Ghana is an incredible country, rich in culture, beauty and history. The people are among the nicest, most welcoming that I have ever encountered, and over the last 6 months I have really fallen in love. In fact, I love the country so much, that I want to tell you my top five places to see when YOU decide to travel to West Africa and stop in to Ghana for a while. I promise you won’t regret it!
5. Paga Crocodile Pond and Pikworo Slave Camp
The Paga Crocodile Pond is located in the Upper East Region of the country and is known for its friendly crocodiles that visitors can sit with and pat. When you arrive at the pond you buy a chicken for 20 cedi and the guide uses that chicken to lure the crocodile out of the water. Once out, the crocs are meek and mild. You can pat them and take photos with them without them making any fuse. These animals are wild and there are over 200 of them in the pond, but it’s said that no crocodile has ever attacked a person there. At first I was skeptical, but after watching a group of young children splash around swimming in the pond, and come out with all ten finger and all ten toes, I think I’m a believer.
The Pikworo Slave Camp is just minutes down the road from the croc pond, and is definitely one of my most favorite experiences from all of my time in Ghana. A guide takes you through an entire old slave camp and tells you stories of what these men and women would have endured in the height of the tri-continental slave trade. Some of the local gentlemen even come out to provide you with some entertainment at the entertainment rock.
4. Kintampo Falls
Kintampo is one of the highest waterfalls in Ghana and the main natural attraction in the Ashanti region. We traveled to Kintampo on a day trip and arrived in time to spend the afternoon splashing around in the ice-cold water before having to leave and head for home. There were lots of people around and we even got our photos taken by a photographer who prints out the pictures right there. Be sure to head back in time to get a bus though. Unfortunately, we did not. After waiting and waiting we finally found a car passing though that was heading our way and we hitched a ride. Although it was quick and comfortable, I do not recommend hitchhiking through rural Ghana.
3. Mole National Park
Mole National Park is the largest wildlife reserve in Ghana and it is definitely worth the four-hour journey from Tamale. On our trip to Mole we were able to get a group of people together to rent a safari Jeep to go through the park. This jeep, which was just a regular Jeep with a medal cage welded to the top, took us around for about an hour, mostly searching for the elephants. I am happy to report that we were able to go see the big guys and it was incredible see such large and beautiful animals happily living in the wild.
Mole also has accommodations on sight, along with a restaurant and swimming pool that can be accessed by all visitors. The restaurant looks out over the whole safari and while we were eating we could see all of the elephants having a drink at the watering whole.
2. Lake Bosumtwi
Lake Bosumtwi is the only natural lake in all of Ghana and was created by an impact crater. It is located about an hour outside of Kumasi and is the perfect weekend getaway. During my stay, I tried out the traditional canoe used for fishing on the lake, learned the art of Batik dying, and rode horses along the water shore!
1. Cape Coast and Busua Beach
Cape Coast was hands-down my favorite part of Ghana to visit. Although it was a little more touristy then I was used to in the Northern Region of the country, the coast just had a special kind of vibe. The people were so laid back and friendly, the beaches were beautiful, and having the opportunity to visit two of Ghana’s Slave Castles was incredibly educational and emotional.
On my first trip to Cape Coast we did a lot of sight seeing. After visiting the two slave castles, Cape Coast and Elmina, we visited Kakum National Park. This park has a series of seven canopy bridges that range in height up to 144 meters. We also traveled three hours west to Busua. Busua Beach was one of the most beautiful I had ever seen and it was an even better experience then Cape Coast. We took a tiny boat out to an island where we could sit in the sun and explore for the afternoon. In a light turn of events we made a crash landing back into shore, but after realizing everybody was okay we all had a good laugh about it. There was a great nightlife in Busua, and even though it is a tourist destination, I felt very safe at all times.
We loved the coast so much that we decided to travel back their before we hopped on a plane back to Canada. This time we just enjoyed the salt water and sun! I was definitely sad to say goodbye to my hammock in the shade, but I know I will be back someday.
- Shawnee Shepard