West Africa is one of the most gorgeous and diverse areas in the world. Ghana is home to dozens of cultures and lots of fascinating historical sites. Senegal is a country with a rich French colonial heritage and many natural attractions. The Gambia is the smallest country in Africa and is situated around the Gambia River which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
– All airfares & taxes. (Flying Emirates)
– Stopover in Dubai on the way to West Africa
– Accommodation in 2-star, 3-star, 4-star & 5-star hotels and tented suites
– 19 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 18 dinners
– Visa for Ghana
– Touring in private vehicles
– Group tipping
– Services of English-speaking local guides
– Assistance of your Tour Leader, Rachel Plumstead
– Land Only price on application
– Extending your stay – before or after Tour Dates
– Deposit: $750 per person
– Group Size: 20 travellers (max)
After meeting up in Auckland and our short pre-tour briefing we board our Emirates flight to Dubai.
On arrival in Dubai early this morning we clear customs and immigration and transfer to our hotel.
We can check in straight away because we have booked an early check in.
The rest of the day is at leisure.
We transfer to Dubai airport this morning for our flight to Accra, the capital of Ghana.
On arrival we travel to our hotel and the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
We meet up again for dinner this evening.
Welcome to the bustling city of Accra which today is a blend of modern day edifices and colonial day’s structures.
We drive to Independence Square where we see the enclosed flame of African Liberation, which was lit by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1961. The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park is the final resting place of Ghana’s first president. Set in attractive gardens, there is an adjoining museum, which contains photos, artifacts and an insight into Dr. Nkrumah’s life.
We continue to Jamestown Community – one of Accra’s most historic neighborhoods where history resides on every corner. Best known for its lighthouses (the first of which was constructed in 1875 by the British), a navigational aid for trading vessels sailing through the Gulf of Guinea. The original structure was ruined but a larger and more improved lighthouse completed in 1921 is still functioning today. We may visit “Brazil House” and learn about the seven Afro-Brazilian families who returned to settle in Ghana in 1836. Familiar Brazilian/Portuguese last names such as De Souza, Palmares, Azumah, Amorin, Da Costa, Santos, De Medeiros and Olympio are abundant in this section of Accra.
We return to the hotel; the rest of the day is at leisure.
Tonight we enjoy a sumptuous meal with live band music at our hotel.
After breakfast and check out, we set off north to Kumasi, the seat of the Ashanti empire. Enjoy a scenic drive through the beautiful Akuapim hills with outstanding views across Accra and Tema in the distance. We make a stop at Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine. The Centre conducts research into the use of plant medicine in the treatment of various ailments.
Continue to Kumasi, arriving early afternoon. On arrival in Kumasi, we visit Manhyia Palace, official residence of Ashanti Kings (Asantehene) until 1974, now a museum containing treasured items relating to the Ashanti Kingdom.
Visit the nearby Okomfo Anokye Sword, an important symbol of Ashanti unity that marks the spot where the Golden Stool “descended from the sky” and has been in place for 300 years; the spiritual symbol of unity for the Ashanti people. Legend says the Ashanti Kingdom would collapse should the sword ever be removed.
After breakfast, we visit three craft villages in the lush countryside surrounding Kumasi.
Bonwire is our first craft village where we see how the famous Kente Cloth is handmade on looms in a time -honoured tradition passed down through generations. See the Kente styles and have the opportunity to make purchases. We may pay a courtesy call to the paramount chief of this community.
We continue to the village of Ntonso where artisans hand-stamp patterns on cotton cloth to make Adinkra Textiles. Black-on-Black and Black-on-Red Adinkra Cloth is worn for funerals and other solemn occasions; learn how the black dye is made in the village from the bark of trees and create your own Adinkra sash to take home. You may also purchase large pieces of the Adinkra Cloth handmade in the village.
We proceed to the woodcarving Village of Ahwiaa, known for the talented craftsmen who fashion Royal stools, walking sticks and Fertility Dolls from wood; with the opportunity to purchase hand carved items of all kinds.
