7 Exhilarating Things You Must Do While In Ghana
Ghana is a melting pot of culture, tradition and history with kind people who make Ghana what it is today.
The city of Accra is ever changing but consistent as the same time! You'll enjoy the mix of modern amenities that the city has to offer from luxury boutiques, to high end restaurants as well as the traditional aspects that make Ghana amazing!
If Ghana is on your bucket list, here are five exhilarating things that you must do:
1. Make Your Way Through the Maze At Makola Market
This is one of my absolute favorite things to do while in Ghana because you can get just about anything there, from fresh produce, to jewelry, fabrics and more. But be warned, if you're unfamiliar with busy cities or prone to sensory overload, then Makola Market can indeed be a bit much!
If I'm being honest, it's only as I got older that I was truly able to appreciate the marvel that it is Makola Market. From the eyes of a 9 year old, it was simply overwhelming but from the eyes of a 30 years old (and as I travel more to Ghana), it's simply amazing.
Here are a few tips to making the most of your time within the market: Be prepared to bargain - typically, visitors pay more as it's assumed that you're unaware of the "true price" so trading within the market is a common practice. Be prepared to barter - it's actually quite fun!
Move with intention - the market is a very crowded place, therefore be sure to get out of pathways when you stop to admire something or walk briskly as this keeps the pedestrian traffic flowing and reduces locals from screaming at you to get out of the way!
Ahgo is the word that locals use for you to move out of the way.
Travel with a fancy pack - there is no need to bring large handbag when visiting Makola Market. Firstly, you'll need your hands and shoulders for all the things you're likely to buy and secondly, with such a crowed place, it's just easier to move with less baggage.
2. Be At One With Nature At The Mole National Park
A common misconception about Africa is that all countries within the continent feature the same wildlife. While there are similar, they are not all of the same!
Located to the north of the country, Mole National Park is the largest national park in Ghana and is the only place in Ghana where you can experience elephants in the wild.
You'll need to take a domestic flight to this part of the country but it's worth it!
3. Try Haggling At The Arts Centre
How many places can you say that you've been to and haggled?!
At the Arts Centre in Ghana, bartering is indeed welcome. If you've never bargained before, here are some tips:
Have knowledge of a fair price - if you're in the country for a few days (or visit often), you'll quickly learn the price point of items hence you'll be able to pick up on when something seems a bit too high. Knowledge of the market will assist you in gaining a fair price and not offending the traders.
Be assertive but not aggressive - it's fine to be assertive but never be aggressive - after all, you can simply walk away if you don't agree with the price. No one is obligated to bargain with you because it's acceptable.
The more the merrier - typically, a "one off" purchase might not get you much of a discount but buying in larger quantities will! Don't be afraid to ask for a better price if you've picked up a variety of pieces. Some shop owners might also own more than one shop within the centre (or work closely with another) so use that to your advantage to see what else is available to get the best deal for yourself.
Just say no but politely - some traders have an uncanny way and beaconing you to their shop for you to "just have a look" then you feel obligated to make a purchase. If those selling tactics make you uneasy, simply say no thank you and carry on!
4. Have A Bird’s Eye View At Kakum National Park
Before you dive into this exhilarating activity, if you're afraid of heights, this is not the activity for you!
Kakum National Park is one of Ghana's marvels as it features 7 suspension bridges which form a 333-meter long canopy walkway. This canopy is then suspended up to 27 meters which overlook the forest floor showcasing trees 300 years old.
Here are a few tips to enjoying your time at Kakum:
Be comfortable - there are a variety of trails and guided walks that allow visitors of the forest to truly experience experience the solitude of the rainforest so dress comfortably and wear good shoes!
Plan for a long drive - Kakum is about 4hours drive from Accra and about 33km north of Cape Coast. Therefore, it's advisable that you include this stop if you plan on visiting Cape Coast during your stay in Ghana. Aim to get to Cape Coast early in the morning to avoid the horrid traffic and make this your first stop in Cape Coast as it's much cooler.
Travel light - it is best not to carry any heavy thing in your hands since you will be needing your hands to hold the ropes on both sides as you walk along.
Be prepared for swaying - this is especially important for those of you who find heights daunting. The bridges will sway as you walk from one end to the next therefore, it is wise to wait for the person ahead of you to complete (or come close to) the bridge. It drastically reduces how much the bridge sways. It's even better if you're the last person as you'll be the only person causing the bridge to swing!
5. Take A Journey To The Past At Elmina Castle
Located in Cape Coast, Elmina Castle is known to be one the largest slave forts in the world.
Originally built as a trading post by the Portuguese in 1482, later came to serve the Dutch slave trade with Brazil and the Caribbean following its capture by the Dutch in 1637.
A visit to Elmina is an emotional experience but certainly worth the trip.
6. Feast On Delicious Street Food
Have you truly experienced all that a country has to offer if you've never experienced it's authentic food?!
Of course not!
Ghanaians are an enterprising bunch therefore you can't go far without seeing some form of street food for you to enjoy.
I enjoy many street food options in Ghana but my absolute favorite two are:
Chichinga (pictured below) - simply put, this is a beef kebab. But, what makes this glorious is the spice blend (referred to a 'suya') which is used to flavor the meat. 'Suya' is truly the secret sauce of the 'chichinga' and it's no wonder why it's such a popular dish!
Kelewele - another simple yet delightful snack, kelewele is simply diced ripe plantains marinated in ginger, onions, pepper which is then deep fried. It doesn't get more authentic than eating this afternoon snack steaming hot packaged in newspaper with a toothpick!
Most local restaurants in Ghana will serve kelewele as a side but on the streets is considered a light snack!
7. Visit a Festival
There are many traditional festivals in Ghana which celebrate a variety of things from harvest seasons, to expansion history and more. These festivals are a true display of the Ghanaian culture.
There are also modern festivals such as Chale Wote Street Art Festival (pictured) which showcases music and art in a modern light.
Regardless of the festival, it will be an enlightening experience!