Festivals of Ghana

Join our unique Ghana tour that concentrates on three of the country’s most colourful festivals. From the capital Accra we head to Akossombo, home of the Krobo people who are renowned for their skills in making beads.

Each year the Krobo hold the amazing Dipo ceremony. This is a process of initiation for young girls on their journey to womanhood. The initiation is accompanied by elaborate rituals and the wearing of distinctive traditional jewellery.  We spend two incredible days here observing these fascinating customs and learning about the culture of the Krobo.

After this we visit Ghana’s second city, the Ashanti capital of Kumasi. Here we attend the traditional Ashanti royal festival of Awakudae, in West Africa’s ‘kingdom of gold’.

We then continue to the historic castles of Elmina and Cape Coast, learning about the slave trade that devastated these shores. We finish up at Winneba to witness the Aboakyer festival, another great opportunity to see a unique aspect of Ghanaian culture.

This trip lets you immerse yourselves in the culture, festivals and traditions of one of the region’s friendliest countries.

Ashanti gold jewellery - Ghana holidays and tours

Highlights

  • See the colourful Dipo festival
  • Meet the Ashanti people
  • St George’s castle in Elmina
  • Explore Kakum forest
  • See the Aboakyer festival

Day 1 - Accra

Arrive in Accra and transfer to your hotel. For those arriving early in the day, the rest of the day is free to explore. Overnight Villa Boutique or similar.

Accra

Ghana’s capital is one of Africa’s biggest cities, with the inevitable traffic, noise and mayhem. Despite being a fast growing, lively city, the people are friendly and welcoming and maintain many aspects of their tribal African roots. The National Museum houses one of West Africa’s best ethnographic, historical and art collections, which gives a good introduction to Ghana and surrounding areas.

The old quarter of Jamestown is the heart of the old colonial town and is inhabited by the Ga people, who founded Accra in the 16th century. There are numerous bustling markets to explore where you can discover everything from food, clothing and household goods to traditional crafts. Most interesting is the area where coffins are made – here they make them with the most outlandish designs, in the shape of fish, aeroplanes, or just about anything else you can think of.

Days 2-3 - Akossombo

We head north to the lands of the Krobo people to spend two days witnessing one of Ghana’s most amazing celebrations, the Dipo festival. Taking place each year, this traditional festival is held to mark the initiation of adolescent girls into womanhood and showcases the excellent traditional dress and crafts to be found here, with numerous rituals taking place to signify the coming of age. We also attend a voodoo ceremony and learn about the production of Krobo beads, with the chance to make our own. Overnight Afrikio Resort or similar. (BLD)

Please note that the Dipo celebrations do not adhere to a strict schedule.

Dipo Festival

Dipo is an annual celebration that initiates adolescent girls to womanhood, an important cultural marker in the world of the Krobo people, like many ethnic groups, and is carried out with much ritual and ceremony. The traditional festivities involve adolescent girls being decorated in the beautiful beads that the Krobo are renowned for; the Dipo participants, traditionally called Dipo-yi are dressed in beautiful cloth only from the waist to the knee level. The upper part of the body is exposed and festooned with colourful and assorted beads.

Two days are set aside for the festivities.

The girls undergo a series of rituals, tests and tasks to prove their chastity and readiness for adult life. On the first day of the ceremony, the girls are paraded in public in their ceremonial dress and their heads are shaved leaving a small portion of hair on the head. A piece of raffia is tied around their neck to signify they are now Dipo-yi, undergoing initiation. On the next morning, the girls are given a ritual bath in a river and then required to taste foods like sugar cane and peanuts.

The Krobo are famous for making beads and the festival therefore provides opportunity for them to exhibit their rich, authentic and beautifully handmade wares, which have become an integral part of their culture, to the public.

Traditional glass beads of Ghana are often referred to as Krobo beads, the Krobo Mountains being the main area of production. The craftsmen produce each bead following the same traditional technique for centuries; scrap glass is ground into a fine powder, then the glass powder is meticulously made into patterns and placed into hand-made clay molds covered in kaolin. The beads are baked, then decorated, washed, and eventually strung.

Day 4 - Kumasi

Continue to Kumasi, Ghana’s second city and home of the old Ashanti Kingdom. Explore the city including the Ashanti Cultural Centre, which gives a great insight into what once was one of the most powerful kingdoms in the region. If possible, we will be able to see a traditional Ashanti funeral, quite a spectacle at which visitors are welcome. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Kumasi
Kumasi is the historical and spiritual capital of the Ashanti Kingdom. With its population of nearly one million, Kumasi is a sprawling city with a fantastic central market where traders from all over Africa come to sell their wares. Every kind of Ashanti craft (leather goods, pottery, kente cloth) is found here, along with just about every kind of tropical fruit, vegetable, and provision.

