The Republic of Ghana, a coastal country situated in West Africa is fast becoming a popular tourist choice for travellers looking for a lesser-known travel destination.
Here in the “Land of Sunshine” as Ghana is often referred to, you will meet some of the friendliest people on earth. Ghanaians welcome tourist with open arms and love to show you around.
So when looking to visit, what can you expect? Here are 7 one-of-a-kind experiences that are completely unmissable while in Ghana.
1. Visit the Volta River and Lake Volta
The biggest river in Ghana, the Volta is in fact, the 4th largest lake on the planet and the largest manmade lake in the world, covering around 3.6% of the total surface area of the country.
You could try your hand at catching one of the fishes that frequent the waters. It's not as easy as you may think although a seasoned fisherman might snag a fish or two.
If it's a nice workout you want, why not take a canoe ride down the Volta. Travel at your own pace as you take in the tranquil waters, the birdlife, as well as the beautiful scenery that the Volta estuary has to offer.
Other activities include motor boating, riverside beaches, local river towns as well as local craft centres, where curios to remind you of your trip are available at cheap prices.
2. Hike the Mount Adaklu
Situated in the town of Ho, near the Volta region, Mount Adaklu is a hiker’s dream. It stands just over 580 meters at its summit and many tourists take the time to scale this beautiful peak. It's always easiest to find a Mount Adaklu tour guide or a local who knows the best paths as well as conditions in the area, to take you up the mountain than tackling it alone.
One of the best villages to begin your trek up the mountain is that of Helekpe. The locals here understand the importance of tourism in the area and many can speak English, should you want to learn about traditional customs or the area itself.
Set aside some time to visit the Kalakpa Resource Reserve, home to a wide array of wildlife including large populations of buffalo, birdlife and various antelope species.
3. Enjoy Tribal Festivals
Tribal festivals are hugely popular in Ghana. Held around the country by various ethnic tribes indigenous to a region, these festivals celebrate each tribe’s uniqueness and include various displays and traditions that they practice, including dancing, music and traditional foods.
A bit of pre-planning might be necessary when deciding on which festival to visit. Or when in the capital, ask a local Accra tour guide to identify any festivals that may be taking place in the city, or in the surrounds.
Some of the festivals you might consider include:
Aboakyer festival: Held by the Efutu people, this is bushbuck hunt that celebrates the tribes' migration from the area around Timbuktu into central Ghana where they live today. It is held at the beginning of May each year.
Adae Kese festival: This ancient celebration dates back to the 1600s and is held by the Ashanti tribe. It happens at the time of the Yam harvest throughout the Lake Volta region.
Homowo festival: Held in May before the start of the rainy season, the Homowo festival is celebrated by the Ga people. Traditionally, this is the time when they plant their crops for the upcoming season. At this festival, the Ga perform a special dance known as the “Kpanlogo.” Not only do the people pray for good crops but remember times of famine in Ghana as well.
4. Be amazed by the local castles and forts: Historic Ghana
The two best towns to visit to see historical places in Ghana are Cape Coast and Elmina. In fact, the castle at Cape Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site and played a major role in world history during the dark days of the slave trade. As a working structure, the castle was under the rule of many countries, including Sweden and Great Britain.
Your Cape Coast tour guide can take you on a guided tour of this building and there is plenty to see here. And is well worth a few hours of your time. Don't forget to visit other historical forts in the town including the abandoned Fort Victoria and Fort William.
In the town of Elmina, consider an organised tour of Elmina Castle, one of the earliest ever structures built by Europeans in West Africa.
5. Visit Larabanga Mosque
Built in 1421, the Larabanga Mosque is unlike any other building you have ever seen.
Made from mud and reeds, the mosque is situated in the town of Larabanga in the West Gonja District and is near the Mole National Park. Local crafts for sale in the town, are channelled into helping keep the building maintained. The mosque houses the holy book of Quran which is close to 400 years old.
6. Walk amongst the tallest trees: Cross Canopy walkway
Not only will a visit to Kakum National Park in the centre of Ghana be worth your consideration if you want to see the wildlife the country has to offer, you could experience much more than that. Unless you are afraid of heights!
Deep inside the park, authorities have connected a host of the tallest trees by means of a walkway. Here, for a distance of around 350 meters, you can literally walk along the forest canopy. This gives such a different perspective of everything below and makes you feel as tall as a giant!
7. Spend time in the capital for a local experience
Accra will no doubt be your travel hub while in the country. Some of the sights advised by your Accra travel guide will include:
The National Museum. If you love history, a visit to the National Museum of Ghana will tell you everything you need to know about this interesting country. It houses objects of archaelogy (from the Stone age to the modern era), ethnography, as well as objects that have been obtained from other places like Senfu masks from La Cote D’ Ivoire, Zulu wooden figures and bead-ware from Southern Africa. Not only that, the museum also has a number of sculptures in different media.
Fantasy coffins. A somewhat bizarre experience, but certainly worth it for both the fun and macabre factor is time spent at the fantasy coffin workshop. Here a range of coffins are built for Ghanaians who like to be buried in style. Coffins are designed in the shape of fish, bottles of coke and beer and just about anything you can think of.
A 360-degree view of the city. The Skybar sits at the top of the Villagio building in Accra, and from here, you get a majestic view of the capital while sipping on your favourite cocktail. What could be more relaxing after a long day in the city?
Ghana has so much to offer! Make sure you plan your trip with a local Ghana tour guide so as not to miss out on anything in this vibrant, friendly country.
“Craig Taylor is a freelance writer and blogger. A lover of wildlife, he loves to travel and have as many new experiences as possible, particularly with food! His other passion is photography.”
Image details and licenses:
Mount Adaklu: https://flic.kr/p/9GT3mK (Chad Skeers, CC BY 2.0), National Museum of Ghana: https://images.app.goo.gl/6HT31iopjrrr691KA (Livinba, CC BY-SA 3.0), Ada Festival: https://images.app.goo.gl/Z27H7Ri72XuzVpbM7 (SanBa, CC BY 3.0), Fish shaped coffin of Ghana: https://flic.kr/p/JXiUer (Alessandro Grussu, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)