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A Journey of Culture, Cuisine, and Community

Day 1: A Vibrant Welcome to Accra

After retrieving my luggage from the Kotoka International Airport carousel, I reunited with the rest of the group, and our adventure began with a beautiful welcome ceremony. Drummers and performers filled the air with traditional music and dances, inviting us to join in the festivities. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was instantly captivated by Ghana. Boarding the tour bus, we embarked on the Accra City Tour, starting with a visit to the iconic Black Star Gate. Surrounded by the vibrant sights and sounds of the bustling city, I found myself still trying to absorb the reality of being in Africa! So exciting. We then settled into our accommodations at the Fiesta Hotel, taking a moment to unwind before dinner. The day ended with a welcome dinner showcasing a full spread of traditional Ghanaian dishes, including jollof rice, banku, kelewele, boiled yam, palava sauce, shito sauce, chicken, fish, my new favorite puff puff, and more. It was delicious! A perfect introduction to the flavors of Ghana. 

Day 2: Exploring Accra’s Rich Heritage

The day started with a visit to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum, where I immersed myself in Ghana’s rich history and admired the beautiful scenery surrounding the museum. Discovering that Kwame Nkrumah was a key figure in Ghana’s independence movement and its first Prime Minister and President was enlightening. After exploring the museum, we had the opportunity to participate in an introductory drum lesson, learning the basics of this integral part of Ghanaian culture. The experience was both educational and enjoyable. Venturing into the nearby market, I found myself guided by a friendly shop owner, assisting me in selecting the perfect traditional attire for the upcoming naming ceremony. With the help of my tour guide, I witnessed the art of negotiation in Accra, a skill I appreciated as I navigated the busy market. As the day continued, we immersed ourselves in a cooking class, where I learned to prepare waakye and other traditional dishes. This hands-on experience deepened my appreciation for Ghanaian culture and traditions, leaving me with cherished memories and a few new recipes. 

Day 3: A Cultural Immersion in Kumasi

We started the day early, with a journey to Kumasi. Our first stop was the Cocoa farm tour, where I learned about the various uses of the Cocoa plant including tea, cocoa butter, black soap, and of course chocolate. Next, we visited Kente village, where I witnessed the detailed process of Kente cloth making. We were led into a room adorned with beautiful, handmade Kente cloth, where we were dressed in these vibrant garments for the upcoming naming ceremony. It was important to us to present ourselves respectfully to the village chiefs who would be officiating the ceremony. As the ceremony commenced, I had the privilege of observing the village’s rituals for a traditional naming ceremony. I was given the Ghanaian name Adwoa, meaning Monday born girl. 

After expressing our gratitude and bidding farewell to the village, we headed to our next destination a primary school. Before our trip, we were informed that a visit to a local school was a part of our itinerary, and we were encouraged to bring school supplies. And we did just that. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a heartfelt performance by the students including a speech and music performances. It was all so beautifully thought out. However, it was the opening speech that deeply touched me. It was so powerful and moving that it evoked tears of emotion. It’s challenging to describe the depth of the moment, but it was a profoundly beautiful and welcoming experience, undeniably the highlight of the trip for me. After donating the supplies and interacting with the administrators and students, we made our way back to the bus. For dinner, we dined at Ike’s Cafe & Grill. The atmosphere was tranquil, and the restaurant was beautifully decorated, but it was the service, plating, and delicious food that won me over. That evening, we stayed at the modern vacation rental in Kumasi, a perfect end to a day filled with cultural immersion and heartfelt connections.

Day 4: A Reflection on History

Our day began with a visit to the Assin Manso Slave River site, where we learned about the history of slavery in Ghana. Our spiritual guide from the center led us on a reflective journey to the river, once known as the “last bath” for enslaved Africans, and invited us to join in a spiritual grounding exercise. It was a deeply moving experience that helped us profoundly connect with the past. 

Next, we visited the Cape Coast Castle, another powerful symbol of Ghana’s history of slavery. Walking through its corridors and dungeons, we were reminded of the atrocities committed against humanity. Despite the heaviness of the experience, it was incredibly enlightening, offering us a deeper understanding of Ghana’s past and the resilience of its people.

To unwind and reflect on the day’s experiences, we ended our day with dinner at the Castle Breach restaurant, overlooking the ocean. The combination of the breathtaking view and the somber reflection on Ghana’s history made for a truly unforgettable evening.

Day 5: Celebration and Relaxation

The day started calmly, with a late start allowing for a relaxed morning. With the freedom to choose our activities, some opted for beauty treatments like nails and hair, while I indulged in a much-needed nap (a must for any traveler!). Waking up refreshed, I took my time getting ready for the evening’s all-brown boat party. I danced in my room while eagerly anticipating the excitement ahead.

Given the long drive ahead, we decided to stop for a quick, quick, light snack at the famous KFC. For 71GH₵ ($5.30 USD) I received chicken, chips, and a bottle of soda. While I don’t typically eat KFC in the States, I had heard that fast food in other countries can be surprisingly good. I must say, KFC in Ghana was appetizing. Better than back home!

We arrived at the Volta River and the air was filled with excitement. As we boarded the boat we were met with a beautiful ambiance, a live band performance, and an array of food and beverages. The party did not disappoint, offering an incredible experience for all of us. It was the perfect way to spend our last full night in Ghana, making memories that will stay with me forever.

Day 6: A Farewell to Ghana
Our last day in Ghana was bittersweet as we attended a batik making class, creating beautiful fabrics to remember our trip by. It was pleasant to learn the art of batik making. Following this, we ventured to the bustling Makola market, Accra’s largest open-air market, but finding it a bit overwhelming, we opted for a different market for some last-minute shopping. I bought raw shea butter, a necklace, and a few other items. Back at Fiesta Hotel, as I packed my bags, I couldn’t help but reflect on the surreal experience of exploring Ghana in such a unique and memorable way.

As I bid farewell to this incredible country, I realized that Ghana had captured a piece of my heart. It exceeded all my expectations for my first trip to Africa, giving me everything I wanted and needed.  

A special shoutout to Bibiniba Tours for their exceptional service, which made our journey truly memorable. I’m already looking forward to returning and exploring more of Ghana’s beauty. Stay tuned for my review of Bibiniba Tours for more details. 

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