Ghana has a strong reputation for being one of the friendliest countries in Africa, particularly in the capital Accra which is a hive of activity. The country offers the typical palm lined tropical beaches as well as areas of rainforest and plenty of remnants of a colonial past. Combining this with a long line of traditional African craft, art and culture makes Ghana a perfect country for tourists. Once part of the historic Ashanti culture, then conquered by the British during the colonial period Ghana seems to have emerged with a national identity that has only become stronger throughout the ages.
During 2002 an outbreak of fighting between ethnic groups in Yenda has left the entire north east region of Ghana a little unstable. The situation has subsequently calmed down but remains tense and there is the potential for violence to flare up quickly. Those intending to visit this region should keep up to date with daily news in the local media and where possible avoid crowds and public gatherings.
- Currency: Cedi (c) = 100 pesewas
- Time Zone: GMT
- Language: English
- Telephone Services: Country code +233, International access code 00
- Emergency Numbers: Not present, phone the embassy on 221 665
The climate in Ghana is typically tropical; the temperatures are hot and humid especially in the north. There are four distinct seasons with the two rainy seasons occurring between March to July and September to October with the former experiencing heavier precipitation. Other months are largely dry but slight rains can be experienced throughout the year.
Things to see and do
The capital city Accra is one of Africa's most desirable destinations, the friendliness of the citizens is unparalleled making this city a perfect introduction to Africa. There are two main market places, each with a different specialty. The Kaneshie market on the west of the city sells mainly foods and spices and is a fantastic place to sample the local cuisine. On the other hand the central Makola Market is the place to head for souvenirs particularly beads, carvings or batik. Also worth seeing is the Arts Centre, which is the home of the best craft market in the country and is also packed with street performers and other entertainers. Accra is also famous for its nightlife, it hosts numerous bars and drinking spots but its real highlight is the dance clubs which fuse western dance music with traditional African dancing and music. Accra also has several good beaches within easy reach, the most convenient is Coco beach which is only a few miles from the city.
The other key destination in Ghana is Kumasi, this city was once the capital of the Ashanti kingdom and is a definite cultural centre. The main draw is the National Cultural Centre which is an enormous complex chronicling every aspect of Ashanti civilization. As well as the exhibits there is a library and an exhibition hall which offer visitors the opportunity to take workshops in traditional Ashanti dance or drumming. Also of note is the Manhyia Palace which despite its name is not as grandiose as Europeans come to expect. Other attractions include the zoo and the site of the famous Anokye Sword.
Ghana Airways runs a domestic service linking Ghana with other areas of Africa as well as with the wider world in general. Prices are obviously more expensive than overland travel but the service is useful for crossing large distances quickly perhaps as part of a longer African tour.
The rail network in Ghana is quite small, it is limited to a 1000km loop connecting Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi as well as several smaller towns en route. The service is basic but efficient and trains run from each station at least twice a day. There are two classes of travel but unfortunately neither is air conditioned. Children under 3 travel for free and those between 3 and 11 pay only half fares.
There are state run and private coaches available between all major towns as well as local services linking the cities to outlying villages. The standard of the state run buses has been slipping recently so it is normally better to use a private service where possible. Fares are quite cheap but expect buses to be crowded. There are also police check points on some roads so take this into account when calculating journey times.
There are a few international standard hotels in Accra but elsewhere you may have to curb your desire for the height of luxury. Good quality hotels are widely available in all major urban areas, as are cheap budget hotels with very basic services. Hostels and guesthouses can be found throughout the country although they are again concentrated mainly in urban areas. The Ghana Tourism Board runs the grading system and can be contacted for more information regarding hotels in the country.
Beach huts are available in the more popular beach resort, these are generally constructed from local materials. Ghana Web can be contacted for more details on this type of accommodation. Camping is possible but it should be noted than in the game parks it can be quite dangerous and you will normally have to be accompanied by an armed guard.
Medical facilities exist in all major towns as well as regional capitals but treatment falls below international standards. Travel insurance is essential for any treatment and you should ideally purchase a policy which covers emergency evacuation should you require treatments which are beyond the facilities and expertise offered in Ghana.
A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever is a entry requirement for Ghana, you should contact your local GP about obtaining this vaccination. Cholera is a risk in the country although you should seek medical advice about the necessity of a vaccination as current medical experts are divided on its effectiveness. Immunisation against typhoid is recommednded and your GP should be able to administer this vaccination to you for around £40. There is a malaria threat throughout the country including reports of resistance to chloroquine, you should seek medical advice on the most appropriate anti-malaria treatment to take.
Tap water in the major cities is considered safe to drink but all other water sources should be treated as potentially contaminated and should be sterilised before use for any purpose. Milk is unpasteurised and should be boiled before use, dairy products should be avoided due to the high probability of having been made from improperly sterilised milk. Meat should be well cooked all of the way through and eaten hot, fruits and vegetables should be washed and where appropriate cooked or peeled before consumption.
Ghana Web is an excellent source of tourist information
The Ghana Tourism Board dispenses official tourist information for foreign visitors to Ghana
Ghana Airways runs a domestic service linking Ghana with other areas of Africa as well as with the wider world in general
Gap Year Ghana Worthwhile volunteer projects and luxury beachside accomodation in Ghana, West Africa. Placements include teaching in schools, football coaching, radio work and medical work shadowing nurses in hospitals.