Join this 12-day adventure to the heart of West Africa through an expedition-like journey across Ghana, a country which is incredibly rich in traditions and yet is experiencing ever increasing modernity.
Depart from Washington Dulles (IAD) for your South African Airways flight to Accra.
On arrival at Kotoka International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight on a bed and breakfast basis at Accra City Hotel or similar
ACCRA - ANOMABU
Accra, the capital of Ghana, has maintained its unique identity despite the fast paced development currently underway in this intriguing African city. The luxuriant administrative area, punctuated with elegant villas built during the first half of the 19th century, reminds us that Ghana was one of the most flourishing British colonies in West Africa.
The itinerary includes a visit to the National Museum (if open, now under renovation). You will explore the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Facing the Ocean is where local native peoples life fully unfolds: a village surrounded by the city! Here all economic activities follow very different rules from the ones governing “the city” (business area), just a few hundred meters away. The tour continues with the visit of a workshop where they specialize in building fantasy coffins. These special handcrafted coffins can reflect any shape: fruits, animals, fish, cars, airplanes…. the only limit being imagination! Started in Africa, these flamboyant coffin designs are by now collected worldwide and exposed in museums.
Overnight on a full board basis at Anomabu Beach Resort Hotel or similar
ANOMABU - ELMINA
After breakfast, you will experience the thrill of a “canopy walk” right in the deep forest of the Kakum National Park: one of the worlds 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 - instead of unveiling their trunks, trees will reveal their tops!
In the afternoon visit Elmina Castle, 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 you visit today is the result of successive extension works and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old Dutch Cemetery in Elmina goes back to 1806. Outside the castle, a wonderful fishing village with lots of large colorful fishing boats - every day these canoes are guided by skilled fishermen across strong ocean waves and currents, “fighting” to earn a living. In the old town you will see the Posuban, the shrines of the old “Asafo companies” - the warriors who used to put their offerings on the large colorful statues. The alleys in the old town have a very lively atmosphere, bringing you back to a time when Elmina was a busy colonial town.
Overnight on a full board basis at Anomabu Beach Resort Hotel or similar
ANOMABU - KUMASI
Late morning arrival in 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 XIX century, when the British annexed Ashanti Country to their Gold Coast colony. The tribute paid today to the Asantehene (King) 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.
The itinerary includes a visit to the Ashanti Cultural Centre: a rich collection of Ashanti artifacts housed in a wonderful reproduction of an Ashanti house.
In the afternoon you will participate – if available – in a traditional Ashanti funeral, attended by mourners wearing beautifully red or black togas. We say “funerals” but it means 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, socialize 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 on a full board basis at Miklin Hotel or similar
KUMASI - TECHIMAN
On a Sunday morning, Kumasi wakes up slowly and the streets of the city, not too busy, become like a charming and interesting stage to any curious traveller: the colonial buildings around the market, the very original hand-painted advertisement signs (real urban art!), the railway lines crossing the central market, the devotees going to church in their Sunday clothes - so out of fashion to actually be of great fashion!
You will also visit the Royal Palace Museum - hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court – and a few nearby villages specialized in weaving the traditional Kente cloth, praised by the socially important people and used to make special ceremonial stools.
On the Ashanti calendar certain days each year are set aside for a very special celebration at the Royal Palace in Kumasi. This traditional ceremony takes place in one of the last African Kingdoms which has maintained its ancient rituals.
During this celebration, the King sits under a spectacular colorful umbrella, is adorned in vivid cloth and massive centuries old jewelry (Ashanti gold jewelry 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. In front of the King a narrow passage of dignitaries is also formed, representing all 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 & trumpeters playing horns of ivory. Corpulent dancers dressed in vivid red costumes perform an erotic dance. The mother queen also joins the ceremony accompanied by her attendants. You will witness and experience the splendor, the flavor and the atmosphere of one of last great African monarchs of the forests.
In the late afternoon transfer to Techiman.
Overnight on a full board basis at Encom Hotel or similar
TECHIMAN - WA
After breakfast, you will start your journey Northwards, leaving the forest landscape to enter the dry savannah. The dusty road follows the tracks of the former caravan road that used to connect the main trading centres of the Sudanese kingdoms such as Djenné or Timbuktu to the region of Kumasi, very important for gold mining and for the production of cola nuts. The presence of Sudanese style mosques is proof of the successful trading deals between peoples of the savannah and peoples of the forest.
Continuation to Wa, a city dating back to the XVII century, at the junction of important communication roads. The Royal Palace reflects the Sudanese architectural style brought from the Sahel through marabous, traders and storytellers. Meeting with the King of Wa (Wana), if he is available.
