Yes it’s time to head to Africa in the first ever all Sub-Saharan Africa City Rumble! And who stands in diagonally opposite corners of the ring? Well in the red corner, capital of the East African nation of Ethiopia we have Addis Ababa. Up until recently it was believed the first humans were found in Ethiopia. Either way we all came from Africa at some point…
In the blue corner we have a West African city, the capital city of Ghana, the city with the name of Accra. A city on what used to be known as the Gold Coast of Africa, a city and country from which was born Kwame Nkrumah, considered by many as the father of African independence. Two fine and actually very different cities stand opposite each other looking their opponents in the eyes. So without further ado- let the rumble begin!
Greater Accra is a bustling place indeed with over 5 million inhabitants situated on the Atlantic Ocean. In contrast Addis Ababa is somewhere near the centre of Ethiopia – a completely landlocked country. In population there is very little difference with Addis having slightly less than Accra at 4.8 million.
Whilst Accra sits basically at sea level, Addis Ababa is a city with an elevation of 2355 metres. This means it’s at altitude and it’s not uncommon for visitors to be mildly affected by that. What it does mean is that we have two cities with vastly different climates.
Accra is honestly one of the most stifling places I have ever been to in terms of heat and in particular humidity. With temperatures usually in the mid to high thirties – well I was there in January when apparently it’s the worst – the nights were hard to sleep through and the days made you sweat even more.
Addis Ababa is both much cooler and much drier. It’s got that dry dusty feel to it although it does have it’s rainy times of the year. The temperature us mostly around 18 to 25 in terms of maximums. I found it pleasant to walk around. It’s more hilly than Accra for sure. Accra is lusher and tropical to the max.
The people of each city I found to be quite friendly. On my first full day in Accra i found myself chatting to a guy I met wandering down a road I was on for over an hour and everyone at my hotel was good for an evening chat. I also met some people in the market there and basically spent the best part of a day chatting away.
Addis was probably not quite as friendly but I certainly met people to chat with. Especially at my hotel.on the last night I was out having a beer at a local outdoor drinking place and myself and the guy I was traveling with got invited by a local to another this time indoor watering hole and had a great final night full of conversation.
As for money, well, there’s a clear winner for this category and that’s Addis. People are often surprised by just how expensive West Africa is, but it’s certainly no bargain destination although Ghana is one of the cheaper countries in the region.
The currency in Accra, Ghana, is the Cedi and one US dollar is worth just under 6 Cedi these days. They appear to have knocked a few naughts off the currency since I was there. The biggest expense is your accommodation as it usually is but it’s tough to find decent budget accommodation and frankly you’ll want air conditioning which adds to the price. You may want to grab some food from home whilst there too at a supermarket but again this can be pricey.
Hotels in Addis aren’t that cheap but easily save you money compared to Accra. I stayed in the iconic Ras Hotel for under 20 bucks a night which was serviceable with a good restaurant. My Accra hotel no longer exists but was a similar price for far less quality and seemed to be the only option in that price range at the time.
Food is a a win for Addis as well. Ethiopian food is spicy and different but also very tasty almost always eaten with this sour bread called injera. The Italian influence though permeates through the Ethiopian capital and there are loads if options for Italian food and pizza. It’s an Addis favourite. Plenty of options too in Accra, but not to the same availability and quality of Addis Ababa.
Sights – well neither city is chocked full of sights, but both have a fair if modest choice if things to see and do. As I said earlier Accra is associated heavily with Kwame Nkrumah and you’ll find a museum, statues and a house operation diary to visit where he once lived. You really can’t underestimate his contribution to not only Ghanaian but African independence across the entire continent.
The museum I saw there was very… dusty. The centre of town is nice and well maintained and includes a clock tower. Perhaps my number one highlight from Accra is spending a day in the market and watching life good by. And Accra is a brilliant city for that.
Addis is actually an attractive city in many respects and although hilly is nice to wander. It’s unique as is Ethiopia and you can see statues to socialism in town, boulevards at times are you quite wide and there are some grand yet aging buildings.
The national museum is not to be missed to see the statue of ‘Lucy’ which at one point was considered the oldest human remains in the world. If you weren’t to stay at the Ras Hotel then visiting it wouldn’t be a bad idea as it has quite a bit of history attached. Nelson Mandela stayed there once.
All in all it’s a tight bout today but I’m giving it to Addis Ababa on points. The climate make a a big difference when visiting in my opinion and there’s no doubt there’s something special and unique about not just Addis Ababa but Ethiopia on the whole. What do you think? As always I love to read your comments! Take care and as always May the Journey Never End!