Worldwide Photographic Journeys

Africa

IVORY COAST: Land of Masks and Dance

Monday 23rd January – Saturday 4th February 2023

Leaders: Inger Vandyke and local cultural guides

13 Days Group Size Limit 4

IVORY COAST – LAND OF MASKS AND DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY TOURS WITH WILD IMAGES

West Africa’s Ivory Coast (Côte D’Ivoire) is one of the greatest hidden gems of African culture on the continent.  It is home to around sixty different cultures, all of which are woven together in an intricate tapestry of animism, voodoo and the ancient tradition of African masks.  Wild Images is proud to pioneer Ivory Coast photography tours in this exciting, yet little visited, West African country.

For years the civil wars in Ivory Coast blocked off tourism to the outside world.  When these wars ended in 2011, Ivorian people began to live in peace and their country has had very few problems since.  While tourism is very much in its infancy, for intrepid photographers who really want to experience uniquely beautiful African cultures, visiting Ivory Coast is a sensual journey of photographic art, great food, ancient monuments and wild, fascinating African masked dances.

During our tour we will experience one of Africa’s most famous cultural performances, the Zaouli, a uniquely Ivorian dance that has been listed as an act of cultural significance by UNESCO and the athletic performances of the Senufo people including Boloye (the Panther dance), Gla, N’Goro (the Fire Dance), Balafon and the Danse des Jongleurs (the Dance of the Jugglers).  Other wildly fascinating dances we will see are the dance of the Komians, some of West Africa’s most famous traditional healers, the forest-born stilt dance of the Godufu people and the masculine/feminine spirit dance of Goly with the Baoulé people.

We will visit the largest Christian church in the world at Yamoussoukro and the ancient mud mosque in Kong.  Departing from these monotheistic faiths we will explore the animist monuments of the Niofoin Fetish houses and the sacred sacrificial rock at Mont Sienlow.

Ivory Coast is also home to a talented variety of artisan weavers, sculptors, bead makers and music that will all feature heavily on our tour.

Finally, we will wander through lively bustling markets and visit some of the crumbling old French colonial houses and fishing villages of Grand Bassam for some beautiful and spontaneous street photography.

THE TRADITION OF MASKS IN IVORY COAST

Ivory Coast is perhaps the most iconic West African country in terms of mask diversity and beliefs. If you are a collector of masks, or if you have seen African masks for sale across the African continent or overseas, there is a very good chance that many of the masks you have admired will have either been directly made in or inspired by those stemming from the Ivory Coast. Carefully crafted and spectacular, masks that are worn by dancers across West Africa are usually accompanied by headdresses, costumes and musical instruments that transform the wearer from an ordinary person into someone who has been taken over by the spirits.

Protectively shrouded when not in use, some of the masks we will see emerge in full force at dances that are performed for a variety of reasons including channelling the divine, consulting with ancestral wisdom, escorting the departed, celebrating the living or marking the natural cycles of existence.  They may also accompany young men and women on their initiation rituals.

It is strictly forbidden to touch them if you are uninitiated and almost all masked dancers are accompanied by a guardian to protect onlookers from accidental contact and also guide the masked dancer through his spiritual routine.

Learning about Ivorian cultures through the various dances of our tour is truly a mesmerising experience.

KOMIANS

Unique to the Akan culture of Ivory Coast and Ghana, Komians are the most celebrated traditional healers in the country.  Komians are not only consulted for their knowledge of medicinal plants but also for their “power” to ward off evil and predict the future. Without their intervention, no enthronement of a king or chief can take place.

We will travel to a traditional centre for Komian training in the small town of Anassiué to witness their traditions and beautiful circular dance which is performed to the music of tam tam drums and bells.

ZAOULI

A relatively recent addition to the cultures of Ivory Coast, the spectacular dance of Zaouli has rapidly become one of the best known cultural performances in Africa.  On average it takes a Zaouli dancer around seven years to perfect his craft and once he becomes a master, he is able to perform the wildest dance of masks whereby his upper body remains still while his feet and legs zigzag their way through a dance.  Performed mostly for funerals and celebrations by the Guro (or Gouro) people, Zaouli is danced only by men and usually by members of the same family.

