Best time to visit Ghana

Best time to visit Ghana


The best time to visit Ghana is the dry season, from Oct-Mar. Thanks to its paved roads, Ghana is one of the easiest West African countries to travel through in the wet season – but it does make travel less pleasant, however, and summer is hot and sticky. Game is easier to spot in Mole National Park when it’s dry, with elephants seen particularly in Dec-Mar. Be aware of the arid harmattan wind though which blows in from the Sahara from Dec; moisturiser and lip balm are needed, internal flights may be disrupted, and it’s very hazy. Culture-wise, the Dipo Festival takes place on 5th May.

Things to do in Ghana


Things to do in Ghana...

Ghana was at the centre of the slave trade for over three centuries, and the castles dotted along its coast were turned into slave forts – ghastly holding stations for hundreds of thousands of slaves before they passed through the ‘gate of no return’ and were shipped across the Atlantic. Visiting one of over 40 forts, of which the ones in Cape Coast and Elmina are the best preserved, is a difficult but necessary experience for any visitor to Ghana.
Tribal culture is still very much at the heart of Ghanaian life, and there are few better ways to experience it than visiting a traditional festival. The Ashanti festival of Akwsidae takes place regularly in order to honour the ancestors with dancing, drumming and song. The king and chiefs are out in their gold and finery, and visitors are welcome. The Krobo people celebrate Dipo each May, to mark girls’ transition into womanhood. They wear kente cloth and strings of beads while performing a ritual dance; lucky young women may even attract suitors.
Chiefs are culturally still very important in Ghana, and many tribes and villages look to their own chief to resolve disputes, bring them a good harvest and maintain peace between neighbours and villages. You may be able to meet a chief and ask questions about his role and responsibilities – a fascinating opportunity to see how modernity and tradition sit comfortably side by side in 21st century Ghana.

Things not to do in Ghana...

Expect the Big Five. There is wildlife in Ghana, and there are national parks – but this is not the Serengeti. It’s definitely worth visiting Mole if you are passing by, and getting up close to a wild elephant on foot is just as thrilling here as it is anywhere, but this is not a classic African safari. Likewise, Kakum Forest is lovely, and the canopy walk is a great experience – but if you really want to be in with a chance of spotting its elusive wildlife, come first thing – or stay overnight for a nighttime forest walk.
Take advantage of people’s friendliness. Ghanaians are gregarious – starting up a conversation on the street is as easy as greeting someone in the local language; any effort will be rewarded with smiles and curiosity. But don’t get too cosy – if you want to take photos of people, please ask. The chances are you’ll be received enthusiastically, but if not – a polite thank you is all that’s needed.
Many visitors are shocked by the amount of litter strewn across Ghana, but few facilities exist to dispose of plastic. Don’t contribute; take items such as spent batteries home with you to dispose of, and refill drinking bottles from large water bottles where possible. Even better, buy souvenirs from the brilliant Trashy Bags, which trains local people to recycle plastic water sachets into rather lovely shopping bags, wallets and laptop sleeves.

Ghana travel advice


Note: UK citizens will need to apply for a visa to visit Ghana several weeks before departure. They are easy to obtain; the application process is explained on the Ghana High Commission website. Citizens of other countries are advised to check visa requirements well in advance.

Jim O’Brien is the founder of our West Africa specialist supplier, Native Eye Travel. He shares his Ghana travel advice:

An alternative funeral

“Kumasi is the centre of the Ashanti kingdom, and one interesting thing that you can do in Kumasi is to go to funerals of the Ashanti people. It sounds a bit weird, but they advertise their funerals and it’s an honour for guests to come as they are honouring the life of the dead person. So they’re quite welcoming if the odd westerner comes along. Sometimes we do take groups – I went to one myself and met the president, as it was the funeral of one of the Ashanti Royal family! So that was quite unexpected, but my presence was not a problem at all; you see all the people dressed up in their traditional red and the black dress, there’s dancing… funerals in Africa aren’t the sombre affair that they are here, they’re a chance for celebration of someone’s life.”
“In Accra they have the fantasy coffin makers, that’s something that’s unique to Ghana and worth seeing. They make them like aeroplanes or anything really, so if the guy was a taxi driver they might make a coffin in the shape of a taxi, or if he was a fisherman it might be in the shape of a boat – anything!”

Cultural tips

“They have an interesting little community tourism project in a place called Wechiau in the north. You can go out with members of the local community onto the Black Volta River and look for hippopotamus. You can explore the village in the company of a local guide and go and meet the king of the village, you can look at the Lobi houses, which are the fortress style houses. It’s quite low key, but it’s an example of a community there empowering themselves and dictating tourism on their own terms rather than having it imposed on them. That I thought was nice to see.”

Understanding traditional beliefs

“On the way to Tamale we visit a village of ‘witches’ – they are people who have been accused of being witches by their communities and been exiled. There is a strong belief in witchcraft in Ghana, so they are not allowed to go back to their communities and they generally have a fairly terrible life. But in this area they’ve established their own village where they can go about their business without fear of persecution. You can go and have a chat with them and find out their histories and learn a little bit about that side of the culture which is a little bit disturbing – but it’s part of Ghanaian culture.”

Ghana advice from our travelers


At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Ghana travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Take every opportunity to engage with the locals that is offered and you will return a richer person for it… go with the flow and Ghanaian time… There is no running water, electricity or mobile phone connection, but I wouldn’t swap it for any 5* star hotel. If I close my eyes I’m back there!” Julie Winning

“Ghana is the safest place in Africa I've ever been to and I recommend to people especially who thinks Africa is dangerous to travel and involves lots of hassle to go around. There is not much sightseeing type of tourist attractions… and not as many animals... And yet, instead of being introduced to only tourist-y places, anyone who likes to stay off the beaten path and experience the 'real' Africa in a stress-free environment, it's the perfect destination. I was impressed that many local children in rural villages never begged from tourists… and I was able to feel that people were genuinely welcoming us.” – Amy Sakai

“You ain’t seen nothin’ ‘til you’ve seen the huge, smiling king of the Ashantis dance for his rapturous subjects – His Majesty’s still got that swing!” – Richard and Holly Pierce

“If you are expecting a 5 star hotel where you are detached from the local community, wanting to sip cocktails by the pool, then this is definitely not the vacation for you… You feel immersed in all aspects of the Community from the minute you get there... If you are asked to drink a shot of 50% percent proof spirits at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon with the locals then go for it. Likewise visit the staff's families if you get the chance and experience the thrill of seeing a Shamanic ceremony in full flow on a Friday afternoon… It is a crazily brilliant culture shock!” – Beth Macnab, staying at a Ghana ecolodge with village tour

“If you are a woman bring longer skirts and loose shorts to wear when not at the lodge, because it's considered rude to show above your knees. And every visitor should bring lots of mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and a torch.” – Amy Walter

“In case you are traveling in December-March, it is a harmattan season and there is a lot of sand and dust in the air. Bush fires are also common due to the dry and hot wind. It doesn't hinder you to travel but if you suffer e.g. from asthma, you might want to take it into consideration.” – Marita Vihervaara
Photo credits: [Temp chart - river: Nora Morgan] [Temp chart - stilted houses: MinaLegend] [Cola coffin: Emilio Labrador] [An laternative funeral: David Stanley] [Understand the witch hunt: Native Eye Travel] [helpdesk: Stig Nygaard] [review 1 - Freddy Davis: Nora Morgan] [review 2 - Astrid Seidel: Göran Höglund (Kartläsarn)]
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