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12 Day Ghana Cultural Experience

DAY 1: Accra, Gulf of Guinea - GHANA
Arrival in Accra (Ghana) and transfer to the hotel. Free time to relax.
Meals own arrangements
Overnight Novotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 2: African Metropolis, from Accra to Sogakope (120 km – 3 hr) – GHANA
Accra, the capital of Ghana, has maintained its unique identity despite the fast paced development currently underway in this intriguing African city. The program includes a visit to the National Museum, one of the first works of independent Ghana - the idea inspiring the Museum is to relate Ghanaian art to the rest of the continent and to prove the existence of an African history as part of the general history of humanity. We explore the old quarter of James Town, inhabited by the local population known as the Ga. Our tour ends 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.

Meals: included in a local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight: Cisneros Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 3: Voodoo, from Sogakope to Lac Togo (110 km – 3 hr) - GHANA & TOGO
Togo border crossing (Aflao).
Lome, the vibrant capital of Togo, is the only African city which was a colony of the Germans, the British and the French. It is also one of the few capitals in the world bordering with another nation. These elements have led to the development of a unique identity reflected in the life style of its inhabitants and in the architecture of the town: Lome is indeed a cross point for people, trade and cultures, a cosmopolitan city in small size. We will visit: the central market with its famous “Nana Benz”, women who control the market of the expensive “pagne” (=cloths) coming from Europe and sold all over West Africa (unfortunately the market has been partially destroyed by fire); the colonial buildings in the administrative quarter where the flavor of colonial time is still very present; and the fetish market where we can find an eclectic assortment of all the necessary ingredients for love potions and magical concoctions.
In a remote hidden village we will join 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, we will finally understand what people mean when they say: “In your Churches you pray God; in our voodoo shrine we become God!”

Meals included in a local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Le Lac or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 4: Villages on stilts, from Lac Togo to Ouidah (180 km – 5 hr) - TOGO & BENIN

Benin border crossing (Hilla Kodji / Save Kodji)
We cross Lake Nokwe with a motorized boat to reach Ganvie, the largest and most beautiful African village on stilts. The approximately 25,000 inhabitants of the Tofinou ethnic group build their huts on teak stilts and cover the roofs with a thick layer of leaves. Fishing is their main activity. The village has managed to preserve its traditions and environment despite the long-lasting human presence in a closed setting; and the lake is not over-fished. Life unfolds each day around the canoes that men, women and children guide with ease using brightly colored poles. It is with these canoes that men fish, women deliver goods to the market and children go to school and play.
Drive to Ouidah. Ouidah was conquered by the Dahomey army during the 18th century to become one of the main slave ports. Today Ouidah enjoys an Afro-Portuguese architecture, and the python temple faces the Catholic Cathedral. The laid back attitude of the locals blends in harmoniously with the thunder of the distant waves and the rhythm of the drums - a timeless atmosphere very well described by Bruce Chatwin in his book "The Vice-Roy of Ouidah". On foot we visit the Python Temple and the Portuguese Fort, now a museum on the history of Ouidah and the slave trade. We end our city tour by following the “slave road” to the beach, the point of “no return” where slaves used to board ships.

Meals included in a local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Casa del Papa or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 5: Royal Palace, from Ouidah to Bohicon (170 km – 4 hr) - BENIN
We move to Abomey where we visit the Royal Palace. The walls of the palace are decorated with bas-reliefs representing symbols of the ancient Dahomey kings. Now a museum listed on the Unesco World Heritage List, it displays items belonging to the ancient kings: thrones, cult altars, statues, costumes and weapons. A Kingdom whose economy was for a long time based on the slave trade: a permanent state of war made it possible for the kings to capture thousands of prisoners whom they then sold as slaves. The royal army also included a female troop famous for its boldness and aggressive fighting spirit. In the middle of the royal courtyard there is a temple built with a mixture of clay, gold dust and human blood. At the height of their power there were up to 4.000 women in the palace harem. A walk around the buildings helps the visitor to recall the past splendor of the court, a court who also proudly challenged the powerful armies coming to colonize the continent.
If applying, Gelede dancing masks.

