Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain independence, becoming a republic in 1957 under the guidance of pan-Africanist and first president, Kwame Nkrumah.
Soon afterwards, other nations followed suit, looking to Ghana for guidance and inspiration on how to bring together nations filled with diverse tribes and varied landscapes. Visit the National Museum of Ghana in Accra to get a full picture of the historical journey as well as Independence Square. If possible, join in the myriad of celebrations that take place every year on the first long weekend of March including the annual Asa Baako Festival that takes place on the beautiful beaches of Busua, Western Ghana.
If you’re looking for a trip off the usual tourist path, Ghana may be just the spot.
Ghana is a great starting off point for Sub-Saharan travel due to the nation’s stability and its use of English as the official language. Sandwiched between Cote d’Ivoire and Togo, Ghana has a rich history, gaining independence in 1957 with the help of the revered Kwame Nkrumah.
visiting Ghana is more about the experience than seeing monuments or landmarks.
Here are 50 reasons why you should consider Ghana as your next travel destination!
Ghanaians overwhelmingly welcome you into the country. Yes, you will hear the endless chants of obruni (foreigner) or perhaps, if you’re a female, a few marriage proposals a day. Asking for a phone number within a first meeting is common; later expect a phone call just to ask you how you are. Learn a few phrases in Twi, a widely spoken dialect, and locals will go wild with laughter, making them also more likely to help with directions.
A large majority of those visiting Ghana come through some sort of volunteer organization. This can be a great way to feel as though you are active in the community. Volunteer opportunities range from working in orphanages, hospitals, or other human rights organizations. Many companies have set up programs, like Projects Abroad, where volunteers pay to have homestays and travel arrangements completed. If you want to avoid these costs, its best to contact organizations directly.
Push outside the comfort zone of what is known and explore all Ghana has to offer. The culture is very diverse within the country, including six major ethnic groups – each with their own languages and dialects. The comparison between city life and that of northern Ghana are drastic. Travel to Sirigu in the Upper East Region and stay at Sirigu Women’s Organization for Pottery and Art (SWOPA) to make traditional Ghanaian pottery and basket weaving.
If you are the type of person who likes to plan every detail of a trip, Ghana is not for you. Hop on one tro-tro (vans from the 80’s that act as a local bus system) until you find a town that feels like a good stopping point. Interact with locals and you never know what will happen next: attending a wedding with a Member of Parliament, cooking with a Queen Mother of a local tribe… the possibilities of what could happen next are endless.
Many of the tourist expeditions in Ghana involve hiking. The most popular is Wli Falls, located in the Volta Region. It is said to be the highest waterfall in West Africa. Remember to bring a bathing suit for this hike as the waterfall creates a nice lagoon to swim in. For those more adventurous, in many regions the bush paths can be hiked from town to town. Ask in town first if anyone is headed that way if you don’t want to pay a guide. Many of the local villages are now charging a small fee in their tourist centers for donations to the village. Pay what feels reasonable.
Perched on the edge of West Africa and a diverse and bustling nation with an international community and a fast-growing economy, Ghana offers a perfect gateway to the continent. There are many reasons to visit and receive an Akwaaba (welcome) from the locals; here are some of them.
Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain independence, becoming a republic in 1957 under the guidance of pan-Africanist and first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Soon afterwards, other nations followed suit, looking to Ghana for guidance and inspiration on how to bring together nations filled with diverse tribes and varied landscapes. Visit the National Museum of Ghana in Accra to get a full picture of the historical journey as well as Independence Square. If possible, join in the myriad of celebrations that take place every year on the first long weekend of March including the annual Asa Baako Festival that takes place on the beautiful beaches of Busua, Western Ghana.
National Museum of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, +233 30 222 1633
Independence Square, Accra, Greater Accra Region, Ghana, +233 24 503 8901
Forts and Castles
Ghana is home to more historic forts and castles than any other African nation; a throwback to its tumultuous history of colonisation and slavery. The structures left behind are incredible (and sometimes harrowing) in terms of architecture and geography and stretch all along the coastline. They range from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cape Coast Castle to the English country-manor style of Fort Gross Fredericksburg. The dusty battlements of Fort Metal Cross at Dixcove is situated directly in the middle of a lively and colourful-fishing hub.
