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12 day, Dipo Ceremonies and Akwasidae

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: The Ashanti, from Accra to Kumasi (260 km – 5 hr) – GHANA
Departure to the Ashanti region for the first 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.
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 pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 3: Royal Festival, Kumasi – 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.
Akwasidae Festival. On the Ashanti calendar certain days each year are set aside for a very special celebration at the Royal Palace in Kumasi and this traditional ceremony takes place in one of the last African Kingdoms which has maintained its ancient rituals still alive.
During this celebration, the King 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. In front of the King 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. The mother queen also joins the ceremony accompanied by her attendants. We will witness and experience the splendor, the flavor and the atmosphere of one of last great African monarchs of the forests.

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

DAY 4: Slaves’ castles, from Kumasi to Anomabu (240 km – 5 hr) – GHANA
Driving down south, we reach the Ocean.
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.

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

DAY 5: Rainforest, from Anomanu to Kakum and Elmina (100 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 Cape Coast Castle. Built by the Swedes in 1653, 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 a local restaurant or pic nic and at the hotel
Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

DAY 6: Fishermen villages, from Anomanu to Axim (130 km – 3 hr) – GHANA
We start our day moving towards the most beautiful beaches of Ghana, with stops on the way at Butre and Dixcove. Butre is a lovely isolated fishermen village located on a narrow bay and at the top of the hill lie the ruins of Fort Batenstein from where we can enjoy a beautiful panorama. Dixcove is another attractive fishermen village with a fine-looking fort - Metal Cross Fort - overlooking the bay. Inherited from the Dutch defense, the fort enjoys its natural harbor.
Villages along the coast, lulled as they are by the ocean waves, look charmingly sleepy, life unchanged from one generation to the next.

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

DAY 7: Villages on stilts, from Axim to Nzulezo and Axim (120 km – 3 hr) – GHANA
Nzulezo, an amazing village on stilts, can be reached only by pirogue, across a huge lagoon - the crossing itself would justify the trip! Completely surrounded by tropical vegetation and water, we are immerged in an incredible array of shades of green and blue, and the arrival at the village is a real surprise. The inhabitants are really friendly and they invite us to visit their homes - suspended on water - and tell us about their way of life.
In the afternoon return to Axim for some relax on the golden beach.

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

DAYS 8-10: Dipo Initiation, from Axim to Krobo Region (380 km – 7 hr) – GHANA
Drive to Krobo land to attend the Dipo Festival, the greatest legacy of this region located approximately 80 kilometers north of Accra. The festival lasts 2 days and is one of the most famous and important festivals in West Africa. Dipo, also known as puberty ritual, is a celebration that initiates adolescent girls into womanhood and tradition wants that girls who successfully go through this rite become very good wives. The girls undergo a series of rituals, tests and tasks to prove both their chastity and their being ready for adult life.
The girls participating in this ceremony - traditionally called Dipo-yi - are elegantly decorated: colorful assorted beads adorn their exposed upper parts while from waist to knee they are covered in beautiful fabrics. Their breasts are bare for everyone to see, this signifies that they are getting into adulthood.
On the first day of the ceremony, the girls are paraded in public in their ceremonial dress and then their heads are shaved leaving only a small portion of hair on the head; a piece of raffia is tied around their neck to indicate they are Dipo-yi. On the next morning, the girls are given a ritual bath in a river and then are required to taste foods like sugar cane and peanuts.
The Krobo are very good at making glass beads and the festival provides an excellent opportunity to exhibit their precious beautiful handmade craftwork to the general public. This century-old tradition is so well reputed that glass beads of Ghana are generally referred to as Krobo beads. The process involves different stages: scrap glass is first grounded into a fine powder then it is meticulously made into patterns and placed into hand-made clay molds covered in kaolin in order to be baked.

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

DAY 11: African Metropolis, from Krobo Region to Accra (100 km – 2 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 luxuriant administrative area, punctuated with elegant villas built during the first half of the 19th century, reminds us that Ghana was one of the most flourishing British colonies in West Africa.
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. Facing the Ocean is where local native people life fully unfolds: a village surrounded by the city! Here all economic activities follow very different rules from the ones governing “the city” (business area), just a few hundred meters away. Our tour continues 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.
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 2032 Euro
Based on 2 -5 2357 Euro
Single Supplement 552 Euro

Assistance at Accra airport upon arrival and departure
Transfers and tour in minibuses/microbuses and/or 4WD vehicles
Local guide (languages spoken: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish)
Tours and visits as per the programme
Accommodation in standard rooms, as per itinerary
All meals as described, from breakfast on day 2 to lunch on day 11
Mineral water in the bus/car during the visits
Entrance fees to parks, concessions, protected areas and cultural sites
First Aid box
All service charges and taxes
Credit Cards
Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, Amex (surcharge may apply depending on method of payment)
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