Meals included in a local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Dako or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 6: Fire Dance, from Bohicon to Sokode (300 km – 6 hr) – BENIN & TOGO
Togo border (Pira / Kambolé)
We stop at the Dankoli Fetish, an important place for the Voodoo cult: thousands of little sticks are pushed in the fetish as testimony of the countless prayers for a good harvest, a happy wedding, an easy delivery, success at school etc. Once the prayers are answered, people come back to sacrifice what they had promised - a goat, a chicken or a cow, according to the nature of the prayer. Traces of blood, palm alcohol or oil on the fetish are proof that many prayers have been answered.
In the evening, fire dance. At the centre of the village a large fire lights up the faces of the participants, they dance to the hypnotic beat of the drums eventually leaping into the glowing embers, picking up burning coals, passing them over their bodies and even putting them in their mouths … all this without hurting themselves or showing any sign of pain. It’s difficult to explain such a performance. Is it matter of courage? Self suggestion? Magic? Maybe it really is the fetishes that protect them from the fire.

Meals included in a local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel Central or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 7: Adobe Castles, from Sokode to Kara (170 km – 4 hr) – TOGO
We visit the region around the Massif Kabye, populated by a people of the same name. Their houses are called «Soukala»: a group of huts linked together by a wall - within each house a patriarchal family. Quite interesting also to visit the blacksmiths who still work with heavy stones instead of hammers and to meet with the women who make traditional pottery and old style floors with pieces of it.
We enter the land of the Tamberma who live in fortified dwellings. Similar in form to medieval castles, they are one of the most beautiful examples of ancient African architecture. Their style impressed Le Corbusier so much that he spoke of «sculptural architecture». In fact the houses are built by hand, layer after layer, adding round mud balls and shaping them as per the plan of the house. A kind of sensual gesture mixing strength, care and beauty. Their strong tradition beliefs are proved by the presence of big shrines - of phallic form - at the entrance of their homes. With the permission granted to us by the inhabitants we enter their homes to better understand their way of life. Actually their houses are a projection of their anthropology and cosmology - the ground floor, with its darkness, represents death and is the place of ancestors; the second floor, open to the sky, represents life and is the place where grand mothers keep babies until they “find out” which ancestor has come back as the new life - only then will the baby be allowed to come down from the terrace. All - family, food supplies and stock - are kept inside the house, for safety and survival in case of attack by enemies. For centuries in fact these populations have been seeking refuge in the Atakora Mountains to escape slave traders.

Meals: included in a local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight: Hotel Kara or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 8: Witches, from Kara to Tamale (260 km – 5 hr) – TOGO & GHANA
A track leads to the Ghana border and to a seldom visited region. It is here, in this savannah, that the Dagomba live. They build round clay huts with thatched roof. The house of the village chief 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. It’s here that the council of the elders meet.
Further ahead we 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. We will chat with them about their life and about the special shrine which protects them, “cleaning” their spirit from bad will. Their warm welcome dramatically contrasts with the gravity of the stories that justify them being here.

Meals included in a local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight :Modern City Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 9: Sacred Monkeys, from Tamale to Techiman (300 km – 5 hr) – GHANA
Drive from the savannah to the forest. In the Brong Afo region we leave the main road and follow a track to a sacred forest. The locals living here consider Monas and Colobus monkeys as their totems, as result we can encounter here the largest community of these species in the world. During a walk in the forest, accompanied by the emerald green light filtered by the giant trees, we will see plenty of sacred monkeys.

Meals: included in local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight: Encom Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 10: Ashanti, from Techiman to Kumasi (130 km – 2 hr) – GHANA
Kumasi is 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 19th 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 program 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 we 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.

Meals: included in a local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight: Miklin Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 11: Golden Kingdoms, from Kumasi to Anomabu (250 km – 4 hr) – GHANA
In the morning continuation of the tour of Kumasi, with the visit of the Royal Palace Museum hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court.
If applying, Akwasidae or Awukudae Festival.
In the afternoon drive to the coast.

Meals: included in a local restaurant or picnic and at the hotel
Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 12: Slaves’Castles, from Anomabu to Accra (180 km – 3 hr) – GHANA
We start our day with the visit of 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 we 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 we 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 us back to a time when Elmina was a busy colonial town.
In the late morning drive to Accra and in the evening transfer to the airport for the flight out.

Meals: breakfast and lunch included in a local restaurant and at the hotel; dinner own arrangement
Day-use : Rooms in day-use till 18.00 hrs (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)
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Listing Details

+256.392.897.704, +44.790.863.9450
Based on 6+ Pax 2,240 Euro
Based on 2/5 Pax 2,598 Euro
Single Supplement 437 Euro
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