Festivals of Ghana
|BETWEEN||Accra and Accra|
|COUNTRIES VISITED – 1||Ghana|
|MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE||12|
|WHATS NOT INCLUDED||
An incredible unique journey concentrating on two of Ghana’s most colourful festivals. From the capital Accra we head to Ghana’s second city, the Ashanti capital of Kumasi, where we are privileged to witness the Akwasidae festival. Centred around the traditional concept of the chief, Akwasidae is an opportunity to call upon the protective spirits of the Ashanti and ask for blessings for the forthcoming year, and gives us a superb opportunity to see West Africa’s ‘kingdom of gold’ in all its splendour, with dancers and drummers adding to the intoxicating atmosphere. Afterwards we journey west, visiting the historic castles of Elmina and Cape Coast, learning about the slave trade that devastated these shores, and explore the forests of Kakum National Park on the look out for birds, monkeys and other wildlife. Using Axim as a base we visit small fishing villages, and have time to relax on the beach, then head to Akossombo, home of the Krobo people who are renowned for their skills in making beads. Each year the Krobo hold the amazing Dipo ceremony, a process of initiation for young girls on their journey to womanhood, accompanied by elaborate rituals and distinctive traditional jewellery; we spend three days observing these fascinating customs and learning about the culture of the Krobo. Discover the colours, festivals and traditions of one of the region’s friendliest countries.
Festivals of Ghana
Native Eye specializes in small group tours to unusual destinations with a focus on traditional, often tribal, cultures. This is an incredible and unique journey concentrating on two of Ghana’s most colourful festivals. In the Ashanti capital of Kumasi, we are privileged to witness the Akwasidae festival. Discover the colours, festivals and traditions of one of the region’s friendliest countries.
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Day 1: Accra
Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is free to explore. Overnight 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 and is 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. Most interesting is the area where coffins are made –here they make them with the most outlandish designs, in the shape of fish, aeroplanes, or just about anything else you can think of.
Day 2-4: Akossombo
We head north to the lands of the Krobo people to spend three days witnessing one of Ghana’ s most amazing celebrations, the Dipo festival. Taking place each year this traditional festival is held to mark the initiation of adolescent girls into womanhood, and showcases the excellent traditional dress and crafts to be found here, with numerous rituals taking place to signify the coming of age. Overnight Afrikio Resort or similar. (BLD)
Please note that the Dipo celebrations do not adhere to a strict schedule, so they may start on Day 2 or Day 3.
Dipo is an annual celebration that initiates adolescent girls to womanhood, an important cultural marker in the world of the Krobo people, like many ethnic groups, and is carried out with much ritual and ceremony. The traditional festivities involve adolescent girls being decorated in the beautiful beads that the Krobo are renowned for; the Dipo participants, traditionally called Dipo-yi are dressed in beautiful cloth only from the waist to the knee level. The upper part of the body is exposed and festooned with colourful and assorted beads. Two days are set aside for the festivities. The girls undergo a series of rituals, tests and tasks to prove their chastity and readiness for adult life. On the first day of the ceremony, the girls are paraded in public in theirceremonial dress and their heads are shaved leaving a small portion of hair on the head. A piece of raffia is tied around their neck to signify they are now Dipo-yi, undergoing initiation. On the next morning, the girls are given a ritual bath in a river and then required to taste foods like sugar cane and peanuts. The Krobo are famous for making beads and the festivaltherefore provides opportunity for them to exhibit their rich, authentic and beautifully handmade wares, which have become an integral part of their culture, to the public. Traditional glass beads of Ghana are often referred to as Krobo beads, the Krobo Mountains being the main area of production. The craftsmen produceeach bead following the same traditional technique for centuries; scrap glass is ground into a fine powder, then the glasspowder is meticulously made into patterns and placed into hand-made clay molds covered in kaolin. The beads are baked, then decorated, washed, and eventually strung.
