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Eastern Region: Cruise Along the East

Last updated 04.04.2013

The Eastern Region of Ghana is home to one of the friendliest and and polite people in the country. Split into unequal halves by the vast Volta Lake and one of its tributaries, the Afram River, the region conjures up fantasies in the minds of many a Ghanaian: cute ladies, aka, Koforidua Flowers.

But the Eastern Region, sandwiched between five of the remaining nine regions of the country (a feat comparable to only the Brong Ahafo region), is more than just charming ladies.

Squeezed into the lower abdomen of the country, the region is a rich blend of dramatic landscape, historic relics and traditional cultures. Indeed, the ancient impressively blends with the 21st century in this region so close to but with such a striking contrast with Accra.

The huge Volta Lake dominates the Eastern region sandwiched between the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Greater Accra and Volta regions.

Two of the monuments Ghana's first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah built on assumption of office after independence are here. These are the Akosombo Dam, the largest supplier of electricity to the country, and the Senchi Bridge.

The Dam is built on a gorge created by the River Volta in the region at Akosombo town. The famous Senchi Bridge at Atimpoku links the rest of the country to the Volta Region in the middle.

The Akwapim Ridge, the Krobo Mountains, the Kwahu scarp, and the rolling hills overlook striking landscapes of gently flowing rivers and untouched forest and fauna.

The Eastern Region, famous for its large areas of lush tropical forest, cascading falls and endangered birds and insect species, is home to the biggest tree in the entire West African sub-region.

The region has more than its fair share of the unique history Ghana is internationally acclaimed for: slave markets, colourful festivals, waterfalls, research institutions, shrines and virgin forests.

If there is anything that has so revolutionalised the Ghanaian economy in the last two centuries, then it is cocoa. The first cocoa seed ever planted in the Gold Coast now Ghana was buried at Mampong in the Eastern region. The home of Tetteh Quarshie who brought the cocoa seed from Fernando Po remains an attraction to many visitors.

There are remarkable traces of the 17th and 18th century slave market at Abonse an important town crossroads on the Slave Route.

The Eastern Region contains Ghana's only commercial diamonds mine at Akwatia. Despite losing some brightness following the economic challenges, the diamond industry remains an important part of the region's economy.

The region, one of the smallest but heavily populated, has four of the ten major traditional authorities and some of the most glamorous festivals in the country. These are the New Juabenhene, Okyehehe, Okwapehene and the Akwamuhene authorities.

Some of the festivals are Akantukese of the people of New Juaben, Odwira by the Akwapims and the Akyems.

Traditional and historic villages and towns are part of the richness of the region. Rituals surrounding the initiation of young girls into the adulthood called Dipo is an important part of the people in the region particularly the Krobos. Many have talked against the ritual during which the luscious flesh of young girls are exposed. Only a tiny piece of cloth and beads cover their womanhood.

Despite public outcry against the ritual, Dipo continues to attract lots of people from all parts of the country and foreign tourists.

But any cruise to the region of many rivers, cascading falls, unspoiled forest and raw wealth cannot be complete without a visit to Aburi Gardens.

Open in 1890, Aburi Botanical Gardens is home to many endangered plant species in the world. It is an important research garden for many scientist and budding scientists. Its unique architectural design is breathtaking. You find something fresh and beautiful each time you set foot the well-manicured tropical gardens.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

The Eastern region is easily accessible from most of the other regions with very good roads. However, you can easily reach Koforidua through some major routes from Accra: the Suhum-Koforidua road, the Aburi-Larteh-Koforidua road, the Bunsu-Tafo road if you are from Kumasi, all make getting to Koforidua fairly simple.


NATURAL ATTRACTIONS


Tetteh Quarshie's Cocoa Farm

The first cocoa farm established in the Country from seeds first brought from Fernando Po Island. From this small beginning grew our major cocoa industry. Slave Market ofAbonse [H 11] Traces of the 17th and 18th century slave market can still be seen in a town that was an important crossroads On the Slave Route.

OkomfoAnokye's Shrine

60km from Koforidua. this important shrine is dedicated to the legendary priest credited with the founding of the Asante Empire. On the Akwapim Ridge the fetish shrine is an important place of traditional healing and religious ceremonies. Larteh is 56km north of Accra, on the Akwapim Ridge. There you will find the Akonedi Shrine Avhere herbal medicine as well as psychic healing is practiced by the
fetish. A fee is charged to observe religious ceremonies.

The Presbyterian Training College located on the hills of Akropong overlooking the valley, this college is one of the earlier schools built by missionaries who 1 came to Ghana. Has a lot of history to offer and a popular destination for tourists.


WILDLIFE AND NATURE RESERVES

Aburi Botanical Gardens

This century-old garden, originally created in 1890 just as an agricultural research station, is home to a large variety of subtropical trees and plants that attracts cores of birds and butterflies and has a guest list that includes Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (1960) and her son, the Prince of Wales (1977). A public park for recreation, situated in the town of Aburi, the gardens located in the Akwapim Hills, 38km from Accra, just an hours drive and has indoor-outdoor restaurants and facilities for staying overnight.

