PLANNING YOUR LONG WEEK-ENDS IN GHANA
Travelling outside of Accra and the Greater Accra region will give you some perspective on just how big 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!
For long week-ends, when you have 3 or 4 days free in front of you, why not go and visit the Central Region, the Eastern Region or the Volta Region? We have listed for you the main tourist attractions and places of interest by the region they fall under.
The Central Region: Cape Coast, Elmina and the Kakum National Park
The Central region is probably the most well known region in terms of tourism and tourist sites due to both Cape Coast and Elmina castles being located here – both of which played a big part in the Ghana’s then Gold Coast Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade past. These monuments now serve as a poignant reminder of this horrific time in history and act as living museums to honor the memory of those who were captured and sent to the New World as slaves.
In order to visit the main attractions of the region, such as the castle forts of Elmina and Cape Coast as well as Kakum forest, you could either use Cape Coast or Elmina for your base as the distance between the two towns are just 12 kilometres by car.
Ko-Sa Beach Resort (024 437 5432 – https://www.ko-sa.com/) situated 20 kilometres from Cape Coast is also a good option. Rooms come with ceiling fans, mosquito nets and warm water showers. The beach is beautiful and the resort prides itself on being environmentally aware. Another beachside option is the Anomabo Beach Resort, which is also close to the castles and located on a beautiful stretch of beach. Call them on 024 433 1731 or visit their website http://anomabo.com/ for more information on room options and rates.
For staying in Elmina, there are both Coconut Grove Beach Resort and Elmina Bay Resort to choose from, amongst others. Coconut Grove Beach Resort, with its 18-hole golf course and palm-fringed beach, is an idyllic setting with a restaurant and small gazebos right on the beachfront, not far away from Elmina castle and town. Call 024 433 3001/026 300 0678 or visit https://coconutgrovehotelsghana.com/beachhotel/ for more info. Elmina Bay Resort is also a great option being right on the beach, with a nice pool area and air conditioned rooms. The resort is about 10 minutes drive from Elmina, and 25 minutes from Cape Coast. For more information, visit www.elminabayresort.com or call 054 161 4812/ 020 566 0670 .
Kakum National Park, also in the Central region, 33 kilometers north of Cape Coast, is a designated reserve covered in tropical forest. The highlight of the park is the canopy walk with its connecting walkways and bridges, suspended 30 meters above the ground over a length of 330 meters. The view of the surrounding forest with trees as far as the eye can see is really breathtaking. The road getting to Kakum can be bumpy at the best of times, but once you’re in the midst of some of the tallest trees you’ve ever seen, hearing the calls of exotic birds in the canopy above, you’ll be glad you hung in for the drive!
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: Fetu Afahye is a festival celebrated by the chiefs and locals of Cape Coast. Fetu Afahye marks the beginning of a new year for the Oguaa people of Cape Coast. This annual festival is celebrated on the first Saturday of September, although preparation for the festival starts in the last week of August. The lead up to the final durbar celebration consists of numerous ceremonies, rituals and meetings between local chiefs, priests and priestesses, as well as a regatta on the lagoon. The main event culminates with a street carnival including drumming, dancing and a performance by the Asafo flag companies, who perform in a jubilant procession down the main streets of Cape Coast town.
The Eastern Region: Koforidua, Boti Falls and Akosombo
The Eastern region is a densely forested region, full of greenery, and waterfalls, so it’s great for nature and outdoor lovers. The most interesting and noteworthy attraction of this region is the Koforidua Beads Market, which is roughly two hours and a bit drive from Accra. It’s best to visit the market on Thursdays, which is their main market day for beads. It’s a real treasure trove for bead aficionados, or anyone who want to learn more about Ghana’s fascinating bead culture. Beads arrive at this market from all over West Africa. Also in the vicinity, are the Boti Falls (only worth visiting after heavy rains) and the uniquely shaped umbrella rock.
Our top pick for staying in the region is The Royal Senchi, a four-star luxury resort on the banks of the Volta River, just 14 km from the Akosombo Dam. At an easy 90 minutes drive from Accra, it makes for a great weekend getaway (https://www.theroyalsenchi.com/). Rooms are comfortable and luxurious with AC and breakfast is included. The pool area, with its open-air restaurant and beautiful riverside setting, will have you feeling like you’re a world away from Accra. There is also a gym, spa and tennis courts on the premises. Boat and kayak rentals are available so that you can fully appreciate the beautiful river surroundings.
