Kwaho Festival, Ghana and Paragliding

in Pinmapple15 days ago

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Kwahu is an area of Ghana that consists of about 9 villages on the top of a mountain range. When the Ahanti empire was taking advantage of the power vacuum create by colonialism and the slave trade aggressively expanding their territory and subjugation of the surround tribes, the Kwahu people disappeared into the mountain using them as a type of natural fortress. They were one of the few that resisted the Ashani expansion.

Every year on the Easter week they have their traditional festival. Honestly I am not quite sure of the origins of the festival. But now days it revolves around two very different sides, there is the mountain top with the paragliding and the towns which have huge street carnivals and lots of partying and drinking.

This paragliding launch site is known around the world as being one of the best paragliding sites due to the thermals and everything else around it. Over 20 international paragliding pilots come every year to take part int he festival and give visitors a ride. Over the years some local pilots have also been trained and now partake. One of these is my friend Jon who is also an avid camper and has a VW Westfalia camper van that joins me on some of my adventures.

I also have a friend from when I was at the University of Ghana in 2004. He has since moved to the US and went to school and is now a lawyer there. I became good friends with his brother also over the years who now lives in the US as well. This friend Micheal usually comes back each year for this festival as it is where his family came from. Through the years I have gone with him a number of times for the festival. I have not been for a few years though. I will show here some of the highlights of the festival over the years.

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There are basically two roads to the top of the mountains where the Kwahu communities are. The roads are windy and steep up two different valleys. The first year I went I had a business connection to a chief from the area who works in real estate in Accra. I went to his place there on the way up. It is right after climbing to the top and you can still kind of see down into the valley below. He had a great view from his big beautiful house. You could even see some of the para-gliders passing in front of the bluff.

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Later in the day we made our way to the top of the mountain for the paragliding part of the festival. When we reached some people were flying and preparing to fly.

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The place is a big strip on the side of the mountain that opens to the wide valley below and the landing strip can be seen in the left of the above pics. The pilots prepare on the hill side and wait for the right conditions then to run and take flight. It is actually very steep and kind of hard to stand on and you feel very exposed looking off the side of the mountain like that.

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If you wanted to fly you had to register in Accra before hand and pay a fee. We were scheduled for that first day but as we watched many launch and fly the weather started to get worse.

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It eventually rained and we had to be postponed. That means we had to come back the next day.

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The next day we finally flew. It was fun a little scary at times like the take off and landing but very peaceful in the air.

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Everyone was very good with the safety and weather. It was very professionally done and safe. Ghana army search and rescue were on hand also. There have been zero to few accidents or problems over the year. But the first day one pilot and passenger ended up in a tree but they were fine. It ended up being my pilot though.

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Both days involved a lot of waiting for our turn the first day was such a disappointment but the second day moved along quite well before the flight.

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This is a popular TV personality in Ghana taking his flight.

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Another view off the mounting.

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Setting out the wing before flight.

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Right after lift off.

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Preparing to run off the edge of the mountian and take flight.

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A younger version of myself as this was 6 years ago.

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Another one that just took flight you can see their excitment or fear with their legs sticking straight out. The pilot is the one sitting at the back.

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Some pilots that are good and flying single can use the air thermals coming off the mountain to generate more lift and they can fly back and forth at the same place for a long time. Some even end up flying higher than the mountain and the take off zone to begin with.

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The line getting ready to go. I think a lot of foreign students, and volunteers do this.

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When the time is right the pilot will tell you to run and you just run down the hill, He jerks the wing up and eventually you are running with no ground under your feet.

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The Landing zone was a football field at a school in the town below.

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Pilots sometime fly single too. Some just want to enjoy this world class launch zone and do tricks, some are still learning and do not have the license yet to fly with a passenger.

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A lot of locals have an aversion to these sorts of sports involving heights and flying. But the ones that step out of their comfort zone to really enjoy it and have a new experience to speak of.

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There are some sitting places and canopies off to the side. But even these are not level and very sloped so it make sitting weird and uncomfortable while waiting.

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This was the same pilot I flew with. He will send you pics and video from the selfie stick after the flight.

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These were the pics of our flight. I also put together a short video below of the launch process of someone else and my own flight. It was a lot of fun doing the tight turns in the air. Hanging from the harness in the take off and landing is a little awkward though.

That night I met up with my friends and the party was on.

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Of course after a heavy night of partying the next day some heavy fufu was needed for the Ghanaians in our group.

Those were the highlights from that year 2014. I also have some pics from 2015.

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Me with two of the guys the following year.

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On our way to Kwahu it is about a 5 hour journey from Accra.

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This time we visited my friends Granny in the village.

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They guys getting their fufu again.

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We did some roaming in the area this time seeing some of my friends family. This consisted of stopping at some palm wine tapper joints along the road to get very fresh palm wine.

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Myself enjoying the palm wine.

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In the morning the fog can be heavy in the mountings. I decided to help some people with their water pumping.

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Some funny concoctions on the road sides.

The last set of pictures I found were from the last time I went in 2019.

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Me Dancing with my friends wife being goofy.

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The hillside view from where we stay at my friends uncles place.

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Some more of the scenery in the area.

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Hitting the streets.

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A masqurade making its rounds.

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Of course dancing is going to be part. But not for my I don't have rhythm.

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Hope you enjoyed 3 years of my Kwahu memories. Maybe one year you can make it.

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I've never tried paragliding but I'm sure it's a great while getting new views over the place you are exploring. 😃

I would very much recommend it if you get a chance.

O boy. That masquerade is truly hideous. I can imagine my younger self seeing that face and not being able to sleep.

Your culture is a beautiful one. Cheers mate!

Right, as a kid like you say it would be very scary. It is kinda funny looking now.

Hiya, @LivingUKTaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made it into our Honorable Mentions in Daily Travel Digest #1555.

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