience it fully, at maximum expression as they say. They still practice ritual chicken sacrifice to feed their ancestors, participate in dance rituals that join the living with the dead. It is critical to remember that though it will seem strange, we are in their world, and we must enter it from a place of respect and curiosity. We will have several photo sessions in the animist village, and make contact via our local guide who will be key in the interaction process.

We will also have time to visit and photograph the high priest of Bopa, and see the temple as well as all the history it retains to this day.

Day 5: Bopa – Bohicon – Abomey

At first light we will breakfast and take off to the center of culture and spirituality in Benin: Abomey. En route, however, we will have a stop in the fetish market of Bohicon for a spontaneous photo session. Here many fetishes and images of many deities are made and presented, we will even see some being worked on at the market stalls.

Then we will arrive in Abomey, which is an UNESCO cultural heritage site and also a national monument. We will have a visit to the royal palace and also the art museum for a more academic understanding of the cultural history of this wonderful country, and to photograph and see the influences of some westernization. Then, we are taking back to the streets to the central market to attend and photo document some traditional dances that will be done in various plazas in the central neighborhoods.

Day 6: Abomey – Agonlin Mountains – Nomad Villages – Cove

We have a long but very rewarding day today. We will be traveling through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in all of Africa up into the foothills of Agonlin by way of red earth roads. This entire area is inhabited by farmers and also Fulani nomads who preserve ritual tattooing practices as well as elaborate hairdressing. We will have several stops in Nomad camps to meet and learn from them, and tell their stories via photographs.

In fact we will even have a picnic with some of them and go by foot with them to see their villages and photograph the unbelievable and beautiful expanse of land they live on.


Day 7: Cove – Ketou – Porto Novo

We will have our breakfast again at first light and then set out to find the land of the Holi tribespeople, a subgroup of the Yoruba peoples. Once again today we will have time to fully explore these native villages and meet the animist peoples who live there.

They are known for their facial tattooing practices. All day we will visit their markets, where they sell a great many traditional wares, some that have cultural bleed with their neighbors in Nigeria. We will again have a picnic with some of the locals in their village and spend time with them getting to know them, and then in photography sessions with them.
It is a delightful rural experience and the people are very open and friendly. When our time with them is spent, we’ll continue on for Porto Novo, the political capital of the country, and a fabulous little place to lose yourself for a few hours so you can breathe in the history it emanates.


We’ll head out to the Afro-Brazilian neighborhood and have a good look around, doing some less posed and more off the cuff photography for the afternoon. This city, as you will see, is an incredible fusion of cultures, from the Yoruba to the Afro-Portuguese, and the architecture is also strongly influenced by both the French and English colonial eras.


Day 8: Porto Novo – Rio Negro – Yoruba Villages – Porto Novo – Cotonou

In the morning after breakfast we will set out for Rio Negro to visit the Drum Market on the outskirts of Porto Novo. There we will have a final chance to see some drumming performances and even how the drums are made and sold.

After that we will visit a few more of the Yoruba tribe villages, though these have more influence from Nigeria than our previous hosts. We will be spending the afternoon with a Yoruba dance master, learning about his trade. Dance and music are central to Yoruba culture, as it is how said culture is passed down via kinesthetic and oral tradition.

After that, we will head back to Cotonou for a traditional farewell dinner.



Prices per person
10 Participants 5400 US$


Supplements
Single Room Supplement Main Itinerary 990 US$


TERMS

 

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy . A limited quantity of single-occupancy rooms are available for an additional charge.

 

The maximum number of participants are listed under "Maximum Group" in the Price section of each individual workshop. However, we reserve the right to add by up to one the maximum number of participants per workshop at any time.

 

INCLUDED

 

-Harry Fisch Bilingual Photographer and Tuition

-All  breakfasts, lunches and dinners except two meals on you own. (soft drinks and alcoholic beverages not included)

- 9 days total 8 nights

- Private, set Photo Sessions

- The best available tourist  hotels.  

- All local ground transportation

-Coordination of all listed activities

 

NOT  INCLUDED

 

-Tips for local guides and drivers

-International flights to and from Benin

-Individual house/hotel expenses (minibar, room service, laundry fees, etc.)

-Medical Insurance 

-Anything not specifically listed under "included"

 

 

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy  . A limited quantity of single-occupancy rooms are available for an additional charge.

 

DEPOSIT

 

A deposit of $1.000 per person is required to guarantee your reservation, which will be applied towards the cost of your tour.

 

Deposits are generally non-refundable, except in rare cases when we cannot confirm all components of a booking at the purchase price.