Akosombo and its landmark Adomi Bridge, lies on the Volta River. Along its banks, you’ll find numerous hotels and restaurants right on the waters edge, serving up great local Ghanaian dishes. Check out Afrikiko River Resort, they can be reached on 024 262 5624 for further info.
Don’t forget to make a stop at the Cedi Bead Factory along the way, situated in Odumase Krobo, where can meet Mr Cedi himself and observe a demonstration showing the process that goes into making Ghana’s famous recycled glass beads (020 813 3482).
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: The annual Ngmayem (Millet) festival is an extremely colourful and joyous celebration of the Krobo people of the Odumase Krobo district, as a way of giving thanks for the harvest. The festival culminates in the grand durbar; a gathering, of local kings, chiefs, queen mothers, invited guests and dignitaries, complete with a procession of drummers, palanquin-riding leaders, and vibrant colours. The higher-ranking chiefs, decked in elaborate and colourful robes, with heavy gold jewellery, and glass beads for which the Krobo area is so famous, arrive first. The most important chiefs and the konor, or paramount chief, are carried in palanquins on the shoulders of chosen subjects for the grand finale. The festival usually takes place in October and is not to be missed, especially as it’s not far from Accra, at just under 2 hours drive.
The Volta Region: the Wli Falls, Mount Afadjato and Keta
The Volta Region is an exquisitely green and lush part of Ghana, home to numerous waterfalls, including Wli Falls, the tallest falls in West Africa; as well as the highest mountain in Ghana, Mount Afadjato. The Volta region is an extremely large territory due to its size length-wise from North to South, so while some parts of the Volta are more accessible from Accra, others are quite a drive, especially taking into account the state of some of the roads, which can be quite bad.
The Wli waterfall is made up of an upper and lower fall, and can be visited all year round though it is easier to walk/hike during the dry season of November to March. Hiking to the upper falls is best left to the seasoned hiker as the elevation and duration can be testing at times. It’s best to set off early in the morning for this particular hike. The reward is of course, getting to take in the beautiful scenery around you, and then ending it off with a swim at the base of the lower waterfall! The walk to the lower falls is very doable and suitable for the elderly, children and even the unfit!
Two good accommodation options are Wli Water Heights Lodge (020 911 9152) and Waterfall Lodge at Wli, which is tucked away in lovely garden surroundings, with a stunning view of the Wli cascade in the distance. Sit on their porch on a deck chair and take in the views of the mountain and the beauty of the cascading falls. Their website is www.ghanacamping.com and they can be contacted on 020 511 5388. Rooms include chalets with fans and camping facilities.
Due to the roads as well as the lengthy distance from Accra, these magnificent waterfalls can take anything from 4 to 6 hours drive to appreciate, so just be prepared for a long car journey, pack some road snacks and know that once you’re reached your destination, it will be well worth the trip! Overnight and weekend stays are recommended due to the travel time involved.
A bit closer to Accra, (more south in the Volta region), is the gem that is Meet Me There Lodge in Dzita. Another great getaway option in the Volta region (and only around two and a half hours drive), this little piece of paradise lies on a lagoon, which separates the resort from the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
From here, you can visit the nearby Fort Prinzenstein in Keta, shop at one of the local markets, watch the local fishermen pull in their nets during their morning catch, explore the mangroves in a canoe or enjoy a boat trip on the Volta river. The rooms are quaint, clean and nicely decorated and although they don’t have AC, between the sea breeze and standing fans, are quite comfortable. Visit their website for accommodation options as there are varying grades of rooms available at www.ghanameetmethere.com.
Cultural Celebrations & Festivals: Whatever you do, do not miss the annual Kente Festival in the area of Agotime. Showcasing the best of Ewe Kente, this traditional celebration includes a procession of the towns’ local women, who go collect water from the nearby river, adorned in their colourful fabrics, while balancing pots of water atop their heads. They head in single file, singing and dancing, to the chief’s palace, where they finally deposit the water. The final day features a Kente weaving competition, where contestants are judged on both speed and design. The festival usually takes place in August.
We recommend the following 3 tour operators for all your Ghana travel needs: