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12 day Millet and Akwukudae Festivals

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: Millet Festival, from Accra to Akososmbo (100 km – 2 hr) - GHANA
A day fully dedicated to enjoy the incredible atmosphere of the spectacular Millet Festival, a celebration full of colors and jewels.
The festival consists in seven days of religious and social celebration during which people renew their love, unity and solidarity and express their gratitude to God for all the blessings received (good harvests, abundance, good health and protection from enemy).
In the past there was the Ngmayem Festival celebrated only by priests however, in the 1940s, the late paramount king “Konor Oklemekuku nene Azu Mate Kole II” transformed it into the communal festival we know today to promote solidarity and development among people.
This festival also provides youth with the opportunity to learn their culture, make friends and choose spouses.
Traditional chiefs arrive with their entire court and are dressed in their most beautiful attires; an enthusiastic crowd surrounds them and the parade is accompanied by the rhythm of the drums.
The friendly behavior of the crowds will give us a unique opportunity to feel part of a real African ceremony.

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

DAY 3: Odwira Festival, from Akososmbo to Aburi (70 km – 2 hr) - GHANA
If confirmed - and we can only know only once there - today we shall take part in another special festival in Aburi. Odwira Festival celebrates the harvest of the "new Yams" and the historic victory over the powerful Ashanti army back in 1826 during the historic battle of Katamansu.
Odwira has a long and interesting story, in fact it was Nana Addo Dankwa I, the 19th Okuapimhene of Akropong (1811-1835) who started it in October 1826. It is a week-long series of traditional rituals performed to purify the town, the people and, most importantly, the ancestral “Stools” of the Chiefs.
We shall attend the big and colorful “Durbar” gathering of all the regional chiefs at the Aburi Botanical Gardens, on the luxuriant Akwapim Mountains. A beautiful 65-hectare tropical garden created more than a century ago by the British government, following the plans of London Kew Gardens. Indeed a unique celebration in a unique location!

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

DAY 4: African metropolis, from Aburi to Anomabu (200 km – 5 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.
We end our day arriving on the coast, at the tropical beach of Anomabu.

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

DAY 5: Slaves’ castles, from Anomanu to Kakum and Elmina (120 km – 3 hr) - GHANA
In the morning, we will experience the thrill of a “canopy walk” right in the deep forest of the Kakum National Park: one of the world highest suspended rope bridges held by steel cables. Perched 37 meters (120 feet) above the earth, you will enjoy a stunning view of the rainforest - instead of unveiling their trunks, trees will reveal their tops!
In the afternoon back again to the coast and visit of Elmina and Cape Coast Castles.
Elmina is a name linked to the history of Africa and to general world history. In 1482 Christopher Columbus and Bartolomeu Diaz arrived here with ten caravels to build a castle under Portuguese authority, the place having 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 Europe for more than five centuries. The Castle, the oldest European building in Africa, at different times has been used as a warehouse to trade gold, ivory, and eventually slaves. What 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.
Cape Coast was built by the Swedes in 1653 and from 1657 to 1664 it changed hands many times as it was conquered by the Danes, the Dutch, the Fanti (a local tribe), the Swedes and finally the British. Today, it hosts a museum on the history of the slave trade. In Cape Coast, we also visit the fishing port, tiny and very colorful.

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

DAY 6: Golden Kingdom, from Anomabu to Kumasi (220 km – 5 hr) - GHANA
Departure to the Ashanti region for another highlight of our journey: the Ashanti festival.
Kumasi, 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 XIXth 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.
Later 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 local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 7: Royal Festival, from Kumasi to Koforidua (200 km – 4 hr) - GHANA
On a Sunday morning, Kumasi wakes up slowly and the streets of the city, not too busy, become like a charming and interesting stage to any curious traveller: the colonial buildings around the market, the very original hand-painted advertisement signs (real urban art!), the railway lines crossing the central market, the devotees going to church in their Sunday clothes - so out of fashion to actually be of great fashion!
We also will visit the Royal Palace Museum - hosting a unique collection of gold jewels worn by the Ashanti court – and a few nearby villages specialised in weaving the traditional Kente cloth, praised by the socially important people and used to make special ceremonial stools.
Awukudae Festival. On the Ashanti calendar certain days each year are set aside for a very special celebration in Kumasi and this traditional ceremony takes place in one of the last African Kingdoms which has maintained its ancient rituals still alive.
The ceremony is celebrated around the traditional chiefs in order to benefit from the constant protection of the guardian spirits and also to strengthen unity between the people and their chiefs. People kneel down to pay their respects to their chiefs.
After libations are poured over the thrones of the former kings here comes the time of the great happy ceremony. During this celebration, the chief sits under a spectacular colorful umbrella, is adorned in vivid cloth and massive centuries old jewelry (Ashanti gold jewelry and masks are considered masterpieces of African art) and is surrounded by the Ashanti elders and advisors, all under the authority of the Royal Speaker who holds in his hands the symbols of power. A narrow passage of dignitaries is also formed, representing all roles and positions of power within the kingdom: sword and knife bearers, armed guards, carriers of beautiful ostrich feathers fans etc. The ceremony is then made up of a procession of royal court attendants bringing gifts, storytellers reciting the history of the Ashanti Kings, drummers & trumpeters playing horns of ivory. Corpulent dancers dressed in vivid red costumes perform an erotic dance. We will witness and experience the splendor, the flavor and the atmosphere of one of last great African monarchs of the forests.
In the afternoon continuation south to Koforidua.

