Tag: Tourism


Touring Ghana – Part 4…

Northern Region

The largest region in Ghana, the northern region is filled with exotic Islamic culture, traditional rustic mosques, scenic natural features and historical legacies that makes a visit to this part of Ghana an exciting one.

Getting there

There are several ways one can get to this part of Ghana. STC buses depart from Accra and Kumasi every day except on Sundays to the northern capital Tamale. You can also fly there with Antrak Air or City Link. If you want to go to the north from the eastern region, you can use a weekly ferry service from Akosombo to Yeji on the Volta Lake.

Where to stay

Despite being the biggest region in Ghana, the north is less populated than the south, thus limiting the choices of accommodation when compared to places like the Greater Accra region. However the B&Bs, hotels and guest houses are nice and decently priced. These include Sisimbo Beach Resort in Kuntul, TICCS Guesthouse in Tamale, Nim Avenue Hotel in Tamale, Savannah Loge in Larabanga and Central Guesthouse in Tamale.

untitledTo get a real taste of authentic northern cuisine then definitely head to Luxury Hotel in Tamale for some lovely northern food. Main dishes in this region include tuo zaafi, rice balls with groundnut or green leaves soups, tubaani (made beans or cowpea with sheanut oil and pepper), koko or millet/corn porridge eaten with koose (fried bean balls). Wash these meals down with locally brewed beer from millet called pito, toasted millet flour in water and “fula” mashed in water, milk, ginger and sugar, or try bokina, bisaab/sorrel, toose and lamujee.

Things to do

The northern region is rich with history, especially regarding the slave trade. The north served as a key supply source for slaves who were sent to markets and sold to local markets from the south. The town of Salaga used to be the biggest slave trading centre in northern Ghana, and here one can find a pond called ‘Wonkan Bawa’ (a Huasa word meaning the ‘bathing place of slave’). Other relics like slave chains and slave dormitories can also be found there.

Ancient mosques are another feature of the north that reflects its Islamic heritage. The Larabanga Mosque, the oldest and largest Sudanese-style mosque in Ghana built by Moorish traders in the 13th century is a must see.

Graves are also a prominent feature in the north reminiscent of past battles fought in the region. Visit the mass grave of fallen Dagomba warriors at the battle ground at Adibo, near Yendi, where the Dagombas fought the Germans. Also the grave of Naa Attabian, a great Mamprusi King, is at Nalerigu, while that of Ndewura Jakpa, the greatest King of the Gonjas, is in Buipe. In addition, the graves of massacred Gonjas, have now become shrines at Jentilkipe, where the Gonjas battled with Samore and his army of slave raiders.

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Now dotting the eastern part of Tamale are the northern region’s distinct and somewhat peculiar architecture of round huts with conical thatched roofs known as Kraal buildings, which are a real beauty. The outskirts of these compounds are often surrounded with multi-coloured ceramic mosaics made from fragments of chinaware. Be sure to make a visit to these and you won’t be disappointed.

Another unique feature of the northern region is their handicrafts and textiles. Visit these areas for brightly coloured textiles and cloths: Yendi, Gushiegu, Daboya and Tamale. Jakarayili and Kikuo are famous for their giant potteries, and the town of Lobi produces exotic water pots and beautiful handwoven baskets. For all things leather then visit Zongoni. To grab a bargain, then the central market in Tamale is in the place to head for the things mentioned above, especially leather bags, purses, necklaces and boots.

Despite its dry climate, the northern region has some scenic natural beauty. A distinctive feature of the northern region is the savannah, a picturesque vegetation with various species of trees such as acacia, baobab, and Shea nut, rare species of flora and fauna, and ant-hills. You can catch a glimpse of the region’s natural wildlife by heading to Mole Natural Park in Damango, a safari-like park that has one of the biggest elephant sanctuaries in Africa. Other animals on the park include antelopes, buffaloes, apes, birds and other 400 species of animals.

