From its lush rainforests to its golden sandy beaches, Ghana is a land of immense natural beauty. On this journey through one of Africa’s friendliest nations we experience its diverse and rich culture, visiting vibrant markets, traditional Lobi villages and the striking mud-stick mosques. We also observe monkeys, track wild elephants and visit the impressive Gold Coast castles.
Kakum N.P. - A walk in the lush rainforest and the chance to join an optional exhilarating canopy tour.
Bolgatanga and the Far North - Lobi Villages, distinctive local architecture and painted houses in the Wa region.
Mole - A walking safari in the park to look for elephants.
Kumasi - The vibrant colours of the largest market in West Africa.
Gold Coast Castles - The impressive 18th Century castle of Elmina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Arrive in Accra, a small but bustling city. With brightly coloured murals on the buildings, busy market stalls selling local food and fabrics, Accra is a shock to all the senses.
There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Accra at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Kotoka International Airport (ACC), which is about 30 minutes' drive from the city centre. Due to a number of flights arriving into Accra later in the evening and early morning, our welcome meeting will take place on the morning of day two at 8.30am. If you have free time on arrival then you may choose to walk through the bustling streets or relax.
Please note that some members of the group may arrive on day 2 in the early morning.
Day 2: Explore the bustling city of Accra including colonial James Fort. Afternoon drive to Koforidua
After this morning's welcome meeting, we'll spend the morning exploring Accra with our Leader. 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 begin in the downtown area to see both the Kwame Nkrumah circle and Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum before taking a drive through colonial Jamestown. Jamestown originally developed as its own community surrounding the British James Fort but has since been swallowed up by the ever-growing city of Accra and is now one of the capital's poorer areas. However, the fading colonial charm can still be found and we'll see the 30m lighthouse. Continuing on, we'll pause at Fort Ussher where Kwame Nkrumah was imprisoned (an un-developed Alcatraz) before continuing to Independence Square, a Pseudo- soviet curiosity in a city that is otherwise so overflowing with chaotic life. There may be time also to visit the National Museum and the National Craft Centre.
After a break for lunch, we will head north to Koforidua. The drive will take most of the afternoon, dependent on traffic, and on arrival the evening will be free to relax.
Day 3: Morning tour of Bunso Arboretum followed by a visit to an UNESCO Ashanti Shrine; Drive to Techiman
This morning after an early breakfast we will depart on a short drive to Bunso arboretum. This area of indigenous forest has over 110 species of bird, 30 species of butterflies and a herb garden. We will learn about the flora's medicinal properties as well a chance to spot resident bird life. After the tour we'll continue for around three hours to Besease where we will visit the UNESCO World Heritage traditional Ashanti shrines; the last remaining testimony of the great Ashanti civilisation. The Besease site has been restored allowing us the opportunity to see the traditional Ashanti architecture at the same spot that Queen Mother Yaa Ashantiwaa visited to consult the gods before going into battle with the British.
After time to explore the shrines, we will continue on the long drive to Techiman expecting to arrive in the early evening.
Day 4: Guided visit of Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary before afternoon drive to Mole National Park
This morning we'll start early with an hour's drive to a monkey sanctuary that sits between the villages of Boabeng and Fiema. Home to several families of Colobus and Mona monkeys, the sanctuary was developed in 1974 to protect the sacred monkey population in the area. We'll meet our local guide who will spend an hour leading us along the trails and telling us more about the superstitions that led to the protection of these primates, as well as how the estimated 600 monkeys play an important role in village life. As all of the monkeys are sacred they received a proper buriel when they pass and we may have the chance to see the monkey cemetery.
Later this morning we will continue our journey for another six hours to Mole National Park, with a stop along the way to visit the Larabanga mosque. The mosque 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 mudtick building, with minarets and painted walls. Late this afternoon we'll reach 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 birds.
Day 5: Explore Mole National Park on a full day of walking safari
A highlight of our trip - today we head out on safari on foot with National Park rangers in both the morning and afternoon in search of wildlife. Species commonly seen include elephant, several kinds of antelope Green Vervet monkeys and Red Patas monkeys. Up to 150 migratory bird species may also be seen in the Park, depending on the time of our visit.
The free time between our morning and afternoon safari can be spent relaxing or in the hotel's pool.
Day 6: Full day drive to Bolgatanga
Today is a long day travelling north to Bolgatanga, with stops along the way in the villages of Gondja and Dagomba. The Dagomba community is an ethnic group based in the northern area of Ghana. Although their origins are somewhat unknown, their strong sense of culture remains and can be seen through their belief system, language and musical culture. If time allows, we may also make a stop in the village of Tongo to visit a local oracle.
Later today, we'll arrive in Bolgatanga, where the surrounding hills are widely respected for the many sacred ancestral shrines.
