Arrive in Accra at any time. There are no planned activities, so check into to the hotel (check-in time is approx 3pm) and enjoy the city. At the hotel, you will meet your tour leader and fellow group members to review the details of your trip and for the leader to collect your local payment (if applicable). Look for a note from your tour leader at the reception (or ask reception) to see the exact time your leader has arranged this meeting (this could be in the evening of Day 1, or in the morning of Day 2, depending on everyone’s arrival schedules). If you arrive late, no worries, the leader will leave you a message at the front desk as to the plan for Day 2.
Approximate Distance: Day 2 : 120 km ; Day 3 : 140 km Estimated Travel Time: Day 2 : 4 hours ; Day 3 : 3 hours Accra, the capital of Ghana, has maintained its unique identity despite the fast paced development currently underway in this intriguing African city. Our first visit of the day is to people specialized in building fantasy coffins. These handcraft-coffins are in shape of: fruits, animals, fish, cars, airplanes….the only limit is the intended occupant’s imagination. Started in Africa, these flamboyant coffin designs are collected and exposed in museums. On the agenda is also a visit to the National Museum, one of the first works of independent Ghana. The idea inspiring the Museum is to relate Ghana art to the rest of the continent and to prove the existence of an African history as part of general history of the humanity.We end our visit exploring the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the autochthonous population known as the Ga. We then head east to Ada, with a pleasant beach, is a nice place for our first night out of Accra. On Day 3, we take an excursion along the Volta river estuary. We are in the region where the Volta River reaches the Ocean. With a boat it is possible to wander in this “water-land” and to appreciate the environment. The Krobo region is famous around the world for the beads. Here they are produced, here they are used for cults and esthetic purpose. We see a manufactory specialized in this production and will follow the process of making up a bead! This night is our first night camping, experiencing both Africa naturally under the open skies.
Approximate Distance: Day 4 : 140 km ; Day 5 : 300 km Estimated Travel Time: Day 4 : 4 hours ; Day 5 : 7 hours We continue our journey to less visited areas by heading north west to the Huehue region - a lush section of Ghana sandwiched between Lake Volta and the border with Benin. We take a visit to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, and embark on a Hike to Wli Waterfalll. On day 4, we take in the changes of landscape is the tropical forest of the south gives way to savannah. We stop in a few villages to learn about and interact with the villages. The homes in the area of Dagomba are more traditional, with thatched roofs and surrounded by huge millet fields. Both evenings these days we will be camping. Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, created in 1993 to protect the sacred monkeys that live in the surrounding forest. In the tradition of the village the monkeys are considered as spokesmen of the tortoises. Both, monkeys and tortoises, are considered sacred by the population who’s the ancestors came in the region 200 years ago. Wli Falls, the highest waterfall in the region. A flat footpath of 45 minutes leads to the falls trough a forest, inhabited by 220 bird and 400 butterfly species.
Approximate Distance: Day 6 : 350 km ; Day 7 : 276 km Estimated Travel Time: Day 6 : 8 hours ; Day 7 : 7 hours In a village we meet a very large settlement of witches, exiled from their villages. We will discuss with them about their life in the village and how they are protected by a special shrine, in charge of “cleaning” their spirits from bad wills. We also embark on a short walking excursion on the high-plateau of Tongo. Here, there are numerous pinnacles formed with enormous rocks and disposed with an incredible regularity. There are as if somebody played with these huge stones. The local people consider these vestiges as the ancient domiciles of the gods. The is also a deep fissure on the side of the highest mountain hosting an oracle. One goes there on a pilgrimage, but in order to enter, it is necessary to be accompanied by holy men who come to practice rites and perform sacrifices. Every good thing can be satisfied by the oracle of Tongo, and we will try our luck! Under the spiritual protection of the oracle, the Talensi live there as a united clan. The typical fortified home, which can accommodate up to 60 people, is built with mud and wood. It resembles a labyrinth surrounded by walls, which can be entered through only one door. The narrow passageways, the small stairways, the covered hallways, the rooms in the shape of eggs, and the terraces, form a harmonious ensemble of great beauty. Day 6 is our final night camping, so we take in all of what the African nature has to offer. On Day 7, we meet the Gurunsi people who live in colorfully decorated fortified houses. The Gurunsi society is organized around gender; in this society, the men are in charge of building, while the women are in charge of painting and decorating the home. The men construct the homes by layering clay over support pillars and arches. The walls and terraces are waterproofed by spreading zebu (cattle) dung. Over the zebu dung the woman paint amazingly intricate frescoes, sometimes in black and white, other times in red and white, that flow over the homes and slope down to the surrounding walls. These beautifully patterned designs are an excellent example of African art and architecture merging into a fluid masterpiece of style and substance. One cannot truly appreciate the intense beauty of these works of art without seeing them first hand.
