Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Côte d’Ivoire to the west, Togo to the east and Burkina Faso to the north, Ghana is one of the few countries spared by wars and conflicts in this part of the continent. For several years, it has become a favorite destination for tourists wishing to discover West Africa. Certainly, its transport network, the diversity of its landscapes and the mix between traditions and modernity that characterize it allow any traveler to leave with an unforgettable memory. Here are some tips to make the most of your stay while saving!
In Ghana, housing does not cost much, although some luxury hotels offer rooms not less than 100 USD per night, most often near paradisiac beaches. However, we can find easily clean and air-conditioned rooms around 15 USD. If your standards are not too high, you will also find accommodation for just under 7 USD.
For accommodation, nothing like the little “maquis” (local bars / restaurants in Africa). In these places, a good local dish will cost you 2 USD. If you are more interested in Western dishes, it will cost you about 8 USD per meal.
Unlike many of its neighbors, transportation in Ghana is quite developed. No train, tram or other, but the bus network is pretty good. First there are the big Western buses, more than recommended when you make a long trip (over 5 hours, according to my experience). The journey will cost you between 5 and 7 USD but you will have air conditioning, relatively comfortable seats and space for your legs. The VIP bus network connects Ghana’s major cities. There are also the “tro-tro”, small local buses that can take you as well on short distances as on long trips. Cheap but not comfortable at all. For VIP buses an “tro-tro”, please note that they do not leave until they are full. Impossible to have a precise time of departure. Taxi fares are expensive, but are very negotiable. Finally, regional airlines organize internal flights connecting the main cities of Ghana. The flights cost between 50 and 60 USD. They can be a good option if you want to reach the north of the country (one hour by plane, two days by bus).
Ghana offers a variety of activities quite amazing compared to its closest neighbors. For example, a safari at Mole National Park will cost you about 7 USD without transportation to reach the park (the same price). The prices of tourist attractions are far from excessive (less than 5 USD), but get higher as you get closer to the sea and cities where expats live.
Tips to save money in Ghana
Eat local: No doubt, to save in Ghana, you must live like a Ghanaian. Avoid Western restaurants and prefer African “maquis“. If they are all look alike, the food served is very different: you will not eat the same thing in a Togolese, Ivorian or Ghanaian. Moreover, it is in this kind of place that you will meet the most travelers and of course, the most Ghanaian. For bars, it’s the same, go to the “maquis“. The local beer is very good.
Avoid tourist places: If you stay in the center of Accra and commercial center (Osu Road), you will pay a lot of money, whether it’s restaurants or souvenirs bought in the small shops along the road. Avoid such places. Often you will find the same thing at half price a little further. Be careful, bargaining with Ghanaians requires patience and do not proclaim victory too quickly. Place the bar very low to reassemble it then.
Meet people: Whether they are locals or tourists, everyone has his tips for cheap accommodation and restaurants. If you do not meet anyone during your stay and stick to the advice of your pocket guide or the hotel manager, your trip will be expensive, and you will miss out on unforgettable things. Look for youth hostels and crowded places, make sure you go there for some useful tips.
What to see and do in Ghana
Visit Accra: Modern and pleasant, the country’s capital contrasts with other Ghanaian cities. Feel free to spend a little time (not more than two or three days) for a first step in Ghana. Take a tour of the huge and colorful downtown market and visit the National Museum. The exhibition on the ravages of slavery in West Africa and Ghana is worth a look and will serve as a prelude to the activity that follows.
Visit to the Ghana coast: Like many West African countries, the coast of Ghana is immersed in history. Centuries of slave trade have marked this region. Spending a few hours in the forts built by the British and the Dutch, where slaves were held before boarding for the New World, is a real-life lesson. The Cape Coast Fort is the most iconic of them.
Excursion on foot or by car in the national park mole: Even if the fauna is not as varied as in the parks of Southern Africa, spending two or three days at Mole National Park is a must. You can spend several nights in the hotel park, which offers rooms with three single beds for less than 15 USD per night, or 5 USD per person! For the more adventurous, camping in the park or sleeping in a cabin at the top of a tree (under the supervision of a guard obviously) is also possible. The particularity of the park is that it is possible to walk there and to stop at less than 10 meters from an elephant or a herd of antelopes. Car safaris are also possible. Watch out for baboons trying to get into the rooms in the afternoon and steal your belongings. Better lock your door!
Burkinabe border and crocodiles in the village of Paga: Four hours north of Tamale, the nearest town to Mole National Park, is the village of Paga. Nothing special except that it is on the border of Burkina-Faso. Take the opportunity to speak a little French with the Burkinabés who cross the border. Be careful not to take pictures of official buildings, you could get in trouble. In addition, Paga is home to a dozen crocodiles that can be approached. And yes! If you pay for a chicken to feed the crocodile, you can touch it, or even sit on it. An experience quite original, which must however be carried out with caution and always under the supervision of a local.
Hiking in Ankasa or Kakum: If you have always dreamed of hiking in a rainforest, go to the Ankasa reserve. A guide will accompany you, and you will be able to admire the giant bamboos. If you are lucky, you may be able to see beautiful birds, monkeys and, very rare, forest elephants. Kakum, closer to Accra is more popular. However, its bridges suspended between the trees will allow you to admire more birds!
The beaches of Ghana: After traveling the country up and down, nothing like a little relaxation on the beaches of the country. In Busua or Krokrobite, take a surf lesson or rent a board from the very friendly and knowledgeable Mr.Bright. Take advantage, the rates are much more affordable than elsewhere (less than 10 USD for beginners) and his patience has no limits. Swim in Busua or Ankobra but watch out of currents. Get up at dawn to watch the fishermen return to the beach after several days of absence. If you are daring, accompany them on their expeditions.
Visit Escape3Points, an Eco lodge paradise by the Atlantic, and enjoy the most delicious lobsters in restaurants by the sea (three lobsters for 5 USD). I would highly recommend the Big Milly’s (Friday and Saturday night), the seaside at Krokrobite, an hour from Accra or the Emily’s Lodge cottage at Tills.