Lost Girl’s Guide to Ghana

Extras — By on November 3, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Cape Coast Ghana

By Jessica Festa
Special to Lost Girls 

Ghana is located in Western Africa and is a nation rich with culture, history, and chances to experience nature. The people of Ghana are friendly and welcoming, curious to learn about your life, and tell you about their own. Walking around Ghana, you will often feel like you are in one giant open-air market as hawkers sell goods such food, clothing, toys, house wares and accessories, from right off the top of their heads.

Best Places to Visit in Ghana

Accra

Though the air in this capital city is saturated with diesel-fuel and you will often find yourself sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on pothole-filled roads, there is also a lot to do and see in Accra. Spend a day wandering the markets in Kaneshie and Tema Station, learn about local life at the National Culture Center, relax on sandy beaches, and take in the history and monuments such as the Jamestown Lighthouse, Black Star Square, and Independence Arch. For those feeling overwhelmed by culture shock, head over to Osu, the more touristy section of Accra, or visit the Accra Mall where you can enjoy some of your favorite comfort foods like pizza and burgers, as you will most likely not encounter this ever again during your travels in Ghana.

Kokrobite

This small beach town is the perfect laid back place to unwind, while learning about art and culture. Big Milly’s Backyard, a backpackers hostel accommodation on the beach, is the major hub of the town for foreigners and locals alike. The property host an open-air markets where you can find art, statues, clothing, bags, games, jewelry, and more. When you’re finished stocking up, you can relax in the restaurant

Cafe Des Artes Ghana

bar. On the weekends, cultural and reggae shows take the stage and bring energy to the sleepy town. Along with hanging out at Big Milly’s, be sure to experience some of the Rastafarian culture that seems to dominate Kokrobite. Peruse art at the Art Market, sip palm wine while listening to Bob Marley at the outdoor Cafe Des Artes, and learn to play drums on the beach from the boys at Berlin Drum School.

Cape Coast

History-enthusiasts and nature-lovers should spend as much time as possible in Cape Coast, as it is full of opportunities to learn about the past as well as have interactive adventures in the outdoors. It doesn’t really matter if you stay right in the center of town at the popular Oasis Resort or farther out at the other well-known Hans Cottage Botel, as the slave castles, markets, national parks, hiking trails, and animal sites are dispersed throughout the city. Remember to use your bartering skills here with the taxis, as there is always a “foreigner price” that is much higher than the “local price.”

The Volta Region

While the Volta Region is enormous, a great home-base to explore it is Wli-Afegame, as you will be surrounded by mountainous landscapes, beautiful waterfalls, and the Volta Lake. The town itself is peaceful and remote, although a 30 minute tro-tro or taxi ride will get you into the busy city of HoHoe. Bananas are a staple of this region, so make sure to purchase a bundle as they are always fresh and sweet.

Things To Do in Ghana

Visit the Slave Castles

cape coast castle GhanaIn Cape Coast, make sure to visit the Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle. These castles were once stops on the Atlantic Slave Trade, and are now open to the public. Take a guided tour and learn about the history of the castle and slavery while seeing the rooms and chambers with your own eyes. The castles played a huge role in Ghana’s history, and it can have quite a profound effect to actually stand in the rooms where the slaves were kept.

Walk the Canopy Bridge

In Kakum National Park in Cape Coast, there is a canopy bridge located high above the trees. The walkway is made up of seven sections of bridges and is over 1,000 feet long. As you walk, the bridge swings and shakes, and sometimes it even seems like you are going to fall over the edge. While scary, it is a fun experience and also a great way to get aerial photographs of the forest and park.

wlifalls ghanaHike Wli Falls

Located in Wli-Afegame in the Volta Region is a gorgeous waterfall that visitors are allowed to hike. Those looking for a relaxing adventure can opt for the bottom falls hike, which takes forty minutes and goes over flat ground. If you’re physically fit and looking for a challenge, experience the upper falls hike, which takes about three hours depending on your fitness level and is extremely steep and rocky. Along the way, stop at the different lookout points for unique scenic views of the mountains, forests, and falls of the area.

