Tour to Ghana: Dipo Ceremonies, Aboakyer Festival and Akwasidae

Highlights:

A unique amazing journey where we attend two of the most important festivals of the country.

The Krobo region is famous for its pearls and for its initiation rites which only apply to girls - Dipo is the name of the “process” through which a young girl becomes an adult woman, fully integrated within her society.

Aboakyer, also known as the ‘deer hunting festival’, is organized in honor of the tribal God of Winneba, a fabulous opportunity to experience the climax of a Fanti festival.

Akwasidae is the exceptional traditional ceremony of the Ashanti people, taking place on specific dates and celebrating the Asantehene (King) and his traditional chiefs in an incredible display and abundance of gold.

Ghana is also the country where it is possible to see many interesting sights: castles which served the slave trade, Kakum Rainforest rich in botanical species, the amazing village on stilts of Nzulezo and the most beautiful beaches in the Gulf of Guinea.

Map - Tour to Ghana

Day 1 Accra, Gulf of Guinea - GHANA
Day 2 - 4 Dipo Initiation, from Accra to Krobo Region
Day 5 African Metropolis, from Krobo Region to Anomabu
Day 6 Rainforest, from Anomanu to Kakum and Elmina
Day 7 Fishermen villages, from Anomanu to Axim
Day 8 Villages on stilts, from Axim to Nzulezo and Anomabo
Day 9 Aboakyer Festival, from Anomabo to Winneba and Kumasi
Day 10 Royal Festival, Kumasi
Day 11 African Metropolis, from Kumasi to Accra

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Accra, Gulf of Guinea - GHANA

Arrival in Accra (Ghana) and transfer to the hotel. Free time to relax.

Meals: own arrangements
Overnight: Accra City Hotel or similar (all rooms ensuite and with aircon)

Days 2-4: Dipo Initiation, from Accra to Krobo Region (100 km – 2 hr)

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.

Gladd beads

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 5: African Metropolis, from Krobo Region to Anomabu (260 km – 5 hr)

Driving along the coast.

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.

handcrafted coffins

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: Rainforest, from Anomanu to Kakum and Elmina (100 km – 3 hr)

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!

Then, Elmina, 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.

Elmina Castle
Elmina CastleElmina Castle

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 7: Fishermen villages, from Anomanu to Axim (130 km – 3 hr)

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.

Cape Coast in Ghana

We move 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.

Butre - Axim - Ghana

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 8: Villages on stilts, from Axim to Nzulezo and Anomabo (250 km – 5 hr)

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 great 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 Anomabo for some relax on the golden beach.

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 9: Aboakyer Festival, from Anomabo to Winneba and Kumasi (250 km – 6 hr)

Departure to Winneba, where we attend Aboakyer Festival.

Aboakyer, also known as the ‘deer hunting festival’, is organized to honor the tribal God of the town. In this festival, 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 of their 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.

Aboakyer Festival - Ghana

In the afternoon we move to Kumasi to attend, in the next day, the final great festival of our tour.

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 10: Royal Festival, Kumasi

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 XIX 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.

We 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.

Akwasidae Festival

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 splendour, the flavour 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 11: African Metropolis, from Kumasi to Accra (250 km – 5 hr)

Drive to Accra. Free time for some last minute shopping at the rich craft market.

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)

NOTE: Itinerary can be modified by the guide to fit with traditional events.

Day 1:

Accra City Hotel,
Accra, Ghana

Accra City Hotel - Accra, Ghana

Day 2, 3, 4:

Afrikiko Resort similar,
Akosombo, Ghana

Afrikiko Resort - Akosombo, Ghana

Day 5, 6:

Anomabu Beach Resort or similar,
Accra, Cape Coast, Ghana

Anomabu Beach Resort - Accra, Cape Coast, Ghana

Day 7:

Axim Beach Resort or similar,
Axim, Ghana

Axim Beach Resort - Axim, Ghana

Day 8:

Anomabu Beach Resort or similar,
Accra, Cape Coast, Ghana

Anomabu Beach Resort - Accra, Cape Coast, Ghana

Day 9, 10:

Miklin Hotel or similar,
Kumasi, Ghana

Miklin Hotel - Kumasi, Ghana