Time permitting, we will drive by the Kumasi Central Market (also known as the Kejetia Market), the largest open market in West Africa, where more than 10,000 vendors sell their wares. Here you will find just about everything; food, fabric, beauty products and handmade crafts.
Today we drive to Cape Coast; with a stop at Assin Manso, the burial site of two former slaves from the U.S. and Jamaica whose remains were re-interred in August 1998 during Ghana’s first Emancipation Day celebration. We see the ‘Slave River’ where captured Africans were washed before being confined in the Slave castles to await shipment to the Americas and the Caribbean.
On arrival in Cape Coast we visit Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site; it was one of the departure points for Africans being sent to slavery in the Americas. The Castle is home to the “Door of No Return”.
This morning we visit Kakum National Park. Kakum is one of Ghana’s most famous parks. Take a brief walking tour on the forest floor; see birds, butterflies and perhaps catch a glimpse of the forests over 40 species of mammals including monkeys and the reclusive forest elephant. Proceed to the canopy walk. Kakum is home to Africa’s only aerial walkway through the tree canopy, a 1000 foot long and seven-bridge walkway with viewing platforms that reach heights of over 150 feet above ground.
In the afternoon, we visit Elmina Castle, built by the Portuguese in 1482 and also known as St. George’s Castle. This castle was the first European structure built in Sub-Saharan Africa. The colourful harbour nestled below the Elmina Castle, full of pirogues preparing to go to sea offers one of West Africa’s greatest photo opportunities.
We proceed to the village of Mesomagor where we enjoy a musical performance by the Bamboo Orchestra at their musical best. The youth at the village have revived traditional art by performing with bamboo percussion instruments to music and dance. This is a contagious dance performance not seen anywhere else.
After breakfast we check out of our hotel and depart for Accra.
On arrival back in Ghana’s capital city we see today’s Ghana at the West Hills Mall where we enjoy lunch.
There is also the opportunity of visiting the famous Oxford street in Osu (including the Global Mamas Shop, Woodin Shop and other local stalls with very colourful and beautiful African wear, beads and accessories) for last minute shopping and at the Accra Arts and Craft for traditional crafts and artifacts.
This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our flight to Dakar.
On arrival in Dakar we are met by our Guide and transfer to our hotel.
Depart on a 20 minutes ferry ride to visit the charming yet infamous Goree Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the usually quiet streets lined with pastel coloured colonial era buildings. Among the most famous buildings here is the House of Slaves which records the history of Goree’s past.
In the afternoon return to Dakar and go on a city tour. Visit the Monument of Renaissance, a 164 foot high monument, overlooking Dakar, that is taller than the Statue of Liberty. The once controversial bronze statue is a popular attraction among locals as well as visitors. Next visit the colourful markets including Tilen Market, famous for a variety of medicinal herbs and traditional healers. Stop by the Presidential Palace and the Artisans Market.
After breakfast depart for Saint Louis, located in the north of Senegal. En route stop at Pink Lake, a rare natural phenomenon caused by a unique combination of microorganisms and a high concentration of salts which gives the lake its pink colour. Interact with the women harvesting salt, and then continue to St Louis and go on a late afternoon city tour of Senegal’s former colonial capital. We explore the narrow streets flanked by houses with carved wooden balconies and verandas. Stop by the vibrant fishing village of Guet Ndar before arriving back at our hotel.
This morning we visit the Djoudj National Bird Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site), which is one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the world. Situated on a major palearctic migratory route, this park is a paradise for bird enthusiasts. Some of the world’s greatest concentrations of white pelicans and flamingos can be seen here: up to 10,000 species. Enjoy a pirogue ride to better view the many species of cormorants, pelicans, ducks, flamingos, various songbirds and more. We may also see crocodiles, boas, boars and other wildlife.
Back in St Louis we complete our sightseeing tour.
Late morning we depart from St Louis to Lompoul. We stop on the way to visit markets or small villages.
Continue to the Lompoul desert. Visit the area and enjoy night drumming and dance with a bonfire.