Approximate Distance: 180 km Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours We spend time this morning discovering the Lobi, their architecture, and the ever-present signs of their animist beliefs. Their houses, small fortress of mud protected by a wall erected without openings, are built around a huge granary. The head of the Lobi family is the only authority, responsible for every thing. He is in charge of the shrines and of the wooden statues essential to the practice of the cult of the ancestors, which is a very important part of the Lobi way of life. All the elders compose the council managing the daily problems of the village. We also embark in the afternoon on a walking safari in the Mole National Park.
Approximate Distance: 360 km Estimated Travel Time: 8 hours En route southbound to Kumasi, we stop to visit the Kintampo Waterfall, and after being refreshed by the nature of the area, we continue on to Kumasi, the historical and spiritual capital of the old Ashanti Kingdom. The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed the Ashanti country to their Gold Coast colony. The honour offered today to the Asantehene (King) is the best evidence of the past splendor and strength of Ashanti. Today with nearly one million inhabitants, Kumasi is a growing city with a fantastic central market, one of the biggest in Africa. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable. On the agenda is a visit to the Ashanti Cultural Center, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artifacts housed in a wonderful reproduction of an Ashanti house. We will attend also the cultural festival of Akwasidae. There are certain days each year on the Ashanti calendar set aside for a celebration at the Royal Palace. This ceremony is called Akwasidae. During the celebration, the King is seated under a spectacular umbrella of colorful, draped cloth and is adorned in vivid cloth and massive gold jewelry which is centuries old (the Ashanti gold jewelry and masks are considered masterpieces of African art). In front of the King, a narrow passage is formed, made of dignitaries, of various functions : ritual sword bearers, guards armed with muskets, knife bearers responsible for carrying out executions, carriers of beautiful fans made of ostrich feathers . Seated at the side of the King are the Ashanti elders and the advisors under the authority of the Royal Speaker, holding in his hands, the symbols of power covered in gold. The ceremony is made up of a procession of the royal court attendants who bring forth gifts, storytellers who recite the history of the Ashanti Kings, drummers, and trumpeters playing horns of ivory. Corpulent dancers dressed in vivid, red costumes, perform an erotic dance. The queen mother then will join the ceremony accompanied by her attendants. This traditional ceremony takes place in one of the last African Kingdoms to have kept its ancient rituals alive. We will live the splendor, the flavor, and the atmosphere of the grand monarchs of the forests of yesteryear.
Approximate Distance: 310 km Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours Between Kumasi and the Atlantic coast, in the middle of a rainforest, we find Kakum National Park. At the park we have a wonderful opportunity to discover the forest from above walking on the canopy bridges, suspended high into the trees. The Kakum forest walk is the longest and highest suspended rope bridge in the world. Walking between one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty feet in the air, we have an incredible view of the rain forest. At this height, instead of revealing their trunks, the trees offer us a breathtaking view of the canopy. From this height the trees look as if they are trying to grasp the sun and sky above. After playing in the trees, we head to the coast for a bit of beach time mixed with a lesson in the sobering history of the region. On Day 12, we visit the town of Elmina, and the important castle of the same name. Elmina Castle is the oldest permanent building in Africa. The Portuguese built the castle in the 15th century. At different times in the castle’s checkered past it has been used to trade gold, ivory, and slaves. Outside the castle, there is a wonderful fishing village complete with a harbor full of large colorful fishing canoes. Every day these canoes are piloted by the skilled fisherman who confronts the strong ocean for their livelihood. The alleys in the old town have a lively atmosphere, harkening back to a time when Elmina was a wild colonial town. In the old town we turn out attention to the Posuban. The Posuban are the shrines of the ‘Asafo companies’. It is at these shrines the warriors used to place their offerings on the large colorful statues.