When one dreams of Africa’s diversity, where ancient cultures thrive in villages alongside rainforests, sprawling coastlines and colonial forts, one needs to think of Ghana. The seldom visited region can be nearly impossible for the independent traveller, but our West Africa and Ghana tours highlight the immense cultural and historical impact this region has had on the world.
Some say that West Africa represents what Africa once was. A place where traditional peoples live amongst a mosaic of cultures with unique festivals, captivating music and where secret societies or customs bewilder the outsider.
The Ashanti Empire of Ghana has wealth which is easily seen in the shrines, relics and artifacts it maintains. Established within the 17th century, the Ashanti Kingdom was considered the most influential kingdoms south of the Sahara desert. Prior to European colonisation, the Ashanti Kingdom gained its wealth in the gold trade and maintained power through bureaucracy. The Kingdom still exists to this day in cities such as Kumasi which hosts the most dynamic marketplace in West Africa. Markets play an important role in local life but can be a fascinating look into the culture.
Everyday life in Ghana is reflected in a variety of customs which our Ghana tours will showcase. Crafts such as brass makers, potters, batik makers, cloth weavers and woodcarvers provide a chance to see living skills passed down through generations. Along the Volta river our Ghana tours will have the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on the paramount chief and elders amidst traditional drumming and dancing by the villages.
Undoubtedly, the impact of this nation has been felt around the world mostly by historical events that took place after European contact. Starting in the 15th century with the Portuguese in search of gold, many castles and forts were erected onto Ghana’s lands such as Elmina and the Cape Coast. Following the Portuguese were numerous other empires and well over 300 Europeans bought and sold African slaves across West Africa, bringing them to the Americas and forcing hard labour work on them. Over the course of the centuries, it is estimated 12 million people were transported across the Atlantic Ocean.
Colonial buildings such as the British style are still present in Kumasi, and "Donkor Nsuo", the former Slave River and market and the final transit point for a large number of enslaved Africans, make it difficult to ignore this ugly history of colonial abuses.
On the positive side, there is a vibrancy in Western Africa and nature lovers will enjoy not only the stunning coastlines, but as well the lush rainforests found in Kakum National Park. A short walk around this park will reveal a wide variety of exotic floral species. Extending over 360sq km, Kakum is the home to over 40 large mammals and 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflies, flora and fauna.
With a myriad of cultures found in this small region of the world, West Africa and Ghana tours introduce the intrepid traveller to a place with many peoples and a long history worth learning about.