 

FINAL PAYMENT:  

 

Any pending balance must be paid in full at least 90 days prior to departure.

 

 

 



INSURANCE

We strongly recommend buying a "Cancel for any reason" Trip Cancellation Insurance that can protect you against unforeseen circumstances that might prevent your attendance and trip cancellation should you unexpectedly need to cancel.

It is required to purchase a medical and repatriation travel insurance package to protect oneself in case of an unexpected medical emergency.

BOOKING

Please read carefully all the terms and conditions that have been stated above (Terms and Conditions) . All are valid for the Cuba Photo Tour except the following Booking and Cancelation Policy.

On the Cuba People to People Photo Tour, all payments are made directly to the licensed travel agent. All travel arrangements and services for the Cuba People to People trip are provided by a licensed Agent under the guidelines outlined by the United States Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

A deposit of $700 per person is required to guarantee your reservation, which will be applied towards the cost of your tour. Deposits are generally non-refundable, except in rare cases when we cannot confirm all components of a booking at the purchase price.

Wire transfers, Visa and / or Master Card, direct deposits, checks and cash are accepted.
The name/s of the person/s who is/are travelling is/are required to appear in all transactions/communications.

FINAL PAYMENT

Any pending balance must be paid in full at least 90 days prior to departure.

CANCELATION POLICY

We reserve the right to cancel any trip because of inadequate enrollment that makes the trip economically infeasible to operate or because of our concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants. If an expedition is canceled by us prior to departure, the Travel Agent will provide the participant with a full refund of monies paid to them; except in the event cancellation is due to a significant event that makes it infeasible to operate the expedition as planned, in which case he will provide the participant with a refund and/or credit toward a future Nomad Photo Expedition trip equivalent to monies paid to them.All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark.

The Travel Agent reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by 90 days prior to departure. All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark.

- If you cancel 121 days or more prior to departure The Travel Agent will give you back your deposit less 500 $.

- Between 120 and 91 days before the departure date, The Travel Agent will retain your full deposit and/or partial payment as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation . Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.

- Less than 91 days before the departure date, The Travel Agent will retain 50% of the price of the tour as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation . Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.

- Less than 60 days before the departure date, The Travel Agent will retain 100 % of the price of the tour .

Any airline tickets issued are subject to the carrier’s refund policy. Leaving an expedition in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of an expedition. No refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, sightseeing trips, or trek arrangements.

OTHER TERMS

Voluntary Participation

By registering for a Nomad Photo Expedition trip , you acknowledge that you have voluntarily applied to participate on this trip and that you have read the description of the trip as it appears in the current catalog or website.

Subject to change

In the event that for any reason whatsoever, such as but not limited to a medical emergency, the originally assigned photographer is unable to accompany the trip, he will be replaced by another photographer with experience in the same destination. Such a change will not be deemed sufficient grounds for a refund other than stated in the cancellation policy.

Prices and itineraries may vary without prior notice until the moment of booking. Itineraries may be altered during the trip depending on photographic interest upon decision of the accompanying photographer.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Nomad Photo Expedition .

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.

You are expected to be in reasonable shape and fitness and being able to walk for several hours at a normal pace as well as to take care of your own equipment. You could have to transport your own luggage and bags in airports and hotels. By registering in our workshops you attest that you have no physical limitation or incapacity that could create risk to or impact in the rhythm of the rest of the group.

We reserve the right to refuse the participation of any participant not considered suitable due to his fitness level.

The Agent

The pace of each journey, the dedication to one or another theme and/or region, are designed and determined by Harry Fisch based on his experience in the region, research and/or accounts of other travelers, as well as relationships established over the years at various destinations. Harry Fisch or Nomad Photo Expeditions does not own or operate any entity, which is to or does provide goods or services for your trip including, for example, lodging facilities, airline, vessel, minibus, or other transportation companies, guides or guide services, local ground operators, providers or organizers of optional excursions, food service providers, etc. All such persons and entities are independent contractors. As a result, Harry Fisch or Nomad Photo Expeditions is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity or of any third party.

Travel arrangements, logistics, bookings, support, insurance, and everything related to the activity of a Travel Agent are organized by a licensed Travel Agent , in accordance with the laws in force.

Any airline tickets issued are subject to the carrier’s refund policy. Leaving an expedition in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portions of an expedition. No refunds will be given for unused hotel rooms, meals, sightseeing trips, or trek arrangements.

