The following itinerary* outlines the planned travel and activities during the journey.
Day 0 – Thursday, January 5th, 2017
Depart from JFK at 6:06pm on a direct Delta Airlines flight to Kotoka International Airport - Accra, Ghana.
Day 1 - Friday, January 6th
Arrive in Accra, Ghana (8:00 am) where you will be met at the airport with “Akwaaba” by the hosts of your Ghana journey. After arrival formalities, check-in at your hotel for welcome drinks and a brief orientation on your tour itinerary.
Take a relaxing drive through residential, governmental, and economic districts. This 131-year old city has a blend of colonial and modern architecture that summarize her history.
Later, depart to a local restaurant for a Ghanaian lunch and afterwards, continue your tour of the city center. Enjoy getting to know your fellow travelers over dinner and through a group story circle at your hotel.
Day 2 - Saturday, January 7th
After breakfast, take a scenic drive to Torgorme village to participate in a special naming ceremony. You will be led in a procession to the Paramount Chief’s Palace grounds where the whole village has already assembled with the Chief, ready to perform the ceremony which begins after a round of hearty welcomes from the entire community. This spiritual ceremony includes an array of drumming and dancing by the men, women and children in the village.
After the festivities, choose from embarking on a tour of Torgorme with the youth or participating in a traditional pottery making session with the women of the village. Enjoy a peaceful evening with a village style family dinner, fireside storytelling, and cultural performances all before retiring to bed with your local families.
Day 3 - Sunday, January 8th
Enjoy breakfast with your Torgorme host family and the village community. Then, embark on a scenic drive to the legendary town of Cape Coast where you will visit Cape Coast Castle built by the Swedes in 1653. Explore the grounds of this infamous castle with its slave dungeons and colonial barracks. History will unfold the story of the slave trade, the “Door of No Return” and the final holding cells of those taken forcibly from their African homeland.
If desired, participate in a healing ceremony in the women’s dungeon. The castle also houses the West African Historical Museum established by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government in 1994.
Participate in a private session with a Queen Mother from Cape Coast. Learn more about the responsibilities of the Queen Mother in the Ghanaian community. Later, check-in at your beachside Cape Coast hotel, enjoy the beautiful resort grounds and share reflections on your experiences that day.
Day 4 - Monday, January 9th
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, then set off to encounter a Cape Coast women’s cooperative specializing in hand-dyed batiks and children’s clothing. Shop while you get to know the women and the work involved in this organization committed to empowering African women to become economically independent.
Tour a local midwifery clinic and learn about the issues and inspiring work being done to support women and childbirth. Then, visit Elmina Castle built by the Portuguese in 1482, also a hub for the West African slave trade.
Later depart for Kakum National Park, West Africa’s most noted tropical rain forest. Experience the soothing effects of being in a tropical rain forest environment.
Choose between a nature walk through the forest to discover the wide variety of exotic floral species and the medicinal values they offer or elevate your tropical view on the Canopy Walkway, 100 feet above the forest floor.
Depart on a scenic drive through the forest region to Kumasi, the seat of the Ashanti Kingdom. Enjoy a tour through Kumasi with monuments dedicated to the memory of the great Ashanti people, including the legendary warrior queen Yaa Asantewaa. You will visit Manhyia Palace Museum, to obtain firsthand information on the legacies of the Ashanti kingdom, a deeply matriarchal empire dating back to 1700. Their regal history is told with relics and artifacts. Check-in at your Kumasi hotel and relax for the evening.
Day 5 - Tuesday, January 10th
This morning is devoted to visiting the three famous Ashanti craft villages. After breakfast depart for Ahwiaa, the wood carvers’ village, Ntonso, the home of Adinkra cloth and Bonwire, the Kente weaving village. You will have an opportunity to see how African crafts are made and to buy directly from the artisans who make them.
Embark on a scenic drive through the forest region savannah zone to Buabeng Fiema, a village that has practiced conservation as a culture by keeping their monkeys sacred. Local folklore holds the monkeys as precious beings who are part of the spirit family and associated with material fortune. You will have the rare and exciting experience of witnessing these endangered animals in large numbers as they live in the wild.
Later continue the drive to Tamale, the northern capital of Ghana to experience the convergence of the deeply Muslim and African traditions that shape the local landscape, making for an especially dynamic experience for northern women and girls. Check-in to your Tamale hotel for dinner with some of the founding members of the BaBa Blankets women’s collective who will share their experiences as former “kaya ye” who became seamstresses in the social enterprise.
Day 6 - Wednesday, January 11th
Breakfast is served at your hotel, then depart for Bolgatanga, the Upper East regional capital and the focus of the SISTA Scholar Program. Check-in to your hotel, then head to the village to meet a women’s basket weaving cooperative. Try your hand while spending time with the women weavers who are often mothers working stridently to provide greater educational opportunities for their daughters.
From there, take a short drive to Bolgatanga Girls’ Secondary School to meet the students and experience a cultural student-led gratitude and welcome celebration. Offer your student supplies and sponsorship at the close of the celebration.
Spend time informally getting to know your SISTA Scholar while she shows you around her school. Also visit a neighboring high school to understand the variety of experiences for school girls in the Upper East region. Enjoy dinner at the hotel, then return to the school to experience your SISTA Scholar’s nightlife as a boarding student.
Day 7 -Thursday, January 12th
Following breakfast, partner with your student to take part in one of her classes and experience a moment in her educational journey.
Take an eye-opening trip into a few of our SISTA Scholars neighboring villages to visit their compounds and meet their families. Get a first-hand understanding of the students’ lives outside of school, the joys and challenges of their communities.
Later, visit the Bolgatanga craft market to explore the traditional artistry of the region and to buy hand-crafted keepsakes directly from the artisans. Invite all of the SISTA Scholars to a local restaurant to break bread together and have an unforgettable evening at a drumming and dance party with over 65 students! Share farewells and one last chance to take photos with the SISTA Scholars before retiring to your hotel.
Day 8 - Friday, January 13th
Take a morning ride back to Tamale, then take a short flight (1 hour) to Accra. Upon arrival, check-in to your Accra hotel and then go on a late afternoon visit to the Arts Center where you can pick-up souvenirs for your friends and family back home. You will also visit the Artist Alliance Gallery where you can interact with some exceptionally talented female artists. En route, visit Agbogbloshie, Ghana’s primary agricultural market and home to thousands of migrant girls from the northern region. The market is a magnet for young girls who flee their rural northern villages to become load carriers or “kaya ye”, after being unable to continue their education. Also visit Accra’s famous Makola Market, the city’s main trading post dominated by women who sell an array of both traditional and imported goods and thereby command enormous economic influence in the country.
Spend the rest of the evening relaxing and preparing for your morning flight back to the U.S.
Day 9 - Saturday, January 14th
After breakfast, check-out of your hotel and head to the airport for your flight back home. Depart Accra at 9:45am en route direct to JFK. Arrive JFK Airport at 4:30pm. Connect to a local flight or transport to your final destination.
*Please note that the itinerary is subject to change.