Lake Bosomtwe Tourist Map and Guide
This website provides you with an interactive map on ecotourism and additional background information.

Background Information

1.3 Million years ago, a meteorite with the size of aprox. 800m hit the earth and created a huge crater which is today Lake Bosomtwe (sometimes spelled "Bosumtwi"). The average diameter of the crater rim is 10.5km, the hills reach altitudes of over 600m. At the recent water level, the lake itself has an average diameter of 8.5km and is about 76m deep.
After the impact the landscape in the area went through several different stages caused by climate changes. Several periods of heavy rainfall filled the whole crater with water so the lake level was up to the lowest points of the rim. The scientific proofs for these periods are fish fossils found in sediment layers up to the highest altitudes of the hills. Extraordinary heavy rainfalls even caused periods with water flowing out of the basin through an overflow channel (see map). But there were also times when the water level was so low that rain forest could come up inside the basin and the lake itself was only a small pond. This period lasted until about 300 years before present.

The legends say that in 1648 an Ashanti hunter named Akora Bompe from the city of Asaman was chasing an injured antelope through the rainforest. Suddenly, the animal disappeared in a small pond, as if the little water wanted to save the animals life. The hunter never got the antelope but he settled close to the water and started catching the fish. And he called the place “Bosumtwi” meaning “god's antelope”. This story also gives a hint that by then the lake level was very low, and the dead tree giants standing offshore in the lake give evidence for it as they are over 300 years old.
The following centuries saw several wars about the lake as the Ashanti and the Akim both claimed the area to be theirs. Finally the Ashanti were victorious and secured Lake Bosumtwi for their kingdom.
Many fallen Ashanti warriors from Asaman were buried in a mass grave close to the lake. This place is called Ekoho (see map) and it was never allowed to farm there. Because of this protection the intact primary rainforest and a rich biodiversity that is today destroyed in many parts of the basin remained untouched in that area. It is situated close to the village of Esaase but as it is a holy and secret place and with respect to the dead we don’t give any hints how to get there.

The Ashanti consider Lake Bosumtwi as a god. He was born on a sunday, and the people will celebrate the birthday of the lake in a special festival called Akwasidae.
Each village in the lake area has its own shrine or fetish grove. With the arrival of christianity, some of the people lost their belief in those, but still many are worshipping them for help in bad times or against diseases.
The spiritual centre of the lake is the Abrodwum Stone (see map). Here, all the lake people will sacrifice a cow when an omen of bad fish harvest occurs.This act is celebrated in the presence of his majesty, the Ashanti king, the Asantehene himself. In the ceremony, the guts of the cow will be given to the stone and the rest is thrown into the lake, so the crowd will rush into the water with cutlasses and axes to take their share of the meat. This happening is surely worth seeing it, but as the omen mentioned above depends on various different factors,it is hardly predictable.

In former times, it was a taboo to touch the water with iron things, so the people never used conventional boats. Traditionally they move on the lake using the padua, a wooden plank that needs a lot of skill to be handled in the right way.

 

Today the area belongs to Ashanti region. There are about 23 000 people living in the 27 lake communities. Most of them are fishermen as fishing was their single source of income for a long time.

With the growing population the need for fish increased and with more people fishing the catches steadily decreased. That’s why the people started farming. As more and more of the hills are converted into farmland, exposing the ground to the heavy rainfalls, erosion is degrading the soils.
Today the people are facing substantial problems caused by overfishing and inadequate farming methods.
Another problem is the lake level. It has always been an is still changing and many of the villages were submerged several times forcing the people to move up the slopes or outside the basin. That is why there are now double names like Pipie No.1 and Pipie No.2 (see map).

There are now attempts to declare Lake Bosumtwi an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The area surely deserves this title, but unfortunately it isn't promoted at all and neither the western nor the african societies know a lot about this fact. But when you see the morning fog over the hills enlightened by the rising sun you will understand that in spite of the environtmental problems it is facing today, Lake Bosumtwi is truly a unique gemstone of West Africa.