Elmina fortress and Kakum rainforest
1st December 2017
Excursion to Elmina castle, the oldest and largest colonial building in Ghana, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its past tied to the slave trade. Excursion to Kakum National Park, along one of the highest and longest rope bridges in the world, to admire the rainforest from top.
is a city in Ghana with just over 33,000 inhabitants and is located along the southern coast of the country, not far from Accra. It is the oldest colonial city in West Africa and hosts a fortress dating back to the fifteenth century, known as the Castle of Elmina.
Built by the Portuguese from year 1482, Elmina Castle
, also known as Elmina Fortress
, had various functions over the centuries: initially it was just a huge warehouse used as a sorting center for the wealth collected in West Africa by the settlers (including gold and ivory) before delivering everything overseas. Then, the structure was used as a jail during the slave trade, to imprison, select and embark slaves captured in West Africa and sold to the New World. The Castle of Elmina was first administered by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch and finally by the English. It is currently a UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the main tourist attractions in Ghana, as a witness to one of the most obscure chapters for the humanity.
Once inside the inner courtyard of Elmina castle, visitors will immediately see the massive side reinforcements of the walls.
On a side of the courtyard, a gloomy tunnel leads to a room where slaves
were imprisoned, often without the possibility of seeing the light of the sun and without any kind of toilet for months. This was "necessary" to let only the strongest people to survive, increasing the selling price.
The door that led to ships waiting to load slaves: no one has ever crossed it in the opposite direction.
The Castle of Elmina
with its large courtyard and the original cannons.
The rebellious slaves were punished leaving them abandoned to themselves with a 25-pound ball chained to each leg, often under the sun and without drinks or food.
Other rebellious slaves were instead closed in the death cell
, in the dark and without food, until they died of starvation.
From the walls of Elmina Castle, visitors can admire a beautiful view over the city, the port and the Atlantic Ocean.
One of the rooms of the Elmina fortress where the guards lived.
After the visit to Elmina Castle, visitors should not not miss a walk in the local open air market
where local people sell just everything.
The port of Elmina
is home to hundreds of traditional wooden boats used by fishermen.
Daily life among the streets in Elmina
A small sanctuary in Elmina.
The Elmina Dutch Cemetery
, dating back to the early 19th century and recently restored.
The church of the Catholic mission of Saint Joseph in Elmina, Ghana.
Not far from Elmina, Kakum National Park
is one of the most important natural parks in Ghana and is home to a dense rainforest which can be explored by a network of easy-to-follow trails.
there is a 350-meter long Canopy Walk
, one of the longest suspended rope bridges in the world. From a height of about 40 meters, visitors can see many trees from top, but also the trunks of ebony that rise to the sky for over 70 meters.
Kakum National Park and the dense rainforest
where the average relative humidity is around 90%.
A mahogany tree
with its classic "reinforcements" that keep it anchored to the ground even when the height of the trunk exceeds tens of meters.
The day ends with a short visit to Cape Coast
and its lighthouse at the top of a hill.
Where to stay in Elmina or Kakum?
The Anomabo Beach Resort
has nice and comfortable bungalows along a beautiful beach, just over half an hour drive from either Kakum or Elmina, and can therefore be a good base for exploring both locations.