A November To Remember: Ghana Travel Guide | The Jeneralist

A November To Remember: Ghana Travel Guide

“You should have come in December!” “Chale, December in Ghana dey be!”

Like a broken record on repeat, these were the responses we would receive from locals anytime we shared the short and seemingly untimely duration of our stay in the country. Similar to many African countries, travelling back to the motherland for the Christmas holidays is a tradition many young adults in the African diaspora look forward to every December.

Like a skein of geese returning from their southern flee, the arrival of the African youth (commonly known as the I Just Got Backs) usually signifies the beginning of the Christmas holiday scene. The clubs in the city are fuller, more vibrant and there are parties happening almost everyday. The private beaches are filled with high rollers and big spenders & there is more foreign currency thrown around. In short, everyday is a Saturday.

Regardless of whether you’re visiting in November, December or even in March, here is a little guide to help you make the most of your time while in Ghana.

Where To Stay

We stayed with my in-laws who live in the suburban district of East Legon this time around but I stayed in hotels during my last two trips. In 2013, my family and I stayed at Villa Monticello , a small luxurious boutique hotel in Accra and at the Labadi Beach Hotel in 2014.

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

Other notable attractions that live up to their international rated standards are:

La Palm Beach Resort
Kempenski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra
Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra

I’ll tell you right off the bat, accommodation tends to be quite costly in Ghana and will likely be the biggest drain on your budget. If you’re looking for more affordable options, you can opt to stay at the Bed and Breakfast styled lodges in Accra, Kumasi and across the west coast. AirBnB also has some beautiful homes which are more reasonably priced.

Related imageImage source: Google

 

Transportation

Our primary mode of transportation while we were in the country was by car. When we weren’t driving ourselves, we used a taxi or just called an Uber.

Transportation is surprisingly cheap in Ghana. On average we paid about $5-10 (US$ 4-8 ) Canadian dollars per trip depending on the time/distance. For the longer trips, we sourced a driver and concluded a set price for services by day. I should note, negotiating is an art and an important life skill. You can usually bargain your way to lower prices for most things and services.

The local currency is the Ghana Cedi (GH₵) but you can get away with using the US dollar. I would strongly suggest visiting a local Forex bureau however and exchanging your dollars to Cedi.

What To Do

Day Trips

While in the country, our zest for life and adventure took us on some exciting road trips. Well, get ready to feast your eyes because traveling along Ghana’s coast will leave you enlightened and enriched with culture.

Cape Coast and Elmina Castle

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist GHANA TRAVEL GUIDE - The Jeneralist

Perched along the coast are slave forts and castles that are an important part of Ghana’s history.  These historical sites served as dungeons and holding rooms during the Transatlantic slave trade.  Though the experience can be tremendously difficult to stomach, visiting these historic sites and getting just a sliver of the anguish and injustices our ancestors faced is an absolute must.

From Accra, embark on a 3+ hour drive to Cape Coast by driving through the towns of Kasoa, Winneba, Saltpond and Anomabo.  Make a  stop at The Baobab House in Cape Coast for a quick breakfast before you go on to tour/explore the castle. Cost of entry to the property varies based on the visitors nationality.

Before arriving at Elmina Castle, make a pit stop at The Elmina Beach Resort to grab some refreshing drinks on the resort’s terrace, while listening to the calming sounds of the waves hitting the ocean’s front. Located approximately 15 km away from Cape Coast, Elmina Castle is only a 20 minute drive away.

Kakum National Park

Kakum National Park, Ghana | The Jeneralist

Kakum National Park is home to over 300 birds species and over 500 butterfly species. The treetop-canopy walkways suspended over the rain forest is one of the parks more thrilling and well-known attractions.  A regular guided tour/hike to and from the canopy walkways will take about an hour and is priced at 40 GH₵/person.  Heed my advice and be sure to bring some comfortable shoes – hiking up a rain forest with slippers on isn’t the smartest idea. We arrived about an hour and 30 minutes before the park closed, so we didn’t encounter any wildlife. The park advises arriving as early as 7AM if you want to see as much wildlife as possible.

The park is located at the end of a very rough dirt road just 20 miles north of Cape Coast and Elmina. Depending on how long you spend at the castles, this can definitely be squeezed into a day trip.  Otherwise, the park is equipped with cafes serving local dishes and accommodation options on the grounds.

