The Eastern region of Ghana is actually located more in the south-central area Ghana. The region offers visitors a great mix of scenic natural beauty, unique geography, rich history, and welcoming Ghanaian culture.
Along the eastern edge of the region, the Akosombo Dam backs up the Volta River to form the scenic Lake Volta, which is one of the world’s largest man-made lakes. The construction of the hydroelectric dam across the Volta River was completed in 1965, and the lake the formed stretches across five regions, from Akosombo in the south to Buipe in the north.
The region also offers picturesque mountains and highlands, such as the Akwapim Ridge, the Krobo Mountains, and the Kwahu Scarp, plus lush tropical forests, rolling hills, and low-lying plains.
Cocoa and the slave trade dominate the history of the Eastern Region. The first cocoa seed ever planted in Ghana was planted at Mampong-Akwapim. Tetteh Quarshie is the man who brought the seed to Ghana, and his home is open to visitors. Additionally, the Cocoa Research Institute at New Tafo welcomes visitors interested in learning more about cocoa and its impact on the local culture and economy.
The Eastern Region was not influenced as much by the arrival of the Europeans as were the areas in Ghana along the coast where the slaves were actually bought. However, the area was still an important part of the route that the captured slaves had to travel.
For a period of 70 years, which ended in 1990’s, the diamond mines at Akwatia and Takrowase in the Birim River Valley were producing high quality industrial diamonds. Today, Ghana’s only commercial diamond mine at Akwatia.
The region has four major ethnic groupings: the Akan (52.1%), the Ga-Dangme (18.9%), the Ewes (15.9%) and the Guans (7.2%). All of the ethnic groups are indigenous except for the Ewes, and each ethnic group has its own distinct, language festival practices.
Things to See
The regional capital is Koforidua, a pleasant traditional town with agreeable hotels and a busy market.
- Lake Volta and Akosombo Dam: known around the world for its massive size, and known as one of Africa’s greatest construction projects, Lake Volta offers visitors plenty of recreational opportunities, including sport-fishing for tilapia, and cruising, especially to the Dodi Island on the Dodi Princess. For a lengthier trip, the Volta Lake Transport Company takes guests on a 28-hour journey up the lake, stopping at the town of Kete-Krachi before arriving at Yeji the following evening.
- Aburi Botanical Gardens: these beautiful botanical gardens date back to 1890, and the tranquil paths reveal a rich variety of subtropical trees and plants which attracts scores of birds and butterflies.
- Boti Falls: these spectacular waterfalls can be found in Koforidua in the forest reserve at Huhunya. The cascades are seasonal and at their best from June to August.
- Waterfalls of Begoro: the forests of Begoro feature a series of spectacular falls and cascades, including the Trudu, Akrum and Osuben. The various falls are popular for picnics and can be very popular during holidays.
- Atewa Range: this rain forest is part of the upper Guinea Forest and ranks among the world’s 34 most important biodiversity hotspots. The range consists of steep-sided hills with fairly flat summits and holds a huge variety of plants, birds and butterflies, including Africa’s largest butterfly, the Giant Swallow.
- Atew-Atwirebu Butterfly Sanctuary: this beautiful sanctuary has over 150 different species of ferns and other flora, plus a huge variety of birds and butterflies, including the “Papillio Antimactus,” one of the largest butterflies in Africa.
- The Great Boabab Tree (Adansonia Digitata): this giant baobab sits just north of the entrance to the great Dodowa Forest. Legend has it that Shai warriors fired their last bullets into this tree to declare the end of the Kantamanso War on 26th August, 1826. The bullets used consisted of beads, beans, millet rice, salt, black potions, and talismans, and the tree still displays bumps from the shots.
- The Big Tree: the Big Tree measures 12 metres in circumference and is 66.5 metres tall, and it is said to be the largest in West Africa. It is located in a beautiful spot in the Esen Epan Forest Reserve.
- Tetteh Quarshie’s Cocoa Farm: this was the first cocoa farm established in Ghana and it was planted with cocoa seeds brought from Fernando Po Island by Tetteh Quarshie in 1879. From this humble beginning, cocoa grew to become a major industry in Ghana. The farm was replanted in 1960, but 3 of the original trees still remain to this day. For serious cocoa fans, there is also a Cocoa Research Institute located at New Tafo.
- Slave Market of Abonse: the town of Abonse was an important hub on the Slave Route, and visitors can explore the remains of the 17th and 18th century slave market there.
- Okomfo Anokye’s Shrine: Okomfo Anokye was a legendary 18th century priest who is credited with founding the great Asante Empire. He was rumored to have supernatural powers, and many mysterious phenomena in the area are attributed to his powers. The shrine is dedicated to him, and visitors can see his had and foot imprints permanently etched in solid stone and an “Oware Board” that he reportedly carved from stone.
- Woodcarving and Pottery: the regions of Krobo, Kwahu, and Aburi areas are known for their woodcarving and pottery prowess and worth a visit.
- Beadmaking: the regions of Somanya and Odumase Krobo are known for bead making. There are bead market in Koforidua and Cedi.
- Dipo: this important festival takes place in April and celebrates the initiation of young girls into womanhood. As part of the ritual, adolescent girls are clothed in a tiny piece of cloth and beautiful beads. There has been some public outcry against the ritual, but it is still very popular.
- Odwira: this festival and the Ohum festival are two of the most famous cultural festivals celebrated in Ghana, and they both take place in towns on the Akuapem Ridge. Odwira occurs in September is a festival of thanksgiving, a remembrance of those who passed away during the year, and spiritual renewal for the coming year. The festival also celebrates the rich cultural history of the area and gives thanks to God for protection.
- Ohum: this festival marks the anniversary of the Akyem Nation and takes place twice a year: June/July and September/October. The celebrations include the purification of the ancestral stools and the spirits of those who formerly occupied them. The celebration also marks the yam harvest and seeks spiritual renewal for the coming year.
- Akwantukese: this festival is celebrated in November and includes a purification of the sacred stools, and blessing of ancestral spirits, and a thanks to the gods for their guidance and protection. The festival ends with a colorful durbar of chiefs.
- Begoro Odwlra (Ahwie Festival): similar to the other festival, this festival gives thanks to the traditional gods and goddesses for their guidance and protection, is a period of spiritual renewal, and a consecration of the sacred stools.