Day 5 - Kumasi

Today is set aside for attending the traditional Ashanti royal festival of Akwasidae, a unique opportunity to see a vibrant and colourful royal ceremony and see the customs and culture of the Ashanti, one of West Africa’s most important ethnic groups. Spend the day mingling with the crowds, watching the various events and seeing how age-old rituals still have meaning today. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Ashanti people
The Ashanti people were one of the most powerful nations in Africa until the end of the 19th century, when the British annexed Ashanti country, bringing it into their Gold Coast colony. Originally from the northern savannah regions, the Ashanti people migrated south, carving farms out of the wild rainforest. The region was rich in gold, and trade in this precious metal developed quickly, with small tribal states developing and vying for control of resources. In the late 17th century the Ashanti ruler brought these states together in a loose confederation and the Ashanti Kingdom was born. Their social organisation is centred on the Ashantehene figure, the king of all the Ashanti. The Ashanti are the lords of the gold, so they dress themselves with it during ceremonies. The Ashanti Kingdom was famed for its gold, royalty, ceremony and the development of a bureaucratic judicial system

Awukudae Festival
The Awakudae festival is centred around the traditional chiefs of the Ashanti and the guardian spirits, with the purpose of strengthening the bonds between the people and their chiefs. After libations are poured over the thrones of the former kings, the ceremony begins in earnest. Under the shade of a highly colourful umbrella sit the paramount chiefs, wrapped in brightly coloured fabric. At the feet of his majesty leads a narrow corridor made of dignitaries with various functions: ritual sword bearers, guards armed with powder rifles, courtiers carrying the knives used for executions, and carriers of ostrich feather fans. Next to the chiefs are seated the elders and the advisers under the authority of the royal speaker, who holds in his hands the symbols of power covered in gold. During the ceremony, the courtiers bring their gifts and the “griots” tell the story of the past Ashanti kings, while drum and ivory trumpet players give rhythm to the ceremony. Women wrapped in vivid red cloth, perform traditional dances characterized by a series of delicate movements, alternated with rapid moves from one end of the stage to the other. This authentic ceremony takes place in one of the last African kingdoms to have retained all of its rituals, and we have a superb opportunity to experience the splendour, the colours and the atmosphere of one of Africa’s great monarchies.

 

Day 6 - Elmina

We head to the coast to explore the fishing town of Elmina. Elmina is best known for St George’s Castle, the oldest European building in Africa which was once used as holding centre for slaves. In the town itself we explore the old quarter with its unique Posuban shrines, made by the traditional ‘asafo’ societies which were once responsible for local defence. Overnight Anomabu Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)

Elmina

The pretty town of Elmina is dominated by the whitewashed St George’s Castle, which dates back to the 15th century. The fort is a rather sombre place when you realise that this is where slaves were held awaiting transportation to the new world, and the cells which they were held in still remain. Elmina is also home to the smaller Fort St Jago, perched on a hill and overlooking the town, as well as a 19th century Dutch cemetery, and the fishing harbour is a delight to explore, with colourful boats and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.

Day 7 - Cape Coast – Winneba

Visit Cape Coast Castle, dating back to the 17th century and then head to Winneba to attend the start of the Aboakyer festival. Overnight Blue Diamond Beach Resort or similar. (BLD)


Day 8 - Winneba

Today we experience the Aboakyer festival, held in honour of the tribal gods by the Tuafo and Dentsifo people. In the afternoon, we drive to Kumasi. Overnight Miklin Hotel or similar. (BLD)

Aboakyer Festival

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

Days 9-10 - Accra

Return to Accra and visit the old quarter of Jamestown, remnants of the slave trade and the quarter where craftsmen design flamboyant coffins for the deceased – a uniquely Ghanaian experience. We also experience Accra’s modern life with visits to various art galleries. In the afternoon of Day 10, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Day 9 – Overnight Villa Boutique or similar. (Day 9 – BLD, Day 10 – BL)


There are scheduled activities in Accra in the afternoon of the final day and you should not book any departure flight before the evening.

This itinerary will change in 2022 – please c0ntact us for details.

Optional Mole National Park Extension

Day 1 - Accra

After leaving the group, spend the night in Accra. Overnight Villa Boutique Hotel or similar. (B)
Please note:
this is Day 10 of the group tour.


