Sognaayilli and Karimenga
Sognaayilli is a small village. The people of Sognaayilli belong to the Dagbon tribe, which is known for its remarkable architecture. One house (compound) consist of several huts connected by mud walls surrounding a central area. The huts are made of mud and have thatched roofs. Huts are either squared or round; men sleep in squared huts and women in round ones. The central area is where all the activity takes place, it is the kitchen, the living room and the workplace at the same time. Sognaayilli is 10 km from the city of Tamale and lies in a savannah landscape. When coming from the city by bike and riding up the red dirt track to the village, it is hard to believe that bustle and serenity, luxury and shortage can lie so close together. This is what makes the experiences special: a confrontation of enormous and incredible contrasts, wherever you look. Karimenga is a very small community situated in the middle of the forest, thereby making it easy to access herbal medicine, which the people still use for health care. It also creates an opportunity for tourist to see the type of trees, grasses and beliefs used in health care. The people are mostly farmer and because of the forest they burn wood into charcoal as a source of making money. The White Volta cuts across the village western side of this community also giving it the opportunity for dry season farming of tomatoes, watermelon and onions. It will also make it possible for tourist to interact with the farmers during their visit. The village is in the Northern region of Ghana (West Africa). It is located on the main truck road, linking the Northern region to the Upper East region. It’s about 25km prior to the Upper East regional capital, Bolgatanga, and about 135km away from the Northern regional capital, Tamale. Sognaayilli and Karimenga have been selected for several reasons as the starting point for a comprehensive cooperation with the local inhabitants. Firstly, based on earlier co-operation with the community, the partner had confidence in the possibilities for community involvement in tourism activities. Secondly, the area already receives foreign visitors because of nearby tourism attractions, like Mole National Park and the community based tourism projects around Bolgatanga. And thirdly, the rural villages close to Tamale and Bolgatanga can offer experiences of ‘remoteness’, ‘uniqueness’ and ‘authenticity’, whilst being fairly close to a major city and its facilities.
In both villages you stay as a guest in a room of the local build guesthouse or at a host family. At the family you have one of the huts in the compound of the family. You will be taken up by the family and become part of it. This way, you will get lots of brothers and sisters. Your hut (either at the gusthouse or at your host family) is built and furnished is the traditional way and resembles the other huts of the community. This means no electricity and no running water. But, you will get a double bed and a fairly cool room. The traditional construction assures optimal insulation and stay much cooler than modern buildings in Africa. There is also an oil lamp to provide light. The traditional and basic style is something we have chosen for. This way we can assure you will have a unique experience. In addition, we chose for it because we work according to the principles of pro poor tourism.
You take a shower by fetching some water in a bucket and withdraw yourself to the ‘bathroom’. Here, a small part of the compound where you are surrounded by walls but still have a beautiful view outside, you take your bucket and a small cup and start splashing away. The water is provided by the village tap which runs almost every evening. Your family has a clever way of storing the water in the compound in clay pots, which keeps it surprisingly cool. And you can believe us that you will love it this way in the warm climate. When you tell your family that you want to take a shower they are most happy to assist you in fetching the water. Of course you can also try to take a big bucket full of water and transport it yourself on your head (the African way) to the bathroom without losing the water! When you have to go to the toilet, you can use the specially built pit-toilet for guests. This one also does not use water. Instead, everything falls into a big hole in the ground, directly feeding the soil. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be prepared by the cook at the guesthouse or by the mother ofyour host family. If you want, you can help the cook to purchase the ingredients and prepare the meals. She will be very happy to teach you to cook Ghanaian dishes. Real daredevils put their cutlery aside and eat the Ghanaian way. Remember to always use your right hand!