Day 1: Accra. Arrival meet our guide and Overnight at your Hotel
Day 2: Explore Aburi and Krobo region. We begin our journey in Aburi in the botanical gardens found by Britain in 1890. A popular retreat for residents from Accra, the 65 hectare gardens are a mix of indigenous and exotic flora, including a giant ancient kapok, and also provides a home for many bird species.
Later we explore the surrounding area, home to the Krobo people, and visit bead makers, a local industry and process dating back several centuries. Our destination later today is Koforidua, capital of the Eastern Region. A busy town with a large market, Koforidua was originally founded byin the 1870s by the New Juaben people after they were forced to re-locate following a revolt against the Ashanti King in Kumasi.
Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast
Day 3: Exploring Kumasi. This morning we first head to Besease, a traditional Ashanti shrine. Still in active use, it is believed to date back at least 300 years although the current structure is thought to date back to around 1850. Most famously Yaa Asantewaa consulted the spirits here before leading the attack on the British fort in Kumasi. Later we arrive in Kumasi itself. Founded in 1695, Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom.
In the 18th century it was the terminus for the slave trading routes but in the 19th century hostilities between the British colonists and Ashanti culminated in the city being burnt. Now it is Ghana’s second largest city. This afternoon we should have time to visit Manhyia Palace and the Jubilee Museum. Here we see replicas of the Golden Stool, a sacred object to the Ashanti, for the original stool contains the ‘sumsum’ or the spirit of the entire Ashanti kingdom. Stools are an important part of Ghana’s culture and are considered as an extension of an individual both in life and in death. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast
Day 4: To Techiman. This morning is free to explore more of Kumasi including the National Cultural Centre, or perhaps head to Kejetia, the largest open air market in West Africa. Here some 10,000 traders haggle and barter amongst the hectic array of exotic herbs and spices, colourful pots and utensils and unusual foods, such as giant snails (sold either alive or roasted!). Later today we head north to our overnight stop at Techiman. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast
Day 5: To Mole National Park via Boabeng-Fiema. Our drive today takes us first to Boabeng-Fiema village and monkey sanctuary, home to several families of Colobus and Mona monkeys, considered sacred in Ghana. Close-by are the 25m high Kintampo Falls, an area also home to a variety of birds, butterflies, indigenous flowers and trees. Before finally reaching Mole National Park we will also stop to visit the Larabanga mosque which is reputedly the oldest building in Ghana, but no-one can quite agree on its age! Some sources date it to the 13th century, which is highly improbable since Islam had barely reached the region at that time.
The origins of the mosque relate to a traveller who found a mystic stone, threw his spear and then slept on it. He dreamt about a mosque and when he awoke, the foundations had mysteriously been laid around him. Whatever its origins, it is a striking ‘mud/stick’ building, with minarets and painted walls. We finally enter Mole National Park, the largest park in Ghana. Established in 1958, Mole National Park is mostly flat savannah broken by a high escarpment. Its 4840 square km are home to over 90 species of mammals and 300 species of bird. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast
Day 6: Foot safaris in Mole National Park. A highlight of our trip – we make foot safaris with National Park rangers in both the morning and afternoon in search of some of the wildlife which lives here. Species commonly seen include elephant, several kinds of antelope, and monkey (including the Green Vervet and Red Patas monkey). Up to 150 migratory bird species may also be seen in the Park, depending on the time of our visit. Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast.
Days 7 to 8: Exploring the Bolgatanga region. Heading north via Gondja and Dagomba villages we reach Ghana's far north, close to the border with Burkina Faso. Close by our route is Tongo, its nearby hills venerated for their many sacred ancestral shrines, and we should have time tio visit a local oracle. We spend a full day in the Bolgatanga region, visiting both the towns vibrant market, nearby Gurunsi communities with their unique architecture, and the sacred crocodile ponds at Paga. Overnight Basic Hotel (H) Included meals: Breakfast.
