Ghana is a beautiful and exciting country. It is home to a wonderful mix of animal species, beaches, mountains, landscapes, and an incredible coastline. The country is boarded by Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south…
It is also famous for its mineral wealth most notable of them are: gold , bauxite, manganese ,diamonds among many others and also for its fondness for sport – especially football.
If you get a chance to see the BLACK STARS in action, it will give you a real understanding of the kind of passion the people have for the sport. All these contribute to its attractiveness.
Many prefer to call it the gateway to Africa with emphasis on the various attractions sights it has.
Although the country may look geographically small on the African map, it boasts of many, many beautiful tourist sites ( some known and unknown).
A visit to some of these sites could be tricky but enjoyable too. To avoid getting lost in the maze of attraction sites in Ghana, one needs to know where exactly they are going.
Here are my personal Top 10 places to visit in Ghana:
1. Accra, Ghana’s Capital
Accra is a sprawling city with about 2 million residents and one of Africa’s safer capitals. Accra has a mixture of modern buildings, shanty towns, occasional castle and lively markets. The central hub is around the Makola Market; just south of the market is the Atlantic Ocean.
Accra’s main attractions include
- The National Museum: This museum has wonderful displays about Ghana’s culture and history including the slave-trade, and Ashanti Kingdom.
- Makola Market is colorful, bustling, and you can buy absolutely everything. It is one place you can never miss in Accra.
- James Fort: This is situated in the suburb of Jamestown. It used to be one of the monuments of the Europeans and slavery. Presently it houses a number of prisoners in Accra.
- Christianborg castle-it is unique among the castles and forts in Ghana as it served as Government House during various periods in the 19th centuries and continues to play that role today.
- Beaches – there are some nice beaches in and around Accra, with Labadi Beach, Coco Beach and Bojo Beach being the most visited beaches in Accra.
- The Arts Center is a great place to shop for handicrafts but you must also be prepared for a hard sell.
- Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum ( Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park(KNMP))– is the last resting place of the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. It is dedicated to him for his outstanding campaign to liberate Ghana(by then Gold Coast) from colonial rule on 6th March,1957.It has a total surface area of approximately 5.3 acres. The mausoleum provides a front for the statue of Nkrumah whereas the museum is subterranean and does not compete with the mausoleum for attention. Rhythm, contrast and harmony were the main principles of design used in this building.
The Museum houses the personal effects and publications of Ghana’s first president and pictures showing his life history.
Some of these pictures of Dr. Nkrumah with some of the most famous people of his time are an eye opener.
Wander through the photos, and you will be stunned at how many of the 20th century’s most iconic people pictured shaking hands with the founder of modern Ghana.
He is pictured with famous people like Jawarharlal Nehru, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Nikita Khrushchev, John F Kennedy of U.S.A, Sir Alec Hume, Queen Elizabeth II of England, Harold Macmillan, Pope Pius XII, President Nasser of Egypt, and countless leaders of countries like Malaya, Sri Lanka, Niger not forgetting Nigeria and many other more.
The body is buried under a catafalque raised in the centre of the park. Symbols which reflect Ghana’s culture and history were used to portray Dr. Nkrumah’s vision to promote the African personality.
As you approach the main way leading to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, you’ll see springs on either sides of the walk way. Each spring has seven bare-chested, squatting statuettes of flute blowers, who seem to welcome the arrival of world leaders and other important personalities.
The design of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, which represents swords turned upside down symbolizes peace. It can also be viewed as an uprooted tree to signify the unfinished work of Dr. Nkrumah to totally unite Africa.
This is a place you wouldn’t want to miss during your stay in Ghana, since the transition of Gold Coast to Ghana happened on this same location. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum is what some scholars call the “genesis” of the actual History of Ghana.
Some beaches outside Accra you should visit:
- Kokrobite Beach
Ghana has some lovely beaches but the most popular for the last decade has been the beaches around Kokrobite including Langma. Kokrobite is a quick 20 mile (30km) tro-tro ride away from the capital Accra. One of the main attractions here is the excellent Academy of African Music and Art (AAMA) founded by master drummer Mustapha Tettey Addy. The Academy attracts drummers and dancers from all over the world.
