HITTING THE ROAD IN GHANA
Travelling outside of Accra and the Greater Accra region will give you some perspective on just how big and culturally and geographically diverse Ghana actually is! The real Ghana definitely lies outside of Accra, so take any opportunity you can to get out and explore the country!
To visit the remote regions, you can either fly from Accra airport to the regional airports, either choose to hit the road and spend a few days wandering around the country and discover the magnificent and very diverse landscapes…
The Ashanti Region: Kumasi & Lake Bosumtwi
The Ashanti region is best known for being the seat of the Ashanti Kingdom. It is also the centre of Ashanti culture and is home to The Manhyia Palace and Museum.
Located 30 kilometres from the capital of Kumasi, is the beautiful Lake Bosumtwi and its tranquil surrounds. As Ghana’s only natural lake, it was formed when a massive meteor struck the earth, creating a giant crater, which gradually filled with water. The lake is revered by the locals who consider it as being sacred, which is why they don’t use any motorized boats, instead simple wooden planks, referred to as paduas, with hand-held pieces of plastic used as oars to paddle.
Our two picks for accommodation along the shores of the lake are the serene Cocoa Village Guesthouse http://cocoa-village.com and The Green Ranch https://www.greenranchlakebosomtwe.com Both options offer nature activities such as walks and hikes around the lake, horse riding, canoeing, village visits or climbing the surrounding hills.
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: Not to be missed, The Akwasidae Festival is one of the most important and revered festivals on the calendar for the Ashanti peoples. Celebrated every Sunday, once every six weeks, in the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace it is a real celebration of Ashanti culture. A procession of singers, dancers, drummers and umbrella bearers precede the king as he is carried into the palace grounds atop his palanquin.
The Western Region: Butre, Busua, Cape Three Points, Axim and Nzulezo
The Western region is home to arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in all of Ghana. Worth visiting, is Butre, and its famous Butre beach, as well as the Fort Batenstein, situated on a hill, overlooking the sea below. Butre is about 40 kilometres from Takoradi and offers various activities such as body boarding, swimming, village visits and turtle conservation projects.
Hideout Lodge and Fantas Folly are the two recommended accommodation options in Butre, and you can visit their websites for more information http://www.hideoutlodge.com and https://www.fantasfollyghana.com respectively.
Then there is Busua, 30 kilometres from Sekondi-Takoradi, also known as the surfing capital of Ghana. With its clean, palm-lined beaches, it is perfect for pure relaxation with a spot of serious surfing.
Also along this stretch of coastline, is the amazing eco lodge; Escape 3 Points, just an hour and a half from Takoradi. Experience turtle hatching from September until March or simply just escape the rat race at this little slice of paradise. As an eco lodge, the chalets do not have AC, however their design allows for the sea breeze to naturally ventilate the rooms. Group bunking as well as chalet options are available. www.escape3points.com
Cape Three Points is also a place of interest being the southernmost tip of Ghana, with its iconic 84-year-old lighthouse and stunning scenery.
Further down the coast, you’ll find Axim; a fishing town with the well preserved Fort Santo Antonio and the luxurious and prestigious Loumoon lodge, (https://loumoonlodge.com), a boutique lodge with stunning beach coves, complete with Robinson Crusoe island vibes and 5 star luxury accommodation.
Ankobra Beach Resort is a more pocket-friendly option but set within equally beautiful surroundings and blessed with gorgeous beach scenery. It is a family-run resort with quaint, clean accommodation amongst lush gardens (https://www.ankobrabeach.com).
An hour drive from the town of Axim, is the village of Nzulezo. Nzulezo is built on Lake Tadane, and is entirely made of stilts and platforms, making it a floating village on stilts. There is one main pier, referred to as Main Street by the inhabitants, with one side of the “street” used as living quarters and homes, while the other side comprises of shops, a school and a community centre.
The most convenient way to get to this glorious part of Ghana, is to fly to Takoradi and then make the somewhat lengthy drive from there to whichever part of the region you’re visiting.
The Brong Ahafo Region
Brong Ahafo Region is home to tourist sites such as the impressive Kintampo Waterfalls, which has three main drop points, as well as the Buabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary.
The Northern Region: Mole Park
The Northern region’s main attraction is undoubtedly Mole Park and its family of elephants. It remains the only place in Ghana to view elephants in their natural habitat. The park is Ghana’s largest wildlife refuge and is home to abundant flora and fauna, including antelope, various monkey, bird and reptile species, buffalo and warthog.
