Ghana, the West African country which is the one of the largest exporters in cocoa beans and gold, earning the nickname, “The Gold Coast”, has so much to offer to its tourists. Here’s a list of 10 major attractions of Ghana for tourists.
In the Soninke language, “Ghana” translates to “warrior king”.
The city of Accra is the capital of Ghana.
Some interesting facts about Ghana are:
- It was the first sub-Saharan African country that the British granted independence to (in 1957)
- The locals of Ghana make a brightly colored cloth named the kente, made from stitching together various colored strips of cloth
- Ghana has a national motto – “Freedom and Justice”
- The largest open air market in Africa is found in Ghana
- Kofi Atta Annan, the 7th Secretary General of the United Nations is a native of Ghana
The currency used in Ghana is the Ghanaian cedi. The official language of Ghana is English. However, a large number of African regional languages are spoken as well.
So, what makes tourists from all over the world flock to Ghana for a wonderful vacation?
1. Accra, the capital city of Ghana
The city of Accra is famous for its age-old forts and museums that shine light on their past with slavery being one of biggest evils that plagued them. There are a number of slave forts and prisons in central Accra such as the James Fort and the Ussher Fort. The slaves that were to be shipped were usually kept in these prisons and dungeons. Another famous museum here is the Brazil House Museum of Slavery.
Accra has some beautiful neighborhoods that have buildings that date back to their colonial days. These neighborhoods are primarily Dutch inspired.
Another place of interest in Ghana is the James Town Lighthouse. The panoramic view from the top of the lighthouse is well-worth the climb.
One of the best places to shop in Ghana is at the Accra Mall. It has a large number of shops selling almost anything and everything.
Accra has a lot of markets where street food is simply the best! They offer the best experience of the Ghanaian cuisine to tourists.
Accra has a large number of tro-tros available for locals and tourists alike. A tro-tro is a private mini-bus, similar to a share-taxi.
2. Cape Coast Castle
One of the famous and significant slave forts in Ghana is the Cape Coast Castle situated on the Victoria Road in Cape Coast. Years ago when slavery hadn’t been abolished, locals that were forced into slave labor were held in these forts before being shipped away to be sold in international slave markets. There is still an air of chill surrounding these slave prisons. One can only imagine the plight of those poor Africans.
History claims that this fort was initially built by the Swedish with the intent to aid in their business in timber and gold. With the emerging demand for slaves in the years later, this fort had been turned into a slave fort.
The central part of the castle has been turned into a museum, the Cape Coast Castle Museum. The museum exhibits countless artifacts and maps that catch the attention of visitors. The museum has a number of facilities such as conference halls, souvenir shops, bookstores and an open ground.
The castle also houses the Building History Museum. Tourists have a rare opportunity to visit the underground dungeons and prison cells of the castle.
3. St. George’s Castle
St. George’s Castle is yet another famous fort in Ghana. This castle also called “Soa Jorge da Mina” was built by the Portuguese who was sure that the location of the castle in the town of Elmina in Central Ghana with close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, would gain them the upper-hand in the gold trade of Ghana.
However in a turn of events, the gold prices crashed and the Portuguese were purged from the castle and the Dutch took control. As with the fate of most other forts, this fort too was then turned into a slave prison.
St. George’s Castle, popularly known as the Castle of Elimina, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The fort has been used as a Centre for training newly recruited policemen and later even as a secondary school for children. However, now it is a dedicated historical museum.
Some other places of interest adjacent to the castle are the Dutch cemetery, an old fishing harbor and the St. Jago Fort. The “Posuban” shrines of Elmina. These buildings that were used to stock war weapons in olden days are now centers of cultural activities of the town.
This is definitely a historic site that is to be visited in Ghana.
4. Kakum National Park
The Kakum National Park is situated in a tropical rainforest in the coastal region of Ghana. It is home to a large number of endangered animal species such as the giant bongo antelope and the African elephant. The Bird Life International has declared it as an “Important Bird Area”.
One of the major attractions here is the rainforest canopy walkway, which is found in very few national parks around the world. The view from the walkway at a height of 40 m from the ground is simply mesmerizing.
The park also encompasses the Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve. This famous African destination offers a number of guided walks and treks through the park to have an up-close wildlife experience.
5. Kokrobite Beach
Located only about 30km away from Accra, the long stretch of sandy beach, Kokrobite Beach is a popular spot for tourists. You’ll find locals and tourists basking in the golden sun on the sandy beaches of Kokrobite. Along the coast is the small fishing village, Kokrobite from where the beach gets its name.
There are a number of accommodation options in Kokrobite allowing tourists to enjoy the beach to the fullest.
Tourists can enjoy staying in huts at the Barbara’s village, which is a group of huts rented out to tourists with homely food. One of the best Italian food is served at the Kokrobite Garden, a restaurant run by Italians.
6. Lake Volta (Volta Lake)
Lake Volta or Volta Lake covering an area of 8500 square kilometers is the largest man-made lake in the world! It covers almost 4 main regions of Ghana namely, the Volta, Brong-Ahafo, Northern and Eastern regions.
When Akosombo Dam was constructed in 1965, there arose the need for a water reservoir and thus, the Lake Volta was constructed in order to hold the water from River Volta that was being contained in the dam. Most of the electricity generated in Ghana comes from the hydropower plant at the Akosombo Dam.
The lake is a place of great tourist activity and there are regular cruises arranged for tourists. Tourists also cruise by the cruiser, ‘Dodi Princess’ to the nearby Dodi Island which is very close by.
Tourists are allowed to go fishing in the lake. The lake borders the Digya National Park, which is one of the first reserves in Ghana to be declared as “protected”.
Kumasi is known to be one of the busiest and largest metropolitan cities in Ghana. It is the regional capital of the Ashanti region of Ghana, which located towards the southern part of Ghana.
The Green Ranch at Kumasi offers horse rides to its visitors. The route is along the Lake Bosomtwe which adds to the feel of the ride. The ranch also provides food and accommodation upon request.
Another place of interest in Ghana is the Manhyia Palace Museum, which mainly focuses on the Ashanti history and culture.
The Rattray Park is key among the major attractions of Ghana with its musical fountains that add color and light to the night at this amusement park. The park is ideal for picnics or even for a quiet, pleasant stroll in the evenings.
Some other major attractions of Ghana are the Okomfo Anokye Sword Site, Kumasi Zoo and the Kumasi Fort.
There are many heritage centers were tourists are given an opportunity to observe how the locals make the “kente” which is a bright garment made from colorful strips of various cloth materials.
8. Paga Crocodile Pond
The Paga Crocodile Pond is famous among the major attractions of Ghana. The pond is located in the village of Paga in the eastern part of Ghana.
The belief here is that the compliant nature of the crocodiles in this pond is the doing of the souls of the dead. The main crocodile sanctuary is the Chief’s Pond. It is a shocking treat to tourists that the crocodiles are very tame and do not pose any threat to the visitors who are even allowed to feed it. The crocodiles are so submissive that when the guide whistles, they retreat back to the shores from the water.
There are many interesting stories about how the pond came to be sacred.
Here, in Paga Crocodile Pond, visitors are closely assisted by guides.
9. Mole National Park
The Mole National Park is one of the most popular wildlife national parks in the country and among the major attractions of Ghana. The national park is located in the northwestern part of Ghana. Visiting Mole gives you the opportunity to experience walking safaris, jeep safaris and many such unique African experiences in Ghana.
The park introduces tourists to the diverse species of flora and fauna that are found in Ghana. Illegal hunting of wild animals in this region posses a huge threat to the serenity of the park. The government of Ghana is on toe to preserve the National Park and its wilderness for helping it remain in the list of major attractions of Ghana.
10. Kintampo Falls
The Kintampo Waterfalls, previously known as the Sanders Falls is located on the Pumpum River and is surrounded by forest on all side. These waterfalls are close to the Kumasi/Kintampo highway. It is one of the main tourist spots that boost Ghana tourism.
One of the highest waterfalls in Ghana, the majestic Kintampo Waterfalls is truly a breathtaking sight. Generally walking tours are arranged for tourists to the waterfall area. The water from the waterfall falls in 3 rocky descents with the bottom-most descent being the biggest. The area around the waterfalls, are full of beautiful butterflies and dragonflies.
Mostly, tourists visit this waterfalls en route to Tamale.
Ghana, a country known for its historical importance and culture, as well as for its natural tourist destinations, promotes African tourism around the world. Ghana is the perfect place to go for a relaxing and memorable vacation! Though we have pointed out some of the major attractions of Ghana in this article, there are a lot many more to be included from this west coastal country of Africa.
Author: E Jey
Just a passionate traveler who loves scribbling his expeditions @ www.jauntmonkey.com, www.outonroads.com, and www.blogthatall.com