Join us for an unforgettable experience in West Africa
Karen has a wealth of experience in creating unique and customized itineraries that provide life changing encounters for travelers .. over a span of more than 20 years, she has become an expert in travel in West Africa. Share with her your interests and desires and she will create an unforgettable trip for you
Director & Tour Leader
Born in Mopti, the hub of tourism in Mali in days past...he started guiding at the early age of 12 years old and brings years of experience and expertise .. he is multi-lingual and can converse with you in English, Dutch and French while broadening your experience to the secret words and worlds of Bambara and Bozo...cultures you will marvel at and come to love
Chine has been the fixer for many television film crews, the most famous being The Discovery Channel and the filming of the movie "Sahara" with British comedian Michael Palin ... he has led many of our groups across Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Ghana and is a real pro .. his behind the scene attention to detail and seamless arrangements will enable you to relax and immerse yourself into your West African adventure
Ogo is a gem! Not only because he is one of the nicest persons on the planet, he has a wealth of experience leading tour groups, television crews, journalists, photographers and famous people such as Bono and his entourage .. Ogo's grandfather was a Hogon in Dogon Country and has honor, humor and service instilled in him .. he will immerse his whole being into giving you the best travel experience and fill you with wonder and admiration for West Africa and its people
Doudou is the great grandson of Ogotemmeli, the Dogon elder who introduced anthropologist Marcel Griaule to Dogon cosmology in 1930-1932 which resulted in Marcel publishing a book in 1948 named "Conversations with Ogotemmeli." Doudou led our Gecko Adventures truck tours from Dakar to Accra through Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo and Ghana as well as 21-day intensive tours of Ghana for our Dutch and Australian tour operators. He has intimate knowledge of all of these countries and gets itchy feet when he is not leading groups across them .. Doudou will offer you an authentic travel experience with perspectives and insights you would not otherwise have had
Tour Leader & Toguna Representative in Timbuktu
We would be amiss if we did not include Azima in our team even though we no longer are able to send our clients to Timbuktu. He was our Taureg counterpart and an integral part of our team for more than 10 years. Over the years, he took care of all our arrangements for the Festival du Desert in Essakane as well as our individual and group tours, photographers, journalists, tv film crews such as The Discovery Channel and ABC Foreign Correspondent, Bono and his entourage and Joshua Hammer, Author of "The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu" and many, many more .. He and his family fled Timbuktu in 2012 when it was overrun by jihadists but they are now living back in their beloved Timbuktu. Azima hopes one day travelers will be able to return to his fabled town in the desert!
Senegal, home to the Wolof people, situated on the Atlantic coast of West Africa and westernmost point of Africa, has no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites (2 natural, 5 cultural): Saint Louis, former capital of Senegal and all of French West Africa; Djoudj National Park, one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the world; Ile de Goree, former major slave trading center on the African coast; Sine Saloum River Delta, a marine ecosystem with a labyrinth of mangroves, inlets and channels and a valued breeding ground for birds; Senegambia Stone Circles consists of 52 stone circles made up of 1,100 almost identical 2 metre high pillars with skeletons, tools and ceramic ornaments found buried beneath them; Niokola-Koba National Park with 1500 species of plants, 60 species of fish, 20 species of amphibian, 80 species of mammals and 330 species of birds and Bassari country, home to the Bassari, Bedik and Fulani peoples living there since the 11th century. Senegal also has a desert on the beach (Lompoul), Bandia and Fathala safari parks and its very own "riveria" along the coast called the Petite Cote located 80 km south of Dakar.Learn More
The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, a tiny sliver of land only 50 km long along the Atlantic coast and 474 km wide, wedged between Senegal and Casamance. It is home to 2.5 million people and is a bird watcher's paradise with 560 different species of birds. Also a lure is its Gambia River with its mangroves, chimpanzees at Baboon Island, Kunta Kinteh island named after the character in Roots, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, the megalithic Wassu Stone Circles where circles of stones mark 1,200-year-old burial grounds, Makasuta Cultural Forest, a private eco-tourism tropical 1000-acre reserve encompassing five different eco-systems including forest, savannah, mangroves, palm forest, wetland, Mandina Hotel with luxury rooms floating on the river and a coastline of pristine beaches with fishing, water sports and horseback riding. The Gambia is also a well-known sex tourism destination for older women to meet young African menLearn More
