When you hear the word “voodoo”, Hollywood’s version of cult and horror could be the image that automatically strikes in your mind with matching scenes of unearthly creatures crawling up from the Earth’s core. But if you’re going to West Africa and interested in doing a Voodoo tour, clear up your head with those unreal scenes and open up to a Voodoo that is a religion and a part of people’s lives.

So if you wanna witness and understand the real voodoo, head to these three towns that started and preserved the religion:

Lome, Togo

If you’re curious about what Voodoo “doctors” use in their rituals, head to Lome to witness its popular fetish market. It serves as a huge pharmacy that sells ingredients for a special medicine that you just can’t get from any doctor. When you visit, you’ll see different kinds of animal heads from crocodiles, owls, monkeys, snakes and more. There’s a unique recipe for every illness or need and they do it by cooking ground animal heads and herbs until it turns into a black powder. The healer cuts the patient’s chest or back three times and rub the powder into the flesh.

Grand Popo, Benin

Take a boat trip along Grand Popo’s Mono River and you can see the riverside Voodoo temples. You might even see a huge building in a sandy beach that you might mistake as a sports stadium but actually a Voodoo stadium where the annual Voodoo festival (besides the main fest in Ouidah) is held.

Ouidah, Benin

Head to Ouidah, the birthplace of Voodoo, which is just nearby the sandy beaches of Grand Popo. Visits on weekends are highly recommended if you want to see Voodoo ceremonies that includes dancing and prayer chanting. The python temple is also here wherein the doors are left open every night to release 50 resident pythons to visit the townspeople’s homes. These pythons are believed to be their ancestors and on the next morning, the pythons are returned by the lucky people who’d been given a visit. Besides the python visits, Ouidah is known to be the city where the main Voodoo festival is held.

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