Itinerary Modification & liabilities

We reserve the right to cancel any trip because of inadequate enrollment that makes the trip economically infeasible to operate or because of our concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants. If an expedition is canceled by us prior to departure, The Travel Agent will provide the participant with a full refund of monies paid to them; except in the event cancellation is due to a significant event that makes it infeasible to operate the expedition as planned, in which case T&A will provide the participant with a refund and/or credit toward a future Nomad Photo Expedition trip equivalent to monies paid to them.

The applicant acknowledges that travel on a Nomad PhotoTexpedition trip requires a degree of flexibility, and understands that the trip’s route, accommodation and modes of transport are subject to change without prior notice due to local circumstances. Should Nomad PhotoTexpedition deem it advisable to amend an itinerary for any reason, it may do so by shortening, varying or rerouting any trip. These changes are binding and additional expenses will be charged to the applicant if the reason for any major alteration is outside Nomad PhotoTexpedition control.

If we cancel the trip in progress, the participant will receive a prorated refund and/or a credit based on the number of days not completed on the expedition. We will not be responsible for any additional expenses incurred by participant in his/her preparation for the trip (e.g., nonrefundable airline tickets visa fees, if applicable clothing, equipment and medical expenses, etc.).

The itineraries and staff presented in this catalog are subject to modification and change by Nomad Photo Expedition. We reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever, in our judgment, conditions warrant, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of participants.

The participant further acknowledges that weather conditions may be severe, adverse and/or unpleasant and that medical services or facilities may not be readily available or accessible during some or all of the time during which he/she is participating on the trip. Nomad Photo Expedition reserves the right to request a medical certificate from a participant at any time before departure or during the photo tour. Nomad Photo Expedition will ultimately determine an individual’s ability to embark upon the photo tour. Once a booking has been accepted, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to the cancellation policy.

While travelling with Nomad Photo Expedition the applicant agrees to accept the authority of the leader or local operator at all times. The applicant is aware that travel within a group may involve compromise to accommodate the diverse desires and physical abilities of group members. The applicant understands that Nomad Photo Expedition reserves the right to decline, accept, or retain any person as a member of the group at any time.

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

The participant acknowledges that he/she is aware that such a the trip he/she is undertaking in remote areas of the world implies a risk of illness, injury or death which may be caused by forces of nature, illness, or by willful or criminal conduct of third parties or by terrorism. You acknowledge that travel to foreign countries entails unanticipated risks which could result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death, or damage to yourself, to property, or to third parties. You understand that such risks simply cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of the activity. The risks include, among other things: the hazards of walking on uneven terrain (cobblestones) and slips and falls, street muggings, hijacking, your own physical condition.

Maximum Number of Parfticipants

The maximum number of participants are listed under the workshop/trip details section of each individual workshop. However, we reserve the right to add by up to one, the maximum number of participants per workshop, at any time as well as to include, within the maximum participant´s limits, up to three non-photographer travelers on each trip. These extra people, usually those accompanying their photographer spouse, friend or partner, will not be entitled to any private photography tutoring time.

Insurance

Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas. The applicant’s travel insurance must provide cover against personal accident, medical expenses, emergency repatriation and personal liability.

We strongly recommend insurance coverage for cancellation be taken at the same time as payment is made, as no exception to the cancellation provisions that can be made. We also recommend provisions for curtailment, loss of luggage and personal effects. We recommend the purchase of a supplemental travel insurance package to protect oneself in case of an unexpected medical emergency.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it.

Land Cost

The land cost does not include (unless specifically declared):

Domestic or International air fare unless specifically stated on the itinerary ; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not travelling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Passport and Visa

The applicant must carry a valid passport and have obtained the appropriate visas when travelling . Applicants must ensure their passport is valid for 6 months beyond the duration of the trip. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that they are in possession of the correct visas for the trip they are undertaking. We cannot accept responsibility if the applicant is refused entry to a country due to incorrect visa documentation.

The client acknowledges that it is solely his/her responsibility to ensure that he/she is in possession of the necessary travel documents that may be required in respect of the proposed tour and itinerary as well as all health and other certificates that may be required from time to time. The client acknowledges that Nomad Photo Expedition is not assuming any obligation or liability .

Accommodation

The accommodation can not always be a high standard when travelling in developing countries so sometimes things will not always run as smoothly as they would in a western country. The further you venture from the beaten track the more basic the standard of accommodation and levels of service. This is all part of your adventure travel experience.

Single Travelers

Accommodations (hotels, tents, and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If the participant prefers single accommodations, he/she must pay a single supplement fee, which is listed in the Trip Itinerary. If the participant is traveling alone and wishes to share accommodations, we will assign him/her a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom the participant can share, he/she is required to pay the single supplement fee

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

Photo Release

Nomad Photo Expedition reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Nomad Photo Expedition