Domestic animal such as chickens, pygmy goats, and herds of cows driven by Malian traders can be quaint to see. While the colourful birds of paradise and parrots that occasionally flit past, it is the wildlife that recalls an earlier, less industrialised time in Ghanaian history. Water reef herons and cormorants flock in droves on the outskirts of the city near marshlands. Out by the Shai Hills Production Reserve, cheeky baboons surround and line the quiet road to the site; and at Kakum, the monkeys delight in their preserved swath of rainforest. Whilst up in the Northern Region, marvel at the closeness of the elephant herds at Mole National Park.
Shai Hills Production Reserve, Dangme West, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
Kakum National Park, Assin South, Central, Ghana, +233 20 042 0831
Mole National Park, Wa East, Upper West Region, Ghana, +233 24 431 6777
With an energetic music scene, a plethora of live venues and a wide range of artists covering hi life, hip life, Afrobeat, and more, music is an important part of everyday life in Ghana. The lively pub-style outdoor stylings of Republic Bar and Grill leads the way with their live performances on Wednesdays and constant stream of events and DJ led sets. +233 Jazz and Grill as well as old-school venue The Piano Bar feature soul and jazz from veterans of the industry. Clubs such as Twist, Carbon, and Duplex pump out current hits while encouraging club goers to dance all night long and catch a full weekend of live music and dancing at the annual Asa Baako Festival held each March.
Republic Bar and Grill, Asafoatse Tempong St, Accra, Ghana, +233 24 631 4044
+233 Jazz and Grill, Accra, Ghana, +233 23 323 3233
Duplex, Harry Sawyer Rd, Accra, Ghana, +233 24 599 9999
Carbon, Stanbic Heights, Top Floor, Independence Avenue, Accra, Ghana, +233 24 844 6464
Twist, Cantoments, Accra, Ghana, +233 30 277 2179
Home to a vast range of tribes including the Akan, Ga, and Ewe people, numerous cultural festivals take place throughout the year and give opportunities to see ancient rituals performed in the modern age. The Ga people’s Homowo Festival, held in commemoration of a serious famine, begins with a ban on stereo music. Lending to a peaceful and reflective air to the city and coastlines, the tribe does this in appeasement to the traditional gods. The festival ends a couple of months later in a procession down to the ocean to give thanks whilst dressed in white. Up North in Techiman, there is the Apoo Festival where men dress as women and vice versa in a celebration meant to rid people of social evils.
Spanning 539 km (around 335 miles), Ghana’s coastline is immense and varied, lending different vibes for different times. In the city, the bars on the beach such as Tawala and Osikan teeter on rocks while Sandbox, less about sunbathing and water sports, lends itself to nighttime-club vibes and fun. Look outside the city, and pick from the beautiful lagoon at Keta, the unspoiled beauty of Cape Three Points, and the wonderful surf of Busua. Kokrobite, on the edges of Accra, is a surfer’s hub and known for its relaxed, weekend-party atmosphere. Meanwhile, Labadi combines a raucous-beach party each Thursday with a more laid-back vibe throughout the week complete with horse riding and the latest hits pumping background.
La Tawala Beach Resort, 933 Jomo St, Accra, Ghana, +233 24 499 0099
Osikan Ocean Rock Retreat, Accra, Ghana, +233 24 324 4803
Sandbox Beach Club, Accra, Ghana, +233 27 259 9190
Keta Lagoon, Keta, Volta Region, Ghana
Cape Three Points, Western Region, Ghana
Busua Beach, Western Region, Ghana
Kokrobite, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
Labadi Beach, Accra, Greater Accra Region, Ghana
The mountainous Eastern Region is a breath of fresh air after the low-lying nature of most of the country. The stronghold of the Ewe people stretches beyond the border of Ghana and into Togo, and it has some of the loveliest vistas from the top of the mountain ranges available to climb with a guide. It is not an easy trek doing the full route, but those able to finish are rewarded with secluded high-vantage waterfalls, the most breathtaking views into Ghana and Togo, and passing through ancient forests that teem with fresh fruit. At the bottom, check out the glorious lower Wli Falls, a majestic site that swirls with bats in the middle of a temperate forest.