Overnight on a full board basis at Upland Hotel or similar
Day dedicated to meeting with Lobi tribe. Each family lives in a big fortified building made of clay, protected by a high wall with no access and made up of a rectangular granary surrounded by different rooms and a cowshed. Entering their house, you will be surprised by the light: a mainly dark environment where only a few “rays” penetrate, the result is a very supernatural atmosphere.
In Lobi society, the chief of the family represents the only authority. In charge of everything and everyone before the elders’ council or the government, he is also responsible for shrines and for the organization of labour in the fields. The Lobi are very talented in art: they excel in music (in particular in playing balafon) and the little wooden statues they carve for the cult of their ancestors are highly valued by African art collectors.
Overnight on a full board basis at Upland Hotel or similar
WA - BOLGATANGA
After breakfast, you will drive and in the afternoon you will meet with the Gurunsi tribe living in adobe fortified buildings decorated with black, red and white African frescoes. Their society is organized around gender: men are in charge of constructions while women take care of painting and decorating, using natural colours on an okra background. Men build houses by putting different layers of clay on support pillars and arches, walls and terraces are then made waterproof by spreading a mix which includes zebu dung.
Overnight on a full board basis at Crystal Hotel or similar
BOLGATANGA - YENDI
After breakfast, you will take an interesting walk to discover a sacred hill. Locals believe that this mysterious place - where many high stone pinnacles are stacked up in an unbelievably irregular way – is the former home of the Gods. Inside a deep crack on the higher side of the mountain there is the oracle’s cave, an important place of pilgrimage. People however are allowed inside only if accompanied by adepts. In this mountain area live the Talensi people. Their typical fortified house, where around 60 people can live together, is made of clay and wood. It looks like a maze and is only accessible through the single entrance door. Alleys, small stairs, egg-shaped rooms and terraces all make up a harmonious whole of a great beauty.
Further in the South, in this savannah, the Dagomba live. This tribe represents one eighth of the entire Ghanaian population. They are mainly farmers and have always shared their territory with other tribes such as the Kokomba. They build round clay huts with thatched roofs. The house of the village chief, where the council of the elders meets, is easily recognizable 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.
Overnight on a full board basis at Kamil Legacy Hotel or similar
YENDI - NKWANTA
You will meet a very large settlement of … witches! All exiled from their villages because found guilty of terrible events such as the death of a teenager, a mysterious disease or a bad harvest…they now live all together in a specific place. You will chat with them about their life and about the special shrine which protects them, “cleansing” their spirit from bad will. Their warm welcome is in dramatic contrasts with the gravity of the stories that forced them to come here.
Overnight on a full board basis at Gateway Hotel or similar
NKWANTA - WLI
Volta Region: from Savannah to tropical forest. Visits of coffee and cocoa plantations in a luxuriant region; stops in small villages inhabited by a very friendly population, happy to welcome the rare visitors.
You will discover the beautiful Wli Waterfalls, on the border with Togo, where water falls from a height of 60-80 meters. The walk to reach the falls, is approximately 45 minutes (nice flat path) and it will allow you to sight some of the 200 species of birds and the 400 species of butterflies which have been identified in the region.
Overnight on a full board basis at Wli Water Highs Hotel or similar
After breakfast, departure to the Akosombo region to attend 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. Sakpata, Heviesso, Mami Water are just some of the voodoos divinities who can show up. In this narrow village, surrounded by the magic atmosphere of the ceremony, you will finally understand what people mean when they say: “In your Churches you pray God; in our voodoo shrine we become God!”
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.
In the afternoon drive to Accra and transfer to the airport for the flight out.
Arrival in the United States at Washington Dulles (IAD) airports.
Round trip coach air on South African Airways from Washington (IAD) Airport to Kotoka International Airport; Assistance at airport upon arrival and departure; Accommodation as per the itinerary; Experienced tour guide; Tours and visits as per the itinerary; Most meals as per the itinerary; Entrance fees to parks, concessions, protected areas and cultural sites; All transfers as per the itinerary; All service charges and taxes
Add on air from other US cities; Earlier and/or later transfers from and to airport; Visa fees and any airport departure taxes; Any meal or sightseeing tour other than those specified in itinerary; Any items of personal expense - i.e. mineral water and drinks at meals, telephone calls, laundry, personal photos and videos etc; Personal and holiday insurance (compulsory); Gratuities for drivers, guides and hotel staff; Porterage; Costs relating to delayed or lost luggage