Young dancers are revered as part of Guro society and watching them dance, even in plain clothes is a true highlight of our tour.  Once a dancer graduates to a fully costumed performer he will don colourful tights, leg poms, bells and one of several symbolic masks depending on the meaning of the celebration.

GOLY

Ivory Coast’s Baoulé people are a sub-culture of the Akan people and the powerful Ashanti kingdom that once spread across West Africa from its homeland of Ghana.  They are best known for their beautiful handwoven Kita fabric that is spun in a similar way to Kente cloth in Ghana.

We will visit a Baoulé community to learn about their tradition of Goly through special masked dances that are often performed during celebrations or funerals.  These twinned masks appear as almost identical but they are representative of the male and female spirits that exist within all of us.  It is possible we will see two different styles of Goly mask on our tour including Kpan, or human faced masks and Glan masks which are inspired by a mythical creature that is a cross between an antelope and a crocodile.

BOLOYE – THE PANTHER DANCE

As we travel deeper into the country we will enter the lands of the Senufo people, an ethnic group that is now found mostly in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali.  Senufo people are the most culturally rich people we will meet on our tour and a highlight of learning their culture will be attending a Boloye, or Panther Dance.

Senufo people believe that the spirit of a deceased person will still wander their village long after they have died so, fearing that these deceased spirits might bring ills to their community, they exorcise the spirits through a long funeral rite in order to send their spirit into the afterworld.

A key part of this funeral rite is the dance of the Boloye, or Panther.

Although their society is matrilineal, young Senufo men undergo a twenty-year training before they are initiated into a highly secretive men’s society called Poro and it is the Poro who organise the funerals in Senufo communities.  On the last day of a Senufo funeral, a young Poro initiate is tasked with leading masked dancers called Nufori into the arena.  These dancers are masked in a costume fashioned out of traditional dyed mud cloth that has been daubed with paint spots and designed to terrify women and children in the audience as they are normally excluded from these events.

Accompanying them are musicians playing large Bologo instruments and rattles made from local calabashes.  The excitement builds as each Nufoir enters the arena and dances an acrobatic series of movements including somersaults, headstands and flips.  While it feels like a great source of entertainment., these dancers are both respected and feared by villages at once.

BALAFON

The Balafon of Ivory Coast’s Senufo people is a pentatonic xylophone fashioned out of natural gourds, or calabashes, carved wood and sisal twine that is constructed around a trapezoidal frame.  Used traditionally in all celebrations, Balafon players start to learn their music from a very young age with a small Balafon before they graduate to larger instruments with time.  Known locally as Ncegele, the Balafon is either played singly or as part of an ensemble at festivals, prayer services and funerals of the Senufo.

A performance of Balafon is an act of great appeal to Senufo people who join the musicians in performing a lively, circular dance to the rhythmic strumming of drums and Balafons.

N’GORO – THE DANCE OF FIRE

One of the most spectacular dances we will see on our tour is the Dance of Fire or N’Goro.  Performed by the Senufo people, it is a traditional dance of passage for young Senufo virgins and it is overseen by a master of ceremonies who, in between dance moves on top of a flaming fire where he picks up live embers and chews on them, cracks a huge whip to keep the audience in check!

It begins with the music of drums and balafons which ring out across the village of the performance.  A group of young initiated men wearing white tasselled trousers appear and dance in circles blessing the musicians and visiting dignitaries.  Soon after the virgins appear.  Naked from the waist up, beautiful Senufo girls dance their way into the ceremony with poms made from paper and raffia grasses.  The rhythm and variety of acts in a performance of N’Goro are both fascinating and infectious leaving the viewer with the feeling of never wanting it to end!

THE STILT DANCE OF GODUFU

Lying deep in the countryside near Touba, the small traditional village of Godufu sits adjacent to a sacred forest, or ‘forests of the masks’.  It is here that a community of Dan, or Yacuba, people believe that the spirits of their ancestors reside.  These spirits control the fortunes and lives of the living and they must be honoured with sacrifices and masked dances that feature athletic men on stilts up to three metres high.

