The Top 5 Family Friendly Experiences in Ghana,
by Mariam Ottimofiore
As an expat family travel blogger, I am always on a lookout for family friendly experiences in Ghana. There are so many beautiful places to see in Ghana, but unfortunately not all activities are kid friendly, making it a bit difficult to decide where to go. I’ll share my top 5 family friendly experiences with you and give you some inspiration on where to go for your next family adventure in Ghana.
#1 – Follow in the footsteps of elephants in Mole National Park
As we drive through swathes of saffron-colored savannah, we hear a rustle behind the bush.
“Did you hear that?” asks the ranger, as he turns to face us in our 4WD safari jeep.
Immediately all four of us are quiet.
“Look over there! Do you see the elephant’s footprints?” asks the ranger.
Our kids 7 and 4 year olds turn to look excitedly.
When they spot the footprints, they let out a squeal. Enormous, elephant footprints in the muddy savannah like a giant, unmissable clue.
I turn to look at my husband and smile. We are both so jealous of their childhood in Ghana.
Our ranger allows us to get out and walk towards the footprints.
My kids go and stand in the giant footprints, full of awe, as our ranger specialized in wildlife conservation tells us how to look out for signs of an elephants.
The suspense fills, as we follow him on foot to a clearing up ahead.
And then sure enough, there he is, Mr. Elephant, munching on some twigs and leaves.
It’s an unforgettable moment for all of us in Mole National Park!
Family Friendly tips:
Fly from Accra to Tamale on Africa World Airlines to start off your family adventure. Be prepared with snacks and water for a 3-hour car journey to Mole National Park. To truly enjoy your safari experience in Ghana, go between December to April when you are sure to spot elephants, aside from antelopes, buffaloes, baboons and warthogs. I recommend you stay at beautiful Zaina Lodge overlooking a huge watering hole making it possible for you to enjoy your breakfast while observing a herd of elephants walking up to the watering hole for a drink. See how Ghana combines eco-tourism with conservation of wildlife and animals. You can even visit Mognori Eco Village for a chance to learn about the local culture and see how Shea Butter is produced.
#2 – Hike with your family in Shai Hills Resource Reserve
I wipe the sweat off my brow and look at the greenery around me. The air feels crisp and clean, it feels good to escape the hustle and bustle of Accra. To forget about the traffic and city noise and enjoy the peace and serenity of the nature here. Our tour guide is already up ahead, showing us the way to climb up.
“Mama, will you be able to climb up?” asks my four-year-old.
“The view is amaaaaaazing from up here!” shouts my 7-year-old.
Climbing a few of the big rocks is tricky, there are ropes to help us up, one by one.
When I finally make it up to the top, I am silent.
Wow! This view.
Shai Hills used to be the home of the Shai people, until sadly the British expelled them in 1892. The area is still rich with artifacts and a great place for exploring their history and remains. We stand at the top of the hill, looking down at the vast expanse of the forest before us.
“Do you know what this reminds me of?” asks my husband.
“The Lion King, right? When Simba looks down at his pride land?” I answer without skipping a beat.
We hold hands and take in our very own Lion King moment on Shai Hills.
Family-friendly tips: Shai Hills is located along the Tema-Akosombo road. It is about 60 kilometers from Accra, making it the closest nature reserve to Accra. It is a great place for rock climbing, hiking, exploring the caves, and bird watching. Beware of the many baboons in the hills and keep food and drinks away from them. You can combine a family nature hike or a walk with a visit to see the ostriches and zebras at the Resource Center. I recommend coming here as early in the morning before the midday heat becomes unbearable. For lunch, head out to The Royal Senchi hotel to enjoy their sumptuous buffet and if you have time, you can take a relaxing boat ride on the Akosombo River, to see the Akosombo Dam. Another great family friendly activity to finish off your day.
#3 – Relax on your own private island at Lou Moon Lodge
The day of my birthday, I wake up on my own private rocky island overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, in the Western region of Ghana, only an hour away from neighboring Ivory Coast. To get to our private villa, there is only one way to cross over, on foot. With waves coming in from both sides, we need to time our crossing with the low tide.
