Tour to Ghana: the Africa beyond the time

Come and live twelve-day adventure in a spirit of an “expedition” that will take you to the heart of West Africa through Ghana, a country incredibly rich in traditions and increasing modernity.

This trip is perfect for all those in love with this timeless Africa, beautifully colored, where local markets release the nice smell of spices.

Especially for those who admire the frenetic but delicate rhythms and steps of the ritual dancers or are amazed by the abundance of gold of the Ashanti traditional ceremonies.

Or, again, for those who are moved by the slave trade castles and for all of us who want to satisfy their endless curiosity by meeting witches that we will eventually meet after crossing the charming Volta region. Even witches have pure kind eyes!

  • Duration: 12 days
  • Guide: English speaking
Price from 2210 € Send request
Day 1

IN THE GULF OF GUINEA, Arrival in Accra

Upon arrival at the Accra airport in Ghana, you will be assisted with your baggage and transferred to your hotel.

Day 2

AFRICAN METROPOLIS

City tour of Accra.

Accra, the capital of Ghana, is an interesting city that, although is quickly evolving, has kept its own identity, reflected in both modern and old areas where traditional activities continue to hold sway.

The luxuriant administrative area is punctuated with elegant villas built during the first half of the 19th century, echoing back to the Ghana that one of the most flourishing British colonies in West Africa.

We will visit the area of the coffin makers, with their elaborately shaped coffins representing fruits, animals, fish, cars, airplanes…. and the only limit is the intended occupant’s imagination. Originally coming from Africa, these flamboyant coffin designs are part of collections all over the world and exhibited in museums.

We have scheduled a visit to the National Museum, one of the first works of independent Ghana. It is particularly interesting as it was created to spread Ghanaian art to the rest of the continent and to show that African history is part of the general history of Humanity.

The life of the native people unfolds facing the ocean: a village surrounded by a city! Here, economic activities follow different rules than those governing “the city” (business area), only hundreds of meters away.

We will head towards the Volta region to attend a Voodoo ceremony.

Voodoo is a religion passed on by the ancestors and still enthusiastically practiced today. This religion is much richer and more complex than all the European clichés that claim that Voodoo is only a vulgar form of black magic. It is quite the opposite, as Voodoo is a religion that gives meaning to the life of millions of people all over the world. We will go deep into the African “bush” to discover this cult and, in the heart of a remote village we will attend an authentic Voodoo ceremony. During the ceremony, along with the sound of the drums and the incantatory songs, Sakpata, Heviesso, Mami Water and other Vodun spirits may take possession of the adepts giving way to truly amazing trances; eyes rolling back, grimaces, convulsions, insensitivity to fire or pain.

Day 3

WATERFALLS

The Monkey sanctuary of Tafi Atome was created in 1993 in order to protect the community of sacred monkeys living in the bordering forests. According to the village’s tradition, in this village the monkeys are considered the “spokes-animals” of the turtles. Both, monkeys and turtles, have been considered sacred species for more than 200 years.

We will walk in the forest and in the village to discover the amazing cohabitation between human and sacred monkeys.

We will discover the Wli waterfalls, the most amazing waterfalls in the area, located on the border between Togo and Ghana: The water falls from 60 to 80 meters. To reach the falls, we will walk about 45 minutes through a nice flat path where more than 200 species of birds and 400 species of butterflies have been identified.

Day 4

SAVANNAH

Volta Region: From tropical forest to northern savannah. Visits to coffee and cocoa plantations in a luxuriant area, and narrow villages inhabited by friendly population, happy to welcome rare visitors.

Day 5

WITCHES

We will visit Dagomba villages, a tribe that represents one-eighth percent of the entire Ghanaian population. Their villages are made of round huts covered with high thatch roofs. The inhabitants, mainly farmers, settled in this area centuries ago and have always shared their territory with other tribes such as the Kokomba.

We will stop in a Kokomba village inhabited by… witches! At the heart of a traditional architectural environment, we will be welcomed by women who bear the burden of being witches. Found guilty of terrible events such as the death of a teenager, a mysterious disease or a bad harvest… these women are exiled in those villages where the presence of a special shrine is able to “control” them. Their warm welcome dramatically contrasts with the gravity of the stories that justify them being there. A basic architecture adapted to the needs of this special community represents the backdrop of this neat and vast village.

Day 6

ORACLE

We will take a charming walk to discover a sacred hill. This mysterious place hosts numerous pinnacles made of huge stones stacked in an unbelievably irregular way. Local people consider these vestiges as the former homes of the gods. The cave of the oracle is inside a deep crack on the higher side of the mountain. It is a place of pilgrimage but you can only enter if you are accompanied by one of the adepts who go there to practice their rituals and make sacrifices.

The Talensi peoples live on this mountain and all form one clan. They live in typical fortified houses made of clay and wood where as many as sixty people may live together. It looks like a maze and is only accessible through a unique entrance door. Alleys, small stairs, covered corridors, egg-shaped rooms and several terraces make up a harmonious whole of a great beauty.

Day 7

AFRICAN FRESCOES

The Gurunsi peoples live in colourfully decorated fortified houses. The Gurunsi society is organized around gender: the men are in charge of building, while the women are in charge of painting and decorating the home. Women create beautiful “frescoes” using natural colors: red, white and black on an okra background.

The Gurinsi build their houses by layering clay over support pillars and arches. To make the walls and terraces waterproofed, they spread zebu dung. Over the zebu dung the women paint amazingly intricate frescoes, sometimes using black and white patterns, other times red and white patterns, that flow over the houses and slope down to the surrounding walls. These beautifully patterned designs are an excellent example of the kind of sculptural architecture that highly influenced the work of Le Corbusier. The intense beauty of these works of art can only be truly appreciated first hand.

