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Beat the Tourists to Southeastern Ghana

It is the rainy season and the bus weaves back and forth, trying to avoid the potholes that are partially hidden by the puddles. I am heading towards Bowiri Kyiriahi, one of 10 Bowiri villages in the southeast Volta region of Ghana, beautifully nestled in the low mountains near the Togolese border.

The people here see few tourists, however. Over 95 percent of foreigners who come to the country go only to the capital, the coast, and the major cities.

In Santrokofi, Deborah, a grandmother with a wonderful laugh punctuating every second sentence, carries a scythe in a smooth metal pot balanced easily on her head and pushes through the brush. She chats to me in English mixed with four or five other languages. Although she has many children and grandchildren, she manages this plot of land on her own.

She points with pride to her mango, avocado, pear, coconut palm, plantain, and banana trees. She digs in the earth to pull up the roots of the cassava tree that she'll boil and pound into fufu, a starch that forms the base of many meals here. Then she carefully places the full white tub back on her head for the walk home.

In Bowri Lakham, a British volunteer is working with local groups in community development. She has helped organize women's groups to learn batik and other techniques for the trade and sale of cloth. They pool their resources of labor and cash to expand their options for income generation to supplement their farming.

The Ghana Tourist Board, the Nature Conservation Research Center (NCRC), and volunteers from the U.S. Peace Corps plan to develop tourism in the area. Perhaps within a year chalets will be built in Bowri Lakham for adventurous travelers who want to explore the mountains, caves, and nearby waterfalls such as Wei falls and Tago.

Meanwhile, for more information on volunteering and tourism in this region contact the Peace Corps or tourist board offices in Accra.

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