We spent three weeks in Ghana, Togo and Benin with Samuel, our driver and guide and we cannot speak highly enough of him and of the itinerary that your local partners prepared for us. There was huge variety and every day was an adventure. There were lots of opportunities to interact with local people and Samuel always encouraged us to do so. We saw animals in a game park, attended church, attended a voodoo ceremony, walked in the forest, visited lots of villages and so much more. Having travelled in Africa before, we were prepared for both the physical and cultural challenges and we were always well looked after. The accommodation went from basic to luxurious and it was all satisfactory. We would return to West Africa and definitely travel with you again.
The itinerary was excellent - varied and interesting. Very important when we knew we wanted to go to West Africa but knew very little about what was available there. Local knowledge was key to a successful itinerary. As above, we found communication prompt and professional. We also appreciated how you stepped in when things went wrong. While we were very sad to lose Samuel, we appreciated that you were putting our interests to the fore and looking after us to ensure that we completed our holiday.
The only issue, a very minor one, is clarity with what is covered by the itinerary in terms of cost. In a couple of places, things were mentioned in our itinerary but not necessarily in what the driver was prepared for. This was only really an issue at the end when we were budgeting for our final day and had to pay to enter St George's Castle. Maybe issue one definitive itinerary with these things specified to both guests and driver at the beginning. HOWEVER, as I said, this was not a major issue and certainly did not impact upon our overall enjoyment.
Samuel was the best. He looked out for us at all times while also gently pushing us to take challenges and be involved. With his guidance, we did. His driving was excellent on very difficult roads, his ability to get on with all people was an inspiration. He dealt with bureaucracy with a calm but firm manner. Samuel shared his knowledge with us at every opportunity and went out of his way to ensure that we had a good time. I cannot speak too highly of him.
Firstly, be flexible. You are going to countries where things work differently from what you may be used to but they do work and you will have a better time if you are relaxed about that. Don't say no to opportunities - we had great fun helping fishermen pull their nets in from the sea and participating in the voodoo festival. As to highlights, definitely go to Pendjari Park - a lot of bouncing about but the best animal experience.
Apart from the great places we visited: Pendjari, the Volta River, Pineapple Lodge, the farm, many villages... The best part was observing how people interacted. Unlike Europe where we try to avoid too much contact with strangers, people appeared to be happy to great each other, to treat each other respectfully, to take time to listen, to shake your hand. We saw how people can and do live communally and cooperatively, how women hold up more than half of the African sky, how few problems cannot be solved with ingenuity. We loved being feted as parents of twins. We loved it all, both good and less good.