You can get accommodation at the Music Academy or head to Big Milly’s Backyard in the village (also on the beach). Big Milly’s has a friendly bar and restaurant where backpackers, volunteers and Ghanaian Rastafarians chill out.
- Busua Beach
Busua is one of Ghana’s best beaches and offers the visitor a chance to relax, paddle around in the Atlantic and enjoy some lobster. There are several hotels along the beach front ranging from luxurious to simple. Some of the notable hotels/inns found in this area are the Busua Beach Resort , Busua Inn and the African Rainbow resort.
If Busua is too touristy for you, you also check out Princess Town a little further to the west along the coast.
2. Cape Coast Castle
Ghana’s Atlantic Coast is lined with old forts (castles) built by various European powers during the 17th Century. The Cape Coast Castle was built for the slave-trade and is one of the most impressive of Ghana’s old forts. It was originally built by the Dutch in 1637, later expanded by the Swedes, finally the British took control of it in 1664 and turned it into their colonial headquarters. It stayed that way for the next 200 years until they moved the capital to Accra in 1877.
The Cape Coast Castle is now an excellent museum with information about the history of Ghana, the slave-trade and local culture. Tours are a “must” and will take you through the dungeons and the “door of no return”.
Other interesting places in the Cape Coast environs or en route to Cape Coast you should not miss are the Posuban Shrine and the West African Historical Museum.
3. Elmina and St George’s Castle
Elmina is a picturesque fishing town along Ghana’s coast, not far from Cape Coast. It is home to one of Ghana’s biggest attractions, St George’s Castle. Built by the Portuguese in 1482, it was captured by the Dutch 150 years later and became the headquarters of their West Indies Company for the following 250 years.
Gold exports were soon replaced by slaves and the tours through the dungeons will give you a good idea of how gruesome a trade it was. The Castle houses a small museum and guided tours are available. The stark beauty of the white-washed Castle walls contrast deeply with the dark history of this place.
Fort St Jago lies across the lagoon from the castle, and is worth visiting for the views it offers of the town and Castle.
Another attraction which should not be missed when travelling on the Central- Western road is Cape three point. It is a small peninsula in the Western Region of Akanland, West Africa.
Forming the southernmost tip of Akanland, it is located between the coastal towns of Dixcove and Princess Town. Cape Three Points is known as the “land nearest nowhere” because it is the land nearest a location in the sea which is at 0 latitude, 0 longitude and 0 altitude (the distance is about 570 km).
It is best known for its lighthouses, the first of which was constructed in 1875 by the British as a navigational aid for trading vessels sailing through the Gulf of Guinea.
The original structure has since become a ruin, however, a larger and more improved lighthouse was completed in 1921, and is still functioning today.
4. Kakum National Park
Kakum National Park is a dense tropical rain forest in southern Ghana. The forest is home to over 40 species of larger mammals including forest elephants, forest buffalo, Mona-meerkats and civets. The bird life is fantastic as well with over 250 species living in the forest.
The highlight of any visit to Kakum is a stroll on the Canopy Walkway that is built 30 meters above ground, crosses several bridges and is over 1000 feet (350 m) in length. The canopy walkway offers a unique viewing perspective of the wildlife and unique plants of the forest. Trained guides are on hand to take you on a tour and provide detailed insight into the medicinal uses of the forest plants. There’s a basic campsite for those who want to stay overnight.
5. Lake Volta (Volta Lake)
Lake Volta (or Volta Lake) is the largest man-made lake in the world. A passenger boat, the Yapei Queen runs the entire length of the lake between Akosombo in the South to Yeji in the North.
The trip takes about 24 hours one way and departs from Akosombo every Monday. You can book your voyage through the Volta Lake Transport Company. You’ll be sharing the boat with some livestock and lots of vegetables. The boat is sometimes referred to as the “yam boat”. The sleeping is rough but certainly rewarding for the adventurous traveler.
There are other smaller ferry services on Lake Volta that will take you further north and east. You can arrange transportation in Tamale.
Other places in this region and around are Aburi Botanical Gardens, Shai Nature Reserve, Xavi( birds) and many others.
Watch out for the second part of this Article
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