Ada Foah, Ghana

Tranquility In The Volta- Ada Foah | The Jeneralist

Tranquility In The Volta- Ada Foah | The Jeneralist

Tranquility In The Volta- Ada Foah | The Jeneralist

Tranquility In The Volta- Ada Foah | The Jeneralist

Located on the southeast coast of Ghana, the town of Ada Foah is where the Volta River embraces the Atlantic Ocean. The region is a popular location for weekend getaways and is filled with beaches that are lined with palm trees and resorts for all budget types. Be sure to wake up early to catch the pristine sunrises and watch as the local fishermen prep their nets/canoes for a days work.  You can read more about our experience in Ada in my previous blog post.

Aburi Botanical Gardens

I had dreamed about my poetic arrival to Aburi for years, with fantasies of running free with the wind between the tranquil palm lined lanes. Well, dreams don’t always come true because our visit was everything BUT tranquil. After postponing the trip on 3 separate occasions, we arrived to a township celebration with over 2500+ people roaming the grounds of the garden. On top of that, it would seem that the weather was also not in our favour because it started raining shortly after our arrival.

That being said, be sure to check the weather before you head up and educate yourself on potential events that may be in conflict with your dates. Believe me, it’s worth the visit.

Try The Local Dishes

A major part of the Ghanaian culture is the food, which I had absolutely no trouble indulging in.

The local dishes mainly consist of a starchy staple of some sort, paired with either stew or some kind of soup. Among many, the most popular starchy dishes I encountered were fufu, kenkey, banku, akple, tuo zafi (TZ), omo tuo (rice balls), boiled rice, fried yam or plantain. Fried Yam paired with any grilled meat and Banku paired with a well-seasoned, grilled Tilapia being my favourite of the bunch.

Tranquility In The Volta- Ada Foah | The Jeneralist

Of course eating in the comfort of your home with family is something special but exploring the plethora of restaurants the city has to offer really takes you inside the taste of Ghana. If you do a quick google search for places to eat in Accra, you’re almost always going to be directed to the well known and more established restaurants/bars like Coco Lounge, Urban Grill, Santoku, and the prestigious Skybar 25.  Some smaller yet notable restaurants to also check out in Accra are:

  1.  Coco Vanilla
    • Coco Vanilla has a relaxing atmosphere that allows you to enjoy their delicious grilled meats, smoothies, cocktails, pancakes & waffles. Be sure to try the grilled chicken, it’s BOMB AF!
  2. Nyo Nyo
    • Nyo Nyo is located in the heart of the infamous American House and is a destination fresh and health conscious local food that is sourced from local farmers. Be sure to try the Garifotor with either chicken wings or tilapia.
  3. Tea Baa
    • Located in the heart of Osu, Tea Baa has a small, intimate and artsy setting that offers delicious food and yummy tea cocktails.  Be sure to try the grilled lamb paired with their coconut fried rice or fried yam. The grilled chicken is also always a good idea.
  • Republic Bar & Grill
    • Republic Bar & Grill is my kind of vibe.  I’m cool with the bougie and overtly extravagant dining and lounging experiences once in a while but I really cherish and appreciate a creative and laid-back scene more often than not. Want to tug on my heart strings? Just serve me with some good food, thirst quenching cocktails, an atmosphere filled with creatives and some live music and I’m good to go.

Visiting one of the local ‘chop bars’ and stopping to buy some kebab from local kebab sellers on the roads is an absolute must. Heed caution though and do so at your stomach’s peril.

Lounge / Nightlife

No matter what day of the week it is, the lounging/nightlife scene in Accra is always so energetic.  I often questioned whether people had nothing better to do the next day as they partied late into the night on weekdays and early into the mornings on weekends.  Often bar/club hopping across the city, we would return home on average between 4-6 AM. Wild.

Whether you’re in search of blowing off steam after your daily weekday hustle or looking to turn all the way up on the weekend, be sure to check out these spots for a good time:

