Travel tips Ghana
During your study period in Ghana you will have many opportunities for short or somewhat longer weekend trips around the country. Many students also choose to explore the region before or after their study period starts. We have gathered travel tips from our previous students which might inspire you to new Ghanaian and West-African adventures.
Weekend tips from Marit
My greatest weekends in Ghana were spent in Busua, a tiny city along the coast west of the country. Here I was taught how to surf by the local boys, ate my best lobster dinner, danced around the camp fire at night, and got to know volunteers from Europe as well as Ghanaian Rastafarians. Busua is easily accessible by tro-tro (minibus) and you can stay at one of the city´s many beach hostels. The local society in Busua is characterized by mutual trust and local heroes you are certain to meet. You will be served fresh juice from Frank the Juice Man in the morning, and pay him when you meet him again in the evening. Daniel the Pancake Man will serve you the most delicious breakfast pancakes with local bananas and chocolate. You will get lobster, fresh from the ocean, from Frank the Lobster Man, which you can take to one of the beach restaurants, where you can have it prepared. If you need a break from the scorching heat on the beach, you can take a walk in the nearby forest. If you are as lucky as me, you will meet Daniel the Rasta on your forest walk, who will invite you to dinner and offer you his self-made art for a cheap price. Busua can offer spontaneous dance shows in the streets and jam sessions with the Rastafarian at late night camp fires.
Accra is like most capitals – busy and crowded with people. That is precisely why it offers a lot of interesting experiences! Here I went to huge markets, bumped into acrobatic performances in the streets, ate brilliant meals and attended an unforgettable night service in a local church (the congregation was speaking in tongues and singing with a volume that could beat any Norwegian “russebuss”). The big differences in living standards in the city were hard to take in, but I believe it is an important experience to understand the social structures. I visited everything from guarded houses in embassy quarters to densely populated streets with one toilet per quarter and a slum area where electronic waste is both the main source of income and the biggest health hazard. I learned that both this, and a fun night out with Ghanaians that dance better than you can possibly imagine, represent important parts of the country.
Weekend tips from Ingrid
Ghanas tallest mountain – Mt. Afadjato
Ghana is surrounded by beautiful and varied nature, ranging from lush landscape in the south to drier deserts in the north. And as a previous Kulturstudierstudent I encourage you to make use of the opportunity to experience all these differences, either by a weekend trip to the surf beach in Busua or longer journeys to the northern parts of the country.
A really nice trip, which I strongly recommend, is a visit to Ghana´s tallest mountain, Mt. Afadjato. The mountain reaches about 900 meter above sea level. The journey up takes about an hour, and is relatively easy to walk, even in 30 degrees Celsius. Guide is mandatory. As Norwegians we started off thinking this was rather strange, but as we heard a cobra close to the path, we quickly understood the injunction. It is said that the journey is the destination, but here reaching the top of the mountain really was the highlight. The view of the mountain range in Togo (which reaches quite a bit higher), areas of rainforest, cultivated land and distant villages it is a pretty nice experience. Bring water and sturdy walking shoes and you should be set for the outing.
After the mountain walk, you will be offered a trip to the waterfall further into the valley, and choosing the extra hour of walking really is worth the effort. You will pass through coffee- and cocoa plantations and beautiful rainforest with a rich variety of flowers and butterflies. After about forty-five minutes of walking, the forest opens up and the waterfall will appear, a beautiful and idyllic area. If waterfalls are something you would like to see more of, I do recommend you to also choose the journey to Wli Agumatsa waterfalls, which is the highest waterfall in West Africa. It is located about 40 minutes from Hohoe, so on my travels I spent one day at Mt. Afadjato and one day at Wli waterfalls.
Have a great journey!
Tips for longer journeys from Marit
Ghana is surrounded by a variety of exciting countries, which it really is a shame to leave unexplored, if you are already in the area. As you start crossing country boarders you will realize that the English and French colonizers have had very different influences on their respective old countries. The previous French colonies have quite different cuisine, architecture and stronger relations (if not always positive) to their previous colonial power. The different ethnical groups have also had very different influences of their parts of West Africa and led to a multitude of languages, food, culture and religions. You can travel by “shared taxis”, minibuses, large busses and motorcycle taxis. You will find hostels everywhere, or a friendly family that will invite you to stay with them. Visas can be obtained as you travel.
I would absolutely recommend a trip to Togo as a long weekend activity. The capital Lomé is located just across the border from Ghana and is easily accessible by tro-tro (minibus). The market in Lomé stretches over several quarters and has everything! The easiest way to access the areas surrounding the city is by “shared taxis”. One day I took one of them to the foot of Togo´s highest mountain and happened to meet someone who wanted to show me the way. Together we walked to the top, through a forest of fruit- and cocoa trees. We hitchhiked with motorcycles that were passing by. Throughout the journey I picked avocados and in the middle of the forest got to taste locally produced palm wine. Another day I traveled to Togo´s oldest city. To get there I had to travel by rowboat “taxi”. On my way there I met a friendly boy who invited me to have dinner with his family and my day was ended with a delicious crab meal. The hospitality I encountered is typical for Togo´s population.
Benin is the spiritual homeland of voodoo and thus has a lot of exciting experiences to offer. I participated in sacrificial ceremonies and dance shows. I was almost captured by a voodoo ghost, got to meet the very top voodoo leader in the country and visited voodoo temples with holy snakes. In Quidah, in southern parts of Benin, another important part of the country´s history is clearly illustrated. Here you can walk the same route as the slaves took before they were sent across the sea to America. In the same city you can enjoy outdoor cinema and coconuts on the beach. Motorcycle taxi is often the easiest way to travel around the country. I traveled a distance to the north, and got to stay a couple of nights in one family´s mud hut and under the mango three of another family. Later I visited a village where almost everyone made their living from making clay urns, watched a football match together with forty other people in a small shed, visited the circus and theatre, and ate plenty of tasty fish. Benin is versatile and rich with cultures and languages.
The cattle market in Gorom-Gorom, in northern Burkina Faso, is among the most amazing things I have ever seen. The farmers told me everything there is to know about the price of a good cow, the women wore sequin dresses and facial tattoos, and the old men relaxing in the shadows of the trees were more than happy to have a chat. I bought an authentic Touareg-scarf and was ready to go for a camel ride in the Sahel desert. We were riding for hours, seeing only a few houses, and ended up at a large sand dune, where we slept under the stars. I also visited the capital, Ouagadougo, where I caught the yearly jazz festival, which really was a highlight. I went to what has to be the world´s largest motorcycle market, and visited a gigantic mosque where I ended up on the earth floor between the columns discussing war and peace with twenty or so believers. Among my Burkina Faso favorites are the traveling cafes; you will find a trolley with a selection of teas and coffees almost everywhere, where they will even prepare baguettes with avocado or honey.
In Niger you will wake up to cockcrows and the sound of prayer, and drink locally produced yogurt for breakfast. I met a family in the streets the first day I was in the capital Niamey, and ended up staying with them for several days. They showed me to markets where I could buy art and excellent fabric, gave me more food than I could manage to eat and took me to the museum. One day I went by myself to the Niger River and hitched a ride with a man who was crossing the river by canoe. I had to keep ladling to keep the canoe from filling up with water and that was how we moved forward. Suddenly the owner of the canoe pointed ahead of us, and showed me a pair of hippos swimming only a couple of meters away from us – a completely ordinary event.
More travel tips
On our student blog you'll find even more travel tips from our ex students. From paragliding and crocodile safari to walks above the djungle roof top - and above all you'll be able to read about the school excursions and the every day life in Cape Coast and at Brenu Beach.