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It's All About Ghana

June 26, 2017

It's All About Ghana

Our family is originally from Ghana, so we may show slight favouritism but Ghana is truly a hidden, untouched gem! It's no secret, we love Ghana and you will see this shine through in all that we do here at Adinkra Designs. We hope to inspire you to one day make it over to West Africa to explore this amazing country.  

The Essential Facts About Ghana 

  • Location: situated on the west coast of Africa, in between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo
  • Capital: Accra
  • Currency: Ghana Cedi (GHS) – Cedi derives from the Akan word for cowry shell as cowry shells were once used as currency back in the day.
  • Population: 27.41 million (2015)
  • Size: 238,535 km²
  • Language: Ghanaians speak over 40 languages throughout its 10 regions. English is the official language, but most people speak several languages as well.
  • You know that delicious dark chocolate? You can thank Ghana for that, as they are one of the largest exporters of cocoa beans.
  • Ghana also used to be known as “the gold coast” and is the 7th largest producer of gold in the world.
  • Ghana experiences two distinct seasons: the rainy season from April to October, and the dry season from November to March. 

Travel Tips for Ghana

Safety

According to the Global Peace Index 2017, Ghana is ranked the fifth safest sub-Saharan African country to visit. On a global scale, Ghana is ranked the 43rd safest country, to put this in perspective, the United Kingdom is ranked 41st and the USA is ranked 114th. Of course, this is not to say that travellers should not exercise the usual caution and make common sense decisions as you would when in your home country.

Visa Requirements

You will need to obtain the correct visa to travel to Ghana. Your passport will need to have been valid for at least 6 months (before expiration) and your application needs to be sent to the Ghana Consulate based in Sydney, Perth or Canberra. Your application requires current passport photos along with proof that your yellow fever vaccinations are up to date. Visa costs around AUD$140 and your yellow fever vaccination is around AUD$100-$150. Good news is that once you have yellow fever vaccine, you are covered for life. For further details, visit: 
http://ghana.org.au/
http://yellowfever.com.au/ 

Flights to Ghana

Most of the major airlines fly into Accra. We tend to stick with Emirates and so far have not had any negative experiences with this airline. Food is OK and you are generally comfortable for the duration of the flight – which is about 24 hours depending on stopovers (from Sydney). Ticket prices tend to be a bit cheaper if you have longer stop overs but if you are travelling with kids, I would recommend going for the shortest stop over times as possible! On average, you are looking at approx AUD$2K - $2.5K for an adult to fly from Sydney to Accra. For flight comparisons, visit: https://www.skyscanner.com.au 

Best Time to Visit Ghana

During the dry season, it can get really hot – think peak summer weather here in Australia with temperatures in the 40’s degrees. If you visit around July/August, it’s slightly cooler with temperatures in high 20’s but you can strike some rain around this time that can make it a bit more challenging to get around. October/November is a good time when it’s dryer but not yet too hot. 

What’s it like in Ghana?

Like we mentioned, the atmosphere in Ghana is so laid back and peaceful. The pace of lifestyle is such a contrast to the Western world. It’s a harmonious place to visit and you can see everyone has respect for each other. Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992. 75% of Ghanaians are Christians and 15% are Muslim. Unlike some other regions, there is next to no conflict between the different religions. Ghanaians are taught from a young age, the importance of freedom of worship, meaning that tolerance and fairness amongst the population are indoctrinated. The people of Ghana believe that you should be able to choose to worship whichever religion you like and there should be no intolerance to anyone from faiths other than your own. I experienced this first hand while I was there. During the Muslim celebration, Eid al-Adha, everyone was invited to partake and the atmosphere was very inclusive.

In Accra, most people speak English well and communication is not really an issue. If you venture to rural or village areas, communication can become more of a challenge for non-Twi speakers but like travelling to any new culture, if you take the time to learn a few words, locals really go out of there way to help you. 

Transportation wise, there are a few options available. We were lucky to have family, used to the local traffic conditions, to drive us around. The traffic is unbelievable - it is every man for himself when it comes to road rules so hiring a car when you are not used to local traffic conditions seems out of the question. Stick with orange taxi’s or there are Tro Tro’s.
This website has handy transport tips: http://www.easytrackghana.com/travel-information-ghana_local-transportation.php 

Food wise, it is not a place for the light hearted or non spice lovers! Most food consists of some kind of carb like yams, rice, cassava along with a spicy stew or soup like dish such as palm nut soup or light soup. Cassava and plantains are pounded to make a popular dish known as fufu. Given it’s a coastal country, you can expect a lot of fish dishes. Tilapia and Banku (a fermented corn/cassava dough) is a common dish. Jollof rice – a Ghana style fried rice will have you begging for the recipe. You will also find plenty of grilled meat like kebabs around. If you are a bit more adventurous, there are giant snails or smoked bush meat available! Locals eat with their hands but most restaurants will provide you with utensils. If you get cravings for some Western Food, there are malls and restaurants in Accra where you can get typical food like pizza, hot chips, even sushi. 

Top 10 Things to do in Ghana 

1. Cape Coast

 

Cape Coast is an idyllic setting with tropical coconut tree lined beaches and a laid back atmosphere. It is home to Elmina Castle, the oldest European built construction in Sub-Saharan Africa. The castle was once used to store slaves before they were shipped off and taken to the Americas. You can have a guided tour of the castle and try not to shed a tear as you hear the tales and only imagine what people endured in this castle. It sounds depressing but truly the place is magnificent with amazing views of Cape Coast and importantly it serves as a reminder to the brutal past of the colonial world. It’s a must see destination. 

2. Kakum National Park 

Kakum National Park is not too far from Cape Coast so well worth planning to do both around the same time. Take a guided tour on a bush walk through the national park and you will have the option to walk across the famous suspended bridge that hangs over a hundred feet above ground with amazing views of the park. It will test those who are afraid of heights and I have to admit, I was full of trepidation but mostly enjoyed the experience! We were told some groups get lucky and spot a family of elephants walking through the park. We could hear monkeys but didn’t spot any unfortunately. There is a Monkey Sanctuary also located very close to the park which we haven’t had a chance to check out yet.

3. Markola Markets in Accra or Kejetia Market in Kumasi 

Who doesn't love to shop! Ghana has the largest open-air market in West Africa - Kejetia market in Kumasi - where you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, traditional cloth, sandals and plenty of local snack foods and fresh produce. If you don’t plan to visit Kumasi then Markola Market is also a bustling market based in Accra worth a visit.

4. A visit to any of Ghana’s amazing beaches

Personally I was disappointed with Labadi beach, it was crowded and covered in litter. But thankfully Ghana has many other options to satisfy the beach goer. Some top beaches to visit: Kokrobite, Busua, Bojo 

5. Mole National Park 

When you think of African safari’s, most tend to consider South Africa or East Africa. However there is still plenty to see in Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge park, Mole National Park. While you won’t see zebra or giraffes and it’s unlikely you will see any lions, you might get to spot elephants, hippos, buffalo, warthogs, monkeys, baboons and antelope. 

6. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Memorial Park

A must visit for an appreciation of Ghana’s history. It is a small museum dedicated to the country's founding father, Kwame Nkrumah. A short walk from the Museum is the Art Centre that is full of handcrafts and souveniers. The shop owners can be a bit pushy but not as bas as I experienced in South East Asia and is still worth checking out. 

7. Independence Square in Accra

After a visit to the Memorial Park, also in Accra is the Independence Square. Here you will see monuments dedicated to Ghana's independence struggle, including the Independence Arch, Black Star Gate, and the Liberation Day Monument. 

8. Crocodiles of Paga

If you end up travelling to the Northern part of Ghana, then Paga is well worth checking out if only to see the enigma of these sacred crocodiles in Paga. A stark contrast to the crocodiles of Australia, the crocodiles of Paga are so tame that local children can swim in the pond alongside them without being harmed. It’s difficult for an Aussie to wrap your head around it! But legend has it that a crocodile brought a dying man to the pond to drink, who after surviving, declared the pond to be sacred and that no harm should come to the crocodiles. Tourists can touch the crocodiles and be photographed with them.

9. Cape Three Points 

The village of Cape Three Points is the southernmost community in Ghana, and its beach is one of the most beautiful along Ghana’s West Coast. Surrounded by Ghana’s only coastal rainforest reserve and many rolling hills, the village also has a few secondary attractions, such as relaxation, beach and sea activities, hiking, and exploration of its cultural present and colonial past. The drive to get there will require a 4WD and it’s a bit challenging but worth the effort to get there. 

10. Jamestown

Jamestown is one of the oldest districts located in Accra. The main sight seeing attraction is a lighthouse. Some may not find this area interesting as it’s quite a poor and run down area, the homes are corrugated shacks for the most part, but there’s a constant vibrancy and eclectic feel to the area. It’s a stark contrast to the more modern Osu but I just feel what is it the point of travelling to a country if you are only going to see the shiny side, take it all in. 

It’s also well worth doing a bit of research to find out what Festivals are on around the time you plan to visit. Festivals are full of music, lot and lots of dancing and vibrant colour.

Ghana has such a peaceful and friendly vibe and is often described as the best country to start exploring Africa. We will continue to share as much as possible about Ghana like these travel tips, based on our own personal travel experience. I hope you find this brief overview of Ghana helpful and please let me know your feedback in the comments below!




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