As far as West Africa is concerned, Ghana is a pretty easy country to travel. Aside from power outs and the occasional running water shortage, especially in Kumasi, things tend to roll pretty smoothly. The roads are good, the transportation links are strong, the tourism industry is well developed, and the country is generally stable. Still there are some things you might want to know before going.
In Ghana, they use the same plugs as the UK, the big bulky 3 pin variety. If you don’t have that style, you can buy cheap adapters and power bars at any market, and really just about any street corner.
Despite being fairly oil-wealthy, Ghana has a power problem. Get used to the term “light off” which means there’s no power. Power outages can happen for as long as 12 hours or as short as 5 minutes and can happen any time of day. More expensive hotels, restaurants and shops will run generators, everyone else suffers in the dark.
Getting around Ghana is quite easy as public transportation is everywhere. Tro-Tros are the mini-buses that operate both within cities and between them. This is the cheapest way to travel. There are also inter-city buses that range from rough and tumble to luxury. Shared taxis are also often available between cities. In general, the price of transport between cities is about $1.5 an hour.
Within the cities you’ll find taxis everywhere. Sometimes they operate in a shared variety but if one is empty you can always hire it out for yourself. There are no meters, all fares are negotiable.
If you’re driving yourself you’ll find Ghana to be quite easy. The highways are paved and the rules of the road are followed quite well. There are also fuel stations everywhere. Your only real issue will be the police check points which they’ll almost undoubtedly ask for money. Kindly refuse and they’ll eventually let you go. Driving is done on the right side of the road.
Getting There and Away
Overland there are crossings at each of neighbouring crossings. The main border into Cote d’Ivoire is the southernmost. Check the status on that border before leaving as there were times this year where it was shut. Into Togo, there are a number of crossings including a quiet one up by Hohoe. However, if you need the 7 days transit visa you’ll have to go to the border at Lome which can be pretty chaotic. The borders to/from Burkina Faso are all pretty standard with the most popular being that just north of Bolha
If you’re keen to use some rewards for your trip to Ghana like TD travel rewards, there’s a good chance you’re using it on a flight. The main points of entry are Kumasi and Accra. You’ll need a visa before arriving as they are not issued at airports. Inter-African flights are quite expensive and you’re likely to find the price of a flight from Spain to Accra cheaper than from Abidjan to Accra.
Ghana runs on a currency known as the Cedi which is about 1.9 to 1 USD. You can change USD, Euros and Pounds in Ghana really easily. There are also bank machines in all major towns. You can find ATMs that are Visa, Plus or Maestro but Visa machines are most readily available. Don’t bother bringing traveller’s cheques, they are basically useless.
You can buy sim cards for a variety of companies. The most popular are Airtel and Vodafone although Glo is also making a push of late. If you don’t have your own phone, there aren’t a whole lot of call centers but they do exist.
The internet in Ghana is quite fast. However, you’re not likely to find as much wifi as you’d expect. None of the hotels or guest houses I stayed at in Ghana had wifi. You’re best off buying a usb modem for your time there. I got a modem with sim card and 5gb worth of data for just 49 cedis. It’s the way to go. Internet cafes will cost you about 1USD an hour and the speeds are of a varying degree but generally pretty good.
You’ll find a wide range of accommodation in Ghana. Basically, you’ll find everything from budget to extremely luxurious. You’ll even find highway motels if you find yourself wary after a long drive. The guesthouses tend to be the best value. There are a couple hostels in the country as well, although they tend to be overpriced.
In terms of camping, there are quite a few places to camp. Mole National Park and pretty much everywhere along the coast offers camping.
There is more wildlife in Ghana than people realize. Most people come for the history, culture and coastline, however there are a number of animal viewing destinations as well. Mole National park has elephants, baboons, warthogs and a number of antelope species. Near Kumasi, Boabeng-Fiema is a sanctuary for mona and black & white colobus monkeys. There are also forest elephants in a couple of the parks near the coast, though you’re not likely to see them.
Personally, I love Ghanaian food, though not everyone does. Ghana serves the usual staples of West Africa but adds a little more spice to their meals than the others. Be prepared for lots of starches.
If you’re after foreign foods, Accra has just about everything you can imagine including some of the best sushi in the world. There are supermarkets in all the major cities that always carry enough foreign products to keep the expats and volunteers happy.
Visas for Ghana
If you are travelling overland you can get a visa for Ghana is in Ouagadougou. They have tightened the process a bit and you’ll need to explain why you are getting your visa there, but it’s possible. It usually takes 3 business days. At the embassy in Lome, the visa process is much easier but still usually takes 3 business days. You can’t get a visa by just turning up to a land border. It must be gotten beforehand.
Visas for On-going Travel
Accra is a fairly decent place to stop and get visas sorted out. You can get visas for a number of countries even some of which aren’t bordering Ghana. Visas for Togo are possible at the border, but if you want more than 7 days you might as well get it done in Accra (done overnight). The visas for Cote d’Ivoire have gone to the biometric system and can now take 3-5 business days. For Nigeria, they are telling people it’s possible but best done in Cotonou (a couple I met on the road got their visa for Nigeria for 35,000CFA while I paid 130,000CFA in Mali). Burkina Faso visas are issued, no nonsense same day (31,000CFA for 3 months multi-entry). Visas for the DRC are also possible in Accra but will take about a week to issue.