Safaris, fantasy coffins, fufu and extra thrilling experiences in Ghana

With a wealth of sandy seashores and nationwide parks teeming with wildlife, Ghana is a small nation with masses to supply adventurous vacationers.

Not solely is Ghana comparatively straightforward to navigate, however the nation boasts a secure democracy, welcoming residents and an array of distinctive sights, from unimaginable festivals to the studios of artisan coffin makers (sure, actually). Whether or not you’re a first-timer to West Africa or a repeat customer, you’ll all the time discover one thing right here to please and excite you.

After you’ve learn up on all you have to know as you make your plans, contemplate our picks for one of the best issues to do in your journey to Ghana. 

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Observe elephants in Mole Nationwide Park 

Mole Nationwide Park is Ghana’s largest protected space and the jewel of Ghana’s nationwide parks.  At 4840 sq km (1869 sq miles), this beautiful panorama of open savanna and small pockets of flood-plain grasslands greater in space than larger Accra, the nation’s capital. Greater than 90 wildlife species name Mole dwelling, together with warthogs, inexperienced monkeys and 600 of a number of the most docile elephants on the continent. 

Whereas predators akin to leopards and noticed hyenas are additionally present in Mole, lions are uncommon. This relative lack of killer cats mixed with Mole’s less-aggressive elephants make the park preferrred for strolling safaris. Within the firm of an armed ranger, you’ll be able to observe a herd of elephants on foot, following them by bush to the banks of watering holes for an up-close and unforgettable view. 

Go to the artisan workshops in Teshie-Nungua to admire the “fantasy coffins”: burial vessels that resemble animals, objects and different surprising kinds © MyLoupe / Getty Pictures

Browse customized fantasy coffins 

Customized-made burial vessels which might be formed like symbols from an individual’s career or ardour (assume an airplane for pilots or pencil for writers), Ghana’s fantasy coffins first caught on within the mid-Twentieth century, earlier than turning into recognized to a wider Western viewers throughout a Paris artwork present in 1989.

These coffins are a approach for the deceased to precise their passions even in dying. A bespoke coffin may resemble a fish, a sneaker, a digicam, even a beer bottle: if Ghana’s artisan coffin carpenters could make it, they’ll. Every coffin is exquisitely detailed, extraordinarily colourful and totally practical – to not point out a bona fide piece of artwork. 

A lot of Ghana’s artisan coffin makers have showrooms which might be open for shopping, and lots of of them may be discovered within the city of Teshie-Nungua close to Accra. Cease by to look at these intricate, authentic compositions up shut.

Replenish on native delicacies 

Hearty and comforting, Ghanian delicacies has closely influenced dishes throughout the southern United States, from pink beans and rice to jambalaya, which is similar to the nation’s tomato-based jollof rice. 

Ghana’s hottest meals usually mix a starchy staple with a soup or stew. One of many nation’s most beloved dishes is pink pink, a signature bean stew made with tomatoes, onions, black-eyed peas and palm oil. Wealthy, candy and spicy, it usually consists of fish akin to snapper or mackerel (however is simply as tasty with out), and often comes with a aspect of fried plantains. Buka, in Accra’s hopping Osu neighborhood, dishes out a model that’s particularly scrumptious. 

Ghana’s nationwide dish, fufu is the dough-like starch made out of items of boiled cassava or plantains that’s used to sop up soup. Kenkey, a dumpling-style road meals, is a favourite amongst Ghana’s Ga individuals. 

Delve into Ghana’s historical past

In 1957, Ghana turned the primary African nation to achieve independence from colonial rule. A lot of the combat for independence came about in Accra, and monuments to this compelling historical past exist all through town. These websites correctly salute the significance of Ghana’s transformation right into a republic, and what this newfound freedom meant for the continent as a complete.

Every year on March 6, Ghana’s Independence Day, a parade takes place in Black Star Sq., Accra’s civic hub. That is the place you’ll discover the Independence Arch, a towering construction representing Ghana’s battle for independence from imperial British rule; Kwame Nkrumah, the nation’s first president, commissioned the arch in 1961, simply in time for a go to from Queen Elizabeth II. The sq.’s imposing Black Star Gate is topped by the Black Star of Africa, the five-pointed star that represents Ghana and which additionally options on its flag. Whereas the inside of the arch isn’t open to the general public, guards typically will take guests to the highest of the gate for a small charge.

Simply down the street is the beautiful Kwame Nkrumah Park and Mausoleum, a putting monument that’s the burial place of the previous president and his spouse Fathia. The construction is clad in Italian marble and formed like an inverted sword, a logo of peace amongst Ghana’s Akan individuals. Excursions of this park and Black Star Sq. are usually provided alongside visits to WEB DuBois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture, which incorporates the onetime dwelling and workplace of the well-known American civil-rights activist, seen by many as the daddy of pan-Africanism.

Colorful moored wooden fishing boats line the beach with the slave castle in the background, Cape Coast, Ghana, West Africa
The picturesque shore in entrance of Cape Coast Citadel belies the horrors of the transatlantic slave commerce, of which this web site was a serious half © Fabian Plock / Shutterstock

Study concerning the horrific historical past of slave castles

The historical past of Ghana’s “slave castles” is appalling, one of many starkest and most vivid reminders you’ll encounter of many atrocities of the transatlantic slave commerce. About 40 of those business fortresses as soon as spanned West Africa’s Gold Coast in the course of the seventeenth and 18th centuries, after they served as some extent of no return for the various women and men shipped off in bondage into slavery. Remnants of a few of these forts nonetheless exist, and two of essentially the most accessible, Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Citadel, are situated in southern Ghana’s Central Area close to town of Cape Coast, a couple of hours’ drive southwest of Accra. 

Every of those former European buying and selling posts gives guided excursions. Guests can expertise first-hand the desolate isolation cells, dungeons for ladies and darkish, dank holding cells the place a whole bunch of males sweated, starved and defecated collectively earlier than being pressured out by a slim door to sea. 

Have interaction your lively aspect in Ghana’s Shai Hills 

With its lush greenery, scenic unspoiled vistas and rocky mounds for climbing, the Shai Hills Resource Reserve supplies a wonderful alternative to discover Ghana’s pure choices. This 51-sq-km (32-sq-mile) space of forested plains and peaks is thought for its roadside baboons, and is a haven for hikers, campers and mountain bikers. You may try a trio of bat-filled caves, thought of sacred by Ghana’s Shai individuals (remnants of former Shai communities exist in varied spots across the reserve), and see a bevy of even bigger wildlife, together with kob antelope, inexperienced monkeys and zebras. 

Native sport and recreation clothes shop Braveheart Expeditions runs mountain-bike excursions and rock-climbing adventures across the reserve as effectively.

Store for domestically made artisan items 

From Djembe drums to beaded dolls, Ghana gives an infinite array of genuine handmade artisan items – however it’s a must to know the place to look. Be ready to haggle at Accra’s Centre for Nationwide Tradition, dwelling to a whole bunch of artisan stalls with wares starting from carved wood bowls and leather-based luggage to colourful kente textiles. Make sure you hunt down stalls the place the vendor can be the maker, and ask shopkeepers about their course of: they’re often more than pleased to inform guests what’s concerned with each bit. Shopping for from the creator goes a good distance towards assuring the artisan piece you’re buying is the actual deal. 

Ghana’s Northern Area is dwelling to Hamamat, a mud-hut village the place girls make uncooked shea butter, a pure pores and skin moisturizer, from the produce of the realm’s many shea bushes. In an on-site spa, you’ll be able to check out the merchandise, or you’ll be able to simply tour the village and store for bars of shea butter cleaning soap and colourful hand-woven Bolga baskets, one other native specialty. For handmade clay pottery, don’t miss the Northern Area’s Kukuo Pottery Village, situated within the suburbs of Tamale. 

A group of young people splash in the water of the Atlantic Ocean at Kokrobite Beach, Accra, Ghana
Underrated as a seashore vacation spot, Ghana has greater than 300 miles of coast © Danilo Marocchi / Shutterstock

Hit up Ghana’s dreamy seashores

With 550km (341 miles) of low-lying, sandy shoreline lapped by heat waters, Ghana is a seashore lover’s delight. Whether or not you favor stress-free on the white sands of Cape Three Factors Seaside on the nation’s southernmost level or partying late into the night on Kokrobite Seaside on the shores of Ghana’s Central Area, each kind of beachgoer will discover their preferrred stretch of sand within the nation. Accra’s Labadi Seaside is definitely accessible from the capital metropolis, whereas Busua Seaside within the nation’s Western Area boasts waters for surfers of all ranges. If you wish to be taught, a couple of browsing faculties like Justice’s Brothers supply classes.

Admire West Africa’s oldest mosque in Larabanga

Larabanga Mosque is just not solely West Africa’s oldest mosque, but additionally one distinctive in look. Constructed within the Sudanese fashion, this white packed-earth construction options pyramidal towers and horizontal timbers jutting out from its sides. First established in 1421, it’s been rebuilt a number of occasions over time and is a well-liked place for pilgrimage. In reality, many contemplate it to be the Mecca of West Africa.

The mosque is situated within the all-Muslim village of Larabanga, within the nation’s North Area. A neighborhood information gives excursions of the outside for a small donation. Down Larabanga’s predominant street sits the Mystic Stone, an “unmovable” stone that is sacred to native Muslims and at which individuals of all religions can come and pray. 

A hiker on a rope suspension bridge, part of the canopy walk at Kakum National Park, Ghana, West Africa
The cover stroll in Kakum Nationwide Park will take you thru the bushes, providing you with a complete new perspective on this lush atmosphere © Gallo Pictures / Getty Pictures

Embark on a panoramic cover stroll at Kakum Nationwide Park 

Not solely is 375-sq-km (145-sq-mile) Kakum Nationwide Park full of such wildlife as pink river hogs, forest elephants and leopards: it additionally gives the change to take a high-flying stroll among the many lush rainforest cover. Kakum’s 350m(1148ft)-long cover stroll is a sequence of seven rope-like suspension bridges that tower above the bottom, as much as a top of 40m (130ft). The attraction gives a completely completely different vantage level of the forest, and it’s the one one in all its variety in Ghana. A information is required for each the cover stroll and exploring the dense grounds under; the expertise may be booked on the customer middle upon arrival within the park.

Attend one in all Ghana’s many festivals 

Ghana hosts greater than 200 festivals yearly, lots of them colourful lineups of parades, dancing and music that remember the nation’s wealthy and vibrant tradition. One recurring occasion to maintain a watch out for yr spherical is the Asante Akwasidae pageant held in Kumasi, which takes place each six weeks on a Sunday to honor the normal Ashanti individuals, their ancestors and their chiefs. Verify the web site Akan (Twi) Dictionary for the pageant’s up-to-date schedule.

As you propose what time of yr to go to Ghana, observe that harvest festivals happen throughout the nation from September to November. The vacations are in full swing in December, in addition to festivals like Afrochella, a celebration of African music, style, artwork and tradition. The biannual Panafest brings collectively Africans from world wide, utilizing artwork as a way of speaking and fostering unity.