Bash away on bongos, swing in hammocks, rave the nights with reggae, bake on the beaches, suss out the slave trade centres and feel the football fever – Ghana’s got it all.
See for yourself – Ghana as we saw it.
Population: 23.3 million
Economy: GDP- $35 Billion (95th), GDP Per Capita $1.551 (151st)
Human Development Index: .526 (152nd)
Currency: 1 Euro: 1.88 Cedi (CD)
Sporting Trivia: We can’t go past talking about the Black Stars, the Ghanaian football team. The Black Stars are one of Australia’s opponents at the World Cup. We haven’t missed a chance to talk football with Ghanaians, and of course throw in a bit of friendly banter. We’ll be seeing them when we go to the game on June 19th.
>>> The Traveller Scene
Want to spend a few weeks in a chilled out country? Then Ghana is a good place to recharge the batteries, speak some English and experience the big G. Whether it’s getting a better understanding of the dark history of slavery at one of the many castles along the coast, downing a cocktail at a beachside bar or walking with the wildlife of Mole National Park or feeling the beat beneath your feet, there is something for everyone in Ghana.
Parlez-Vous Francais? 90% – most locals have a good command of English. Although as is often the case, this is heavily reliant on level of education and in many instances a gender disparity is evident.
Visa/Entry Requirements: You must get your Visa in advance. We arranged ours in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), it took 24 hours and cost 17500CFA (25 Euro). It was a pretty pain free process, just bring along 4 passport photos. At the border you’ll probably also be asked to show your yellow vaccination card.
>>> @ Kumasi
Home of the Ashanti Kingdom, Kumasi, rich in history and culture has a bit to offer, but you’ll find it hard to find. We were only there for half a day and we were keen to move on. Kumasi boasts the Kejetia Market- West Africa’s largest, and also the Manhyia Palace Musuem, home of the still influential Ashanti King. It’s well known you can even meet him if you take a bottle of liquor up to the palace.
Where did we stay? Guestline Hostel – It’s right near the STC bus station so it’s pretty handy in that regard, the net was down when we were there and a bed in the dorm room will set you back 8CD (4 Euro) a night.
How did we get there? From Ouagadougou we jumped aboard the TCV Sunday morning service to Kumasi 10000CFA (15 Euro). The best thing is probably the free brekky roll on boarding, but you’ll feel left out missing most of the jokes on the TV in the bus if your French skills are as non-existent as ours. Overall, it’s a pretty smooth 13 hour journey.
Getting a feed: Our first day in Ghana so we couldn’t go past the egg sandwichs street side – 1Cedi (50 euro cents), straight away the conversion from the baguette to the trusty toasties was evident.
Difficulties: We struggled across town to the Manhyia Palace Museum, but no cameras are allowed which makes it hard when you are trying to run a website with videos and pictures, albeit with shoddy equipment.
Learn from us: We’d recommend just heading to STC Bus station to get to Accra, things are much more orderly then the chaos at the ‘luxury’ bus station. Although, we still took off an hour and a half after scheduled, but that’s Ghana and ‘Africa Time’.
>>> @ Accra
The Ghanaian capital, bustling with traffic and hawkers and brimming with beaches, bars and reggae. It’s hard not to have a soft spot for Accra. There’s an abundance of watering holes, Independence monuments, streed food stalls and volunteers and it’s an ideal spot to take care of any administrative tasks.
How did we get there: We came into Accra twice. On the first occasion it was an STC bus from Kumasi which takes about 5 hours 7C (3.50 Euro) – although it took off about 2 hours late. Coming back to the city again was from Kokrobite where we shared a taxi with some Germans for 25C (13 Euro).
Where did we stay: Awet Hotel – Osu, a nice, professionally run hotel at the end of Oxford Street in the Osu district in Accra. Awet Hotel was good enough to support us during our stay, so if you want to kick back for a few days in luxury then Awet is a good bet. You can also get a room at the Salvation Army, also in Osu for 6C (3 Euro) which is extremely basic and with a curfew they didn’t particularly appreciate us coming back at 2am.