Benin is a small narrow country, its 10 million inhabitants are divided into 40 different ethnic groups, with Fon being the largest. The Fon had one of the most powerful empires in West Africa (Kingdom of Dahomey) and ruled for 300 years. For the Beninese, spirituality is very important, especially Voodoo.. it embraces rich and poor, young and old. 92% of the Beninese practice Voodoo. The top must-sees in Benin are the Batammaribe tribe living in Tata Sombas in the north; the Royal Palaces of Abomey, formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey and today a UNESCO World Heritage Center; Ganvie, a stilt village built on Lake Nokoue inhabited by 50000 people with fishing their only resource and pirogue (canoe) their only mode of transport; and Ouidah, Voodoo capital of the world and its annual Voodoo Festival every January.Learn More
Guinea-Conakry has a coastline of 320 km and the largest deposit of bauxite in the world. They also produce iron ore, gold and diamonds. Guinee-Conakry has the potential of being one of Africa's richest countries yet more than half the population are below the poverty line...no wonder they have a long history of political instability! Hiking in Foutah Djallon, the heartland of the Fula people, is without a doubt the biggest draw; it is a lush region of jungles, hills and countless waterfalls. Just north of Foutah Djallon, a stone's throw from the frontier of Senegal lies Mali-Yemberem, the highest town at 1400m, and famous for its "La Dame de Mali", whose rock formation resembles that of a woman's profile. On a clear day, the 7 km hike to the top is rewarded with breathtaking views across the Foutah, and all the way to Senegal and the Gambia river. The Malinke Plains in the northeast boasts the source of the Niger river and Parc National du Haut Niger; with a good guide and patience, you can see chimps, buffaloes, duikers, waterbucks, hippos and crocodiles.Learn More
Mali boasts some of the world's most fascinating architectural traditions and historic sites. Unfortunately, its north has been off limits to travelers since the 2012 Taureg rebellion which has morphed into violent extremism and criminal activities of trafficking drugs, weapons and migrants; the violence has now spilled over into Mali's central region. With 4 World Heritage sites, Mali truly was the jewel of West Africa, known for its unforgettable treks through Dogon country, sailing up the Niger river in a traditional covered canoe to the remote and fabled town of Timbuktu, annual Festival du Desert and Timbuktu's twin sister city, Djenne, whose market unfolds in front of its majestic mosque, the largest mud (adobe) structure in the world. However, unknown to most, Mali also has breathtaking hikes in the Bamako and Siby areas complete with waterfalls, fascinating rock formations and rolling hills. Please visit our Upcoming Tours section and click on Mali to see hiking videos. Bamako currently hosts an annual Dogon Festival (last week in January) and Segou has continued to host is annual music festival (Festival sur le Niger) unfolding the first weekend in February. Although Mali is now completely in the red with the exception of Bamako which is orange, we consider Bamako, Siby and Segou safe areas to visit.Learn More
Togo, on the Gulf of Guinea, similar to Benin in shape and size, has 45 km coastline of palm-lined beaches and it is only 516 km north to south. Wedged between the two great Kingdoms of the Ashanti (Ghana) and Dahomey (Benin), it served as a buffer zone and its various ethnic groups lived in isolation of each other. Do not miss a visit to the UNESCO Heritage site of Koutammakou, inhabited by the Batammariba people, a traditional settlement of fortress-like clay huts dating back to the 17th century. Togo, like Benin, is "voodoo country" where animism and ancestors are part of every day life . . The amazing fetish market in Lome is the largest in West Africa and is also not to be missed, nor are the festish priests and the impressive fire dancers in SokodeLearn More
Ghana is a destination that has it all .. 560 km of coastline with amazing beaches, 30 slave castles & trading posts, stilted village in a lake, canopy walkway in Kankum NP, Mole NP known for its elephant population, Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, stunning waterfalls, Gurnunsi people whose women decorate the outside walls of their adobe houses with elaborately painted murals, Tallensi people living in the animist Tenzug Tongo Hills & Shrines, kente cloth unique to Ghana, quirky coffins made in the shapes of the deceased person's hobby or favorite thing such as a coke bottle, car or boat. The powerful Ashanti Kingdom, wealthy from the slave and gold trade, has about 70 annual festivals with Akawasidae being the most frequent (every 42 days it unfolds at Kumasi's Royal Palace ). Ghana is the second most populous country in West Africa with a population of 31 million people of which 70% are devout Christians. The Akan people are the largest ethnic group who dominated gold, mining and trade in the region.Learn More