The Bunso Arboretum Forest Reserve

The Bunso Arboretum is a protected forest reserve, spanning 16.5 hectares. Half of this area is semi-deciduous forest while the other half is made up of indigenous trees, along with fruits, and timber tree species, which have been introduced to Ghana by the Plant Genetic Resources Center of Bunso. The Arboretum is home to over 110 species of birds, some of which are very rare. The protected Arboretum offers them a peaceful place to call home. The herb garden, which is located in the Arboretum contains 100 different species of herbs with a wide range of uses, from food to medicinal to aromatic. Visitors can stroll through the many kilometres of nature trails in the arboretum. Guests can identify the local trees and plants along the way and learn about all the local uses for diverse tree and plant life in the arboretum. Trees and plants play a very big role in life in Ghana, both for food and medicinal purposes. The Big Tree [F12]
This is near Akim-Oda, and is supposed to be the largest tree in West Africa, measuring 128m with a girth of about 11 meters.
Aburi Botanical Gardens [G 12]

 

The Baobab Tree

This peculiar giant baobab tree is another attraction situated just north of the entrance to the great Dodowa Forest. It served a very interesting purpose during the Kantamanso war. The Shai warriors were said to have fired their last bullets into this tree to declare the War over on 26th August. 1826. it was alleged that bullets used consisted of beads, beans, millet rice, salt, black potions and talismans on locally prepared gunpowder the big tree displays the "bumps" as "wounds" caused by the bullets till this day.


The Akosombo Dam and Volta Lake

The construction of the hydroelectric dam across the Volta River in 1965, gave rise to one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. It stretches from Akosombo in the south to Buipe in the north, cutting across five regions. You can also travel up country to Kete-Krachi-kojokrom-Yeji via the Volta Lake Transport Company, using the ferry. The ferry leaves only on Mondays mid-afternoon for Yeji (a 28-hour journey) - this ferry is not the same as the cruising boat 'The Dodi Princess' used around the Dodi Island. It is rudimentarily comfortable if you travel first class (NB: only Ghanaian dishes served on board). But be sure to visit the village of Kete Krachi where the boat stops briefly, then continues to Yeji where it arrives late (10pm) the following evening. The Volta and Alliance hotels are the only places you can spend the night and by this time only Wofa Kwame's can offer you tea and bread and eggs popularly known as 'Chibom' for the journey upwards to Tamale.


Water Falls

The eastern region is endowed with a number of beautiful waterfalls:

  • Boti Falls

Located in Koforidua in the forest reserve at huhunya, is the most popular and spectacular, sadly is only seasonal and is best seen in July/August.

  • Waterfalls of Begoro

The Trudu, Akrum and Osuben are a series of falls and cascades, surrounded by attractive woodlands and forest all in Begoro, are interesting to visit if you have the time to picnic. The Tsenku Waterfall: Sits at the northern corner of the Dodowa Forest, taking its source from Obosmase (Akwapim ranges). This beautiful waterfall drops from a height of over 250 feet, running on stratified rocks into a pan of cool, clean and clear pool with thousands of tilapia.

The Atewa Range

This is home to several birds and rare butterfly species, including Africa's largest butterfly, the Giant Swallow.

Atew-Atwirebu Butterfly Sanctuary

10km north of Kibi is the magic forest of Atewa-Atwirebu. This nature lovers' paradise has over 150 different species of fems and other flora. The forest is filled with the enchanting sounds of birds and insects including the "Papillio Antimactus", one of the largest butterflies in Africa!

The Kwahu Scaro and the Akwapem-Togo Mountains

These are also prominent sites in the region. This is also where Ghana's annual paragliding festival is held. Even though this event is just two years old it seems to be gaining popularity and attracting paragliders all over the world. Log on to www.ghanaparagliding.com

Woodcarving

The Krobo, Kwahu and the Aburi areas are important woodcarving and pottery centers. Enyeresi is another woodcraft center well known for cane production.

Mining

The diamond town of Akwatia, even though is on the decline, is an interesting place to visit.

 

FESTIVALS

Bobum or Dipo festival

Dipo is celebrated in April by the people of Manya and Yilo Krobo in the towns of Krobo Odumase and Somanya, about 80 kilometers north of Accra. The mode of celebration is that, adolescent girls are adorned in beautiful beads and half-clothed. The festival initiates such girls.

Odwira Festival

Celebrated in Aburi, Akropong-Akwapim,Larteh, Amanorkrom, and Ahwerase in the period of September/October.
It is significant for the annual thanksgiving to God for his merciful care and protection. The festival is mainly the dramatization of Akwapem sacred traditions, myths and olden day legends, handed down by the ancestors of the "Oman". It involves the re-staging of some of the antiquated historical episodes like traditional military tactics. This festival, was instituted by the 19th Omanhene of Akropong, resulting from the capture of the artefacts (pertaining to the celebration of Odwira) by Akwapem forces from the hitherto invincible Ashanti army during the historic battle of Katamansu near Dodowa in 1826.

Krobo Festival

This is the annual traditional harvest and thanksgiving festival of the Krobo people. The people of Manya and Yilo Krobo celebrate it in March-April.

Akwantukese Festival

This festival is celebrated by the Chiefs and people of New Juaben Traditional Area in the first week of November each year.

Begoro Odwira Festival (Ahwie Festival)

It is an occasion for dedicated worship of great titular gods and goddesses of the nation, the period for the cleansing of filth and purification of sacred stools.

Ohum Festival

Celebrated in Akyem (Abuakwa Traditional area). The festival is celebrated twice a year. These are known as OhumKan and OhumKyire and celebrated in June/July and September/ October respectively. It is also celebrated by the Akwapems.

Klovo Sikplemi Festival

Celebrated in Somanya during the period of November and its significance is paying of homage to ancestral home on the Krobo mountains.

Information taken from GhanaNation.com.

For more information on tourism in Ghana contact, The Ghana Tourist Board, Eastern Region, Koforidua SIC Building P.O. Box 771, Koforidua