February 17: Departure from the U.S.
February 18: ACCRA, GHANA
- Upon arrival in Accra, you'l be met and transferred to the African Regent Hotel.
- Attend an orientation and welcome dinner with fellow travelers (this may be changed to the next day depending on flight arrival times).
February 19: ACCRA
This morning depart for a guided overview of Accra, the capital of Ghana.
Visit the Artiste Alliance Gallery and Independence/Black Star Square as we learn about important events in Ghana's history. At the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Pan African Culture, meet with the director, Rev. Reuben Kwasi Kwadzofio for a presentation on the preservation of African diaspora history.
Enjoy lunch and then continue on to The National Museum of Ghana, which showcases the cultural heritage and history of Ghana and Africa as a whole.
Also visit the Arts Center, an open-air market with goods from all over Ghana and West Africa. Colorful, buzzing with local life, and very photogenic, markets in Ghana are the hub of the economy in all towns. This will be the first of several markets we will visit as we learn about Ghanian culture and traditions, and meet with craftspeople to hear their unique personal stories.
Meet lawyer and gender activist Angela Dwamena-Aboagye, the executive director of The Ark Foundation Ghana, for a presentation and discussion on women's rights in the country.
Join fellow travelers for dinner this evening.
February 20: CAPE COAST
Depart Accra and drive west for about 4 hours to Cape Coast to visit the infamous forts, castles, and slave dungeons of Ghana. Our study leader guides us through the history of the slave trade in West Africa.
Visit the Cape Coast Castle and West African Historical Museum, built by the Swedes in 1653, then later taken over by the British. Here we discuss the relationship between the western slave traders and the African tribes that supported the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Standing in the footsteps of ancestors, in the dark and fetid dungeons, imagining the experience and the conditions that millions endured is a transformative and sobering experience.
After lunch, visit the Cape Coast School for the Deaf. Meet Head Master, Mr. Abraham Annang Yemoson, and students, to learn about the challenges facing deaf children, and the state of education in general, in the country.
Check-in to the Coconut Grove Beach Resort.
February 21: CAPE COAST
Visit Elmina Castle, also known as St. George's Castles, which was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then explore Elmina, a fishing village that's both picturesque and gritty. What better way to appreciate it than to immerse ourselves in its main industry - fishing!
Meet with local fishermen to learn the intricacies of their trade and the challenges they face every day. Next, we meet the fish mongers in the village who will demonstrate the various stages of smoking the fish in earthenware ovens - a unique way for us to experience one of Ghana's oldest and most important trades.
Later attend a lecture on sustainable tourism and impacts on the environment with Dr. Ismael Mensah, the Ghana Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Coast.
February 22: KUMASI
After breakfast, we check out of our hotel and drive north for about 5 hours (with stops enroute) through forest lands to Kumasi, the seat of the Ashanti Empire. Here we’ll explore the history and heritage of the Ashanti people, whose legacies are still evident today.
The Ashanti are the largest tribe in Ghana and one of the few matrilineal societies in West Africa. They are famous for gold and brass craftsmanship; wood carving furniture; and brightly colored woven cloth, called kente. Referred to by the Akans as ‘nwentoma’ (meaning ‘woven cloth’), kente cloth originated in the Ashanti Kingdom and is still one of the region’s greatest exports. It is easily recognizable due to its dazzling and bright patterns, geometric shapes and bold designs interwoven in silk and cotton.
Stop at Assin Manso to visit the site of Donkor Nsuo, the former Slave River and market, which served as the last stop on the slave trade route that originated in Northern Ghana. The river was the last bathing place for slaves before they were sent to the Cape Coast or Elmina Castle to go through the Door of No Return. Now, the site also serves as the final resting place for two slaves whose bodies were brought back from the USA and Jamaica, and buried here, a place where they were likely to have walked.
Afterwards, continue to Kumasi. En route, your Study Leader explains the history of gold in Ghana and its impact on the local and national economy.
In Kumasi visit Manhyia Palace Museum, the former home of the Ashanti king. Relics and artifacts illustrate a regal history that dates to 1700. Enjoy a drive through the city with monuments dedicated
to the memory of the great Ashanti people and view the bustling activity of Kejetia, West Africa’s largest open market.
Check-in at the Lancaster Kumasi Hotel.
Later, meet with Justice Brobbey, curator at Manhyia Palace Museum, who will present a lecture on the Ashanti Kingdom.
Enjoy dinner with your fellow travelers this evening.
February 23: KUMASI
Enjoy a full day tour from Kumasi to the famous craft villages of Ashanti. You will have the opportunity to see how African crafts are made and to buy directly from the artisans who make them. Integral to the Ashanti culture, economy and heritage, the craftsmanship you will see have been practiced for generations.
In Adonwomasi, a kente weaving village, take a guided walk through the home workshop of the weavers. This iconic cloth is characteristic of Ashanti/Ghanian culture.
Continue on to Ntonso village for a hands-on Adinkra cloth printing lesson. Here you will appreciate how labor intensive the production of this ubiquitous fabric is, and what an investment it is for locals.
