Sognaayilli and Gowrie

Thanks to Teun Segeren for the following updates:

I am a volunteer for Meet Africa Rural Village Experience and Lodging, which runs Pro Poor Tourism projects in two villages in the north of ghana. I would like to leave a discription of the current situation of the project as an update to the information in the guidebook: The MARVEL Pro-poor tourism projects: Meet Africa Rural Village Experience and Lodging (MARVEL) currently runs Pro-Poor Tourism projects in two villages. The first main goal of these Projects is to use tourism as a way to create a range of opportunities for people in the rural villages in the North of Ghana. This is necessary because many people depend on small scale farming activities which generate less income every year due to social and environmental changes. In Pro-Poor Tourism the aim is to employ particularly the poor and unskilled. Besides generating income for the villagers that are involved, a substantial part of the fee visitors pay is used to develop the community. Part of the money goes into the Meet Africa Projects Foundation, which supports the development of Sognaayilli and Gowrie and some local projects in the North of Ghana. One example is a microcredit program for a group of village women. Another part of the money goes into the Village Fund. The residents of the village in which you choose to stay will decide how the money in this fund will be used. For example the people of Sognaayilli wish to invest the money in an adequate water supply. Aside from employing the villagers and investing money in community projects, Meet Africa Projects Foundation also creates opportunities for the village residents by offering the project employees the training and education that they need. The second main goal of the project is getting people from different parts of the world to meet and get to know each other because we believe that mutual understanding can be a first step towards a feeling of solidarity and a belief in fair intercontinental relations.

People who want to visit Sognaayilli or Gowrie can stay in a host family in either village or in a new, traditionally built guesthouse in Sognaayilli. Visitors are encouraged to participate in daily activities of their host family such as fetching water, cooking, farming, fishing, selling products at the market, herding the animals, repairing or building the huts, playing with the children and going to celebrations like name-giving ceremonies, weddings, funerals or festivities. Besides this we offer tours in each village with an experienced and friendly local guide and many workshops and activities. All the activities are hosted by the local people and are built around their daily activities, this ensures that the villagers won’t become dependent on tourism for income, and it also benefits the authenticity of the experience.

Sognaayilli

Sognaayilli is a traditional Dagomba village approximately 10 kilometres away from Tamale. We have been receiving tourists here since November 2007 and feedback and evaluationforms show that they are always very enthusiastic about the village. In the village visitors are able to enjoy the rural scenery and the traditional village compound architecture and experience the local culture. The village is small and lively and can give visitors a taste of the village life even when they only have time for a short visit, for example when they like to stay for one or two nights before or after a visit to Mole. Even better is staying for more days to really get attuned to the village atmosphere and to have more time to interact with and get to know the local people. There is no electricity or running water in Sognaayilli so visitors can find out for themselves how the people here manage without many of the conveniences that are generally regarded as indispensible in the western world.

A day-tour with activities takes about 8 hours and costs 24 GHc per person with discounts for groups. A short tour takes about 3 hours and costs 12.5 GHc per person with discounts for groups. Activities in the village are: visiting the village chief; watching and participating in local drumming and dancing; a tour of the surroundings and the traditional shrines; making the local groundnut snack kuli-kuli; local cotton spinning and having your future told by the traditional soothsayer. We also offer extended excursions out of the village, like a visit to a weaving or batik workshop, a sheabutter factory, a tanner, a smith or a potter. A recent development in Sognaayilli is the building of a guesthouse in traditional architecture which is planned to become operational in June or July 2009. The guesthouse will increase the capacity of the project so that it will be able to accommodate groups of up to 20 tourists. Host families will remain available, and visitors will be able to choose where they want to stay. Staying the night in a host family or in the guesthouse currently costs 15 GHc with local food is included.

Contact and reservations: For details about the project in Sognaayilli, or to make a reservation, people can visit the Meet Africa office at Kanvilli, Tamale, along the Bolgatanga Road. They can take a taxi from town in the direction of Kamina, the office is directly opposite Nasona filling station. They can also contact us through phone on 024 550 75 77 or 024 482 41 10 or through e-mail on meetafrica.tamale@yahoo.com

Gowrie

Gowrie is a traditional Frafra village about 15 kilometres from Bolgatanga. We have received some visitors here in 2008 and 2009, and we are planning to officially start the project in May 2009. The village is situated next to a beautiful lake and the water is used to irrigate vegetable gardens and rice fields which form an impressive contrast with the surrounding savannah landscape. The village is quite extended, and the village area and the nearby Bongo Hills are very attractive for walking or bicycling tours of canoe trips across the lake.

In Gowrie visitors can stay with a host family for 15 GHc per person per night, in which local food is included. We offer a day-tour for 25 GHc per person or a package deal for people who want to do workshops and activities for as many days as they want to stay for 30 GHc per person. Activities in Gowrie include: visiting the village chief; making a basket or a hat with the basket weaver; Making tools or jewellery with the blacksmith; having your future told by the traditional soothsayer; taking a trip across the lake with in a canoe; listening to the local storyteller; watching and participating in local music and dancing; guided tours through the village area and to the bongo hills.

Contact and reservations: For details about the project in Gowrie, or to make a reservation, people can visit the Meet Africa office in Bolgatanga which is situated on the Commercial Road in the centre of town, opposite the Twin Bar. It is also possible to contact us by telephone on 024 933 31 84 or 024 371 80 50.

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