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Get to know the regions culture by taking part in some of the festivals celebrated in the region. The Damba festival is celebrated under the lunar calendar by the people of Dagbon, Mamprugu, Gonja, Mamprugui and Namumba to commemorate the birthday of the Holy Prophet of Islam. The two day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship. Another well-known festival is the Bugum Chugu or Fire Festival as it’s sometimes known as, is celebrated by the people of Dagomba, Nanumba and Mamprusi. Also held under the lunar calendar, it involves the procession of torches at night amidst music and dancing.

Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)

Touring Ghana – Part 1…..

The holidays are here again, which means many Ghanaian families in the UK and around the world will be going to Ghana for some holiday sun.

Usually when we holiday in Ghana, we tend to stay in the southern part of Ghana, notably in Accra or Kumasi. In case you have forgotten, Ghana is made up of 10 regions! 10 regions with its own unique rich culture and tourist attractions. I mean, do we really explore Ghana when we visit? How many of you have visited Wa (Upper West region), Ho (Volta region), or Bolgatanga (Upper East region) just out of curiosity and interest?

Our motherland has so much vibrant history and culture that can be easily missed if one does not look.  Holidaying in Ghana should not just revolve around Accra and Kumasi, so I’m going to give a short breakdown of the different regions in Ghana and what each has to offer. If you’re in Ghana this summer or will be visiting in the Christmas period, why don’t you take some time to go to some of these places? It just might change might your view of Ghana for the better…

 

Upper West Region

Let’s start with the Upper West, noted for its lush green savannah and also boasting a rich cultural heritage. Home of the Damba festival and many others, the xylophone, pito and tuo zaafi, a trip to the north-western part of Ghana is an adventure one is unlikely to forget!

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Getting there

You can fly to the upper west region by air to Tamale then continue your journey by road using STC buses. If you’re travelling from Accra or Kumasi to the region by bus then the journey time is 15 and 11 hours respectively. International visitors can also come through Burkina Faso via the Hamile border.

Where to stay

It is true that the infrastructure in the northern part of Ghana is perhaps not as developed as the rest of the country; however the Upper West region offers a few choices of quite nice accommodations in forms of hotels and guesthouses. Upland Hotel and Jam Guest House in Wa are probably the best places to stay – the rooms have air con, running water, fridge and TV.

Things to do

There are countless things to do in the upper west region that will occupy your time. The Wa Naa’a Palace in the capital Wa is a magnificent piece of architecture one must not miss. Built in the 16th century, the palace is home to the paramount chief of Wa. Another equally charming palace to visit is the Jirapa Naa’a Palace, the first multi-storey mud building in Ghana.

The Upper West region is rich with history – just north of Wa is the Gwollu Defence Wall, a defence wall built by Gwollu Koro Liman to defend the town of Gwollu against slave traders in the 19th century. One can also see the legacy of the trans-Saharan trade in the form Islamic influences in the towns within the region – the region is dotted with mosques, most notably the ancient Sudanese mosques at Nakore.

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Make sure you explore the region’s rocky landscape, including the beautiful mushroom shaped rocks known as the Wulin Mushroom Rocks. Visit ancient caves found in Bulenga, Dahili and Sankana, which served as refuge for those fleeing from slave traders, and remnants of former slave camps can be found in Pizaga and Dolbizon.

The Upper West region is also known for its many wildlife and nature reserves – take in some of the natural wonders Ghana has to offer by heading to the Gbelle Game Reserve and Bird Sanctuary in Tumu, which is home to buffalos, elephants and Ghana’s largest herd of roan antelopes. The Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary is another wonder, and also home to other reptiles and birds. Experience one of the best dawn choruses (bird song) in Africa by spending the night at the Hippo Hide Tree. Other nature reserves to explore are the Sombo Bat Sanctuary, the Jefiiri Sacred Royal Python Sanctuary and the Crocodile Pond in Eremon.4-drummers

Finally, get your party groove on by attending some of the festivals held all year round in the region, notably the Damba festival, the Paragbiele festival, Willa Festival and the Kakube Festival. These are occasions to witness the chiefs and people of the region in their smocks and traditional attire. Listen to xylophone players while tucking into a bowl of tz or ‘tuazaafi’ and a of calabash millet beer (pito)!

 Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)