Visit Volta Lake and the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary

Volta Lake is the body of water for which the Volta Region is named, so of course you should visit it. And, visiting the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary will give you a chance to feed monkeys bananas in the forest, an unforgettable experience. The monkeys will literally leap at your from the trees to get to the food. There is a man in Wli-Afegame named Ste

Monkey Ghana

phan who owns the Ras Madesko hotel accommodation. If you’re not already staying there, walk over to his place and ask him if he could drive you around in his truck to see the Volta Lake, the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, and the nearby villages. Since all of the sites are all spread out, using a taxi service

can be very expensive, and tro-tro’s in the area are a bit unreliable since Wli-Afegame is remote. Stephan is a sweet Rastafarian man who will give you a great deal. The trip will take about three or four hours.

See a Cultural Show

In Kokrobite, you can head over to Big Milly’s on the weekend nights to see reggae dancers, hear live singers, and watch locals in intricate costumes put on shows where they do acrobatics, gymnastics, and eat fire. It is a lot of fun and usually ends in the crowd getting up and dancing themselves.

Visit the Centre for National Culture

In Accra you will find the Centre for National Culture. This can be a great starting point for you trip to Ghana, as it will give you taste of the art and culture of the country through sculptures, paintings, theatre showcases, and handicraft markets.

Where To Eat in Ghana

If you’re looking to eat at a sit down restaurant, you are usually going to have to eat at a resort or hotel, which can be a bit pricey. For a more authentic feel, go to one of the eateries on the side of the road, which are often private homes that have been turned into makeshift restaurants. Don’t be afraid, the food is almost always fresh and very inexpensive. There are plenty of stands on the sides of the roads though, and you can always find hawkers walking around selling food and drinks.

How To Stay Safe in Ghana

While the people of Ghana are extremely friendly and nice, you have to remember that most foreigners are seen as being a lot more wealthy than they really are. Because of this, it is easy to find yourself in situations where locals will try to con you into giving them things or rob you.

Even people who are your “friends” in Ghana may try to guilt you into giving them money. Don’t take it personally, but instead try to see things from their side.

Canopy Walk Ghana

At the same time, don’t believe and trust everything you hear. Don’t flash your valuables around, keep your money, passport, and cards hidden in a money belt, and if you must bring a purse, wear one that you can hold against your body

in front of you. For women, it can also be helpful to tell people that you are married, even if you aren’t, as proposals and advances from Ghanaian men are more frequent than you may think.

How to Save Money in Ghana

Most likely, this will not be a problem, as usually even with marketers and taxi drivers trying to rip off foreigners you still end up spending a lot less money than you usually would at home. There are still a few tips to save money, such as riding the tro-tro, which is basically a packed out mini-van, instead of taking a taxi. Also, don’t be afraid to barter, as foreigners are usually given an inflated price to begin with. When eating, stay away from the hotel and resort restaurants and instead purchase meals from smaller mom and pop type venues or from hawkers on the side of the road.

Don’t Leave Ghana Without…

Learning to play the drums! Drumming is a huge part of the culture in Ghana, as even small children seem to play better than famous rock stars. Even if you’re not looking to go pro, take a drum lesson just to get an idea of how to play and create beats. When I took a lesson with the Berlin Drum School in Kokrobite, the boys set up the drums on the beach and not only taught me about the different drums and how to play them, but also performed an entire dance routine to my drumming. It was like a two-for-one lesson in Ghanaian culture.

 

Tags: , , ,

    6 Comments

  • Rich Girl says:

    Great information about Ghana. I am still very afraid of going there, but at least it is good to know about this place and see some pictures!

  • @Rich Girl- I was nervous to go at first too but it’s honestly such an amazing place! The people are so friendly. It was funny because I am from New York and I was talking to one of the locals I befriended about traveling and he goes “I would be kind of scared to go to New York I heard it’s dangerous and there are a lot of guns”.

  • Anne says:

    I just got back from Ghana! I was in the Volta Region for 6 weeks volunteering through Village Volunteers. It was the most amazing experience of my life. Word of advice; keep your money belt ON you. I kept mine in my bag and was pick-pocketed. My money and passport were stolen, and it was a long process to get a replacement. Safeguard your belongings, and you will be fine. I still had a wonderful time even though I was pick-pocketed. The people are nicer than anyone I’ve met in the US, and the food is delicious. I would go back to Ghana in a heartbeat!

  • Joel says:

    Hi Jessica
    Glad to hear you enjoyed Ghana. This is a great overview piece that you wrote but seems a shame to skip over the areas of interest so quickly.
    Some of my favourites are Busua beach and Kakum National Park; which you mentioned. Also the north is a little more wild but culturally very interesting.
    Hope you make it back again someday.