Day 2 - Tamale - Mole National Park

Morning flight from Accra to the northern town of Tamale, and from here transfer to Mole National Park. In the afternoon head out to explore the park on a game drive. Your accommodation here is a luxury lodge overlooking waterholes, where animals such as elephant, waterbuck, hippos and buffalo come to drink. Overnight Zaina Lodge. (BLD)

Mole National Park
Mole National Park is Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge. The park is located in the northwest and is made up of grassland savannah and riparian eco-systems, with a sharp escarpment making up the southern boundary. The park is home to over 93 mammal species – including elephants, hippos, buffalos and warthogs – and is considered a primary African reserve for antelope species such as kobs, Defassa waterbucks, roan, hartebeests, oribi, bushbucks, red duikers and yellow-backed duikers. Sightings of hyenas, lions and leopards are unusual but possible. Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus, green vervets and pata monkeys are resident species. Among the 33 known species of reptiles recorded, it is worth mentioning the slender-snouted and dwarf crocodile. There are 344 listed bird species, and species to look out for include martial eagles, white-headed and palm-nut vultures, saddle-billed storks, herons, egrets, Abyssinian rollers, violet turacos and red-throated bee-eaters.

Days 3-4 - Mole National Park

Two days to explore the park. We head out on safari in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the wildlife is more active, in search of wildlife which includes elephants, buffalo, hartebeest, roan and others. Lions and leopard are also present here, but not often seen. The birdlife here is also prolific, with a wide variety of raptors, waterbirds and other species. Overnight Zaina Lodge. (BLD)


Day 5 - Tamale - Accra

Transfer back to Tamale and fly to Accra. Tour ends on arrival at the airport. (BL)


Ashanti gold jewellery - Ghana holidays and tours
Women in traditional dress at Ashanti funeral - Ghana holidays and tours
Local man in village of painted houses - Ghana holidays and tours

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

  • Guides

    In most cases you will be accompanied by one guide from start to finish. However there may be occasions when this is not practical, for example if your trip covers a number of different countries. In these cases it often makes more sense to include different guides for each place, to take advantage of their specific knowledge of the destination.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively, a visa agency such as Travcour can assist.

  • Airport taxes

    If there are any departure taxes to pay that are not included within the cost of your ticket, you’ll need to pay these yourself.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel Insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

Most travellers will require a visa to enter Ghana, which must be obtained before travel. You may need an invitation letter in order to obtain this, depending on the requirements of the embassy that you apply at – we can provide this for you. Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk.

A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Ghana and you must bring this with you.

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover, which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company.

Money

The local currency in Ghana is the cedi. It is best to bring US dollars or Euros for exchange purposes as the cedi is generally not obtainable outside of the region. US dollars should have an issue date of 2006 or later, otherwise you may find it difficult to exchange them.

It’s not difficult to change money in Ghana, either at banks or the hotels and your guide can assist with this. There are also an increasing number of ATMs in larger towns. However these are not always reliable and so it is best to think of them as a back up rather than a main means of obtaining money.

Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels and better restaurants (usually in larger cities only) but are not commonly accepted elsewhere. You should also be aware that credit card fraud is not uncommon in Ghana and so should you choose to use one, do bear this in mind.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place.

In addition, roads throughout the parts of Africa that we visit are often poorly maintained (if at all!) and distances between key sites of interest can be long. Travelling in Africa can be tiring, hot and dusty at times, and inevitably it can be frustrating. While there are some issues that we are able to solve, others are intrinsic to the countries that we travel through, and you should be aware that many of the countries that we operate in cannot be compared to others on the continent that have better infrastructure – for example the popular tourist destinations of east and southern Africa.

Although travelling in these countries can at times be an ‘unpolished’ experience, this is all part of the adventure. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and putting up with a pothole (or ten) is undeniably worth it for the amazing sights and cultural experiences you will encounter along the way.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to the Comoros Islands.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Please note that the information contained above is highly susceptible to change, and while we endeavour to keep up to date we recommend that you use this as a guide only. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Update July 2019

Ashanti gold jewellery - Ghana holidays and tours
Women in traditional dress at Ashanti funeral - Ghana holidays and tours
Local man in village of painted houses - Ghana holidays and tours
Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
24 April 2021
Price (PP) -
£2,999
Single Supplement -
£450
Trip Status -
Contact us
Date -
30 April 2022
Price (PP) -
£2,799
Single Supplement -
£460
Trip Status -
Available