I am of Ghanaian origin but was born and have lived in London my whole life. So I was excited to visit the Motherland and get back to my roots during Easter 2016! African countries often don’t get the appreciation they deserve so I was ready to see it from all angles.
Ghana is in West Africa and is well known for its gold (previously known as Gold Coast), azonto, friendly people and semi jokes rivalry with nearby neighbours Nigeria. It is a relatively safe country with good education (so good that Mugabe studied here!).
I flew with British Airways which goes from LHR to Accra (the capital of Ghana) nonstop in 6 hours. These flights are quite expensive in peak times so worth shopping around. I had to get a visa too which I did via the Ghanaian embassy in London. Cedi is the currency of Ghana (incredible exchange rate)..best to get it in Accra.
As with the rest of the continent, mosquitos and their sidechick malaria dominate the streets so it’s really important to get your malaria tablets and nets before you fly! And you must have an in date yellow fever jab too..
I stayed with family in East Legon during my trip so can’t comment much on accomadation. However there are plenty of hotels and homes on Airbnb to choose from. Alternatively, if you have a Ghanaian friend (easily identified by their charming nature) then I would recommend joining their family for excellent hospitality!
My first day in the Motherland was Easter Sunday so I spent the day getting used to the heat and being paraded around my relatives…This African heat is no joke! But it was close to the start of rainy season so there were a couple of days where we had immense rain and lost power!
My touristy activities began the next day and were spread throughout the week. Touring is best done with a driver/tour guide as public transport isn’t quite there yet. However if you’re feeling brave, there is the option of travelling on trotro to fully immerse yourself amongst Ghanaians. The roads in Accra are quite hectic though! From farm animals casually strolling around to people (including children) trying to sell you things in traffic, a distinct lack of traffic lights and large potholes, it was often a bumpy ride! But as long as you travel in a big car with a conscientious driver and good a/c , you will be okay.
We passed the Flagstaff House (Ghana’s version of The White House) towards the Independence Square. Ghana gained independence from the British Empire on March 6, 1957 (ahead of most of the continent). So there’s no language barrier with tourists as almost everyone speaks English as well as their tradition tongue.
The tour continued to the Accra Sports/Ohene Djan Stadium..mostly used for football matches, including during the African Cup of Nations back in 2008 when Ghana hosted it! There is a big love for football here plus pride for some of the country’s more well known players who have made it abroad.
Accra Mall is a great place to go shopping but also to eat and people watch which was fascinating. Everyone moves at a slower pace and in a more relaxed way than in London shopping areas! All the clothing brands here were original…I loved the mix of traditional kente print and western styles. You can also buy accessories, groceries, toiletries, electronics and change your money to Cedi here. They even had a version of Nando’s called Barcelo’s…and the chicken was definitely better!
The next day was quite emotional for me as I went to visit the house of my late grandma. She had lived with us on and off in London for years so we were close.I had never been to her house in Accra whilst she was alive so it was weird to meet her neighbours and imagine her sat out on a chair with them all gossiping away!
After this, I visited the Artists Alliance Gallery which has many great displays inside showcasing Ghanaian talent.
Another very important place to visit is the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum. It’s a beautiful memorial park and museum dedicated to this revolutionary man. He was the Prime Minister who led Ghana to independence and was then elected as its 1st President. His story is very interesting and can be read about in the museum with great photos.
We visited Jamestown (Old Accra) which was important during colonial times and still has a large fishing community today. It has a non functioning prison and light house from which you get an amazing birds eye view of the area. The area is quite derelict compared with other parts of the city that I had seen.
Not satisfied with shopping at the mall, I also visited Oxford Street! As well as some shops and markets, there are also restaurants and ice cream parlours to enjoy.
For the duration of my trip, it had been far too hot for me to enjoy a beach day..so when it became cooler and overcast for one day only, I took advantage and visited Labadi Pleasure Beach. It is a huge stretch of beach with the fancy parts attached to the Labadi Beach Hotel and the rest available to the public. Within it, there are a few restaurants and stalls to get drinks plus the opportunity to ride horses across the beach or just chill on a sun lounger to music.
My family’s house was close to The Aknac Hotel which is really cute! Non staying guests can visit to swim in their pool and enjoy the bar….I took full advantage of this on my last day.
As this was mostly one big catchup, I didn’t get to explore the nightlife as much as I like to when abroad. Depending on where you’re staying, there are lots of open bars and restaurants to see you through the night. Ghanaian cuisine is amazing..classics include jollof rice, banku, kenkey, fufu, plantain plus lots of meat so wherever you go, your tastebuds will be impressed. Of course you can get other types of cuisine too…and yes I did find a Chinese restaurant(!) called Noble House Chinese which DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Also do try fresh coconuts from street vendors (I can verify that these are tasty), all the fresh fruit and veg and the chocolate!
There are so many more places to visit depending on your time and budget including Elmina Castle, Cape Coast ( where you can visit their castle, Kakum National Park and take in the sea views), Volta Region (true natural beauty), and Kumasi (in the Ashanti Region..lots of interesting history from the Ashanti Kings to Colonial times), Mole National Park for safari and more.
I hope you will consider visiting this amazing country and let me know what you think!