Days 9 to 10: Exploring Wa region. Our exploration continues as we turn west toward Wa, capital of the Upper West region. Our journey takes us through the rustic town of Navrongo. In an otherwise mostly muslim area, Navrongo's predominantly Christian feel reflects its claim as the home of Catholicism in northern Ghana. We will visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, a traditionally constructed building notable for its frescos and Gurunsi paintings.
We also pass through Dagarti villages on our route and spend much of the following day exploring Lobi villages. The Lobi comprise a collection of ethnic groups in both Ghana and Burkina Faso whose name translates as Children of the Forest. Naturally shy and mistrustful, for years the Lobi had to endure constant attacks from the Guiriko and Kenedougou, as well as the less than sympathetic attentions of the French.
Fiercely independent they still adhere to many of their traditional customs and animist practices, worshipping distinctive wooden fetishes and continuing to uphold their age-old beliefs in the spirit world. Residing in fortified mudbrick compounds in family groups, much like their Dagarti neighbours, the men still carry bows much as their ancestors have for generations and the Lobi, even today, still have a fearsome reputation as hunters and warriors. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 11: To Techiman. A remote drive today takes us south through Ghana's far west through the small settlemtns of Mawule, Banda Nkwanta and Bole where we will pause to see its beautiful mud and stick mosque. Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 12: To Lake Bosomtwi; boat trip. Continuing south back through Kumasi, we reach the crater Lake Bosumtwi. Ghana's most expansive natural fresh-water body which was actually created as a result of a meteorite impact. The lake is held sacred by Ashanti traditionalists and the Bosumtwi people. There is a taboo on the use of traditional pirogues which local fisherman get round by lying on customised tree trunks called padua and using their hands as paddles. Surrounded by ragged mountains and thickly vegetated crater walls reaching an altitude over 600m, the lake is a stunning spectacle and we will spend this afternoon on a boat trip exploring it's hidden corners. Overnight Standard Hotel Included meals: Breakfast
Day 13: Visit Elmina Castle and St. Jago Fort. Continuing south we finally arrive back on the Atlantic coast at Elmina. The castles here were built along the entire Ghana coast by the colonial powers of the 15th century to protect merchants, their vested interests and to create safe anchorages for their ships from the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean. The castles were also used for ‘storing’ slaves before they were shipped abroad and so in effect were dungeons as well.
Built on the profits of the then lucrative gold and slave trade, the castles became important symbols of European power in the region. With the eventual abolition of the slave trade emphasis changed to the more accepted forms of commerce – coffee, wood and spices. We'll visit Elmina Castle and St. Jago Fort as well as the old Dutch Cemetery, fishing harbour, Catholic Mission and even see the traditional method of salt production. Later we continue to our overnight stop at Anomabu. Overnight Standard Hotel (H+) Included meals: Breakfast
Day 14: Explore Kakum National Park. Leaving the coast we head inland today to visit Kakum National Park. Here the rainforest is one of the most extensive in Ghana, and for those with a good head for heights, there is a canopy walkway some 40m high (optional). This walkway is unique in Africa and offers a rare opportunity to see the forest at the canopy level. Later this afternoon there is an optional tour of Cape Coast castle to learn more about the history of this area. Overnight Hotel Included meals: Breakfast.
Day 15: To Accra; explore city. We return to Ghana's vibrant capital this morning. Although records of Accra date back to the 15th century, the capital of Ghana is a modern city with independence monuments and countless back streets. We'll take a tour later today to see The Kwame Nkrumah circle and Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. We’ll drive through James Town, an area of colonial architecture topped with a 30 m lighthouse, and pause at Fort Ussher where Kwame Nkrumah was imprisoned (an un-developed Alcatraz).
Independence square is a Pseudo- soviet curiosity in a city that is otherwise so overflowing with chaotic life. There may be time this afternoon to visit the National Museum and the National Craft Centre. In this curio market people haggle hard for a variety of artifacts similar to those displayed in the museum and departure in the evening
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