February 24: ACCRA
Depart for Accra. Enroute stop at the Besease Shrine, A UNESCO World Heritage Site. Constructed in the 19th century, the shrine is home to Obosomfie, the spiritual abode of a deity who manifests itself through a fetish priest. We'll observe the unique architecture and learn about the traditions of ancestral worship to the ancient gods.
Continue about 5 hours to Accra and check back in to the African Regent Hotel.
Later meet with Bernard Koku Avle, a Ghanian media personality and broadcast journalist who will discuss the current state of journalism in Ghana.
February 25: Accra
Today, we’ll have a full day excursion to the village of Torgorme, located on the lower course of the splendid Volta River.
We pay a courtesy call on the chief and elders amidst traditional drumming and dancing by the villagers. Also take part in a traditional naming ceremony of recognition, where we each receive a Ghanaian name, and in turn, we present a give to the chief to honor our new identity as Ghanaians and members of the local community.
Visit the homes and school of the village to witness daily life, and a demonstration of pottery making, which is the main occupation of the women in Torgorme.
Return to Accra for the evening.
February 26: LOME, TOGO
After breakfast, depart by road to Togo. Travel time will be about 5 hours plus border crossing formalities.
After we cross the border, we arrive in the vibrant and diverse city of Lomé, where traditional African life blends with modern amenities.
We begin with an overview of the city, at Independence Square, home to the Monument de l’Independence. Also stroll the Lomé Grand Marché, an eye-popping mélange of colorful textiles, cra"s and traditional medicines.
Visit the highlights of The National Museum of Togo, a glimpse into the history and culture of Togo illustrated through traditional African art and artifacts.
Finally, we’ll stop in at the Fetish Market, a unique experience where the ingredients necessary for traditional African remedies can be found. There are over 40 different gods, or fetiches, in the voodoo religion, and each god selects his feticheur, or fetish priest with whom he will communicate through dreams, broken shells, and other means.
Check in to the Togo Hotel 2 Fevrier and enjoy dinner with fellow travelers.
February 27: COTONOU, BENIN
Meet with Didier Houénoudé, an art historian and researcher, who will present a lecture on the history of the Kingdom of Benin.
Check out and depart Lomé. We cross the border into Benin, and head to Ouidah, or Whydah, formerly the chief port of the Kingdom of Whydah, as well as the cradle of African Traditional Religion - voodoo or the Vodou belief system.
Vodou means "spirit or "deity" in the Fon language of the African Kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin). Vodou is a worldview encompassing philosophy, justice and religion.
First we'll visit the Temple of Pythons, a significant site for the voodoo religion, which houses sacred pythons, then head to the Sacred Forest of Kpasse, a voodoo sacred site. We'll walk in the footsteps of the ancestors, tracing the path to the Door of No Return, a monument representing the history of the transatlantic slave trade.
We'll conclude our visit of Ouidah at the Portuguese Fort, now a history museum that covers European colonization in West Africa.
Continue to Cotonou and check-in to the Benin Novotel Orisha Hotel.
February 28: COTONOU, BENIN
Today's visit is a unique highlight: A sensational visit to Ganvié (the village on water), commonly referred to as the Venice of West Africa.
We witness firsthand how residents of Ganvié carry out their daily routines in this water world, as we visit by boat. Cruise through the floating market and explore the waterways of this fascinating 300-year old village.
After lunch , we'll visit the Royal Palaces of Abomey, a UNESCO cultural World Heritage Site. The palaces are vital representations of Benin's cultural heritage and are still used for traditional ceremonies in modern day Benin During these ceremonies, rhythmic music and Benin's rich culture, rituals, religions, and customs are carried out in the complex.
Later we'll stop in at the local arts center, where we can see traditional handicrafts such as baskets, cloth, masks, woodcarving, and pottery.
Return to Cotonou and enjoy the evening at leisure.
February 29: DEPARTURE FROM ACCRA
Return to Accra by road, and check-in to our hotel day rooms. After a farewell dinner, we'll depart to the airport and late evening flights home.
As noted in the itinerary, there will be a lot of overland travel on this program. We will be stopping frequently to break up the drive and to take advantage of sites along the way. Travel will be on a private and spacious deluxe coach with room to spread out.
Per person double occupancy: $7,754
Single supplement: $1,429
- Airport Arrival and Departure Transfers on scheduled tour dates
- Private ground transportation throughout the journey
Expert Tour Manager/Study Leader to provided guided sightseeing and coordinate all activities as stated in the itinerary
- Meals as stated in itinerary
- Bottled water and/or soda with included meals
- All accommodations as stated in the itinerary
- Specific items described as included on the tour, including special permits, port taxes and park fees for scheduled visits.
- Honorariums for guest speakers and gratuities for included meals
- Potable water each day (travelers are encouraged to bring their own water bottles).
- Additional taxes added after tour publication.
- Tips for guide and bus driver.
- Transfers for non-group arrivals and departures
- Ticketing fees for air tickets
- Travel insurance
- COVID-19 Testing, if required
- Any item not specifically included