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

DAY 8: Sacred Monkeys, from Koforidua to Kpalime (200 km – 4 hr) – GHANA & TOGO
Togo border crossing (Kpadape)
The Monkey Sanctuary of Tafi Atome was created in 1993 to protect a community of sacred monkeys living in the forest. According to century-old traditions, in this village monkeys and turtles are considered sacred species thus demanding respect and protection - in particular monkeys are the “spokesman” of turtles. We will take a lovely walk in the forest to encounter this great community of Monas and Colobus monkeys.
We will also discover the beautiful Wli Waterfalls, on the border with Togo, where water falls from a height of 60-80 meters. The walk to reach the falls, is approximately 45 minutes (nice flat path) and it will allow us to sight some of the 200 species of birds and the 400 species of butterflies which have been identified in the region.

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

DAY 9: Royal Palace, from Kpalime to Bohicon (200 km – 4 hr) – TOGO & BENIN
Kpalime lies in a mountainous area, important for the cultivation of coffee, cocoa and oil palms. Visit of the Roman Catholic Church dating back to 1913 and of the handicraft center, where it is possible to find almost everything, from paintings to wood carving. Mount Agou, the highest peak in the country, lies near here.
Drive to the border with Benin (Tohoun).
In the afternoon we reach 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.

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

DAY 10: Villages on stilts, from Bohicon to Ganvie (120 km – 3 hr) – BENIN
On the way to Ganvie, we stop for a city tour in Porto Novo, an old Portuguese town with interesting colonial architecture and colorful markets, including a large one specialized in traditional herbs. The city tour includes a visit to the Ethnographic Museum - with its collection of tribal masks and statues – and to the Great Mosque built in a unique baroque style.
In the afternoon arrival in Lake Nokwe and continuation by a motorized boat till Ganvié, 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.
In Ganvié, like in the rest of the “voodoo world”, the « bokono » guides the life of his adepts. In the evening twilight, we meet with a bokono and assist to a voodoo dance.
We spend the night in a guest house on stilt. Nights in Ganvié are bizarre: darkness is broken only by thousands of oil lamps and silence is interrupted only by greetings of people meeting in “the” water streets.

Meals: included in local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Auberge Chez M or similar (all rooms ensuite, on stilts, basic)

DAY 11: Voodoo, from Ganvié to Lac Togo (170 km – 4 hr) – BENIN & TOGO
A pirogue tour of Ganvié in the morning and then return to the mainland for the drive to Ouidah, considered the capital town of African Voodoo. Ouidah was conquered by the Dahomey army during the XVIII 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.
In the afternoon, Togo border crossing (Hilla Kodji).
All along the coast of Togo and Benin, voodoo is a religion that has been passed on by the ancestors and is still fervently practiced. Although for many Europeans voodoo is only a vulgar form of black magic, in truth voodoo is a true religion, far richer and more complex than people often think. In a remote hidden village we will join a Voodoo ceremony: the frenetic rhythm of the drums and 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 local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Hotel du Lac or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 12: Fetish market, from Lac Togo to Lome or Accra (50 or 250 km – 1 or 6 hr) – TOGO (& GHANA)
In the morning drive to Lome, the vibrant capital of Togo, 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 – it is here that all the adepts of the local animist religion come to buy the necessary items to practice their cults. The market masters will introduce us with some of their home-made “gris-gris” which aim is to solve our everyday life issues.
If the flight out is from Lomé, free time in the afternoon to relax or go shopping. Many are the places which can be visited for this purpose and our vehicle will be available to take you around: shops for tribal art and antiques, craftworks, art galleries with contemporary paintings from the “Togolese school” (which start to be quite popular in French and North-American galleries), shops selling “popular” art items such as the colourful “advertising” signs in front of the street hairdressers etc. In the evening, transfer to Lomé airport.
If the flight out is from Accra, transfer to Accra airport in Ghana - border crossing at Aflao (250 km – 5 hr).

Meals: breakfast and lunch included in 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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+256.392.897.704, +44.790.863.9450
Based on 6+ Pax 2445 Euro
Based on 2/5 Pax 2795 Euro
Single Supplement 453 Euro
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