Birthplace of historical figures Yaa Asantewaa and Okomfo Anokye, land of the ‘Golden Stool’ and gold, home of quality kente cloth, the Ashanti region if one of the most important regions in Ghana with a powerful history to match. With historic palaces, festivals filled with pomp and pageantry, unspoiled natural attractions, picturesque villages and wild life parks, a trip to the kingdom of gold is a trip one is unlikely to forget.
There are STC buses that travel to the region’s capital Kumasi from all parts of Ghana. For those of you who wish to fly, there are flights from Accra to Kumasi at least twice a day and least once with other major regions with airports.
Where to stay
Being a major region in Ghana, the Ashanti region has several hotels, guest houses and resorts to suit any budget. Some of the best in the region are Wadoma Royal Hotel, Lake Bosomtwe Paradise Resort, Royal Park Hotel, Sanbra Hotel, Amis Wonderland Hotel, Laposada Hotel and Sweet Vine Hotel. In terms of places to eat there are many restaurants and fast-food outlets providing local Ghanaian dishes and international dishes such as Chinese, Indian and other continental meals. But to get a real taste of authentic local food and drink visit the numerous chop bars available local open air bars and street cafés.
Things to do
The cultural heartbeat of Ghana, there’s never a lack of thing to do in the region. I can’t possibly cover all things you can get stuck into so I’ll highlight the main things to do and look out for if you happen to visit this part of Ghana. First of all indulge in some local folkore and myth by visiting the Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, where legend has it that Anokye (fetish priest and co-founder of the Ashanti empire) drove the sword so hard in the ground to mark the city of Kumasi that no one has ever been able to dig it up (Anokye also conjured up the ‘Golden Stool’ from the sky, believed to carry the spirit of the Ashanti nation). Visit the Prempeh II Jubilee Museum to discover Ashanti royalty and its history. There, one can view royal paraphernalia crafted in gold, war mementoes including the ‘Golden Stool’, the ‘Brass Pan of Independence’, famous royal battle outfits and historic photographs. Also worth a visit is the Manhyia Palace Museum, the former residence of past Ashanti kings.
The capital Kumasi is home to the largest open air market in West Africa at Kejetia so make sure you head there for a bargain. You can also head to the Cultural Crafts Centre to see local carvers, brass smiths, kente weavers, baskets weavers and adinkra textiles printers at work. Alternatively, you can visit the villages where these crafts are made – pottery at Ahwiaa, wood carvings at Ntonso, adinkra cloth-making at Asuofia and Asamang and bead-making at Ampabame. But an absolute must is a visit to the village of Adanwomase, the royal weaving village of the Ashanti king. There, you can take a special tour of the village and learn how kente is woven by the locals.
The Ashanti region is also one of the most beautiful regions in Ghana with unspoiled natural attractions. Digya National Park is a must for anyone visiting this part of Ghana – one can find many species of monkeys and baboons, elephants, antelopes, crocodiles, buffalos, water bucks, wildebeests, warthogs and many more. For the birdwatchers among you visit the Owabi Forest and Bird Sanctuary where you can find migratory and tropical birds and endangered Mona monkeys. Also worth a visit are the Bomfiri Wildlife Sanctuary with its waterfalls and wildlife and Bobiri Forest Butterfly Sanctuary. If you’re looking for adventure then Lake Bosomtwe is the place to go. A picturesque meteorite crater lake surrounded by beautiful fishing and farming villages, the lake basin is ideal for swimming, diving and mountain climbing. Other places worth a visiting are the Obuasi goldmines, Mframabuom Caves in Kwamang, Kumasi Zoo, Pankrono Shrine and the Atiwa Rock Formations.
Finally when it comes to events and festivals filled with pomp and pageantry, no one beats the Ashantis. Festivals taking place all year round are the Akwasidae Festival (celebrated every six weeks), Papa Festival (March), Kente Festival (July/August), Yaa Asantewaa Festival (August), Mmoa Nni Nko Festival (October) and Nkyidwo Festival (November/December). During these festivals one can witness the procession of the Ashanti king in his magnificent gold attire and local chiefs, sacrificial rituals and drumming and dancing. Before leaving make sure to try the regions speciality dishes – fufu with light soup containing ‘akrantee’/bush meat or snails and ampesi (yam, plaintain, cocoyam or cassava).
Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)