The ceremony begins with a group of newly married women dressed in white (for purity) and indigo (for self-respect) who sing about the course of married life.  Soon after they are joined by elderly women who act as their spiritual guardians.

Later they are joined by a group of young initiated men.  While all of this is occurring, a sacrifice is performed in the forest to honour the ancestors of the village and finally, the masked stilt dancer emerges from the forest in a procession towards the village dance.  Performing a series of acrobatic moves to the rhythmic beating of drums, if he falls a group of the young men will rally around to help him back up again.  This masked creature speaks in a shrill language of tongues that is incomprehensible to outsiders but it gets very excited when donations are offered from the crowd.  Performed mostly at sunset, the stilt dance of Godufu is an exhilarating part of our trip!

DANCE OF THE JUGGLERS (DANSE DES JONGLEURS)

Deep in the forest clad mountains of Man, we will seek out other spectacular dances of the Dan (Yacuba, Guéré, We), a sub-culture of the Senufo people including the Dance of the Jugglers, one of the oddest performances of our tour.  Here young girls are dressed up and placed into a trance before they are tossed into the air and caught safely by an older male performer.  The trance emboldens the young girls in their performance, allowing them to fearlessly approach their guardian who twirls them, tosses them and swings them around as part of the act.

GLE

Another performance of the Dan people, Gle is the literal term for ‘mask’. Connecting the living with the spirits of the sacred forest, large masked dancers appear in a performance to celebrate aspects of Dan society.  We will see a variety of masks during this performance, each of them guarded by a young man who yells to keep the dancer in control and also to translate the dancer’s language to the crowd.  On our first tour, we met three individual dancers – the Zehego (Chameleon), Zeblion (Monkey) and Gambié (Comedian) but many exist and they are brought out depending on the demands of the community on the day.

Much celebrated for their art and export globally Dan masks are usually carved from timber and they are dressed in a variety of costumes including long strands of raffia and fabric.

AN ODYSSEY OF ARTS

We will explore some of the deep traditions of art in Ivory Coast including weaving, bead making, painting and blacksmith work.  Each of these visits gives us a stunning insight into the breadth of talent that exists across the country.  From hand-painted beads to wall murals, brass bells and colourful fabric it is very hard to avoid buying artwork in Ivory Coast.  These brightly coloured artisan traditions are beautiful to photograph as they form an integral part of the cultural tapestry we will explore during our tour.

MEET WEST AFRICA’S ORIGINAL FOREST HUNTER – THE DOZO

While they are not classified as an ethnic group, the Dozo are groups of men who wander the forests of Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast dressed in traditional ‘fatigues’ of brown mud cloth and wearing a series of hand made leather protective amulets called gris-gris, as traditional hunters.  They are sometimes found presiding over ceremonies or acting as guards at self-imposed checkpoints on roads in northern Ivory Coast.  These fascinating men, who are very hospitable and good-natured, form fraternities called Donzo Ton and they are often viewed by farming or pastoralist neighbours as possessing special power, wisdom, and strength.  During our tour, we will visit a community of Dozos to learn more about their fascinating way of life.

WEST AFRICAN TEXTILES

One of the more elaborate features of artisan work in Ivory Coast is the creation of traditional textiles which are hand-spun and then handwoven on large wooden looms.  Cotton has been an agricultural industry in Ivory Coast for over a century and Ivorian weavers in the Senufo people of the north now create stunning local Korhogo cloth at a large weaver community close to the city of the same name.  Further south, the Baoulé people weave Kita fabric in a centuries-old tradition that stems from an ancient tradition of the Akan people who are related to the Baoulé culturally.

These beautiful African fabrics join other celebrated textiles in West Africa like Bogolan, or mud, cloth that is made in Mali and also Kente and Adinkra cloth from Ghana.

Adding to the textile odyssey of our tour we will visit the Banco washers and also a tie-dying fabric manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Abidjan.

Viewing all of these beautiful products alongside the myriad of imported fabrics from Indonesia is definitely one of the more colourful highlights of our tour.