The Traveller Scene: There are a fair few tourists all around Accra, some people just on holidays but the biggest groups are one of the many volunteers who are on short breaks. You’ll find a number of bars full of expats, also there is a sizeable foreign student population studying here so you can find them at any of the cheap bars around town during the week.
Getting a feed: Accra comes armed with street food of all descriptions. So just head out for a walk and let your senses guide you. We found probably our favourite place on our last night in Accra which you can get a full plate of salad, some pasta and meat for 3C (1.50 Euro).
Out on the Town: There are plenty of places around Accra. We spent most of our time in the district of Osu, where you can find plenty of spots, including Ryan’s and Duplex. If you are up for some drinks on the beach head to the eastern end of Accra to Lombadi Beach where you kick back and on a Wednesday and feel the reggae rhythm.
What takes the cake for us though here in Accra is the street side bars, Lissie’s to be precise along Oxford Street. Here you can grab local gin in a 50ml satchel for 30pesewas (15 Euro cents) along with whatever mixers take your fancy. Maybe, the cheapest alcohol we’ve ever come across.
>>> @ Cape Coast
Cape Coast sits about 3 hrs drive from Accra. This is one of those towns that still retains the colonial feel in its architecture and atmosphere. Cape Coast moves at a slower pace than Accra, but its definitely not a place to speed past. Historically, the Cape Coast Castle one the scene of unimaginable suffering for millions of slaves before they were sent off as part of a thriving slave trade that once existed but will never be forgotten.
How did we get here: We came back from Akiwidaa Beach we shared a taxi, again with some Germans, back to Takoradi for 30C (15 Euro). From Takoradi a tro tro to Cape Coast, about an hour journey will cost 2C (1 Euro).
Where did we stay: Sammo’s Guesthouse – A bit expensive by Ghanaian standards, we got the only room left with TV and ensuite. 12.50C (7 Euro) a night, but it did the trick. One thing that stands out here are the staff. We could tell the lady is a bundle of fun, we’d just never want to play hide and seek with her. If she hides as well as she hides a smile – the game would go on forever.
Getting a feed: Our favourite place had to be School boy’s, which sells rice, fried chicken and the ‘School boy special sauce’. We know, it might sound suss but it’s seriously good. A few pieces of chicken with a bit of rice will set you back 2-3C (1-1.50 Euro).
Out on the Town: The best place in town would have to be the beachside bar at Oasis Resort. As the night goes on head towards town to find a lot of places. Our night was cut short by a power outage so we can’t comment too much on how big the party gets.
Learn from us: We struggled to find a good net connection here for a couple of days. We stumbled across Jet Internet café and it was by far the best in town despite the competition at Oceanview stating otherwise.
>>> @ Akwidaa Beach
A spectacular spot right on a secluded beach, it’s a place to soak up a few rays of sun with people from all over the world. The waves are pretty decent, so for us it felt like being back on an Australian beach. Head into the sun but don’t forget to slip, slop, slap, or find a spot in the shade and laze the day away in this special part of Ghana.
Getting There – From Accra we jumped on an STC bus to Takoradi 4 hours away. From there you can get on a Tro-tro (shared mini-bus) to Agona junction, change and get one to Akwidaa village, which will only cost you a few C for each leg.
If you’re like us, there will be a taxi driving at Takoradi asking to take us. So if there is a group of you it’s probably worth it to save 2 changes on the Tro Tro. This will cost between than 20-30C, although it takes longer than expected 45 minutes or so along some pretty terrible roads.
Where did we stay: Great Turtle Beach Lodge – This place has a big rap with anybody you talk to and it’s definitely justified. Set on an absolutely idyllic beach, kilometres away from the next village. There are private rooms, dorms, and the option we decided on, camping for 5C (2.50 Euro) a night.
Getting a feed: Finding cheap food is a bit of a dilemna here as the village is a good 20-30 min walk if you want to avoid paying at the restaurant. The feeds at the restaurant are of a pretty good size for 10C (5 Euro). In the village the food is cheap, the options limited, plenty of fresh fish and of course fufu. If you have no skills like us – don’t forget to take a fork. Eating hot fufu with your fingers is tough although it’ll break the ice with locals who’ll gather round for a laugh.
