You’re going to love Ghana, said everyone who has visited this country before. And they were right. After months in West Africa travelling along the coast of the Atlantic, we were ready for the ‘West Africa for beginners’ experience. We were dreaming about cheese, coffee shops, paved roads and bars to dance and sip on something other than beer. After numerous border crossings, where officers seemed to always find some trivial problem that required money (bribe) to make it disappear, rolling into Ghana was a border crossing like never before.
Kumasi Market in Ghana
Crossing into Ghana from Ivory Coast
We pulled up at the border on 25thof December. It was Christmas day and everything seemed to be in full swing. Not only that, there was loud cheerful music coming from somewhere…could it be?
Yes, not only was the music blasting from outside the immigration office but in front of it was a middle-aged officer in uniform in full dance routine surrounded by others who were also feeling the beat. We stumbled past him not sure if should join or not, but the mood was definitely contagious.
We approached the immigration window to get our passport and visas stamped when yet another office came swinging by, she was not only dancing but she seems to be recording it all on her iPad. Ok, now it was definitely time to join in.
So here we were dancing with the Ghanian immigration officers to the tunes and waving to the camera.
Ok, Ghana, I could see we are going to love it.
Immigration at the border of Ghana – so much fun!
As a former British colony, Ghana’s administrative language is English. After weeks of getting by with terrible French, this was a game changer for us. We could talk to anyone and as we soon learned, people of Ghana are some of the nicest and friendliest we have met in West Africa.
They seem to have a certain easy-going attitude, confidence and they know how to enjoy life. Music is heard everywhere and people were always ready for a dance.
English is the official language of Ghana and it certainly makes our travels easier here.
Exploring the coastal forts
Travel is the best education. We not only get to learn about countries we know little about, but we also rediscover history. We were really looking forward to seeing the fortress in Elmina and Cape Coast. Both can be visited as part of a tour led by a local guide at each sight. The impressive Cape Coast fortress used to be the largest slave-trading centre.
Slaves from neighbouring countries as well as today’s Ghana were brought here and locked up in dark, damp dungeons awaiting their fate. They were eventually shipped across to the Americas.
Listening to the horrifying stories told by our passionate guide has made this one of the most memorable experiences.
Exploring Elmina Castle in Ghana
Kakum National Park and Kumasi
The Kakum National park is not known for its wildlife, but for its canopy walk. A series of viewing platforms connected by elastic suspension bridges 30 meters above ground.
Determined to beat the crowds of visitors (domestic as well as international), we got up before sunrise to have this place to ourselves. And we did. No luck to see any wildlife but walking above the rainforest was still a great way to spend the morning.
Our sleeping arrangements in the park were also unique! We stayed in a tree house. My childhood dream came true.
We continued to the north to see the former capital of Ashanti Kingdom. Known for its huge market, we happened to be here on Saturday so it felt like the entire city was one busy market!
A visit to the cultural centre not only provided an escape from the busy streets, but we have also finally tasted some typical Ghanaian dishes in a pleasant restaurant set in a garden.
Kakum National Park in Ghana
Finishing in style in Accra
Our last stop in Ghana was its bustling capital, Accra. This was by far the most developed city since we left Morocco a few months ago. Suddenly we were spoilt for choice. There were restaurants, shops, cafes and bars! After a delicious Lebanese dinner, we decided to check out the nightlife. It was the day before New Year’s Eve but the bar was packed – apparently, people here love to have a good time.
Of course, Accra turned out to be the perfect place to celebrate NYE. We drank a local cocktail made out of local palm wine and sang along to the tunes the DJ was playing. The fireworks have announced midnight and just like that, we said hello to 2019!
Where to Stay in Accra?
Everyone has different budgets for travelling the world. We’ve stayed in both budget and mid-range hotels during our time spent in Ghana. Our favourite area to stay in Accra is Osu. This is a good location, close to bars, restaurants and things to do. Find our recommendations below.
Budget Accommodation – Sharp Guesthouse – Single rooms from USD 36 per night, including a great breakfast. Great location, free wifi throughout the property and it’s super clean. This is a great place to meet other travellers.
Mid-Range Accommodation – Van Der Salle – Apartments for two people from USD 70 per night. Great location, A/C, kitchenette, fridge and wifi. This accommodation gets great reviews and tends to book out quickly. Recommended booking this one in advance.
High-End Accommodation – Urbano Hotel – Rooms from USD 110 per night, including breakfast. This hotel is in a fantastic location and has all the amenities you would expect for a very comfortable stay.
A coffee lover, history junkie, former tour guide, and endless optimist. The mastermind of logistics and chief navigator for Very Hungry Nomads, two women on an adventure to visit EVERY country in the world. Marty is a social butterfly who describes her life as “just livin’ the dream".