Sierra Leone has everything adventurous travelers could want .. from the most beautiful white sand, serene beaches in West Africa to the depths of Tongo Hills where blood diamonds are still mined today .. from a visit to the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary to hiking through the rainforests in the Loma mountains to climbing Mount Bintumani, one of the highest peaks in West Africa .... from the idyllic environment of the Banana Islands to Tiwaii Island, home to pgymie hippos .. from Freetown's famous Cotton Tree to visiting amputee survivors at their camps .. it is hard to imagine the brutality that ripped this country apart from 1991 to 2002 because its people are among the warmest and friendliest in West Africa .. Sierra Leone is an undiscovered treasure, bypassed by many travelers ... it makes it all the more appealing ..Learn More
16-Day Akwasidae Festival Tour traveling through Accra, Tamale, Tongo Hills, Bolgatanga, Navrongo, Mole National Park, N'Koranza Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Kumasi, Akwasidae Festival, Axim Beach, Elmina, Kankum NP, Cape Coast and Anomabo BeachLearn More
17-Day Senegal-Gambia Tour traveling through Dakar, N'gor, Ile de Goree, Lac Rose, Lompoul Desert, Saint Louis, Djoudj National Park, Toubakouta, Sine Saloum Delta, Fathala Safari Park, Kantaur, Wassu Stone Circles, Baboon NP, Gambia River, Kassague, Makasutu Cultural Forest, Banjul and SalyLearn More
Spectacular 21-Day Akwasidae & Voodoo Festivals Tour through Ghana, Togo and Benin which takes in Accra, Kumasi, Mole NP, Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Axim Beach, Elmina, Cape Coast, Kankum NP, Anomabo Beach, Lome, Abomey, Ganvie, Ouidah and CotonouLearn More
Hike with us in the spectacular hills around Bamako and SIby all year round, discover Mali's western region with its hidden treasures of prehistoric rock paintings, lakes and national parks or participate in one of Mali's annual festivals: Ogobagna Dogon Festival which unfolds in Bamako along the banks of the Niger river the last week in January and the Festival du Niger (music festival) that illuminates Segou the first weekend in February every year with some of Mali's best musicians (this year Sidiki Diabate performed)... with a bit of luck, Salif Keita, Habib Koita, Vieux Farka Toure and/or Oumou Sangare will perform at the next festival but if not, they all live in Bamako and we can arrange for you to meet them if they are not on tour! Click on Learn More to see videos and pictures of hikes, masked dancers, marionettes and Dogon festival dancers .. all of this is available to you in and around Bamako .. Contact us to create a tailor-made program for you suited to your own individual interests, timetable and budget.Learn More
My excursion was amazing. Everything you arranged was fantastic and your entire staff was brilliant. I will never forget that amazing trip you planned for me and Miley. It's actually going to be part of a literary piece I will share with you at a later date. That trip opened up some very powerful doors for me in West Africa. Thanks again for being so kind and professional with arranging that timeless journey that changed my life forever.Will Calhoun, Drummer for Living Colour, Winner of 2 Grammy Awards & Best Drummer by Rolling Stones Magazine's Critics Poll
Hello: Just wanted to let you know that we are going to go with Toguna Adventures Tours. Karen has been a delight to work with and really on top of things. Had narrowed it down to Toguna Tours and two others, but I liked the presentation of what Karen had to offer and her enthusiasm.Micheljane: Visualiser of Interiors
West Africa arrangements My wife, Charlotte, and I (in our 70s) had a wonderful, unforgettable trip to Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin. I had searched the Internet and contacted all of the reputable travel agents, and the only one who would do exactly what we wanted was Toguna Adventure Tours (B.P.E. 5096, Bamako, Mali, West Africa; phone 223 7621 5079, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.togunatours.com The manager, Karen Crabbs, turned out to be from Brooklyn and was as helpful and knowledgeable a travel agent as I have ever met. She arranged for us to have a 4WD Toyota Land Cruiser, a full-time driver and a marvelous guide, Chine. She made reservations at the best-available hotels. She even arranged for private performances of the Dogon mask dancers and also for us to see part of a wedding celebration at a Tuareg encampment in the Sahara near Timbuktu, which usually can only be done for large tours and then only if the dancers feel like doing it. We wanted to visit the game parks in Burkina Faso and Benin, and Karen was the only one who would arrange it for us. We had considered renting a car and driver and doing the trip on our own and were grateful that we didn’t. There are permits and fees that must be obtained at every city, not to mention forms and fees when crossing borders, and these would have been very time-consuming and expensive had we not had the services of Chine. He was able to solve every problem almost immediately and even got me out of trouble when I took photos of some women without getting permission. He charmed them out of their anger! Overall, the trip gets an A+ from a couple who has been to 26 countries and knows what good service is. SHELDON LEVIN Espanola, NMSheldon Levin
We had such a fabulous time on our Toguna Adventure tour that we did it again a few years later. Every detail of our trip was perfect and made for such memorable moments that friends (and we) are still talking about it years later.Nan Stewart