Your two main options for accommodation are literally at opposite ends of the budget/comfort spectrum so it depends very much on what kind of experience you are looking to have and what your budget allows. Zaina Lodge is undeniably on the luxury and expensive side and has positioned itself as West Africa’s first and only luxury lodge. Various packages are available, right through to all-inclusive. Luxury tented style chalets and gorgeous decorative touches, drawing inspiration from the region, feature throughout the lodge. Call 054 011 1506 / 055 257 0149 or visit http://zainalodge-ghana.com to learn more about their packages and rates.
Mole Motel on the other hand, is basic and budget-friendly, and offers various room options including dormitory style rooms with shared facilities as well as single and double rooms with private amenities. The rooms are basic but comfortable with AC. It can get very busy on the weekends, especially around the pool area. For more details, visit their site www.molemotelgh.com
While comfort and price differ greatly between the above-mentioned options, they are both great in terms of being conveniently located within the park itself which means you will have easy access to the safaris and the feeling of being completely surrounded by nature. The most convenient way to get to Mole Park is to fly to Tamale, and from there, it’s a two and a half hours drive to the park.
The Upper East Region: Bolgatanga, Sirigu, Tongo Hills and Tengzug Shrines
Upper East region of Ghana is a part of the country that really offers a glimpse into some of the most authentic perspectives of Ghana. From the town of Bolgatanga, the heart and hub of the renowned basket weavers who create beautifully hand-made baskets and fans, to the small village of Sirigu, with its NGO initiative SWOPA (www.swopa.org), focused on the revival of the traditional style of painting homes.
Not far away from Bolgatanga, lies Tongo Hills, with its dramatic scenery, set amongst a spectacular and sweeping landscape of boulders, caves and giant baobab trees. This area is home to the Tengzug Shrines, once a hideout for people evading slave traders. Today it is used for traditional and religious animal sacrifice to appease the Talensi ancestors. Along with the many shrines tucked away in the rock formations of the area, the local population has rebuilt a number of classic Talensi homes. Cylindrically shaped and grouped into little compounds, these homes make for an interesting visit.
Stay at the African-meets-boho homestay Tongo Oasis. Call them on 024 852 7352 (also searchable on AirBnb) for the ultimate experience of rural Ghana.
Expect a lot of driving for this part of Ghana but to make things a bit more convenient, first fly into Tamale, and then make the 2.5-hour drive to Bolgatanga. From there, you can drive the 36 km stretch of road to Sirigu (mostly dirt road). On your way back via Bolga to the airport in Tamale, you could plan your visit to the Tongo Hills and Tengzug Shrines towards the end of your trip, just before you fly back to Accra.
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: One of the most interesting and fascinating celebrations on the festival calendar for this region, held annually in the district of Sandema, is the Feok Festival. This festival is celebrated by the Bulsa people, to commemorate their historic past when the brave Bulsa warriors fought and defeated slave traders. The rich culture of the Bulsa people is showcased through the re-enactment of these events, along with dancing and singing. The significance of the war dance performed at the Feok Festival honors the warriors of years gone by in their heroic efforts to save their community from the horrors of being captured and sold into slavery. The festival usually takes place in December.
The Upper West Region: Wa Chiefs Palace, Nakore Mosque & Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary
Upper West Region is best reached via plane using the new Tamale-Wa route. Once you are in Wa, you can easily visit the Wa Chiefs Palace and the old Nakore Mosque, built in the Sudanic style around the 16th century. A fair drive from the town of Wa, will bring you to the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary, a community led project located at Wechiau. The very simple and basic accommodation is off-set by the fact that you are literally immersed within the local community, and able to experience morning walks in the village to discover the unique Lobi architecture. You can also do an easy walk down to the river, hop on a canoe, and venture up the Black Volta river, to enjoy hippo sightings (this sanctuary is home to one of the two only remaining hippopotamus populations in Ghana) and bird watching. As part of the Wechiau community project, you can also visit the local Shea Butter co-operative to see the Shea production process. For more information, visit www.ghanahippos.com.
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: The Dumba Festival is celebrated by numerous communities in both the upper east and west regions and is one of the most important festivals for the Wala community of the upper west. An ancient celebration, thought to be of Islamic origin, serves as both a thanksgiving, and a time for family and friends to meet, socialize and rejoice. It is said to have been brought to Ghana from Nigeria sometime in the 18th century. Wearing very colourful smocks, festival attendees sing and dance along to the drummers and musicians. Those dancers, who perform exceptionally well and delight the audience, are showered with money. There is also the firing of muskets and a procession of chiefs on horseback. The festival usually takes place in November in the first ten days or nights after the new crescent moon.
We recommend the following 3 tour operators for all your Ghana travel needs: