Ghana in Depth
Ghana in Depth
Stretching from the dusty borderlands of the north to the tropical coast in the south, Ghana encapsulates all that is special about West Africa, with great scenery and wildlife complemented by a joyous and exuberant people who will make you feel welcome from the moment you arrive. Ghana is vibrant and seductive, and it’s no wonder that it’s many people’s introduction to West Africa. Ghana is the sort of place that remains in your soul long after you have visited.
Fitness ●●●●○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●●○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●○○ | Wildlife ●●●●○
- Beautiful easy to moderate walks in forests and national parks
- Wildlife viewing in Mole National Park
- Stunning waterfalls
- Canopy walk in Kakum National Park
- Experience a voodoo ceremony and a royal festival
- UNESCO Elmina Castle
Accommodation: Some comfortable accommodation, some basic guesthouses with shared facilities. 1 night camping in Kakum National Park
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Maximum group size 16 (you may be joined by travellers from companies other than Undiscovered Destinations).
Start Point: Accra
End Point: Accra
Transport: Microbus or minibus or 4WD
Tour Itinerary Notes
While our intention is to adhere to the day-by-day itinerary as printed below, a degree of flexibility is built in. Overnight stops may vary from those suggested and on occasions alternative accommodation, of a similar standard to that named below, will be used.
Our guides are a key strength, chosen for their knowledge of and passion for the areas in which they work. All of our guides are carefully hand-picked, and are not just passing through these countries, but are usually locally born. Unlike some companies it should be noted we do not send a guide or tour leader from Undiscovered Destinations in the UK as we have every confidence in our locally appointed representative who is responsible for operating the tour on our behalf. Where possible you will have the same guide throughout your trip but on occasions it may be necessary to change the guide at one or more points during the tour.
Day 1 – Accra
Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, there may be time to explore this vibrant African capital. Overnight Afia Beach Hotel or similar.
Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas. The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town (British protected area) and was inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. There is even an area for the fabrication of special coffins that take the forms of fish, fruit, animals, or your favourite car, traditionally based on the occupation of the deceased, but customisable upon prior request.
Day 2 - The Shai Hills, from Accra to Aksombo (90 km - 2 hr)
Walking today is approximately 2 hours; altitude: from 120 m to 189 m; level of difficulty: easy.
Today we travel to the eastern side of the country. The Shai Reserve is a comparatively small fenced wild-life park, with a surface of about 52 sq. km and made up largely of savannah covered plains, interspersed with a series of hills. A unique mosaic of forest covers the hills, thicket and grassland with a low stature and dry forest found in intervening canyons. The most popular attractions include the hills themselves and the trails that lead to them. We will walk accompanied by a guide who is well-versed on the history of the Shai tribes who used to live in the hills, as well as on the flora and fauna of the beautiful coastal savannah. We travel by vehicle to Odumase. The area of Krobo is famous for its beads, and we visit a factory specialised in the production of these beads. Overnight Hotel Aylo’s Bay or similar (BLD)
Day 3 - Lagoon, from Aksombo to Keta (200 km - 4 hr)
We drive down the coastline and leave the main road to explore the lagoons of Keta. We will walk on the beaches and if we are lucky we will be able to see fishermen hauling in their catch. In the town we shall admire the old colonial buildings and we will visit the Fort dating back to 1784. In a remote hidden village we will join a Voodoo ceremony: the frenetic rhythm of the drums and the chants of the adepts help calling in the voodoo spirit who then takes possession of some of the dancers. They fall into a deep trance: eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions, insensitivity to fire or pain. Overnight Aborigines Resort or similar (BLD)
Keta lies surrounded by the ocean near the mouth of the Volta River. It is built on a sandpit separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Keta Lagoon. The area was part of the African kingdom of Anlo. When the Europeans arrived they settled a port for trading in slaves, ivory, spices and gold. Such kind of wealth “invited” the powerful kingdom of the Ashanti to be part of the business by the first half of the XVIII century.
All along the coast of Ghana, Togo and Benin, voodoo is a religion that has been passed on by the ancestors and is still fervently practiced. Although for many Europeans voodoo is only a vulgar form of black magic, in truth voodoo is a true religion, far richer and more complex than people often think.
Day 4 - Forest, from Keta to Liati (200 km - 4 hr)
Walking today: approximately 2 hours: level of difficulty: easy.
We drive to the Volta Region and take a lovely walk in the forest lead by a local guide. We continue by vehicle across a luxuriant region of forest offering beautiful views over mountains and waterfalls. We visit Amedjope, on the slopes of Mt Afadjato - the highest village in the country. Overnight at Mountain Vista Lodge or similar (shared basic facilities) (BLD)
Day 5 - The highest peak, from Liati to Wli (50 km - 1 hr)
Walking today: approximately 2 hours; altitude: from 248 m to 885 m; level of difficulty: moderate.
Today we will climb Mt Afadjato, the highest mountain in Ghana and part of the Agumatsa Range which runs along the Ghana-Togo border. From the top we enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding communities, forests, mountains, deep valleys, and, in the distance, also of Lake Volta. The path is quite steep but the rewards are great. During the hike we will also stop at Tagbo Waterfall which flows from an almost circular cliff into a refreshing pool. The forefathers of the current villagers considered the river sacred and still today a number of taboos are associated with it. For example: no fishing in the pool since the spirit of the people is thought to live in it and no washing in the stream on Fridays because the spirit of the river and his children bathe on this day. Overnight Wli Water heights or similar (BLD)
Mt Afadjato is covered with luxuriant tropical forest and is well-known for its interesting biodiversity - over 300 recorded species of butterflies and 33 species of mammals. Mona and Spot-nosed monkeys are regularly sighted.
Day 6 - Waterfalls, Wli
Walking today: approximately 4 hours; altitude: from 254 m to 798 m; level of difficulty: moderate.
Today we spend walking in beautiful surrounds to Wli the highest waterfall in Ghana. The hike will allow us to view some of the 200 species of birds and the 400 species of butterflies which have been identified in the region. Overnight Wli Water Heights or similar (BLD)
Ghana’s highest waterfall is great to admire in many respects: for the sheer grandeur of the water falling from a height of approximately 60 meters down a steep cliff into a large pool below; for the massive mountain formations and soaring peaks, part of the Akwapim Mountains; and for the lush forests around, currently designated as the Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary. The waterfall actually consists of two separate waterfalls, the Lower Fall and the more challenging Upper Fall.
Day 7 - Savannah, from Wli to Yendi (320 km - 6 hr)
Today we drive northwards, leaving the forest behind and entering the savannah. We transit across a seldom visited region; it is here that the Dagomba live. Overnight Shalom Catholic House or similar (BLD)
The Dagomba people build round clay huts with thatched roof. The house of the village chief is easily recognisable thanks to its larger size and style: it has a central pole supporting the roof and the entry is framed with pieces of burned clay. It’s here that the council of the elders meet.
Day 8 - Witches, from Yendi to Mole (290 km - 5 hr)
Today we take a track leading to Tamale and along the way we meet a very large settlement of witches exiled from their villages because they have been found guilty of terrible events such as the death of a teenager or for causing a mysterious disease or a bad harvest. We will chat with them about their life and about the special shrine which protects them, “cleaning” their spirit from bad will. Their warm welcome dramatically contrasts with the gravity of the stories that justify them being here. Later we travel to Tamale. Overnight Mole Motel or similar (BLD)
The capital of the Northern region of Ghana is mostly inhabited by the Mole-Dagomba linguistic group, a very friendly people. It is an important crossroads that serves as the commercial hub of the three northern regions. The city itself offers an architectural blend of modern buildings and traditional areas. In its centre one can visit traditional palaces of the Gulkpe Naa and of the Dapkema for a glimpse of pure old-fashioned architecture.
Day 9 - Wildlife safari Mole National Park
Walking today: 2 walking safaris of approximately 2 hours each; altitude: from 150 m to 258 m; level of difficulty: easy.
Today we enjoy two guided walking safaris, early in the morning and late in the afternoon when animals are more active. Overnight Mole Motel or similar (BLD)
Mole National Park
Mole is Ghana's largest wildlife refuge. The park is located in the northwest of the country and is made up of grassland savannah and riparian eco-systems; the average elevation is 150m. with a sharp escarpment making up the southern boundary. The park is home to over 93 mammal species - including elephants, hippos, buffalos and warthogs – and is considered a primary African reserve for antelope species such as kobs, Defassa waterbucks, roan, hartebeests, oribi, bushbucks, red duikers and yellow-backed duikers. Sightings of hyenas, lions and leopards are unusual but possible. Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus, green vervets and pata monkeys are resident species. Among the 33 known species of reptiles recorded, it is worth mentioning the slender-snouted and dwarf crocodile. There are 344 listed bird species, with a very good chance to spot: martial eagles, white-headed and palm-nut vultures, saddle-billed storks, herons, egrets, Abyssinian rollers, violet turacos and red-throated bee-eaters.
Day 10 - Mole to Techiman (300 km - 6 hr)
Walking today: approximately 1 hour; altitude: flat at approximately 350m level of difficulty: easy.
Today we travel south. We visit the lovely Kintampo Waterfalls to admire the waters of the Pumpu River fall from a height of 70 meters down beautiful rocky steps, before they continue their journey towards the Black Volta River. Continue to the Brong Afo region where we leave the main road and follow a track to a sacred forest. The locals living here consider Monas and Colobus monkeys as their totems, as result we can encounter the largest community of these species in the world. During a walk in the forest, accompanied by the emerald green light filtered by the giant trees, we will see plenty of these sacred monkeys. Overnight Encom Hotel or similar – shared basic facilities (BLD)
Day 11 - Kumasi, from Techiman to Kumasi (190 km - 4 hr)
We travel to Kumasi and this afternoon if the opportunity arises we participate in a traditional Ashanti funeral, attended by mourners wearing beautifully red or black togas. We refer to ‘funeral’ but in practice it is a “festive” celebration: the deceased in fact is believed to be still with his/her family and through this ceremony he/she becomes an ancestor. Relatives and friends gather, socialise and celebrate his/her memory. The chief arrives surrounded by his court under the shade of large umbrellas while drums give rhythm to the dancers whose intricate moves are highly symbolic. Overnight Okubi Hotel or similar (BLD)
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 Ashanti Country to their Gold Coast colony. The tribute paid today to the Asantehene is the best evidence of their past splendour and strength. With nearly one million inhabitants, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market, one of the biggest in Africa. Every type of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, Kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable. A sight to behold.
Day 12 - Royal Festival, Kumasi
This morning we continue our tour of Kumasi, with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court. We also visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre housing a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts in a wonderful reproduction of an Ashanti house. Overnight Okubi Hotel or similar (BLD)
In the Ashanti calendar certain days each year are set aside for very special celebrations in Kumasi and this traditional ceremony takes place in one of the last African Kingdoms which has maintained its ancient rituals still alive. The ceremony is celebrated around the traditional chiefs in order to benefit from the constant protection of the guardian spirits and also to strengthen unity between the people and their chiefs. People kneel down to pay their respects to their chiefs. After libations are poured over the thrones of the former kings, the chief sits under a spectacular colourful umbrella and is adorned in vivid cloth and centuries old jewellery (Ashanti gold jewellery and masks are considered masterpieces of African art) and is surrounded by the Ashanti elders and advisors, all under the authority of the Royal Speaker who holds in his hands the symbols of power. A narrow passage of dignitaries is also formed, representing all the roles and positions of power within the kingdom: sword and knife bearers, armed guards, carriers of beautiful ostrich feathers fans etc. The ceremony is then made up of a procession of royal court attendants bringing gifts, storytellers reciting the history of the Ashanti Kings, drummers and trumpeters playing horns of ivory. Corpulent dancers dressed in vivid red costumes perform erotic dances.
Day 13 - Kakum National Park, from Kumasi to Kakum (260 km - 5 hr)
Walking today: approximately 1 hour; altitude: from 135 m to 256 m; level of difficulty: easy.
We travel to Kakum National Park and take a walk in the park. After an early dinner, we will reach our tree house where we will spend the night with the sounds of the forest to keep us company. Overnight basic camping in a tree house. Mattresses provided on the floor open to the forest. Basic but unique experience (BLD)
Kakum National Park,
Covers a surface of 357 sq. km of mostly undisturbed virgin rainforest. It is found at the easternmost extent of the Guinean Forest of West Africa and reputed to be one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the African continent. Park rangers are here specifically trained in the medical and cultural significance of the local plants.
Day 14 - Kakum to Elmina – Anomabu (110 km - 2 hr)
Walking today: approximately 1 hour; altitude: from 135 m to 277 m; level of difficulty: easy.
This morning we will experience the thrill of a “canopy walk” right in the deep forest of Kakum National Park: one of the world highest suspended rope bridges held by steel cables. Perched 37 meters (120 feet) above the earth, you will enjoy a stunning view of the rainforest. We travel to Elmina and visit the UNESCO castle with its rich history and in the old town we will see the Posuban, the shrines of the old “Asafo companies” - the warriors who used to put their offerings on the large colourful statues. The alleys in the old town have a very lively atmosphere, bringing us back to a time when Elmina was a busy colonial town. Drive to Anomabu where we overnight. Overnight Anomabu Resort or similar (BLD)
Elmina and Elmina Castle
Elmina Castle is the oldest European building in Africa, erected by the Portuguese in the 15th century. At different times the castle has been used as a warehouse to trade gold, ivory, and eventually slaves. The castle we visit today is the result of successive extension works and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Dutch Cemetery in Elmina goes back to 1806. Outside the castle is a wonderful fishing village with lots of large colourful fishing boats - every day these canoes are guided by skilled fishermen plying their trade across strong ocean waves and currents.
Day 15 - Anomabu to Accra (150 km - 3 hr)
We travel to Accra and visit the National Museum, one of the first works of independent Ghana - the idea inspiring the Museum is to relate Ghanaian art to the rest of the continent and to prove the existence of an African history as part of the general history of humanity. We explore the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Late transfer to the airport for your international flight. Day use available until 6pm at a comfortable hotel (B)
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary
Visa support (letter of invitation)
Visa (single entry Ghana)
Items of a personal nature