Consider visiting Domaine Bini as one of the first things to do in Abidjan. 50 km outside Abidjan on the same road to Yamoussoukro, this family friendly excursion will bring you closer to Ivorian culture and the beautiful forest life.
Here are my thoughts and impressions:
On arrival, the hosts seat you on unique and interesting chairs (couldn’t help but wonder if they were on sale to take home as a keep-sake) and open coconuts. The coconut opening serves as an ice-breaker to meet and greet our guides and neighbours, in a way that is comfortable and easy. The juice was served in a small calabash, which made us smile, as we delicately sipped, trying not to capsize our drinking vessels. A fermented coconut juice (like a kind of kombucha) was also served which was very refreshing for those who like the sour tang.
Won't two of these chairs look lovely in a corner in your home?
After a short wait, where we enjoyed the scenery and farm life, the guide called us for a forest walk. I won’t ruin it for you by giving away too many details, but the walk is truly fascinating! We were shown a rubber tree plantation, a pepper plantation and a cocoa plantation. We learnt how they look after the rubber trees, that pepper is actually a vine! and that cocoa trees bear fruit from the trunk. The cocoa pods are so curious to look at up-close, you wonder how these little yellow gems collectively make up nearly all the cocoa production in the world right here in the Ivory Coast. The guides are very informed and give a thorough explanation of the forest agricultural business.
The walk lasts for about 1h30, and was easy enough to do with a 5 and 7yr old. We concluded our tour under the forest canopy with local juices in calabash cups, and for the more vigorous, a shot of forest cognac called Koutoukou.
Our very informed guide, us posing under a tree called a 'Fromagier', and my little explorers making notes on what they saw.
Next, we were invited for lunch, traditional Ivorian fare: Allocco, fried sweet potato, grilled chicken and various meat-and-sauce dishes with attiéké. The buffet style food is served with plantain leaves to hold the grilled meats and veg, and bowls for the saucy food. We ate lunch with our fingers - no cutlery is made available. It was great fun and we had many giggles. Luckily for us, the hand washing station was quick to get rid of all the evidence!
During lunch there were drums playing in the background which added to the festivity of the day. After lunch we were invited to take a clay mud bath in the valley. We didn’t do the clay bath this time around but we will certainly be back to try it out. For the families who were wallowing in the mud and sun-drying on the benches, it looked like great fun.
It was a wonderful day! Very calm and relaxing. The scenery is breath taking and I left feeling closer to Ivorian culture...I also learnt a lot about the agri-business in the Ivory Coast.
If you would like to visit, check out www.domainebini.org.
We took a pass decouverte, which is 15 000 CFA per adult and 10 000 per child, lunch included.
This is a must do activity on your list. Wear closed shoes and bring caps, sunscreen, mosquito spray and water. Maybe a snack for the kids if the wait for lunch is too long.