Ghana Travel Guide
Of all the countries in Western Africa, Ghana is regarded by many to be one of the best places on the continent for neophytes have their first contact with this amazing corner of the planet.
The friendliness of its people, its rich (and heartbreaking) history, and its diverse nature means those who travel here for the first time will likely come away with an experience which will affect them profoundly.
Currency: Ghanaian Cedis
What To Do
Start your time in Ghana by exploring the grounds of Elmina Castle. Originally established by the Portuguese in 1482 as a trading post, it became infamous for becoming one of the busiest slaving markets on the west coast of Africa.
Changing hands to the Dutch in the 17th century, countless thousands of captured Africans were sent through its ‘Door of No Return’ to destinations overseas, a fact which gives this place a sombre aura.
Due to its history and architecture, Elmina Castle has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; take time out of your schedule to see its holding cells for yourself, as it will give you the chance to ruminate on one of the uglier periods in human history.
Cape Coast Castle is another slave trading post that is worth a visit. Barack Obama himself paid a visit to this historic site shortly after becoming U.S. president in 2009; we think you’ll be as impressed as he was, as this structure has been well-maintained to the present-day.
Originally built by Swedes looking to export timber and gold, it eventually got seized by the Dutch, who then used it to traffic humans to Europe and the Americas. While the cannons on the ramparts which overlook the sea will make for great pictures, the dank, miserable dungeon within will have a greater impact on your soul.
On a more positive note, there are cultural attractions which aren’t as much of a downer as the aforementioned slave trading posts. In the capital city of Accra, the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum marks the spot where the inaugural president of Ghana enjoys his eternal slumber.
Created entirely of marble, and with a hole above Kwame’s grave to let a beam of sunlight shine down upon it at a set time each day, it is a dignified place which is held in high esteem by many Ghanaians.
Those looking for awesome natural attractions in Ghana will like what they’ll find within the boundaries of Kakum National Park. Founded in 1931, this reserve protects African elephants, giant bongo antelopes, and Diana monkeys (among other fauna), and it is home to one of only two canopy walkways in all of Africa.
At over 1,000 feet long, this network of bridges allows visitors access to this park’s animal and plant life in a way few others on the continent do. Keep your eyes open for butterflies as well, as the variants which can be spotted here is nothing short of remarkable.
After bearing the heaviness of the slave forts, enduring the controlled chaos of Accra, and feeling the heat of the Ghanian jungle, you’ll want to spend at least a few days relaxing on Ghana’s coast.
Bojo Beach is the best of this nation’s coastal getaways, as a three-minute boat ride puts you out of reach of the wandering touts which wander many of Ghana’s other beaches.
As for the beach itself, its white sand, an abundance of locally caught seafood, and a calm lagoon all make it an excellent spot for a relaxing day in the sun.
What to Eat
As is the case throughout much of the rest of Western and Central Africa, Fufu (and its regional variants) occupies a central place at breakfast, lunch and dinner in Ghana. A thick porridge made by boiling cassava root and mashing it into thick dough-like balls, it is the main source of starch for everyday people in this country.
Those looking to track down a meal that is unique to Ghana will want to try to find some Etor. A common dish prepared by the Akans, an ethnic group found in the southern parts of the country, it consists of yams or savoury plantains which have been boiled, mashed, and then mixed with palm oil.
Finishing touches includes adding peanuts and eggs as a garnish; if you find yourself invited to eat a meal with these folks, there is a good chance this will be one of the dishes that will be on the table.
Dessert is not something which is typically had by many people in Ghana, but when it is available, you will often find sweet plantains as the primary option for a sweet end to the day. Grilled over a BBQ and served hot (with ice cream if you are lucky), it is a treat you will find hard to turn down.