Ghana, the “gateway of Africa” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western Africa, especially because of their trade language, English. Ghana is famous for being the first country in Africa to gain its independence from European colonists. It is home to one of West Africa’s few surviving rain forests as well as the famous regal Ashanti tribe. Ghanaian craftmanship is also a huge tourist attraction – the Ashanti craft villages have skilled artisans who create gorgeous Andikra cloth, weaving, and intricate wood carving. Ghana also contains many historical destinations such as castles, forts, and slave dungeons.
The word ‘vim’ is Ghanaian slang for ‘energy and industriousness’ and it is this lively atmosphere that overwhelmingly permeates the nation’s bustling capital, Accra. The city offers an intriguing combination of city and village life. Affluent neighborhoods complete with upmarket restaurants, glitzy shopping malls, and western fast food chains are interspersed with lower economic areas characterized by the bustling street culture that engulfs much of the rest of Ghana.
While the city’s vibrant atmosphere and daily life is undoubtedly its primary drawcard, visitors should also take the time to visit: Osu Castle; Nkrumah Memorial Park; the raucous Labadi Beach; and the hidden alleys, old stone houses, and wonderful cliff-top harbour vistas of Jamestown. The National Museum is also certainly worth a visit and provides insight into Ghana’s fascinating history and culture from prehistory to the present.
Located in southern Ghana, Cape Coast, the capital of the Central Region, is known for its cultural significance. The Cape Coast Castle, which stands watch overlooking the Gulf of Guinea, was once used to hold slaves from all over the world. Today, it is a laid-back and artsy fishing town, and a popular base for exploring the beautiful Kakum National Park, Anomabu and Elmina.
The area is also known for its many wonderful cultural festivals, which include academic lectures, music and dance performances, and traditional celebrations. Other highlights include a series of Asafo shrines, the Cape Coast Centre for National Culture, and the International Stingless Bee Centre, where visitors can sample delicious honey and pollen and find out about this strange species. Don’t miss Baobab House for mouth-watering vegetarian food.
For travelers interested in learning about rich African history, there are many Forts, Castles, and Slave Dungeons to visit in Ghana. One of the most famous of these is the Cape Coast Castle, which was built by the Swedes in 1653 and was later taken over by the British. This castle also houses the West African Historical Museum established by the Smithsonian Institute in collaboration with the Ghanaian Government in 1994 and is filled with fascinating African artifacts.
Exploring the Kakum National Park is one “must-do” while visiting Ghana. You will drive through the historic Denkyira Kingdom to Kakum National Park, one of West Africa’s surviving tropical rain forests, where you will have the opportunity to brave the canopy walkway or enjoy a nature walk. Extending over 360sq km, Kakum is the home to over 40 large mammals and 400 bird species as well as many species of butterflies, flora and fauna. The most popular attraction is the Canopy walkway which is made up of seven bridges extending 330m, hanging 100 feet above the forest floor.
In the Kumasi region of Ghana, one can explore the famous Ashanti Craft Villages including Ahwiaa, the wood-carvers’ village, Ntonso, the home of Adinkra cloth, and Bonwire, the Kente weaving village. Visitors will have the opportunity to visit with the artisans as well as purchase authentic handmade Ghanaian craftmanship.
The Elmina Castle is another lovely architectural site to visit in Ghana. The castle was built by the Portuguese in 1482 and is also known as St. George’s Castle. This castle was the first European structure built in Sub-Saharan Africa. While in Elmina, one can also visit the beautiful harbor, which is full of colorful pirogues preparing to go to sea.