LAND OF THE SPIRITS

Similar to many other West African countries, the vast array of cultures in Ivory Coast are linked by the monotheistic beliefs of Christianity or Islam which are intertwined with animism and voodoo.

In Ivory Coast monuments to people’s beliefs take on spectacular and ancient forms and during our tour, we will visit four key places of worship for Ivorian people.

THE BASILICA OF OUR LADY OF PEACE

Unbeknownst to many across the globe, the largest church devoted to the Christian faith in the world is actually in the administrative capital of Ivory Coast, Yamoussoukro.

In 1983 the then president of Ivory Coast, Hourphouët-Boigny chose Yamoussoukro to be the new capital of his country.  As part of his plan for the city, the president wanted to memorialise himself with the construction of a basilica with a view to it becoming the key pilgrimage site for African Catholics.

Featuring a dome that is twice the diameter of St Peters in Rome it seats up to 7,000 people in the nave with standing room for a further 11,000.  While photography is not permitted in many of the areas inside, it is still possible in some areas and visiting the Basilica gives a breathtaking glimpse into the strength of the Catholic belief in Africa.

MISSIRIBA – THE GRAND MOSQUE OF KONG

Thought to date back to the 12th century Missiriba, the largest mosque in the northern city of Kong is a stunning example of the Sudano Sahelian style architecture that is so reminiscent of similar structures over the border in Mali, like the Great Mosque of Djenné.  Smaller in size, yet no less impressive, Missiriba is the crowning glory of the city of Kong, a former seat of trade between the Dyula caravan leaders and the animist cultures of the Senoufo and Tyefo people in northern Ivory Coast.

With a quietude that belies its bustling past, the small town of Kong is home to two mud mosques built in the same style, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Wandering around Missiriba, we will spend time photographing its hand-sculpted minarets and architectural detail.  If a visit inside is permitted we will explore the numerous prayer caverns while padding quietly along the sandy floors of the mosque’s corridors.  Oddly a small colony of Guinean Horseshoe Bats has taken up residence here which is significant considering their listed status as Endangered due to their tiny distribution and fragmented habitat.

We will linger in Kong for a short while enjoying street photography in the street outside the mosque where colourful locals shop for wares in tiny stores or wander in and out of the mosque to pray.

NIOFOIN FETISH HOUSES

In the small town of Niofouin in northern Ivory Coast is one of the country’s most peculiar architectural oddities. It is home to two significant structures, the Niofoin Fetish Houses.

Wandering the local neighbourhood of Niboladala, we will wind our way through paths between traditional mud-brick roundhouses and hand-sculpted, stilted granaries to take photographs and meet with some of the friendly Niofoin locals.  These dirt paths eventually lead to two mushroom-like buildings that hold roles of significance for the animist beliefs of the local people, the Niofoin Fetish Houses.

Handcrafted in an adobe-style, the roofs of these houses spiral whimsically towards the sky.  Instead of being replaced every year with thatched grasses like so many other African structures, the roofs of these two houses are simply added to after each rainy season.

Guarding two fetishes, Diby and Kalegbin, these curious structures each play a role in protecting the people of Niofoin.  Each has a house of sacrifice next to them and a kafoudal, or public meeting place, in front.

Visiting Diby and Kalegbin gives you a glimpse into the living belief of animism not only in Niofoin but in Ivory Coast as a whole.

MONT SIENLOW SACRIFICIAL SITE

Deep in the foothills of Korhogo, at the end of a road lined with wild cashew trees, lies the peculiar sacrificial site of Mont Sienlow.  Located on a large granite koppie, this sacred site is visited by pilgrims who offer sacrifices to animist gods in order to wish for goodwill.  The reasons for sacrifice could include more money, a child, a happier marriage or good health.

It is quite a starkly beautiful place with huge granite boulders creating a shrine where animal bones and small hand-carved Touboubele dolls are offered as items to worship

Present at the site is a fetish priest who oversees the sacrifices that take place daily at Mont Sienlow.  Accompanying him are also fortune-tellers who, for a small fee, will tell your future using a collection of small cowrie shells.