Volta Region, Ghana
Rivers and Lakes
The largest man-made lake in the world, the Volta’s river stretches south from the Akosombo Dam to the northernmost reaches of the country and into Burkina Faso. Along the way, it threads its tributaries throughout most of the country providing gorgeous landscapes and islands along the way. In Kumasi, Lake Bosumtwe is a natural 8-km (about 5-mile) wide lake formed of an impact crater thought to be from an asteroid during the Pleistocene Period, and it provides an idyllic atmosphere. On the Accra plains, there are the Densu, Pra, and Ankroba Rivers among many others.
Cape Three Points
Located on Ghana’s southern tip and arguably one the of the country’s most stunning beaches, Cape Three Points is a refuge for all those seeking peace and serenity. Located in the village, the nature-filled eco-resort of Escape3Points offers locally-sourced food and a desert-island atmosphere. The village also houses a historical lighthouse and a magnificent surf break that draws surfers from all over the country to brave the long paddle out for the best waves in Ghana.
Escape3Points Ecolodge, Takoradi, Western Region, Ghana, +233 26 721 8700
Artisans and Craftsmen
From the kente weavers of Bonwire in Kumasi to the Gonja cloth of the north and the beautiful-Ankara fabrics made into a wide range of styles, fabric plays and large and colourful part in Ghanaian life. Fabric turns the regular-street scape into a multicoloured panoply as the tradition of roadside seamstresses and tailors encourages everyone to become owners of the unique clothing. The straw weavers of Bolgatanga delight with their striped, funky sun hats and traditional baskets that can be found purveyed around the city under the shade of large trees. Woodworkers craft Djembe drums of various sizes in the traditional-arts center as well as other delightful percussion instruments made out of Calabash gourds. Meanwhile, coffin makers at Nungua inspire awe with their one-of-a-kind caskets that once took the fancy of former American President Jimmy Carter, who reportedly purchased two for himself.
Ghana was ranked second on the list of countries with the most nutritive foods and that’s a fact. The country can boast of a lot of nutritive foods on it’s daily menu. Most of the country’s food are high in carbohydrates but mainly natural with no artificial additives. You might want to try your hands on Waakye, Red Red, Yaka Yaka, TZ, Fufu, etc. and your life will never be the same.
Ghana is made up of diverse cultures but they all blend in unison without any conflicts. The country holds each and everyone’s culture in high esteem and as a conservative country, the culture of the people have been reserved for so long it talks a lot about the people. The tradition and history of each tribe in Ghana, has been transferred orally over generations.
The people are warm and welcoming and love to interact with you so long as you’re a foreigner. You’re likely to see men holding hands or throwing their hands over each other’s shoulder and this does not mean they are Gay, but it is because most of them share a bond and see each other as family. This is the same warm reception that is extended to foreigners.
The weather is so nice with the sun always high in the sky and there are only two seasons, unlike other countries that have to bear four seasons. In Ghana, it is just the rainy and dry season. You’ll never get it wrong with our weather. The sun is also good for a perfect tan.
Quality Clothing At Affordable Prices
This is where you find the most quality clothing in Africa, the Kente and the Smock. The fabric is so strong it can last a decade and it never gets worn out.
The country has one of the oldest histories and showcases all the Atlantic slave trades that happened in Africa. The oldest castle built in 1482 by the Portuguese is found here and tells a long story of the slave trade. Several castles used in the slave trade are all located in Ghana and are open for visitation.
The National Parks
The country can boast of a lot of national parks where animals are kept in their natural habitat. When here, you might want to visit the Kakum National Park, The Mole National Park, Buabeng Fiema etc.
If you’re worried about the language barrier, then you need not worry because the official language of the people is English. Although there are a lot of languages and dialects, the average Ghanaian on the street can speak English and when here, you might want to learn the Pidgin English because it will be your easiest means of communication.
Every tribe in the country holds a festival which showcases the rich culture of the people and attracts a lot of people from around the world. You’ll be proud to be a part of these festivals. There are also many events such as the Pan African Festival, The Charley Wote Art Festival etc. which elaborates the journey of our ancestors to the diaspora and the arts of the people respectively.
It cannot be over emphasized, peace is Ghana and Ghana is peace. We have our own share of conflicts but the country is a very peaceful one where you can live and have some peace of mind.
Ghana’s Style Of Politics
Politics of Ghana takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Ghana is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. The seat of government is at Golden Jubilee House. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and Parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, being in Ghana you will get to hear more about how Ghanaian politicians hilariously engage each other on radio
Continue on the next page
Additional materials Ghanadatabase