How many of you think of travelling to Ghana for a few weeks? We invite you to discover Ghana and give you 8 reasons why Ghana is a must visit. Our marble seekers have just returned from this exotic country with fresh news! Want to find out what they have to say?
Two main wide-spread misconceptions about Ghana and Africa in general appear to be deep-seeded in the travellers’ consciousness:
- Africa, Ghana included, is a place of Safari and diamonds (you’re probably familiar with the movie ‘Blood Diamonds’, right?);
- Africa is where people die of hunger, live in huts or shelters dug underground and the whole attire of diseases that goes along with this ‘lack of hygiene and deprivation of civilisation’.
1. Longstanding History
A wealth of stunning museums, forts and historical sites are waiting to be discovered in Ghana. If you want to learn more about the Gold Coast and focus on its history, our marble discoverers recommend making a few days’ stop in the city of Cape Coast.
Located in Ghana’s Central Region, a trip to the city will give you the opportunity to visit Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle, two historic buildings that once were major hubs for trans-Atlantic slave trade. While it may be hard to digest, a tour of these two castle-forts will give more than just a brief insight into how the slave trade was a terrible function of supply and demand. Slave vessels, dungeons, old cannons and secret chambers will tell you the story!
Other similar forts, today gems of traditional Ghanaian architecture, Fort William and Fort Victoria, which were used mainly as watchtowers to protect the city from Ashanti attacks in the 19th century.
2. Swaying to the Drum Beat
Everywhere you go, it’s impossible not to run into colourfully dressed dancers swaying to lively drum beats. Accra, the capital city is full of them! Plus, you can never feel down or unhappy in the rhythm of the Djembe drum and it’s a sound so powerful that it sticks in your memory, ‘insidiously’ working its way to your heart. You’ll be hooked before you know it! (Guaranteed!)
If you want to join in, you can take drum lessons throughout Ghana, a good location is on the beach in Kokrobite. The tempo is absolutely F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S, and these guys really have in their blood. Rhythm, imagination and improvisation is the name of the game. Think Ravel’s Bolero with a bit of African improvisation. If they really get down to it, they may suddenly jump up on their feet and put on a real dance show, which is quite common in Ghana.
So if you’re craving for a real street show, that’s the place to be!
3. Cost-effective holidaymaking
If you’re planning to travel somewhere nice for the summer, it’s always good to save some cash throughout the year.
Although nothing is free in Ghana, you will be amazed how little you spend on virtually anything (a lot less than you would at home for a similar service).
To give you an example, a trip with the local bus that goes by the name of ‘tro-tro’ should cost you around 15 cents, a popsicle around 35 cents and a hotel bed, if your jaws didn’t hit the floor yet, when you hear this one they will for sure, around USD 6 (no, it’s not a typo!). That’s the price per night in the Volta Region.
But, we have a tip: keep your eyes and mind wide open and remember the first price you’re given in markets, small shops and convenience stores or when taking a taxi, which is always the ‘oburoni price’ (foreigner price)! This is normally about three times higher than the price a local would pay.
So for those of you whose middle name is ‘negotiation’ or better yet ‘bargaining’, you’d better use those skills in the best way you can if you want to get the fair price. This being said, make sure you drop a few words to give the sales/exchange agent the feeling that you know the local rate (even if you have no clue!).
4. Volunteer work
Ghana is an emerging economy with a lot to offer. Ghana is making concerted efforts to achieve the status of an economically healthy country but it can always do with a helping hand. In one of their reports, UNICEF notes that the HIV 'epidemic' has left many families wanting and many children orphans. There are quite a few orphanages dotted around the country. Though not every orphanage is in need of assistance, there are several that would welcome all additional help they can get. Other areas where help is very much appreciated is in education or agriculture
Ghanaians are proud people [and rightly so], but they do appreciate the help and when we all join forces, amazing things can happen. Ghana is the perfect place to start volunteer work if you’re looking for volunteer opportunities at children’s homes, hospitals, schools etc.
You can offer your services as a volunteer through the likes of the International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ), the Global Volunteer Network or SE7EN. These and many other organisations offer a range of volunteer opportunities that can assist with finding a project.
5. Friendly people
Ghanaians are perhaps the friendliest people on the face of this planet. Who you are, what you’re doing or what’s your purpose, people want and will talk to you. Even if you’re just out for your usual morning jog, people will stop their cars or turn their market stalls to say ‘hi’ and start a conversation.
Very important thing to remember – greetings are like food for the Ghanaians’ spirit! Most of the times, they tend to smile and wave to strangers, so be polite and wave back. Take the opportunity to talk to them and don’t feel offended by the term ‘oburoni’, which you will hear quite often. They’re just trying to get to know you!
6. Getting a feel of wildlife
While Ghana does not enjoy the reputation of a safari destination, it does offer a great deal of opportunities to get the feel of wildlife. Love lazing in the sun? Ghana boasts a great number of white and wide sandy beaches stretching along the Atlantic coast of Africa. Love hiking and trekking? Go to Cape Coast! Here you will have the unique opportunity to trek over a swinging canopy bridge running right above the trees of Kakum National Park (if you’re not afraid of heights though). Finally, if you want to see a croc in action, go to Hans Cottage Botel where you will have fun playing with and sitting on crocodiles.
There a lot more places where you can enjoy Ghana’s exoticism and really escape into nature in the Volta Region – the isolated town of Wli-Afegame, just outside of HoHoe. The mountain landscape, lush flora and magical waterfalls in this area are mind-blowing. If you love hiking, the Wli-Falls or Mount Afadjato (the highest peak in Ghana) are perfect spots to exercise and prove your skills! Alternatively, if you want to experience the jungle, hop in the car and go to Volta Lake where the monkeys in Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary get together to feed, drink, and play.
7. Excellent food
They say you don’t get to really know someone until they cook and similarly you don’t get the true taste of a culture until you try its cuisine. While ingredients seem to cross borders and migrate to other cultures and cuisines, however, Ghana seems to resist this cross-border sharing and preserve its uniqueness.
You will have the chance to taste a number of foods (we will talk about Ghanaian food in a future post) you never heard of like red-red, fu-fu, banku, or kenkey.
Try the soup! Most of Ghanaian soups have a strong nutty flavour due to their spicy peanut base. What would be a meal without dessert? Have a slice of evo, a prickly melon-like fruit with a frothy and fluffy inside.
8. Folk art
Traditional art, handmade beads, woven cloth and carpets, woodcarvings can be found everywhere you go. You will notice certain symbols and images that decorate the art appear repeatedly.
No, those aren’t mainly decorative elements, they’re gateways to the Ghanaian psyche that actually allow you to take a peek in the art and soul of the people and learn more about WHO THEY ARE.
Whenever you feel like taking a stroll around the art market (there are lots of them, by the way), don’t miss the opportunity to speak to the artists and ask them questions about their craft. Carved, colourful masks and statues tell a story. As ladies couldn’t be left behind, an interesting item to have is a long, thin strand of beads tied around the hips and known as ‘Ghanaian lingerie’ can decorate any summery outfit.
Still thinking where to go this summer? If these 8 reasons why Ghana is a must visit are not enough to make you hop on a plane just yet, stay tuned, there’s a lot more for us to reveal and for you to marvel at!