Guys! Im so excited to finally get to tell you about my trip to Ghana! Some of you have been following me for a while, so you already know that I am originally from Ghana. If you just stumbled upon this page, welcome! It had been several years since I was back in Ghana so I write this post from the unique perspective of a “native foreigner”. Ghana is not your typical tourist destination and I’m definitely not aiming to be the poster child for Ghana either. But if you are considering a trip to Ghana in the future, this post is for you. Of course, I threw in some vacay pictures in there because, why not?So what are the things you need to consider for a trip to Ghana you ask? Consider this post an attempt at your Ghana Travel Guide.
Ok so first thing you will need to enter the country if you do not have a Ghanaian passport is a visa. You can get one at your local Ghanaian embassy and be prepared to give yourself at least three weeks to complete this process. Alternatively, you can also get one at the Ghana airport (visa on entry). Your airline may not allow you to travel without a visa so don’t be that person who misses their flight.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
You need a yellow fever vaccination to enter the country. You will be stopped at the airport if you do not have one. Save yourself the trouble and get one before you travel. I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone with yellow fever in all the 17 years I lived in Ghana but just be safe.
The exchange rate is 1 dollar to 4 cedis. To provide some perspective, a meal at a nice restaurant might cost you about $25 per person. Hotels are about $180 a night. Getting your hair braided would cost about $35 including the hair. However, a rental car with a driver is upwards of $120 a day. Basically, your money may go far in some areas and in others not. Note that anything imported into the country will carry a higher ticket price than you may be used to.
English is the official language in Ghana: A remnant of British colonial rule. There are several local languages spoken in Ghana but most people will be able to communicate with you in English.
Internet is slooooooooow! The day that I watched my Gmail load was the day that I accepted that I needed to adjust my expectations. As in, even the most expensive and constant internet service you can get in Ghana will NOT compare to what you have currently if you have high speed internet in the States. If you are a huge social media person, you are either going to have to accept that you will spend a lot of time trying to load websites, and high resolution pictures or be like me and try to unplug for a while. I went a full 4 days without being on Instagram. Pat on the back for me. But the easiest way to get internet on the go is to get it on your phone. Simply get a local phone chip, insert in your phone and voila!
PRO TIP: Don’t be like me; make sure your phone is unlocked BEFORE you travel so that you can use the service in Ghana. I mean, how else are you gonna get on Instagram? Or use uber? Gosh, to think before 10 years ago I didn’t even have the internet!
For our trip, I had some air miles and a couple of vouchers which brought the cost down but be prepared to spend the most dollar amount for your trip on this ticket. Unfortunately there are only a handful of international airline carriers that fly to Ghana. From the US, this list pretty much boils down to Emirates and Delta. This keeps the price of tickets high. A typical sale deal to Ghana will cost you about $1200 from JFK airport. If you score something cheaper than this KUDOS to you!
What to Do
There are SEVERAL interesting things to do in Ghana. We were in Ghana for 7 days to attend a wedding so we didn’t have too much time to do much. We travelled to CapeCoast where we saw the Elmina Castle and drove to Kakuum National Park where they have a canopy walk suspended on rope. We also visited the Akosombo Dam which is a hydroelectric plant on the largest man made lake in Ghana. But it was a day trip in which we were stuck in traffic so we never got to go inside. The rest of the time was spent either spending time with friends or family.
PRO TIP: Travel within Ghana can be cumbersome due to traffic and bad roads. It often takes several hours on the road to reach your destination. So If you want to do a lot of things while you are in Ghana, you will need to add additional days to your trip to be able to get it all done. For this reason, I do not recommend Ghana if you are thinking of a weekend trip. The jetlag alone will take you a day to recover from.
If you happen to be in Ghana for a long time, here is a list of things you should definitely look into.
- Kakuum National Park
- Elmina Castle/ St George’s Castle
- CapeCoast Castle
- Aburi Garden
- Mole National Park
- Beach Day; Axim Beach / Bojo Beach / Kokrobite Beach
- Akosombo Dam
- Wli Falls / Boti Falls / Akai Falls
- Night Life in Accra
- Ghana Paragliding Festival at Nkawkaw, on the Kwahu Mountain (seasonal; only in March)
- BONUS: Shopping at Macola market (trust me, this will be like nothing you have experienced)
Ghana is a tropical coastal country that sits on the equator. Read Hott! You will want to leave your jacket at home. Instead plan to pack some cotton shirts and dresses. Be prepared to sweat. If you are a fan of wearing makeup, consider finding options that do not melt in the heat.
What to Pack
Speaking of the weather, this brings me to what to pack. Few things you do not want to forget are Anti Maleria drugs, Mosquito repellent and Seasonal Allergy Meds. You also want to bring a battery pack because you will be on the road for a while and when the lights go out, you will be happy to charge your phone. For some additional packing ideas, check out my post about Bali.
There is a 4-5 hour (depending on daylight savings) difference between New York and Ghana. Plan on building at least one day into your trip to get over your jetlag.
Where to Stay
Accra is the capital city of Ghana and where all international flights land. You will likely want to make this your base for the first couple of nights so you can explore the city before leaving to explore the country. There are several hotels in the country but the prices remain high because there is not enough competition. If you don’t have the luxury of staying with family or hotels like I did, then a cheaper alternative is to consider an AirBNB. We stayed at the coconut grove Hotel in Cape Coast which had a beach and some bomb food! I wasnt amazed by our ocean front room but that is another story. They did greet us with a coconut, so there is that
Ghana has several street food options that are super delicious and cheap. However, pay close attention to how the food is prepared and served. And always opt for piping hot to avoid diseases like typhoid. In general, I wouldn’t recommend street food unless you have a strong stomach. There are several restaurants that serve popular Ghanaian dishes. Here are a few of my favorites;
- Goat khebab
- Jollof rice and chicken
- Peanut Soup and rice balls
- Palm oil soup with fufu
- Koko and Kose
- Tilapia and Banku
- Okro Soup and Agple
There are so many mode of transportation in Ghana. You can rent cars at the airport but I would caution you to also get full coverage insurance. The people do not necessarily pay attention to traffic rules and you cannot always count on your driving experience to be sufficient in Ghana. In my case, I paid for a private driver to drive me to my destination outside the city. And I also used taxis for short distances. Uber was surprisingly effective in Ghana but on occasion when I had run out of internet credit on my phone, I had to rely on regular old taxis.
BONUS UPDATE ; Safety
Im including this because I had a couple of people ask me how safe Ghana was as a country. I must say that Ghana is one of the most politically stable countries in West Africa. We have a democratic republic and the people are generally anti-conflict. So, with the exception of a few petty crimes here and there ( i mean which country doesn’t have petty crime?), you will find that Ghana is safe. Does this mean that you should leave your belongings in the middle of the street to see what happens? Probably not. Just observe your normal safety measures and you will be fine.
Looking back, the trip was way too short. One needs a little over 8 days in Ghana due to the heat alone! But I did enjoy every minute of it. And as most nostalgic things go, it was nice to relive things from my childhood. The fact is that Ghana is a developing country. So will you experience some frustrations ? Probably. Should that stop you from visiting? Absolutely not! Im absolutely here as a resource for you so if you think of any questions that I did not cover, please comment below and I will be happy to help. Safe Travels!