EXPLORING IVORY COAST’S FRENCH COLONIAL PAST

During the final days of our tour, we will spend time relaxing and doing some street photography around Grand Bassam, the UNESCO World Heritage former French trading outpost on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Surf lined beaches and charismatic fishing villages abound here.  We will stay at a wonderful lodge right on the beach and enjoy fresh seafood meals in between walking the beach, exploring the work of local artists and visiting some of Grand Bassam’s incredible French colonial buildings, many of which are now sitting in ruin as they are slowly engulfed by time and strangler fig trees.

On an architectural photography walk here we will visit Ganamet house, one of Grand Bassam’s most iconic buildings.  The house of a Syrian/Lebanese trader who lived in Grand Bassam to trade coffee and cocoa with the Akan people, Ganamet House has an eclectic mix of French and Middle Eastern architectural features including a mansard roof which is unusual of the Bassam houses.  These days it lays open to the elements and is slowly being strangled by figs.  We will explore the ruined headquarters of Grand Bassam’s slavery master and other buildings to photograph their beautiful crumbling façades with their curious mix of French and African styles and architectural features.

We will visit the pretty local fishing village of N’Zima in the French Quarter which has a lively fishing community that lives in a labyrinth of grass huts at the foot of ancient coconut palms.  It is here we will learn about smoking and drying fish while meeting the friendly locals around the villages and the parked pirogues that ply the waters off Grand Bassam to supply its community with fresh fish every day.

Grand Bassam is also home to some wonderful Ivorian artists so if you wish to purchase anything from African masks, to French antiques, local paintings or other wares this is the perfect way to end our tour.

Why travel to Ivory Coast with Wild Images

Wild Images is the proud pioneer of photography tourism in Ivory Coast.  Our inaugural expedition across the country was extremely successful. We attended 8 different masked dances, explored the ancient mud mosque in Kong and hand-sculpted fetish houses at Niofoin in between street photography around lively bustling markets and the crumbling historical buildings of Grand Bassam.

Our leader has over thirty years of experience in Africa and knows West Africa extremely well.  We travel to remote villages where we will most likely be the only photographers present at incredible local masked dances.  We also believe that the best images come from the photography of people in a two-way situation.  We encourage our guests to chat to local people, laugh with them, engage with them and simply enjoy the experience of being immersed in their world.  The best part of being the first photography group in a country like Ivory Coast is that local people are as fascinated by photography as we are and quite often you will be asked for selfies by Ivorian people as much as you yourself ask for photos on the street!  As the body of work from our tour shows, we take the time to pay attention to the tiny things that make Ivory Coast such a special place.  While it lacks the spectacularly decorated tribal people of other African countries, it makes up for that lack with wonderful street photography opportunities with some of the friendliest people you will meet anywhere.

Accommodation & Road Transport

Road transport is by 4WD vehicles.

Accommodation is in basic yet comfortable hotels.

Walking

The walking on this tour is mostly easy.

Climate

The weather in Ivory Coast will be hot and often humid. There is likely to be a mixture of sunny and overcast conditions. Rain is unlikely.

Photographic Equipment

For most photography of the people in West Africa, a travel lens of around 24-105mm on a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless body will be essential. A wide-angle lens of around 16mm or smaller will be perfect for working with people inside smaller rooms.

If you prefer to photograph people from a distance, then please consider bringing a larger zoom or telephoto lens. It is our experience that sometimes people can feel a bit intimidated by large cameras and lenses so you may wish to bring a smaller sized zoom lens like a 100-400mm which doesn’t appear as intimidating as a large fixed focal length telephoto lens. Such a lens can also be useful for the ceremonies we will attend as you will often be standing in a crowd and a longer lens will allow you to shoot past other onlookers.

If you bring a good quality bridge camera instead of a DSLR or mirrorless it will be best if it has an optical zoom of 18-20x or more, combined with a reasonable wide-angle at the other end of the zoom range.

If you have a phone or tablet that can be used for photography, you may find these quite useful around people. Similarly, if you have a Polaroid camera like the Leica Sofort or an Instax Mini, these are wonderful to have on hand when you spend time with tribal people. If you decide to bring one of these, please bring lots of film with you as the photographs you produce will be quite popular!