Day 5: Accra - Anomabu
Day 6: Kakum National Park – Elmina
Spend the morning exploring the rainforest of Kakum National Park, where we walk on elevated canopy walkways for a unique view of this beautiful area, with good chances to spot birds and other wildlife. We then visit the fishing town of Elmina, best known for St George’ s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa and once used as holding centre for slaves. In the town itself we explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘ asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)
Kakum National Park
Approximately 35km north from Cape Coast, in the middle of protected rainforest, is the superb Kakum National Park. The park harbours monkeys, antelope and even the very elusive forest elephant. The highlight is a walk though the forest canopy, 30m above the forest floor. The canopy walk is a suspended rope bridge, secured by steel cables. It’ s the longest and highest of its kind in Africa. We will have an incredible view of the forest – mingling with birds, butterflies and squirrels and catching glimpses of sunshine that you would miss from the forest floor.
The pretty town of Elmina is dominated by the whitewashed St George’ s Castle, which dates back to the 15thcentury. The fort is a rather sombre place when you realise that this is where slaves were held awaiting transportation to the new world, and the cells which they were held in still remain. Elmina is also home to the smaller Fort St Jago, perched on a hill and overlooking the town, as well as a 19th century Dutch cemetery, and the fishing harbour is a delight to explore, with colourful boats and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
Day 7: Cape Coast – Dixcove - Axim
Day 8: Nzulezo – Anomabu
Day 9: Winneba – Kumasi
Head to Winneba where we experience the fascinating Abokayer Festival, then continue to Kumasi, Ghana’ s second city and home of the old Ashanti Kingdom. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)
Aboakyer, also known as the ‘ deer hunting festival’ , is organized to honour the tribal God of the town. In this festival, the god Penkye Otu receives the sacrifice of a deer. The festival originated about three hundred years ago, when Winneba was first settled. People believed they managed to establish their homes here only thanks to the help of their god and they are still under its protection. This festival is the expression oftheir gratitude. Aboakyer Festival involves two groups of people in Winneba, the Tuafo and the Dentsifo. They compete with one another to go into the bush and be the first to catch a deer. Armed with only clubs,the group who first catches the animal rushes back home singing war and victory songs. The deer is then presented to the Omanhene who places his bare right foot three times on it. After completing this ritual, the deer is lifted up and carried through the town streets by singing and dancing men to the the shrine of Penkye Otu. In the final act of the festival the Tuafo and the Dentsifo come together before their God and sacrifice the deer.
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, vegetable, and provision. We visit the Ashanti Cultural Centre, which has a rich collection of Ashanti artefacts, housed in a reproduction of a traditional Ashanti royal house. Ashanti people 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 dress themselves with it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system.
Day 10: Kumasi
Today is set aside for attending the traditional Ashanti royal festival of Akwasidae, a unique opportunity to see a vibrant and colourful royal ceremony and see the customs and culture of the Ashanti, one of West Africa’ s most important ethnic groups. Spend the day mingling with the crowds, watching the various events and seeing how age old rituals still have meaning today. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)
The Awukudae festival is centred around the traditional chiefs of the Ashanti and the guardian spirits, withthe purpose of strengthening the bonds between the people and their chiefs. After libations are poured over the thrones of the former kings the ceremony begins in earnest. Under the shade of a highly colourful umbrella sits the king, wrapped in brightly colored fabric. At the feet of his majesty leads a narrow corridor made of dignitaries with various functions: ritual sword bearers, guards armed with powder rifles, courtiers carrying the knives used for executions, and carriers of ostrich feather fans. Next to the king are seated the elders and the advisers 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” tell the story of the past Ashanti kings, while drum and ivory trumpet players give rhythm to the ceremony. Women wrapped invivid red cloth, perform traditional dances characterized by a series of delicate movements, alternated withrapid moves from one end of the stage to the other.This authentic ceremony takes place in one of the last African kingdoms to have retained all of its rituals, and we have a superb opportunity to experience the splendour, the colors and the atmosphere of one of Africa’ s great monarchies.
Day 11: Accra
Please note that we sell this trip in conjunction with our local partner and therefore you should expect people of different nationalities on this tour.
Tour Dossier Notes
Airport transfers – Native Eye Travel includes arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers.
Accommodation – Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.
Guides – In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.
Meals – As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip– in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.
Entrance fees – Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.
Visas – We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then can request for this to be arranged for you. If you need any advice with visas just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as CIBT can assist.
Airport taxes – If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.