Travel & Tourism
Often hailed as one of Africa’s post-colonial success stories, a model of political stability and economic soundness in a region plagued by civil strife and violent unrest, Ghana has a rising profile on the world stage thanks to a budding energy industry (the recent discovery of oil has helped), an unfettered and active free press, a countrywide compulsory education system, vibrant fashion and music scenes, and a growing reputation as a tourism hot spot on the African continent.
Ghana has something to satisfy every traveler’s appetite. If you seek a bustling, cosmopolitan urban center by the beach (why not, right?), check out Accra. If you’re itching to go on safari, scratch that itch by camping in Mole National Park, where you can watch a herd of elephants pass by from the comfort of your tent. Or perhaps you want to celebrate the rich ethnic and cultural heritage of Ghana with the locals? Don’t leave Ghana without experiencing one of its memorable festivals. Take it from us: the natural beauty, colorful landscapes, and warm hospitality of Ghana’s people are not to be missed.
What to Do in Ghana
1. Cape Coast and Elmina: Go back in time and gain a greater understanding of the African slave trade by touring the castles and forts, the nerve centers of the British slave trade, of Cape Coast and Elmina. Cape Coast Castle and Elmina are both UNESCO World Heritage sites and offers excellent museums with guided tours. After a day of soaking up some serious history, kick back with a few cocktails oceanside at the Oasis Beach Resort in Cape Coast.
2. Beaches: If you like chilling on the beach, you’ll love Ghana. With 530 kilometers of coastline, Ghana has every type of beach you could imagine, and it’s relatively easy to hop down or up the coast from one to another. A few we like are Axim Beach, Kokrobite, Takoradi, Busua, EG White Sands, La Palm, and Biriwa. If you’re looking for a more relaxed, calm ocean vacation, we recommend researching resorts. Otherwise, much of the water off Ghana’s beaches is rough and more conducive to surfing than swimming. As well, you might be sharing the ocean with fishermen as they haul their catches, which is a fascinating sight itself if you’re up for it.
3. Mole National Park: Ghana’s largest national park is home to 90 species of mammals, including elephants, baboons, antelope, and more. The truly adventurous may rent a tent at the Mole Motel, where they’ll sleep in less than first-class accommodations, but it’s well worth the sacrifice for the priceless view: a much frequented animal watering hole.
4. Accra: This hectic, inviting city is at the heart of a modernizing Ghana. To get a taste for what it means to be a Ghanaian in the 21st century, hang out in Accra. Visit the frenetic, open-air Makola Market to shop, the National Museum for a history fix, or the Osu Might Market, where hundreds of outdoor food stalls offer dinner in the Ghanaian style, by candlelight.
5. Kumasi: Home of the Ashanti people and the so-called spiritual capital of Ghana, Kumasi has one of Africa’s largest central markets. Traders from all across Africa descend on the market to sell their wares. For a view into the life of a traditional African democracy, spend some time in the public courtroom of the Palace of the Asantehene, the seat of the Ashanti king.
6. Volta Region: Ghana’s most easterly region is a virtual a paradise of scenic beauty, notably the Wli waterfalls, the monkey sanctuaries of Tafi Atome, and the ancestral limestone caves of Lipke.
7. Kakum National Park: The park is situated in one of the last living rain forests in the world. To experience the ecosystem firsthand, take the round tour via Canopy Walkway; at as much as 40 meters (130 feet) up, the visitor can approach the plants and animals in their living space.
8. Bonwire: The birthplace and home of Asanta Kente weaving, this is the place to buy and view extraordinary Kente cloth, worn and sold all over the world.
9. Ahwiaa: This town in central Ghana produces exceptionally carved wood figures and artifacts. Visit Mampong Road to see skillful carvers who produce Ashanti stools, masks, symbolic figures, bone and ivory beads, and walking sticks.
10. Academy of African Music and Art (AAMA): Rhythm and drumming play a large role in traditional Ghanaian life, and the beat of West Africa has influenced music the world over for centuries. To get a crash course in the Ghanaian beat, visit AAMA, located in a fishing village outside of Accra. AAMA was founded by one of Ghana’s most famous musicians, the master drummer Mustafa Tettey Addy. It’s the place to learn the basics of traditional Ghanaian music, drumming, and dance.
11.Visit Kejetia Market: Kejetia Market is often referred to as the largest market in West Africa. It has over 11,000 stalls and 40,000 workers. The market sells food, knick-knacks, Ashanti sandals, glass beads, jewelry, and shoes. You can also go with a guide who can help you to find amazing goods as well as provide tips on bargaining.
