Ghana travel guide
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
This little nation is one of West Africa’s most culturally vibrant – and unusually diverse. In a just a week or two, you can meet a village chief, track wild elephants, bask on a tropical beach, learn to dance or drum, participate in age-old Ashanti festivities and cruise down a river in search of hippos – and it’s unlikely you’ll spot many other tourists while doing so.
It’s the little things that count here: the famous Ghanaian warmth and hospitality, the taste of sweet, fried plantains, the infectious sound of Highlife music wafting from the taxis, the long, deep breath out as you sink into “Ghana Time”. The problem is that photographs just don’t do any of these experiences justice, which is why it’s so hard to explain Ghana’s appeal. You’ll just have to come here and experience it for yourself…
Find out more in our Ghana travel guide.
West Africa for beginners:
a safe, friendly and vibrant
introduction to this part of
About big sites. Forget the pyramids and the Big Five – this is about cosy community interaction, drumming, dancing and chiefs.
Ghana map & highlights
Make the most of your time
Ghana is the same size as the UK, but it stretches from tropical coastline through lush green forest and plantations, up to the dry reaches of the Sahel, dotted with scrubland and mud mosques – you can see a lot of Africa on one short trip. The main roads are paved and comfortable to travel on – with congestion only in city centres – and as a result, travel is rarely disrupted even during the wet season. Many places of interest are clustered in the south and are easy to reach from Accra, but if you are heading to the far north though, either stop off at the many sights along the way – or take a short flight; you’ll avoid spending a couple of days in a car.
Cape Coast & Elmina Castle
Elmina dates back to 1482 – it’s the oldest European building in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its glorious architecture belies its harrowing past as one of around 40 slave forts along the coast; a tour, including the ‘gate of no return’, is sobering but necessary to understand an important part of Africa’s not-so-distant history. Cape Coast Castle is also worth a visit.
Kakum National Park
This rainforest has been protected since 1931, and shelters forest elephants, giant hogs, monkeys, flying squirrels, 300 bird species and some 650 species of butterfly. They’re all surprisingly well hidden though, so it’s best to come simply for the experience of being in the forest. A 40m-high walkway takes you through the canopy; guides are required on the trails.
The centre of the Ashanti Kingdom is, at first sight, a typically sprawling, dusty African city – but explore with a local guide and you’ll discover its truly tribal pulse. A cultural museum, one of West Africa’s largest markets and the chance to be invited to a funeral (it’s an honour for the deceased…) all reveal that there is more to Kumasi than meets the eye.
Mole National Park
While a number of large mammals live in Mole, including buffalo, hippo, hyena and numerous antelopes, visitors are drawn here by the elephants. See them on traditional game drives – or track them with a ranger on foot, for a fraction of what it would cost in the game parks of Southern or East Africa. Twitchers will be impressed with the 300 species of bird.
Upper East Region
Ghana’s far north is where the tropics turn into the Sahel, the dusty harmattan wind hazes the landscape, and traditional and animistic cultures prevail. Village chiefs hold considerable power, and harvests and rainfall are determined by the use of sacrificial shrines. In Sirigu, extraordinary painted houses and the handiwork of skilled craftswomen.
The place to head if you really want to live like a local. The coast is lined with nesting leatherbacks, net-hauling fisherman and a crumbling slave fort – but save your bathing for the calm lagoons. Live amongst the locals at a friendly ecolodge, take a boat through the mangroves to an island rum-maker and simply lose track of time in a lagoon-side hammock.