Day 7: Visit Gurunsi traditional mud houses and wander through Bolgatanga market
Today we spend a full day in the Bolgatanga region. After an early breakfast we'll leave the city in search of the more rurally based Gurunsi community. Gurunsi is an umbrella term used to cover a number of different agricultural tribes living in the Ashanti area of Ghana and our leader will help us understand how these tribes live alongside one another, the traditions they share and the characteristics that separate them. In many cases the tribes still live in traditional mud-houses that the male members of the community build while the women head up the intricate decoration of the house's exterior.
This afternoon we'll return to Bolgatanga in time for a lunch break before an afternoon exploring the town's vibrant market. This area is known as the handicrafts centre of Ghana where handmade products such as straw baskets and handwoven baskets and hats can all be found but as well as this the area is a big crossroads for all different types of people. 'Bolga' as it's informally known, sits very close to the border with Burkina Faso and the main market is a large trading post of handicrafts, food, leather goods and handmade jewellery, plus it's where Islamic influences from the north meets Christianity from the south and mosques and churches can be found within close proximity of one another.
Day 8: Full day drive to Wa via Navrongo Cathedrale and Dagarti village
Today we depart Bolgantanga on the long journey to Wa, the 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. Along the way, we will also pass through Dagarti villages on our route where we may be able to make some stops.
Today's long drive will be along some poor roads and so the pace will be slow. The area is hot and dusty but there will be plenty of stops to stretch our legs, with ample chance to meet locals throughout this rural area.
Day 9: Explore the Wa region, visit Lobi villages and meet a tribal chief
We will spend today exploring Wa and the surrounding Lobi villages. The Lobi comprise a number 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 as their ancestors have for generations: the Lobi still have a fearsome reputation as hunters and warriors. This morning we will also visit Nakore Mosque, Sudanic in style, this mosque is important on the Islamic pilgrimage route in Ghana and is a great spot to learn about how Islam is now woven into the more traditional tribal faiths and ways of life.
Around lunchtime we'll return to Wa for some free time before the chance to meet a traditional Wa Chief. These meetings are subject to the Chief's availability and tribal celebrations but our Leader will advise us on the opportunities this afternoon.
Day 10: Full drive to Techiman via old-style Sudanese mosques
A full day's drive today takes us south through remote areas of Ghana's far west through the small settlements of Mawule, Banda Nkwanta, and Bole where we will pause to see the beautiful mud and stick mosque. Our leader will assist to arrange a picnic lunch and ensure we have multiple stops at points of interest through the journey.
Day 11: Drive to Kumasi; Afternoon tour of the city followed by the possibility to visit an Ashanti funeral
Departing after breakfast, we continue the journey south driving three hours to Kumasi, 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.
We'll arrive in Kumasi in the late morning, and after a chance to get lunch we will begin our tour of this populace city. We will visit the National Cultural Centre and have a guided visit of the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum, It's here that we will have the chance to see a replica 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. Our leader will also take us to see Manhyia Palace, home to the king of the Ashanti Kingdom.
If it's possible we will attend a traditional Ashanti funeral, to which visitors are welcome. In the Ashanti culture, funerals are actually festive celebrations: the deceased is considered being still present in their family. Relatives and friends gather, socialise and celebrate their memory, often dressed in beautiful red and black togas. The chief arrives surrounded by his court in the shade of large umbrellas as drums give rhythm to the dancers whose intricate moves are highly symbolic. Our Leader will give more information if this opportunity is available.
Day 12: Drive south to Anomabu; Free afternoon to relax on the Atlantic coast
After breakfast we will depart Kumasi to travel to Anomabu. The journey will take around four hours but arriving the sandy shores of the Atlantic coast will make the journey worthwhile. We'll arrive in time for lunch and the afternoon is free to relax. An excellent chance to recharge after a busy days exploring Ghana and a great opportunity to taste some fresh seafood.
Day 13: A morning visit to the slave castles of Ghana's Gold Coast before a free afternoon or chose to visit Kakum National Park
This morning we will visit both Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle around 90 minutes drive along the coast. Along the Ghanaian coastline there are a number for castles built by the colonial powers of the 15th century to protect merchants and their vested interests, and to create safe anchorages for their ships from the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean. The castles also infamously played an important role in West Africa's dark slave trade history, used as dungeons for 'storing' slaves before they were shipped abroad. Built on the profits of the then lucrative gold and slave trade, these fortifications 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 return to our hotel in time for lunch. This afternoon there will be an option to visit Kakum National Park, or alternatively to relax in Anomobu.
Day 14: Return to Accra where trip ends
Departing from Anomabu this afternoon after some free time on the beach, we drive for about three hours back to Kotoka International Airport (ACC), where we will arrive and this is where our trip ends.
Due to the times of departing flights from Accra, there will be two transfers which are planned to leave Anomabu at 12pm and 3pm to get to the airport for 3pm and 6pm. Due to local traffic conditions, the times of these transfers may change to be earlier in the day. The earliest your flight can depart is 5pm.
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