Things to do in Ghana

THINGS TO DO IN GHANA


OUR TOP ACTIVITIES IN GHANA

Join a festival

Tribal culture is still very much at the heart of Ghanaian life, and there are few better ways to experience it than by visiting a traditional festival. The Ashanti festival of Akwsidae takes place every six weeks, on a Sunday, in order to honour the ancestors with dancing, drumming and song. The king and chiefs are out in their gold and finery, and visitors are welcome.

The Krobo people celebrate Dipo each May in Ghana’s Eastern Region, to mark girls’ transition into womanhood. They wear kente cloth and strings of beads while performing a ritual dance; lucky young women may even attract suitors. The celebration is the culmination of a week’s preparation, during which the girls have been trained in becoming women: housekeeping, childbirth and child rearing, and how to seduce their husbands. They also learn a special dance, which is performed during the final day’s celebrations.

Visit the forts & castles

Ghana was at the centre of the slave trade for over three centuries, when the castles dotted along its coast were ghastly holding stations for hundreds of thousands of slaves before they passed through the ‘gate of no return’ and were shipped across the Atlantic. Visiting one of over 40 forts is a difficult but necessary experience for any visitor to Ghana, as the horrors of the past remain embedded in the collective memory, thanks, in part, to the strong spiritual links that Ghanaians have with their ancestors.
Elmina Castle is the oldest European building in sub-Saharan Africa. Originally built by the Portuguese in 1481 as a simple trading post, by the 1600s Elmina was a fortified castle being used as a place for the Portuguese to barter for slaves brought in by African chiefs. A few kilometres to the east, Cape Coast Castle also began as a wooden fortress, controlled first by the Portuguese, then the Swedish then the Danes. Once the British took over in 1664 it was used for slaves, with up to 1,500 men and women shackled in the damp dungeons at any one time, unable to lie down or see the outside world. Some stayed here for up to three months. In a shocking contrast, the castle also contained the luxurious offices of the British governor, and a peaceful chapel.

Cross borders

Itineraries often start and end in Accra, leading through Togo and into Benin. Benin is the home of voodoo culture; of strange, vibrant ceremonies and the unusual village of Ganvie – in the middle of a lake. It’s also great for wildlife – with Pendjari National Park boasting four of the Big Five. Little Togo has a fetish market in its capital, Lome, and you can canoe across the swampland of Lac Togo to visit a hidden village.

Explore nature

Walking safaris in Mole National Park bring you up close to some of West Africa’s last remaining elephants, while on the Atlantic coast, nesting leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles lay their eggs from October to March. Kakum National Park offers a canopy walk through this ancient stretch of forest, while along the coast near Axim, there is a rainforest, swampland and an unusual “bamboo cathedral”.
Photo credits: [Festival: David Stanley] [Visit the forts & castles: Damien Halleux Radermecker] [Cross borders: Dieu-Donné Gameli] [Explore nature - bird Kakum NP: Francesco Veronesi]
Written by Vicki Brown
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