Kumasi is considered the home of the Ashanti King, the current one being Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Kumasi is widely regarded as the cultural cradle of Ghana as the vibrancy of Ghana's culture is more evident here than any part of the country. The Asantehene still sits in state as Ashanti's from all walks of life pay homage. He even presides over traditional courts and some residents use this instead of the judicial system.
Kumasi was established by the King Osei Tutu I with guidance from the priest Okomfo Anokye. It is said he planted two Kuma trees at two locations. One died and that place was called Kumawu (thus the Kuma tree died) and the one at Kumasi flourised and was named Kumasi (Kuma tree has flourished).
Population of about 2 million, the language is predominantly Akan Twi.
Flights from Accra to Kumasi are in the morning and afternoon on the three carriers: Fly540Africa, CitiLink and Antrak. The flight is about 45 minutes long, limited on luggage allowance. Excellent way to get to Kumasi, preferred by most. Small planes, yet short trip. The cost on CitiLink is +-$90 USD one way, and $95 on Antrak as of June 2011 and $86 with Fly540Africa as of March 2012.
From may 2012 star bow airlines are flying this and other routes from Accra. Morning and afternoon flights, 100 seated planes and standard 20kg luggage, costs vary but typically around $60.
To travel by road to Kumasi from Accra you will need to allow 6 hours travel time. Bus service is available by O.A. and STC, two private bus lines ($12 for bus with AC). STC is becoming less reliable for any travel in Ghana. The VIP and VVIP (two separate companies with similar names) both leave from Nekrumah Circle in Accra as they fill up daily. They are generally more reliable and comfortable and also leave more regularly. They cost around $15US (35GHC) one way. You cannot book tickets ahead of time.
There are many ways to get around Kumasi. All are inexpensive, but you have to allow time as the city is usually congested, especially in the downtown area, called Odum, and around Kejetia, the central market. The congestion is worsened by the fact that the streets are mostly narrow and do not follow a grid pattern but rather run in all directions. Here are your options:
Charter taxi: this is a taxi that takes you and your party directly to your destination. You hail it and negotiate a price with the driver before getting in. For trips within downtown, the fare shouldn't be more than one US dollar, and three or four dollars will get you across town.
Passenger taxi: these look identical to charter taxis but follow a fixed route, picking up and dropping off riders anywhere along the way. The fare is much lower, but as the cars are small and usually full, the ride is quite uncomfortable.
Trotro: These are minibuses that also follow fixed routes. They have no destination signs. A conductor stands by the front door and shouts out the destination as the vehicle approaches a bus stop. They are very inexpensive (a few cents) but the routes are difficult to understand. You may think the bus will go straight ahead but to your surprise it will suddenly lurch in a different direction. Sometimes trotros are driven wildly.
Bus: The most heavily traveled routes are served by regular 45- or 50-passenger buses. They have destination signs in the front window. The fare is about double that of the trotros -- still a great bargain, and they tend to be less crowded.
Foot: Kumasi is one of Ghana's most pedestrian-friendly cities, made for leisurely or purposeful strolling. This is the best option for taking in all the sights and smells of the city.
Asantehene's Palace. A visit to this former king's residence is a most worthwhile activity.edit
Prempeh II Jubilee Museum, ☎ +2335122822. 9 AM to 6 PM. Features artifacts and personal belongings of former Asante kings including a reproduction of the golden stool.edit
Manhyia Palace Museum, . 9 AM to 5 PM. Built in 1925 by the British as the residence of King Asantehene Prempeh I, this museum is also a palace. Walking through the museum, you will learn about the function of each room when it was used by the kings, as well as seeing artwork and artifacts from the Asante kings.edit
Ghana Armed Forces Museum, 22 Steward Ave, ☎ +2335123103. 9 AM to 5 PM Tues. through Sat. The museum buildings once served as Kumasi Fort, built by the British in 1896 after they destroyed the Asante Fort that originally stood here. The museum predominantly features information and artifacts related to the British-Asante War, but also includes many artifacts from World War I, World War II, and information about modern Ghanaian military history. Tour guides are friendly and very knowledgeable. Highly recommended.edit
Kumasi Zoo. All of the animals from the former Accra Zoo were transferred here a couple years ago, so there is now more to see. However, the conditions are not good for the animals, so visiting is not encouraged.edit
A tour of the Palace grounds explains the history of the Ashanti people and the significance of the Ashanti cultural history.