12.Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary: This small community-protected forest presents a close-up encounter with two different monkey species: the black and white colobus monkey and the Lowe’s mona monkey. Both species are held sacred by the area’s local villagers.
13. Busua: Looking for a beach adventure during your trip to Ghana? Visit the coastal village of Busua. This community offers great seafood restaurant and a popular surfing scene. In fact, the beaches run for about nine miles west to Cape Three Points, and they are lined with isolated and beautiful resorts.
When to Go
Ghana has a tropical climate, thanks to its proximity to the equator, which means it’s hot pretty much year-round, with some seasonal rains. While temperatures vary with region, season, and elevation, the temperature generally falls between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 and 32 degrees Celcius,) with high levels of humidity. The coastal region of Ghana has two rainy seasons, one peaking in May or June, the other in October. In the north, the single rainy season starts in May or June. High tourist season lasts from June to August.
Getting In and Around
Visas: Before traveling to Ghana, make sure that your passport is not about to expire; you could be refused entry to the country if your passport will expire within six months of your planned departure date. Most tourists traveling to Ghana will require an entry visa. Travelers must apply for this visa at a Ghanaian embassy. Expect the visa process to take approximately two weeks. The visa will be good for up to 60 days.By law, visitors entering Ghana must be able to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate. In practice, you will most likely not need to produce that document, but for safety’s sake we suggest that you obtain one before entry.
Transportation: Ghana International Airlines flies between London, Accra, and Düsseldorf. Beginning in the spring of 2010, United Airlines began flying a daily non-stop from Washington, D.C., to Accra. Other major airlines with flights in and out of Accra include Alitalia, British Airways, Egypt Air, Emirates, Kenya Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, and Royal Air Maroc.
Traveling by bus is the most efficient and safest way to get around Ghana, especially between major centers. The State Transport Company offers regular and reliable bus routes throughout the country. Driving is also very common in Ghana, and despite the country’s British colonial heritage, Ghanaians drive on the right, not the left. Travelers commonly rent a car or hire a driver for the duration of their trip. Hiring a driver for one or more days can be an affordable alternative to renting a car, and the price is often negotiable.
Mobile Phones: If you have an unlocked GSM mobile phone, it can be used in Ghana. Travelers can buy local SIM cards when they arrive, which will allow them to make calls at local rates.
Safety and Security
Concerned about your safety as you plan travel to Ghana? We at Africa.com, together with our friends, family and colleagues, travel extensively throughout the continent. Here are the resources we consult when thinking of our safety in Ghana:
Africa.com comment: Very timely and frequently updated. Perspective assumes that you ARE going to travel to Ghana, and seeks to give you good guidance so that you understand the risks and are well informed.
Africa.com comment: An annual ranking of the 54 African countries based on their relative personal security as determined by a highly qualified staff of an African foundation, funded by a successful African philanthropist. See where Ghana ranks relative to the other 54 nations in Africa.
Africa.com comment: Can sometimes be considered as overly conservative and discourage travel altogether to destinations that many reasonable people find acceptably secure. On the other hand, they have the resources of the CIA to inform them, so they know things that the rest of us don’t know. See what they have to say about Ghana.
1. Ghana is divided into ten administrative regions, the largest and most populated of them being Greater Accra, where approximately one-sixth of the population resides. Accra has been the capital city and the seat of Ghana’s government since 1877, when the British ruled this part of West Africa. The regions include Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, and Western.
2. The Ghanaian currency is called the cedi, derived from the Akan word for cowrie shell. Cowrie shells were once used in Ghana as a form of currency. A hundred pesewas make up one cedi. The symbol for the cedi is GH₵.
3. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana guarantees freedom of the press and allows for an independent media; as a result, the media in Ghana are among the most active and free from censorship in all of Africa. The mix of state-run and independent media sources in Ghana creates a diverse and vibrant press within the country. Major state-owned newspapers include the Daily Graphic and the Ghanaian Times, while the two most popular independent papers are the Ghanaian Chronicle and The Independent. Press radio and television are also widely popular; the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation provides both television and radio stations.
4. The official language of Ghana is English; however, most Ghanaians speak one of nine government-sponsored indigenous languages. Of these latter, Akan is the most widely spoken throughout Ghana.
5. Here is Ghanaian social etiquette 101: Smoking in public places is socially acceptable. Ask before taking someone’s picture. Always greet everyone in a party, starting with the elders. Don’t eat, wave, shake, or point with your left hand, as that is considered taboo.