Wealthy travelers who stay in luxury five-star hotels and only glance at their surroundings from the glass of air-conditioned transport on their way to and from the airport often protest that every destination is the same in the 21st Century. Yet anyone prepared to take a stroll outside on quieter streets or in small-town parks will find that the wildlife that traverses their path can still find them in a unique location. Kumasi, the old capital of the Ashanti empire and Ghana’s second city, has a unique blend of native fauna that fixes it in every travelers’ memory.
Possibly the most omnipresent creature seen hurrying in every open space and on every outside wall is a giant lizard. Males can be more than 30 centimeters long with red-orange heads and black bodies. Most of the year, the colors are faded, the black is more a dark grey, but black is black, and heads are almost fluorescent in the mating season. These giant lizards regularly nod their heads up and down in a special manner best understood by the species’ female.
On the other hand, the female is smaller and orange markings with a pale green shade on her back. One unique feature is that the orange color is quite a distinct shade from that of the male’s head, so much so that the average casual passer-by would not connect them as the same species if they were not seen so often associated. When she is ready for sex, the female waves her long tail forwards over her head in a way that sends a clear message to her partner.
- Question: How do you explore this lovely piece of art, straight from nature’s evolutionary masterpiece collection?
- Answer: You can visit Kumasi in Ghana and come out of the comfort zone of your hotel.
Top Attractions in Kumasi
Kumasi has some fascinating sights, and in comparison to Tamale or Accra, you’ll likely feel a welcoming drop in temperature.
From a distance, the Kejetia Market seems like an alien mothership docked in the center of Kumasi. Closer up, the tin roofs of this enormous market look like a circular shantytown. Inside, the Kejetia is utterly captivating. There are second-hand shoes, foodstuffs, clothes, glass beads, plastic knick-knacks, Ashanti sandals, kente strips, batik, and bracelets.
Manhyia Palace Museum
Manhyia Palace was constructed by the British in 1925 CE to receive the famous Prempeh I when he returned from 25-years of exile in Seychelles to resume residence in Kumasi. The Ashanti kings used it until 1974 CE; the present Asantehene now lives in a modern compound just behind the museum. All visits began with a 10-minute video telling Asante people’s fascinating tales, followed by a palace tour.
National Cultural Centre
The National Cultural Centre is set within tranquil, shaded grounds. It includes beautiful craft workshops, where you can see woodcarving, brassworking, batik cloth dyeing, pottery making, and kente cloth weaving, as well as a crafts shop and gallery.
A natural lake created by a meteor impact, Bosumtwi is a special spiritual home for national and international tourists alike. It has green and very lush surroundings, 270 ft deep and 8 km in diameter, although the water quality itself may not be clean. It is a holy lake, as Ashanti believes it is where dead souls come to bid a final farewell to goddess Asase Ya.
Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary
Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a sanctuary with 170 bird species plus antelope, butterflies, bushpig, bushbuck, and monkeys. Owabi is the only inland Ramsar place in Ghana. You can arrange exciting guided walks at the visitor center. The Bamboo Temple is gorgeous and worthwhile.
Hindu Temple, Kumasi
People from all over the world can visit the Krishna Temple in Kumasi. It has an extremely clean and cozy environment for meditation and prayers. It is one of the cleanest spots in Kumasi, where you could meet expats, backpackers, and spiritual travelers seeking inner peace.