  1. Labadi Pleasure Beach
    • Although this is the busiest beach on Ghana’s coast, it’s still surprisingly relaxing.  There are a number of restaurants lined up along the beach with their own beach chairs/tables setup for lounging, so finding a place to relax is not very difficult.  Fall into relaxation as the sounds of the waves meshed with the loud, yet distant sounds of Afrobeats soothe you to comfort.  There are a number of hawkers frolicking the beach who will occasionally approach you, doing their best to sway the purchase of some sort of handcrafted item. Depending on how firm you are on your “no’s”, they may or may not circle their way back to you.
  2. Sandbox Beach Club
    • Sandbox is actually goals. We stumbled across an American tourist earlier in the week who had planted a seed of salivation as he recommended the must-try Spicy Beef Pizza at the beach club. Prior to that encounter, I had never heard of Sandbox and had no plans to really visit. Yes, the beef pizza was tasty but what solidified my experience was not the food.  It was the vibeeeee.
      We arrived at about 8PM on a Sunday evening to a relaxed and relatively empty beach club.  We thought nothing of it and made our way to our table overlooking the ocean. I’m not sure what happened in the span of 1 hour but what was a relaxing and chill environment when we walked in, astonishingly transformed to an over-packed and lively night lounge/club as we signalled our waitress to keep the cocktails coming.  I don’t know, maybe I’m actually only raving because there were some casual celebrity encounters as we weaved through the club, including Sulley Muntari, the former captain of the Ghana national football …. but our evening was super lit!
  3. Bloom Bar
    • I found Bloom Bar on a list of Accra’s Best Secret Bars in June earlier this year and couldn’t help but chuckle when we finally visited. If it was a secret at one point, it certainly isn’t much of a secret anymore.Located in the Osu neighborhood, the rustic outdoor aura of Bloom Bar offers great music, tasty finger foods and a unique cocktail menu.  It’s safe to say that this is the haven for hip millennials and the cool kids of Gen Z.
      Fair warning though, this place gets extremely packed on weekends and can sometimes feel like an over-packed college house party. Sandwich anyone?
  4. Carbon and Twist
    • Twist and Carbon have appeared on the lists of Accra’s best nightclub for years and there’s no argument there. Whether you’re popping bottles with your friends or washing down cocktails by the glass over the bar, expect to have a good time and keep your body in constant motion as you party to the sounds of afrobeats  all night long. 

Shop ’til you drop

Shopping across Ghana is abundant and diverse. In Accra, if you’re after modernity, you can start by visiting Accra Mall and West Hills Mall. If you’re after more traditional crafts, clothing pieces and/or handmade carvings , you can visit a number of boutiques, shops or even roadside sellers on the city streets.

Explore Oxford Street in Osu which is lined with many shops and street vendors, including Woodin where you can source original Vlisco waxed ankara measured fabrics.  In the town of La (the Labadi area) is the International Trade Fair, which is an exhibition where vendors across West Africa can be found.  You can also visit the Arts Centre (National Centre for Culture) if you’re in search of some souvenirs or some traditional art pieces sourced from all parts of the country.

Of course, if you want to experience the real hustle and bustle of everyday market life, visiting Makola Market in the centre of Accra or Kejetia Market in Kumasi is a must! Predominantly occupied by strong women traders, the market sells imported foods, fresh produce, clothes, medicine, pots, pans, handcrafted beaded jewellery and so much more.

Image result for Makola Market

Life has taken me on some pretty cool adventures this year, but this one has been the most meaningful by far.  Needless to say, this was certainly a November to remember. I can’t wait to go back!

Ghana, medaase!!!

xo,
JEN


is a lifestyle and travel blogger living in Alberta, Canada. She loves sharing the places, spaces and inspiring things that add vibrancy to her everyday life.

COMMENTS
  • Omg Ghana looks so amazing! I want to go. I’m always weary about where to travel because my first thought is what the heck am I going to eat. BUT the food looks great here so ya we need to make this visit happen. Great post!

    December 12, 2018
  • Sele__bobo

    REPLY

    Been waiting for this post, what a great compilation on the abcs of visiting Ghana. Medaase?

    December 12, 2018
  • Osunku

    REPLY

    Yo this makes me wanna visit Ghana again. Brava ??????

    December 12, 2018
  • Tony

    REPLY

    Hmmm. Chale you try paa!

    December 13, 2018
  • Mel

    REPLY

    I love your piece on Ghana. My name is Mel I and my Partner Danny run a travel agency in Ghana where he is a native born and raised. Our Facebook site is Come Home Africa Tours better known as CHAT Ghana. I would like to share your blog on Ghana on our page and speak a little of you if that is ok with you. Would it be possible if you could mention us in your blog, Or let us post about our tours on your blog? We are currently holding a sale for the Spring and Summer season and would truly like to get the word out.

    If you agree to all or part thank you in advance for your time and attention to the details. You can reach us at **ComeHomeAfricaTours@gmail.com** or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CHATGhana/

    June 5, 2019
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