Nuts N’ Bolts Guide to Ghana!

Ghana. It’s in West Africa. It’s a country! And here is my basic guide to a place I visited – many years ago now it must be said!

Basically…

Ghana is a country in West Africa, bordering Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso in the north. It’s coastline is in the south of the country, on the Atlantic Ocean. Ghana was formerly known as the ‘Gold Coast’, and also, like many countries in the region, was a country which, at the height of the slave trade, experienced a huge, forced displacement of its people to the ‘New World’ as slaves.

Its population is a fraction under 29 million, or at least it was according to the interweb back in 2017 so in 2019 it may have ticked over the 29 million mark. It’s land mass, when googled, comes up as 238,535 km squared. The capital is Accra, which I have heard pronounced with both emphasis on the first and second syllable (not in the same utterance). So how exactly you are supposed to pronounce it is anyone’s guess. From outside the country I have heard most commonly AccRA, but inside I think ACCra was more common.

You’ll find most people speak some English if not are fluent in English. Unlike its neighbours, who were colonised by the French, Ghana was colonised by the British.

Main Towns and Places

I must confess to not exploring nearly as much of the country as I would have liked to when I was there. The capital Accra is certainly worth a few days. Along the coast you will find ‘Cape Coast’, a relaxed town with a nice vibe. Only a few kilometres on from there is the fishing village of Elmina. Both are worth stopping at, and both have large forts which you can visit, both having played a part in the slave trade in primarily the 17th * 18th centuries, the official year of the slave trade finishing was 1838 in the British Colonies.

Downtown Accra

One of the main Accran streets.

Not too far from Cape Coast is the Kakum National Park. It’s really a gorgeous spot with this amazing canopy walkway high in the trees, and I think you can stay over night in a tree house too if you organise it. Possibly my favourite highlight from my time in Ghana.

Elmina

Kumasi is an inland town which some visit. It has a Hat Museum, and if I was to ever go back to Ghana, this would be the one place that I missed which I would be sure to visit. Yes, a museum all about HATS.

History

Kwame Nkrumah monument and museum.

Ghana was one of the first if not the first country in Africa to gain its independence from European rule in 1957. In comparison, Nigeria became independent in 1960 and Kenya in 1963. Kwame Nkrumah was their first President and drove the campaign for independence, and is an important figure across Africa for doing so. You can find a museum and monument in Accra to Kwame, and I recommend you visit this whilst you are there. Another famous Ghanaian is former UN Chief, Kofi Annan.

Getting There

You should be able to cross the land borders from Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo with little to no hassle. I crossed into Togo and found it quick and easy. Ghana is a pretty stable country, but a couple of its neighbours are not so much, especially Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), so check the situation before you go, and also with Burkina Faso.

By air you have a few options, mostly from Europe. Emirates fly there, as do Royal Air Maroc, Air France, Turkish Airlines, British Airways, and Delta from the States. There are a number of other airlines as well. The airport is a little way out of the city and you may need a taxi to get in.

Getting Around

There are a few local airlines in Ghana, although many are awaiting classification and/or mainly focus on freight. You are probably going to end up taking busses or ‘Bush-taxis’ (also known as tro-tros). The buses are okay in Ghana, but are often not overly comfortable and you end up a little squashed as they try to seat (in my one experience) seven across. These days there may be a more ‘VIP’ standard available.

Night or Day you have your bush taxis

Bush-taxis are a lot of fun, but can also be a bit cramped. Mini-vans that wait until they are completely full to leave, but once they do leave they will get you to your destination a lot faster than a bus. You may find a share taxi, or be able to hire a taxi for yourself, at extra expense. Depends on your budget.

Budget and Money

Ghana has its own currency, the Cedi. Other countries that surround Ghana use the CFA, the West African Franc, but Ghana has stood firm with its own currency, the Cedi. Presently, one US Dollar is worth around 5.35 Ghanaian Cedis.

Ghana is one of the cheaper countries of the region to travel, with the exception to that being accommodation in the capital, Accra. Over a decade ago I spent around $20US for a rundown place with no air conditioning and no back-up generator. I would advise in Accra air conditioning if you can afford it. I expect you’d need to pay at least $US50 for a decent, clean room with air-con.

Otherwise you can eat and drink for a few bucks, and there are supermarkets as well where you can find a whole raft of European products if you feel the need. Transport between towns will only put you back a few bucks if you stick to buses and bush-taxis.

Climate and Food

It’s hot. Stinking HOT. And humid! I didn’t have any air conditioning when I was there. I think if I was to go back I would be looking for it in most cases. My hotel in Accra had very poor ventilation though which didn’t help.

You can find roast chicken just about anywhere. Guesthouses often have a little restaurant and will do simple western dishes if you like. The local fair is punctuated by plantain. You’ll find it being cooked on the roadside frequently. And stews – often a peanut sauce (which for me is deadly). There is this sort of ‘rodent’ they like to eat too.

You will find places to eat in Accra to most food tastes though.

Health Concerns

Ahhhh well, it’s in a malarial area so you need to get medical advice on that before you go. And a bunch of other things, you’ll need a good set of jabs. If you have a peanut allergy, you will want to be very cautious of the food as I’ve mentioned.

Visas

Finally, most people, including Americans and Australians, need a visa to enter the country so contact your nearest consulate (there is one in Washington DC and also Sydney for example) about conditions and costs. The Sydney Consulate lists the fee as $140AUD for a single entry visas, which has more than doubled in price since I visited. If you want to visit some of its neighbours you may want to consider a multiple entry visa for convenience, as Ghana would be a good base for the region.

A statue of Kwame Nkrumah.

If you have any questions, please ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them! Thanks for reading, and May the Journey Never End!

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