Then transfer along the savannah.

Wa, a city dating back to the 17th century, is the junction of several roads that used to represent and still represent important communication roads. The Royal Palace is an obvious reflection of the Sudanese architectural style brought in from the Sahel through marabous, traders and storytellers. Meeting with the King of Wa (Wana), if available.

Day 8

FORTIFIED VILLAGES

The Lobi live in the surroundings of Wa, isolated in clay houses protected by a high wall without access and made of a rectangular granary surrounded by the different rooms and a cowshed. Entering their houses, you will be surprised by the variations of the light: darkness is predominant and is penetrated by a few rays of light that create quite a supernatural atmosphere.

In the 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 responsible for sacrificial shrines and organizing the field labour.

The Lobi peoples are also talented artists. The little statues they make, used as spiritual protection, are considered highly prestigious in many African art collections. The Lobi also excel in music and we can find good balafon players of among them.

Day 9

ADOBE MOSQUES

We will start our journey south passing through a landscape that slowly changes from the colours of the savannah to those of the forest. The dusty road follows the tracks left by the former caravan road that used to connect the biggest trading centres of the Sudanese kingdom, such as Djenné or Timbuktu, to the area of Kumasi, great producer of gold and the famous cola nut. The presence of Sudanese-style mosques proves that people from the savannah and people from the forest used to close thriving deals.

Day 10

ASHANTI

Late morning arrival in Kumasi: Museum of the cultural centre, Ashanti funerals.

Kumasi is a city that can be proud of its past but also of its present. Its past was mainly influenced by the Ashanti kings who, from the end of the 17th century, have always known how to maintain the traditions and strength of their people. Nowadays it has flourishing economic activities through the exploitation of underlying gold mines and everything the forest can offer.

In the city we will visit the Ashanti museum located at the heart of the art centre and the open air market known to be one of the biggest in West Africa.

During the afternoon, we will attend an Ashanti funeral which actually is a very colourful great collective ceremony, characterized by traditional music and dances. The guests, dressed in rich red and black fabric, gather to honor the memory of the Ashanti dead and the chiefs, seated in the shade of large brightly colored umbrellas, take part in the celebrations surrounded by their entire court. Once traditional greetings are over, the guests take a seat and watch the young dancing as a way to perpetuate forever the extremely delicate steps of the Ashanti dance ritual.

The funerals end around dusk in a relaxed and festive atmosphere. The people finally promise they will meet the following week for another funeral as it represents such an important sharing moment in the Ashanti World.

Day 11

GOLDEN KINGDOM

On Sunday mornings, Kumasi wakes up slowly. The streets of the city, still mostly empty, become a backdrop for the traveller, curious to observe certain details that give the city its special charming aspect. The colonial buildings around the market, the adverts, hand-painted in a very original style that some compare with urban art, the railway that crosses the central market, and the faithful on their way to church in their Sunday clothes, so fashionable precisely because they are so out of fashion. These details capture the interest of visitors and seem to tell the whole story, but that is not all: the Royal Palace Museum will also open its doors for us, displaying its unique collection of Ashanti souvenirs.

The Ashanti celebrate numerous great annual ceremonies inside the Royal Palace with hundreds of traditionally-dressed people participating. After “holy wine” is poured over the thrones of the former kings in the rooms of the Palace reserved for the initiates- it is then time for the great happy ceremony. In the shade of a highly colorful umbrella sits the king, wrapped in brightly colored fabric and adorned with antique solid gold jewellery (Ashanti golden jewels and masks are considered master pieces of African art).

A narrow aisle occupied by the various courtiers and dignitaries spreads out before the King: sword carriers, ritual knife bearers, armed guards with loaded rifles and carriers of beautiful fans made of ostrich feathers. The elders and the advisers are seated next to the king under the authority of the Royal Speaker who holds in his hands the symbols of power covered in gold.

During the ceremony, the courtiers bring their gifts and the griots relate intrinsic stories of the past Ashanti kings, while drummers and ivory trumpeters give rhythm, percussion and heraldry to the ceremony.

Large women, attractively wrapped in vivid red fabric, perform traditional dances characterized by a series of delicate movements, alternated with rapid moves from one end of the stage to the other. The Queen Mother then joins the ceremony accompanied by her entire court, which comprises only women.

In the afternoon we will drive down towards the ocean.

Day 12

SLAVES’ CASTLES

Elmina: a name linked to the story of Africa as well as to history itself. In 1482 Christopher Columbus and Bartolommeo Diaz arrived here with ten caravels in order to build a castle under Portuguese authority. This place had been chosen following the discovery of gold mines in the area. This is how the story of Elmina started: a castle, a port, a village, all in contact with European populations for more than five centuries. The castle that we will visit is the result of successive extension works made by Portuguese, Dutch, English, and local authorities. Over the centuries, the castle has served as a warehouse for gold, ivory, precious wood and slaves. Today, the castle is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The city of Elmina is a typical fishing port from where hundreds of large colourful pirogues leave every day to sail the ocean. Wandering in the narrow streets of Elmina, we will breathe the lively timeless atmosphere of this small fishing town. The former Portuguese buildings, today inhabited by the locals, are located just next to the temples of the “Asafo Companies”, where the warriors still leave their offerings on great colourful statues.

Drive to Accra.

Day-rooms available until 6 p.m. before the final transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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