The Adae Kese Festival is a very important, albeit rare, celebration of the Ashanti's. It is held in a large open space in Kumasi. The festival is normally well attended and embraced by Ashanti's from all walks of life. The Adae Kese celebrations are magnified forms of Sunday Adae festivals, celebrated every six weeks in accordance with the Akan calendar which is based on a cycle of 42 days and nine months in a year. Invariably, the last Akwasidae festival is set aside for the celebration of Adae Kese.The public celebrations take the form of a colourful durbar of chiefs and queen mothers presided over by the Asantehene. It involves the display of cherished regalia and paraphernalia accompanied by traditional drumming and dancing as well as firing of musketry amidst pomp and pageantry.
The Adae festival is a continuous demonstration of faith in the vision and heritage of the Asante Kingdom, which has existed since the introduction of the Golden Stool in 1700. The festival is also to commemorate and re-enforce the independence of the Ashanti people and an occasion to re-affirm each state's loyalty to the confederacy instituted in the aftermath of the Ashanti war of independence fought against the Denkyeras between 1697–1699. It provides a platform for the King to meet and share his thoughts with his sub-chiefs and subjects and also reward deserving ones.
Only a 45 minute drive from Kumasi is Lake Bosumtwe. It's a meteor-formed lake about 270 feet deep and 8 km in diameter. It's a must see if in the Kumasi region. Paradise Resort is recommended lodging for $50 per night and up.
Kumasi has many craft villages nearby. Asoafua-Assimang specializes in carved art objects. Bonwire and Adanwomase are known for their Kente cloth. Ahwiaa is a pottery village and Ampabame Krofrom is a bead making village. All can be found in Kumasi, but prices are a little better in the villages.
Vic Baboo's (Prempeh II Rd) is not the most athmospheric place in town, but it had an imressive cocktail menu. It is thé place to meet backpackers, expats and volunteers. The menu features a rich collection of local, oriental and western dishes as well.
Bek Egg Premier Hotel & Conference Centre (Bek Egg Premier Hotel & Conference Centre), T.U.C. Estate, Behind C.A.C. Fankyenbra, ☎ +233(0)51-35031, . checkin: 13.00; checkout: 11.00. The Bek Egg Premier Hotel & Conference Centre is a family operated hotel and business situated in the heart of Kumasi, just about five miles from the local (national) airport.from GH¢ 35.00 to GH¢ 60.00. edit
Guestline Lodge (Guest Line Hotel), Adum Street. (White building with stars painted on. Right next to the STC bus station). checkin: 13.00; checkout: 12.30. Guestline lodge is a great backpacker joint located right next to the STC bus station. The same owner as Vic Baboo's Cafe offering the same friendly service and many like-minded travelers. Reasonable selection of books for sale at reception for 2GH¢ or you can exchange for free. Balcony with view over street below open to all residents. Electric shower with warm(ish) water. Lower priced rooms share shower and toilet which are both clean. Some breakfast option available: tea/Instant coffee 2GH¢, toast and butter 3GH¢, Cornflakes 4GH¢ or an omelet 4GH¢. Beers (3GH¢) and "minerals" (2GH¢) available throughout the day. Staff range from mildly indifferent to extremely helpful. from 8 GH¢ to 35 GH¢. edit
Note: As of November 2014, the Guestline Lodge is closed, and seems to have been for a while.
Run by Charity and Chris, very nice people, comfortable location.
Recommend a Kumasi market tour with Comfort.
Friend Garden- South Suntreso
Vic Baboo's Cafe....in the centre of Kumasi, where all volunteers normally gather. Food is great and it's a nice feel when you're a bit home sick! A variety of different food Indian, Chinese, Continental, fast food. Especially the lassi and milkshakes, staff are friendly and it has a homely atmosphere.
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