Ghana, with its sunny equatorial climate and abundant wildlife, is a true nature-lover’s delight. The country’s wonderful diversity of natural attractions, historical heritage and its vibrant cultural identity offers visitors of Ghana a microcosmic taste of Africa.
Over the years, Ghana has emerged as a pioneer in the field of community-based ecotourism, enabling tourists to soak in both Ghana’s nature and culture. A perfect example of this is the Boabeng-Fiem Monkey Sanctuary. The sanctuary is nestled between the villages of Boabeng and Fiema and is home to over 200 Geoffrey’s Pied Columbus and 500 Campbell's Mona monkeys. For more than 150 years the people of Boabeng and Fiema have considered the monkeys sacred. Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary is the only place in Africa where one can easily view these species in their numbers.
Ecotourism projects are also rife in the Volta region, the most topographically varied part of Ghana. This region is a haven for ecotourism fans and offers outdoor enthusiasts some fantastic opportunities for hiking and mountain biking. Several tour operators in the region are offering experiences where travelers can truly connect with the country and its culture. Jolinaiko Eco Tours, for example, is a Ghana-based travel company that aims to bring visitors into close contact with the local people and their lifestyle in order to give them the opportunity to learn from each other in a friendly, respectful way.
Jolinaiko Eco Tours will take visitors to stay in Atsiekpoe, a small village on the green banks of the Volta River. Local life is very much centered around the river, where local fishermen prepare their boats and nets, children play and swim and women do their laundry. The village consists largely of termite clay houses with thatched roofs. Accommodation is offered at the Cashew Village Lodge, which consists of two mud-brick/termite-clay buildings with thatched roofs offering five basic guestrooms. (Overnight stays including dinner and breakfast cost on average $17.) During their stay at Atsjiekpoe, visitors can try their hand at basket weaving, shrimp and tilapia fishing or participate in a drumming and dancing workshop.
Besides its abundant wildlife and warm and welcoming culture, Ghana also offers visitors a rich history. The country has the greatest concentration of colonial-era forts of any country in Africa. These are found most prominently in the Central region and the Western region and to a lesser extent in the Greater Accra region and the Volta region. Certainly the most visited are Cape Coast castle and Elmina castle. The forts are relics and important sites of the slave trade, where visitors will get a glimpse into this dark and mysterious past.
Take respite from the Ghanaian heat and history and end your stay with a relaxing few days along the country’s exotic beaches. Kokrobite is a funky beach town well suited to all beach lovers who feel like something different. It is a home for all reggae lovers and Rastafarians and has an incredible party atmosphere. A favorite activities at Kokrobite is to arrange a bonfire celebration at night, complete with drumming, singing and dancing.
Those looking for a more peaceful beach experience can head to Ada Beach, an area of great scenic beauty located at the estuary of the Volta River. Its extensive sand bars have become nesting grounds for sea birds. Endangered species of marine turtles can also be found here.
Need to know
How to get there?
- Delta Airlines offers direct flights from New York Kennedy to Kotoka Airport in Accra six times per week.
- U.S. citizens require a visa for entry. Visas may be obtained from the nearest Ghanaian embassy, or visitors can apply at the airport upon arrival.
- There are single-entry visas, valid for entry up to 30 days from the date of issue.
- The multiple-entry visas allow any number of entries into Ghana for various time periods from the date of issue or to the date of your passport expiration, whichever occurs first.
- Both types of visas are valid for a stay of up to three months in Ghana, after which a visa extension should be purchased at an immigration office in Ghana.
- The official language of Ghana is English. There are, however, over 70 different tribal groups, each with its own distinct language.
- The currency of Ghana is the cedi.
- Ghana is basically a cash society. ATMs are sprouting everywhere in the cities and will usually work with international networks. Travelers cheques are rarely accepted. Credit cards can be used at upscale locations in Accra, Kumasi and a couple of the larger coastal cities but are mostly useless outside these locations.
- Ghana is a tropical country.
- The southwesten part is located within the warm, wet forest zone similar to the Amazon. In Southern Ghana, the rains last from April to June and again from September to October.
- Generally temperatures range from 70 to almost 90 degrees.
- Accra, the capital, is located in the dry equatorial cones.
- Northern Ghana has a rainy season from about April to October. The rest of the year is hot and dry, with temperatures climbing as high as 100 degrees.
- Malaria is prevalent in Ghana. Be sure to bring a DEET-based mosquito repellant, as these are difficult to find in Ghana. Consult your health care provider for prophylaxis anti-malaria medication.
- A Yellow Fever vaccination is required for entry into Ghana. Visitors may be asked to show proof of immunization at the border.
- There are a number of excellent medical facilities in Accra, and all major cities have hospitals. Facilities are minimal once outside of a major town.
Image of Elmina Castle courtesy of Shutterstock.