Drones are particularly wonderful to use in Ivory Coast and they provide a very unique perspective of Ivorian fishing villages and places like the fabric manufacturing quarter of Abidjan. Ivory Coast has very few restrictions on flying drones, however, there are a few limitations you will need to consider when you fly.

If you would like to talk over suitable equipment, please contact our office. We will be happy to advise.

Photographic Highlights

  • Explore the rich tradition of masked dance in Ivory Coast while attending 8 different performances
  • Enjoy a performance of Zaouli, a uniquely Ivorian dance that has been protected as a cultural treasure by UNESCO and is now one of the most famous African dances
  • Visit the beautiful and ancient mud mosque of Missiriba at Kong
  • Wander the dirt paths connecting the stilted granaries and fetish houses of Niofoin
  • Witness the visits of pilgrims to the sacrificial stone at Mont Sienlow
  • Marvel at the sheer size and dimensions of the Basilica of our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro
  • Stroll around the former French colonial buildings doing street photography in Grand Bassam
  • Photograph Ivorian artists at work creating masks, textiles, beads and paintings
  • Sample some wonderful street food while meeting friendly locals in bustling markets
  • Learn about fish smoking and drying in between photography of the fishing village of N’Zima

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Arrive in Abidjan for dinner and an overnight stay
  • Day 2: Drive from Abidjan to Abengourou. Visit the palace of King Nana Boa Komassi. Drive to Anniasué and witness the dance of the Komians
  • Day 3: Travel to Yamoussoukro. Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. Travel to Guroland and spend the rest of the afternoon with the incredible Zaouli
  • Day 4: Visit a community of Baoulé people to see a Goly dance. Drive to Korhogo and enjoy a late afternoon visit to Mont Sienlow sacrificial rock
  • Day 5: Morning tour to visit Missiriba, the Grand Mosque of Kong. Afternoon performance of Boloye, the Panther dance, of the Senufo people
  • Day 6: Morning excursion to visit the Senufo blacksmiths and artisans of Korhogo. Afternoon performance of Balafon
  • Day 7: Travel from Korhogo to Niofoin to visit Fetish Houses and villages. Visit the most prominent makers of Balafons in Ivory Coast. Sunset performance of N'Goro, the Dance of Fire. Overnight Boundiali
  • Day 8: Morning visit to communities of Dozo and Fulani people near Boundiali. Drive to Godufu to witness Stilt dance. Travel to Man and visit the Bridge of Lianas before sunset
  • Day 9: Day performances of the Dance of the Jugglers and Gle of the Yacuba people
  • Day 10: Street photography around Man before we travel to Abidjan
  • Day 11: A day of slow travel to Grand Bassam with lunch on the beach and an afternoon of street photography in this former French trading post
  • Day 12: A full day of street photography on the beach, at N'Zima fishing villages and in the crumbling colonial buildings of Grand Bassam
  • Day 13: A final morning to relax, shop, swim, enjoy some more street photography. Our tour will end with lunch in Grand Bassam and a transfer to the airport

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

IVORY COAST – LAND OF MASKS AND DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR: PRICE INFORMATION

Wild Images Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, all photography, driver and guide gratuities and national reserve entrance fees.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2023: provisional £5980, €7050, $8190, AUD11230. Abidjan/Abidjan.


Single Supplement: 2023: £390, €460, $530, AUD730.

If you are travelling alone, the single supplement will not apply if you are willing to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in Euros. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

IVORY COAST: LAND OF MASKS AND DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR: DETAILED ITINERARY

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 1

Our Ivory Coast, Land of Masks photography tour starts in the early evening with dinner at our Abidjan hotel. Providing you are arriving at Abidjan International Airport today, a transfer to our hotel will be provided.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 2

This morning we will drive north to the city of Abengouro, arriving in time for lunch.  We will visit the Palace of King Nana Boa Komasi, the head of the Agni people before we drive out to the small town of Aniassué to learn about the resident Komian traditional healers and watch their traditional dance.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 3