After breakfast drive to Kaolack in the south of Senegal. We stop to visit the City of Touba. Visit the Grand Mosque which is the largest and most magnificent in all of West Africa. We will learn about Cheikh Ahmadou Mbacke, the founder of Mouridism.
Spend a few minutes in the large library which holds thousands of volumes, many written by the mystic founder. Learn about the history and legend of Touba, one of the most significant cities in Senegal. Touba is an autonomous city, much like the Vatican in Italy. After Touba, continue to Kaolack with stops in Fulani and Wolof villages. Meet locals and learn about their daily activities and culture. Arrive in Kaolack early evening and check in to our hotel.
This morning we travel to Sine Ngayene to see the magnificent Stone Circles. Visit “The Sine Ngayene complex”, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of 52 circles of standing stones, including one double circle. In all, there are 1102 carved stones on the site. Nearby is the quarry from which the monoliths were extracted and where the sources of around 150 stones can be traced.
Drive to and cross the river on a ferry, arriving at our hotel early evening.
Today we go on a full day tour of Banjul. Start at the National Museum, showing the history of The Gambia including the tracing of the mix of African Culture and European colonialism. We then take a short drive through Banjul to “see the sights,” stopping to visit the general market with much hustle and bustle, where anything from live chickens and vegetables to herbs and false hair can be bought. In the afternoon, visit Serrekunda, the most densely populated town in The Gambia; here you can see displays of “Tie & Dye” and the beautiful Batik cottons.
The last stop will be the Katchikally Crocodile Pool with its dozens of crocodiles. Maybe we will even see old “Charlie”, who has been featured in various TV programs.
We go on a boat cruise through the Bolongs and observe villagers collecting oysters. You may want to take a swim or relax at the beach resort.
In the afternoon we continue to the beach resort area of Tanji where you can experience a camel ride and meet the locals, including the daily return of the fishermen.
Take the morning ferry across the Gambia river to the Senegal side and continue to Fathala Reserve. On the way we stop at Jufureh, the land of Alex Haley’s “Roots”. We arrive first in Albreda which gained fame in the period of slavery as a result of its Flag Pole, which many believed would guarantee freedom to anyone who touched it after escaping from nearby James Island.
Observe the ruins of the Sao Domingo Church, reputed to be one of the oldest churches in West Africa, erected by the Portuguese during the 17th century. Continue to the village of Jufureh to where the ancestry of “Kunta Kinte” of Roots fame was traced. The restored original home of the Kinte clan still occupied by the Kinte family can be visited.
Visit other rural villages away from the tourist trail to meet locals and interact with them.
When we get to the park we experience a walk with lions and other wildlife.
Early morning enjoy a typical African bush experience in an open-air vehicle. See family herds of the rare West African giant derby eland – only found in this part of the world, and visit the breeding camp – and other antelope species such as roan, waterbuck and bushbuck. Also to be seen are giraffes, rhino, buffalo, warthog as well as red colobus, green vervet and red patas monkeys and exquisitely coloured bird species. Enjoy morning coffee and snacks next to the waterhole as we experience the magnificent African sunrise.
After check out, depart for Saly Beach Resort stopping at Joal-Fadiouth, where we visit the traditional Serere village and see the cathedral, the market place, the sacred Baobab tree and the famous multi-religious cemetery. Joal-Fadiouth is a sleepy twin village with Joal on the mainland, while Fadiouth, linked by a narrow 400-metre wooden bridge lies on an island built entirely of seashells.
Continue to Saly Resort.
Enjoy the morning at leisure.
This afternoon we transfer to Dakar airport for our flight to Dubai.
We transit through Dubai airport this morning and catch our Emirates flight to New Zealand.
Home to New Zealand with special memories of our time in intriguing West Africa.
Rachel went to Africa as a young woman and left her heart there. Not only has she criss-crossed the continent several times travelling overland from London to the Cape, she has a deep understanding and appreciation for the people and animals that live there.
Always positive and upbeat there is little she hasn’t faced and dealt with on her travels.
Wow, Rachel knows so much about traveling in Africa and what to do and what not to do.
A cheerful and lively person, Rachel brought her wealth of knowledge alongside good humour.