Ghana has a reputation as the safest and friendliest of all the African countries. This is not an empty claim, but a true reflection of the people of the country. There is an exuberance and love for life amongst Ghanaians which is very contagious. To enjoy Ghana, you need to relax, let you all your western desire for speed, and dare I say, efficiency go whilst you get into the Ghanaian spirit.
Accra is just a six hour flight from the UK or mainland Europe. The temperature is generally the same all year round - HOT! Yearly temperatures vary between 28 and 32 degrees. There are 2 seasons - The Rainy Season runs from April to September and the Dry Season from October to March. However, the rainfalls do not last long and should not be a deterrent for visiting the country during the rainy season.
As a visitor to Accra, you will find plenty to do, whatever your interests. Accra offers the best choice of hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs in the country, and is also a good base for making trips to other areas of interest in Ghana.
If you are there for the history and culture, you will be able to visit a number of museums and forts to learn about the history of the country that was once known as the Gold Coast. You can make day trips to Cape Coast and Elimina, where you will learn about the slave trade and see the castles where the slaves were kept before being shipped to America. Cape Coast and Elimina Castle are both very well preserved and well worth a visit. However, if you have to choose between the two, Elimina is the more evocative one.
You can take another day trip, this time to Kumasi which is the home of the Ashantis. There you will experience the very rich culture of the Ashanti people, with their beautiful colourful cloths and dance. There is also a more formal and traditional side to the culture which you can experience by visiting the home of the Asentehene.
Accra itself has many places of interest such as James Town and the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum, but they do not have quite the impact of the castles.Beaches
There are beautiful beaches galore in Ghana. And they each offer something a little different. Labadi Beach in Accra is a fun beach, where many people congregate at weekends and public holidays. It offers miles of sand where you can picnic or swim as you listen or dance along to the many DJs who play music all day and night. If you want peace and quite, then take an hour's drive outside Accra to Bojo beach, a lovely little island where you can relax and enjoy a good book or go for a swim. The beach offers a large bar and restaurant so caters for all your needs. However, the best beaches are to the west of Accra, and they are truly lovely beaches - as good as the Caribbean but with less people and just 6 hours fromEuropewith no time difference. The further west you go, the better the beaches and you can keep going until you are virtually in Ivory Coast, Ghana's neighbour. In my opinion, Axim, which is a good six hours drive from Accra, has the best beaches - Axim Beach has miles of pristine white sands; Ankobra Beach is more rustic but beautiful with many palm trees, whislt Lou Moon Beach is almost hauntingly beautiful. They each have a resort so you can stay overnight. However, if you don't have the time to make the journey, there are many others within 3 hours of Accra, such as Biriwa Beach, Brenu Beach and the lovely Abandzi beach which are all worth a visit.
I have to admit that Ghana is no Kenya - there are not many safari parks and there are no big cats. However, we do have the longest canopy walk in Africa - in Kakum near Cape Coast. It is a good place to go after a tour of the castles, which generally leaves you in a sombre and reflective mood. It is not for the faint hearted, though. It can be quite frightening if you are scared of heights, or even if you aren't! However, the walk up to the walk is through the national park which is cool and offers you many interesting trees and fawner to observe. There is also a guided tour through the park with very knowledgeable guides. A visit to the park seems to go hand in hand with a meal or drink at Hans Bottage, a restaurant which on stilts in a lake. The lake is the home for a number of crocodiles, and during my last visit, you could hire a boat to go on the lake if you felt brave enough.
Aburi Botanic Gardens are an hour outside Accra, and are set in the mountains of Aburi. The temperature in the area is much cooler than Accra and offers you an opportunity to get away from the busy city. The gardens are excellent and very well kept. A day trip to Aburi is recommended. The trip can be combined with a visit to Akosombo, This quiet town is famous for its dam, which Kwame Nkrumah built after Ghana's independence. However, there are a number of good restaurants along the river where you can relax and enjoy a quiet beer. Some of the resorts offer very calming boat trips, where you can some more relaxing before braving the traffic back into Accra.
Accra is a great destination in Ghana because it offers the best selection of restaurants and clubs. You can get pretty much any type of food in Ghana - including Sushi, Indian, Chines, Thai, local, Pizza, Mexican - the list goes on and on. The best place to try local Cuisine is Asanka Local in Osu, where you can choose from a selection of cheap options in a canteen setting. It calls itself a chop bar - meaning that it is not a restaurant, more of an informal place, where you can experiment with the different flavours Ghanaian food has to offer. After your meal there are numerous clubs, bars and hotels where you can have a drink or dance the night away. Many of the venues have life music at weekends, and the larger hotels generally have live music every night of the week.Markets
The best way to enjoy any city is to try and do as the locals do. You could stay in your accommodation the whole time, but then you could be anywhere in the world. Staying in a self-catering apartment gives you the opportunity to visit the wonderful markets in Accra to buy some fresh food and vegetables to cook with. The biggest market in Accra is Makola Market and I always say that of all the places to visit in Accra, this is the one place you will need a guide for! It is so big and sprawling that it could take you all day to find what you need. A good taxi driver will help show you around. It is a sightseeing tour in itself.
There are so many things to do and enjoy in Ghana that you have to keep going back time and time again to truly experience all that the country has to offer.
Written by Vicky Hayford - Owner of Property 95793 in Accra, Ghana