Out on the Town: As the sun comes down its time to put the feet up. Happy Hour from 5pm-7pm is all the encouragement you need to make an early start on some reduced priced cocktails. The rest of the night a steady stream of Star beer will keep you going – large 2.50C (1.25 Euro).
Difficulties: We wouldn’t recommend a walk to the village in the middle of the day. It’s when totally baked on the half hour walk and we were sweaty messes trying to eat the local Fufu.
Learn from us: You have to set up a tab and just pay everything at the end. Just keep a track of what you’re having to make sure it matches what you had. Particularly about what you bought during happy hour. They definately ripped us hard – happy hour wasn’t so happy afterall.
Ok, so there’s a lot to do in Ghana and this article is long. Why not break it up and check out the video we filmed on a day trip to Keta.
>>> @ Kokrobite
If you’re in Accra and need a quick beachside break then Kokrobite is for you. Kokrobite beach is full of fishing ships and the waves littered with plastic bags, but it’s still a place where you can go for a quick dip.
Getting There: We came from Cape Coast on a tro tro, just get one for Accra 4CD (2 Euro), but jump off at the Kokrobite intersection off the highway. It’s right before a toll booth, it’s about 20km from Accra. From the intersection we secured a taxi for 5CD (2.50 Euro) the 10km or so to Milly’s.
Where did we stay: Big Milly’s Backyard- A pretty cool place right on the beach under an hour from Accra. The place has a beach bar, there’s plenty of Rasta’s around and reasonable waves. We stayed in the shared lofts for 5CD (2.50 Euro) a night which are equipped with mosquito nets and lockers for your gear.
The main problem here? You’ll see her around, it’s Milly herself. She’s running a tight ship and is on patrol all day. She’ll wave and smile but behind doors she’s ruining the party. Our advice is save this place for a Friday or Saturday night when the locals from Accra arrive to get the party started.
Getting a feed: There is a restaurant with plenty of options for all your meals, but for any value it’s only a 5 minute stroll into the village where you can find the normal street options for 1 or 2C. It’s also worthwhile making the journey up to the village to grab some pure water rather than buying the bottles.
Out on the Town: Milly’s has a pretty cool spot right in the middle of it with a bar. Although, you get the impression from the prices and lack of alcohol in stock that they don’t really want you to be up late. The only real value is local gin 50 pesewas (25 Euro cents) and whatever soft drinks you want to add 1.20CD (60 Euro cents). You’ll know what we mean if you make it there.
Learn from us: There are plenty of rastas around looking for a chat who’ll eventually ask if you want to buy any African musical instruments off them. They are generally good blokes so have a talk and see if you do want to take some drum lessons. Although at the pink house down the beach you can get proper classes.
>>> The Amateur Low Down
Come on – It’s Ghana, you’ve got to go. To feel the beat of the street check out our video!
Highlight: For the most important things, the highlight for us was probably the smooth process in getting a new Australian passport. Ghana as a total package was pretty impressive. The chance to catch a few waves in the Gulf of Guinea along golden beaches and just chilling out a bit more in Accra all added up to a great time for us.
Biggest Surprise: On the walk back from Cape Coast Castle, we came across a crowd of a few hundred people watching what we though was a game of basketball. We were startled when we got a glimpse ourselves to see a game of wheelchair basketball in full flight. The skills, the jerseys and the atmosphere was great.
Seeing well supported, organised sport for physically impaired people happening in West Africa, was one of the best shocks we’ve had this trip and was a demonstration of the sort of potential that people here possess and the steps being taken in breaking down some of the social stigmas surrounding disabilities.
One thing you can do to break down a barrier:
Keta Sandlanders FC – You’ve got to check out these guys in Ghana and we even filmed them in action!
Break down a barrier and support Keta Sandlanders Football club. This isn’t just a football club, it’s a progressive organisation with established programs ensuring all the players are training in various trades and skills. At Keta, they’re giving football hopefuls a chance to play the game they love on the field whilst giving them the skills they need to make a decent living into the future off it.
In keeping with sport, if you’re interested in Rugby and in the area, head to the beach behind Oasis at Cape coast and catch up with the guys below at Blessed Rugby Union Academy – they’re always looking for helpers.
To see all that we snapped head to our Ghanaian gallery.