By Nirav Shah
If you ever happen to be in the western part of Africa, do not pass up on the opportunity to travel for a week in Ghana. Terrains change from thick rainforests to vast savannah within a day’s travel. Elephants forage a few meters away, as you watch in awe.
I was lucky to explore this land a couple of years ago. I swung on rope bridges high up the rainforest canopy and climbed the highest peak in Ghana. Here are a few tips from me to make the best of your trip.
Where To Go , What To Do
An idyllic ex-colonial coastal town frequented by foreigners, famous for its sea food, slave castles and night life. Relax by white surf beaches and go canopy walking at the Kakum National Park, a rain forest that is a short taxi ride away. Thin rope bridges connect huge trees hundreds of feet above the ground. Visit the imposing Cape Coast and Elmina castles for a lesson on the infamous days of the slave trade. On a lighter note – don’t miss the hilarious shop names here.
Also known as the ‘Garden City’ for its beautiful flowers and plants, this town is the seat of the Ashanti King – a powerful ruler of a tribe that once lorded over most of West Africa. Kumasi is steeped in cultural heritage, with attractions such as Fort Kumasi, the Hat Museum and the Kumasi National Cultural Center. It also has a decently maintained zoo that boasts of a diverse variety of birds and animals.
The capital of Ghana, this city is a typical urban centre with traffic snarls, pollution and busy markets. While Accra does not boast of many tourist attractions, it is a good base from which to explore different regions of Ghana. Photography enthusiasts should not miss out on photo walks through the bustling markets here!
Mole National Park and Larabanga Mosque:
Located in the northern part of the country, this is where you can experience a savannah environment. Standing 20 meters away from a herd of male elephants with no vehicle to run back to, or watching antelope jump around as you walk in the park can definitely be your trip highlights. However, sighting the lion is a rarity that requires persistent exploration over more than one day. The Larabanga Mosque – the oldest mosque in West Africa built in the 15th century is a few miles from the park, and is a must-visit.
The Volta region in East Ghana is simply the most beautiful; and the existence of stupendous waterfalls such as the Wli waterfalls, the highest waterfalls in Ghana at 60M bear testimony to this. Bathing under the cascade is refreshing, especially when you have thousands of bats resting on the cliff walls. A challenging 3-hour hike can take you to the upper reaches of the wall where the the waterfall takes on a vivid beauty.
When in a country, why not climb its highest peak! Especially when it is like Mount Afadjato, Ghana’s highest sole-standing mountain located in the Volta region that takes an hour to summit with the help of a guide. The view from up the mountain is incomparable, and a hike around it is a the perfect way to explore the rain forest.
Tafi Atome Monkey Village:
Tafi Atome about 230km Northeast of Accra is on the Accra-Hohoe road. A branch 10km west of Logba leads to the home of monkeys. A visit to this village shows you how peacefully humans and monkeys live together. A must-visit if you want to overcome your fear of our closest animal brothers.
Know before you go
Transport: Accra is the ideal airport to book a flight to. While taxis are available for inter and intra-city travel; using state buses and tro-tros (shared taxi vans) are a cheap option for the budget traveler. Ghana has good quality roads and hence travelling long distances usually does not take much time.
Telephone: SIM cards of multiple service providers e.g. MTN are easily available.
Currency: The Ghanian currency is the Cedi, with current rates at 1 Cedi = 30 INR
Visa: Visa applications have to be made to your nearest Ghanaian embassy.