Today we will drive to the beautiful northern city of Yamoussoukro, home to many freshwater lakes (filled with crocodiles!) and the gargantuan Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.  After enjoying a lakeside lunch we will make a short tour of the Basilica, the largest place of Christian worship in the world, before we drive out to Guroland and watch a performance of the UNESCO listed Zaouli, one of the most prominent traditional dances of Africa.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 4

This morning we will visit a small community of Baoulé people to learn how they make traditional Kita cloth and then we will join a performance of Goly, their traditional dance. Leaving for Korhogo we will stop for lunch en-route and then spend the late afternoon visiting the curious sacrificial stone at Mont Sienlow.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 5

Today we will drive out to visit Missiriba, the beautiful Grand Mosque of Kong. Built in a Sahelian style that is reminiscent of the mosques in Mali, we will make a tour of this beautiful place and enjoy photography in its surrounding streets before we return to Korhogo.  In the afternoon we will be enthralled by a performance of Boloye, the Panther Dance of the Senufo people.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 6

Korhogo is well known for its rich tradition in the arts and today we will visit local Senufo blacksmiths, Korhogo weavers, bead makers and painters during the morning. In the afternoon we will join a local community of Senufo people to celebrate the dance of the Balafon.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 7

As we journey south towards Boundiali, our first stop will be to visit the traditional village and Fetish Houses at Niofoin.  Featuring hand sculpted, stilted granaries and two beautiful ancient Fetish Houses, we will wander a labyrinth of dirt paths doing photography of local Niofoin people, their hand made Kafoudal meeting houses and the Fetish Houses of Diby and Kalegbin. We will then visit the home of Soro Zana, the master maker of Balafons in all of Ivory Coast, to learn how Balafons are made.  In the late afternoon, we will enjoy a performance of N’Goro, or fire dance of the Senufo virgins, one of the liveliest dances we will see on our tour.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 8

After morning visits to local communities of Fulani people and the Dozo, the traditional hunter-gatherer societies of Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, we will drive southwards towards Touba to see the Stilt Dance at Godufu.  In the late afternoon, we will visit the famous Bridges of Lianas that are sacred to the Yacuba people.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 9

Today we will be enthralled by two traditional dances of the Yacuba (sometimes known as Dan, Wé or Guéré people.  The first is the wildly acrobatic Dance of the Jugglers (Danse des Jongleurs), where young girls are dressed up and placed in a trance.  They are then tossed in the air before being expertly caught by their guardian of the dance.  The second is Gle, the dance of large masks.  If time permits we will return to Man to visit the sacred forest with its overly friendly troupe of monkeys.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 10

This morning we will enjoy an early morning of street photography in the colourful market of Man before we embark on the drive back to Abidjan.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 11

We will enjoy a slow drive out to Grand Bassam, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed former French trading post on the Gulf of Guinea. Stopping for lunch on the beach we will eventually check into our lovely hotel with sea views before taking to the streets of Grand Bassam on foot, exploring street photography around some of the town’s old French colonial buildings, meeting friendly locals and making our first visit to the fishing village of N’Zima in the French Quarter.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 12

During a full day of street photography in Grand Bassam, we will enjoy guided tours inside some of the accessible old buildings including the iconic Ganamet building with its façade slowly being engulfed by strangler figs.  Grand Bassam is home to some of Ivory Coast’s more prominent artists and we will visit a small community of them to view their beautiful work.  A sunset walk along the beach will find us encountering locals galloping their horses along the beach while others wander the sands selling beach gifts to passing tourists.  Tonight we will enjoy dinner on the beach to celebrate the success of our tour.

Ivory Coast Photography Tour: Day 13

Our final morning at Grand Bassam will allow us to relax, enjoy some last-minute shopping and photography before we stop on the beach for lunch and transfer to the airport where our tour will end.

Ivory Coast: Land of Masks and Dance Tour Report 2021

by Inger Vandyke

In 2021 Wild Images organised its pioneering photo tour of Ivory Coast to gain a greater insight and depth into the cultural treasures the country. Tour leader Inger Vandyke reports on this fascinating tour to one of West Africa’s most fascinating destinations. Ivory Coast (Côte D’Ivoire) is perhaps one of West Africa’s least known and […]

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