Have not worked with Saga Tours - but have used Toguna Adventure Tours in Mali. They were fantastic. It's run by an American woman who contracts terrific guides. In Timbuktu, my guide/translator was Azima. He was amazing. Met me at the airport, had a good driver and took me on an amazing journey. It's an amazing country to visit but be very careful when you choose an operator in Mali... I heard some horror stories about travellers getting ripped off etc. I did a lot of research before I went with Toguna. Glad I did. Karen Crabbs is the woman that runs this company.Cielo Pictures, Calgary, Canada: Senior Designer
At the recommendation of my friend Alex Newton (USAID, Bamako) I contacted Karen at Toguna Travel to plan a trip for the two of us and three close friends of ours from Amsterdam. Karen was very patient with me as we planned the perfect trip, and then had to bail on our friends due to worries about our jobs and the economy. Our friends still rave about the wonderful trip and we are still sad we weren't able to experience the adventure with them. We have recently watched with horror as the Islamists invaded the north and destroyed priceless and ancient art and manuscripts and are joyous at the success of the French in driving them back into the desert. We still hope to make our trip to Mali to enjoy the art, culture and music as we always dreamed of, and we will be confident in relying on Toguna Tours to guide us on our journey.Dan McCullar
My husband and I did a 10-day tour of Mali over Christmas 2010. We chose Toguna Adventure Tours after a lot of research and negotiation with other tour companies. It was a worthy choice. Karen, who runs Toguna, was there to meet us on arrival at our appointed hotel (the Radisson Blu) even though it was midnight and we met up with our guide the next morning. Our guide, Ogomono from the Dogon tribe, was fantastic and our experience of Mali was highly enhanced by his knowledge, honesty and reliability and beautiful personality. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have been in such capable hands for the 10 days - we have traveled extensively and done many private tours at exotic destinations but none have matched the impeccability of this particular tour. I want to congratulate Karen for her professionalism in all her dealings with us and for Ogomono who was a standout in his own right. The memories of Mali and the fun time we had will always be treasured thanks to Ogomono.trip advisor name: Tutankarma (Sydney)
I can second this recommendation. I brought a group of 10 to Mali, and even though I lived there for many years (Peace Corps), speak Bambara, etc., I knew I would need an operator on the ground to set up all of the logistics of the destinations and experiences I wanted for my group. Toguna was wonderful to work with. Very flexible and attentive to my specific itinerary requests and budgetary needs. Karen was great and Ogo was a total gem. His knowledge, cheer, work ethic and sensitivity (when to let the group chill out vs. when to capture a teachable moment) was outstanding. He became a real friend to many in our group and they still remain in contact via email two years later. As someone who knows Mali well and is married to a Malian, I would recommend Toguna to those who want a quality operator that will give them a very authentic experience with true Malian warmth.Virginia (Trip Advisor name: sulawesigirl)
Toguna Adventure Tours is recommended in the Travel Section of the New York Times April 2, 2006 cover and center page story written by Joshua Hammer.Read More
If you are traveling in your own vehicle and driving down from Europe into Africa, we highly recommend Overland Morocco. Kevin and Heike have been traveling around the world in their 4x4 for the last 7 years and are now based in Morocco offering tours and guided services. Go for it! You can find them at https://www.overland-morocco-tours.com and also in Facebook.
--20% non-refundable deposit to make a tour booking
--50% of the remaining balance to be paid eight weeks before the tour start date
--The remaining balance may be paid upon arrival in cash (local currency, US$ or Euros at that day's exchange rate on xe.com)
--The 20% deposit required to make a tour booking is non-refundable
--Less than eight weeks before tour start date, we will refund up to 50% of the tour minus hotel, vehicle and guide cancellation fees (if any) and bank fees to wire the money back to you
--Less than 7 days before tour start date, we cannot issue a refund. Also, should you decide to leave the tour once it begins, for whatever reason, there is no refund
Payment is made by bank wire transfer to our bank account, details of which we will provide at time of booking.
We require that you purchase travel insurance to travel with us. Proof of insurance must be presented to your tour leader at the pre-departure meeting before the start of the tour. Failure to do so will remove you from the tour. If you need an insurance recommendation, World Nomads at www.worldnomads.com provide travel insurance at competitive prices and are very comprehensive.
Toguna Adventure Tours reserves the right to make necessary changes to the itinerary due to bad weather conditions, natural disasters or any other type of problem we think warrants a change in the tour plans.