We enjoy being cut off from the rest of the world, in an oasis of tranquility and calm. No Tv’s in the room, WIFI only on demand and waking up to the sound of the waves crashing to the shore. Part of the castaway charm of this location is the inaccessibility; a dirt road of 6 km is the only way in. There are no umbrella shades, just coconut trees for shade. Fresh seafood for lunch and dinner prepared by our own private chef, and nothing on the agenda except to unwind, relax and take in the natural beauty of Ghana.
Welcome to Lou Moon Lodge; the family-friendly long weekend getaway you have to try at least once. The kids enjoy playing by the pristine beach (which could give the Seychelles a run for its money), swimming in our private pool, and running around in our private garden, while we treat ourselves to a massage by the beach to the sound of the crashing waves. There are plenty of family activities to do, whether its beach volleyball, playing board games or taking a boat ride together to appreciate the beautiful coastline of West Africa.
Family-friendly tips: Lou Moon Lodge is ideal for a family adventure for a special birthday or anniversary celebration. To get there, you can fly from Accra to Takoradi and then anticipate about an hour drive to get to Axim to Lou Moon Lodge. Let the hotel know in advance of any special dietary requirements and plan to have some much needed time to disconnect from the world.
#4 – Enjoy a bird’s eye view of a magnificent rainforest at Kakum National Park
“Don’t look down, just look ahead!” I hear myself saying on repeat.
The 40-meter-high suspension canopy walk overlooking one of West Africa’s most dense rainforests is narrower and wobblier than I expected. I’m not afraid of heights but as we slowly inch from one canopy walk to the next, I am comforted to know that they change the ropes every six months.
This is the perfect self-challenge. To learn how to pace yourself and to take small baby steps to get to the finish line.
A certain 7-year-old is petrified, but slowly makes her way through, while a certain 4-year-old is disappointed when there are only seven suspended canopy bridges to cross!
My husband and I stop to admire the view and the unique perspective over the beautiful Kakum rainforest with its incredible biodiversity.
I wish I had packed a pair of binoculars and sun hats for all of us. After the canopy walk, we do a little guided hike through the tropical rainforest to learn about the local fauna and see tracks left by the forest elephants and forest buffaloes.
Families that go on adventures together, have lots of fun stories to share!
Family-friendly tips: To drive from Accra to Kakum National Park, plan about 3 hours as it is about 170 km from Accra. Be warned that the last stretch of the road is extremely bumpy, and the dirt road could definitely be improved upon by the authorities. Once you arrive at Kakum, prepare yourself for a steep, uneven, muddy path to get to the canopy walk. This might not be suitable for senior citizens over sixty or children less than three years old. There is a café to eat some snacks after your walk and a little gift shop.
#5 – Escape to the beach with your family for some sun, sea and sand
There is no plastic or rubbish as far as the eye can see. I am also happy to see a very basic, no frills and super relaxing beach house. There is no commercialism, unless you count the coconut guy selling fresh coconuts. Time at the beach should not need to involve much planning, right?
Tall, shady palm trees line the beach, and sway a welcome to us as we arrive at the Sankofa Beach House. We put our things down at a table and the kids are off, skipping in the sand and headed towards the water.
We spot some friends and soon, we are one big party of families at the beach together. The kids dodge waves, chase each other and build sandcastles, while the adults order drinks and pore over the lunch menu. Soon the food arrives, the biggest freshly caught shrimp I have seen and freshly grilled fish.
Afternoon turns into evening. The kids play some games on the grass and sit on the swings. After my third fresh coconut, lots of chatter and a few quiet moments of reading on the beach, I am ready to head back to Accra. Our batteries have been recharged in the most wonderful by the sand, sun and sea at Sankofa.
Family-friendly tips: You can call Sankofa Beach House in advance and reserve a table for yourself as a day visitor. It is a boutique guest house with the option to stay longer and spend the night should you wish. Sankofa Beach House is located on the outskirts of Accra, approximately 45 minutes to one hour drive. Visit their website for more directions on how to get there.
About the Author: Mariam Navaid Ottimofiore is a Pakistani/Italian writer living in Accra, Ghana. She is the author of the book ‘This Messy Mobile Life’ (Summertime Publishing, 2019); a guidebook for expat families who move around the world. After living in 9 countries in 4 continents, Mariam writes about expat life, world travel and raising two multicultural children on her award-winning blog ‘And Then We Moved To’. You can follow her adventures and tips on living and traveling in Ghana on Facebook and Instagram or connect with her professionally on LinkedIn.