Ghana - Kingdoms of Gold
Ghana - Kingdoms of Gold
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 ●○○○○
- The chance to mingle with the fascinating tribal peoples and observe their enduring cultures
- Kumasi, the intriguing historical and spiritual centre of the Ashanti Kingdom
- The atmospheric Cape Coast and Elmina areas with their mixed history
- Experience Akwasidae Festival and traditional Ashanti ceremonies
- Attend a voodoo ceremony in a remote village
Accommodation: Comfortable hotel accommodation
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: 4WD or minibuses
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 at Accra City 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 by prior request.
Day 2 – Accra – Sogakope (120km – 3 hours travelling approx.)
Explore Accra, taking in its main sights including the atmospheric old quarter of Jamestown, the National Museum and something unique to Ghana – the coffin makers. These craftsmen build elaborate coffins in many weird and wonderful shapes including fish, cars, animals and aeroplanes! We will then head towards the Volta region to attend a Voodoo ceremony at the heart of a remote village. During the ceremony some of the adepts may become possessed giving rise to amazing trances. Overnight at Cisneros Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 3 – Sogakope – Wli (180km – 4 hours travelling approx.)
The Monkey sanctuary of Tafi Atome was created in 1993 in order to protect the community of sacred monkeys living in the bordering forest. We will also visit the Wli waterfalls, the most amazing in the area, located on the border between Togo and Ghana. Overnight at Wli Water Highs Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Day 4 – Wli – Nkwanta (150km – 4 hours travelling approx.)
Today we travel from the tropical forest to the Northern Savannas, stopping off along the way and passing by the numerous coffee and cocoa plantations. Overnight at Gateway Hotel or similar (BLD)
Day 5 – Nkwanta – Yendi (180km – 4 hours travelling approx.)
Today we will visit the Dagomba villages, a tribe that represents one eighth of the Ghanaian population. Their villages are made of round huts covered with high thatch roofs. We also have a stop in a Kokomba village where we will be welcomed by women who bear the burden of being considered ‘witches’. Overnight at Kamil Legacy Hotel or similar (basic standard). (BLD)
Day 6 – Yendi – Bolgatanga (230km – 5 hours travelling approx.)
We take a walk to a sacred hill, and in this mysterious place we will find pinnacles made of huge stones, stacked up in a chaotic way. Local people consider these vestiges as the former homes of the gods. Inside a deep crack on the higher side of the mountain is found the cave of the oracle. It is a place of pilgrimage but to be allowed inside, one has to be accompanied by adepts who go there to practice their rituals and make sacrifices. Overnight Crystal Hotel or similar (BLD)
The hills around here consist of numerous pinnacles formed by enormous rocks, which the local people consider as the ancient homes of the gods. A deep fissure on the side of the highest mountain hosts 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. 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, combine to create quite a striking impression.
Day 7 –Bolgatanga – Wa (320km 6 hours travelling approx.)
We take a morning trip to see the painted houses of the Gurunsi culture. The geometrical designs of the frescoes blend in perfectly with the round and rectangular shapes of the building. We then continue along the savannah to Wa. Overnight at Upland Hotel or similar. (BLD)
The Gourounsi are renowned for their fabulously decorated houses that are multi-hued with symbolic friezes of animals and spirits that are fashioned on the ‘banco’ walls. Each year after the harvest, the women work together to restore and repaint their mud dwellings. It is alleged that luminaries such as Picasso and the architect, Le Coubusier, were inspired by this art and its abstract symbolism.
Day 8 –Wa
A day to explore Wa, home of the Lobi. The town of Wa is also the seat of the kingdom of Wa where, up until recently, the ‘Wa Na’, or king, held court in his Sudanese styled palace. Since the Wa Na’s death, pretenders have quibbled endlessly over the succession and no one currently has the authority to rule. It is possible to visit his palace (although you probably won’t be allowed inside), and outside you can find the graves of the former Wa Nas. Tucked away in the backstreets are also a couple of Sudanese style mud and stick built mosques which are of interest. Overnight at Upland Hotel or similar. (BLD)
The Lobi are thought to have originated in Ghana but now also live in neighbouring Burkina Faso. Their name means literally ‘children of the forest’. Today they live in villages consisting of several fortress style dwellings, excellent protection against slave raids of old. The Lobi follow animist traditions, worshipping fetishes and ancestors, and are renowned as excellent warriors, putting up fierce resistance to colonial occupation. The Lobi are still very traditional and adhere to old customs, one of which is their initiation ceremony where young men and women head off into the bush for several weeks, performing secret rituals and speaking a secret language.
Day 9 – Wa – Techiman (330km 6 hours travelling approx.)
We start our journey South passing through a landscape that slowly changes from the colours of the Savannah to those of the forest. The dust road follows the tracks left by the former caravan trails that used to connect the biggest trading centres of the Sudanese kingdom such as Djenné or Timbuktu, to the area of Kumasi, a great producer of gold and the famous Kola nut. Overnight at Encom Hotel or similar (BLD)
Day 10 – Techiman – Kumasi (130km 2 hours travelling approx.)
We travel to the centre of the Ashanti kingdom, Kumasi. We visit traditional Ashanti houses, recently renovated and famous for their unique decorations. We may also be lucky enough to witness an Ashanti funeral – a colourful and exuberant affair which gives a great insight into the complex culture of this once powerful kingdom. Overnight at Hotel Miklin or similar. (BLD)
Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, Kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit and vegetable. We visit the Ghana National Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house.
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, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they adorn themselves in it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.
Day 11 – Kumasi – Anomabu (230km 5 hours travelling approx.)
Continue our exploration of Kumasi by visiting the Royal Palace Museum, with its unique collection of golden jewellery. A highlight of the trip this morning will also be to experience the traditional Akwasidae Festival, a special celebration on the Ashanti calendar. From here we drive to Anomabu on the coast. Overnight at Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)
This special celebration takes place in the Royal Palace in Kumasi and is a traditional ceremony maintaining ancient rituals in one of the last remaining African Kingdoms. During the celebration the King is adorned is vivid clothing and centuries old jewellery and is surrounded by the Ashanti elders and advisors, all under the authority of the Royal Speaker. In front of the King a narrow passage of dignitaries is formed, representing all roles and positons of power within the kingdom, including sword and knife bearers, armed guards, carriers of beautiful ostrich feathers and more. The ceremony continues with a procession of royal court attendants bringing gifts, storytellers reciting the history of the Ashanti Kings, drummers and other musical instruments accompanied by dancers dressed in spectacular costumes. The mother queen also joins the ceremony accompanied by her attendants.
Day 12 – Elmina (170km 3 hours travelling approx.)
We visit the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as a holding centre for slaves. We explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. From here we drive back to Accra, where day use rooms are available to freshen up before your flight. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (BL)
Elmina is best known for its Castle of St George, built in 1482 by the Portuguese and occupied by the Dutch and British in the following centuries. The Castle and its museum are of considerable interest and the town is now a colourful thriving fishing port where hundreds of colourfully painted wooden fishing canoes are anchored. The best time to see the port is in the morning when fishermen arrive back with their catches, and traders crowd the area. In addition to the Castle of St George Elmina boasts another – the smaller Fort St Jago, situated on top of a hill as a protective measure against the castle being bombarded from above. There are also numerous animistic shrines throughout the town built by Posuban societies to protect the fishermen.
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
Any airport taxes