Ghana is a very unique place to spend your vacation or holiday as it is but there are some places that you can choose to stay for the night that makes it that much more unique and provides those amazing stories to tell loved ones, colleagues and friends back home. It is guaranteed that none of them will have any experiences even close to what you will if you stay at any of the places listed in this blog. Many of the boutique guest houses and eco-lodges in Ghana already offer a very interesting places for travelers to stay but the locations below take it to another level as the best places to stay in Ghana for a truly unique holiday.
- Tree Platforms in the Rain Forest:
Kakum National Park is known for its canopy walk way where visitors walk through the canopy of the rain forest at times over 70 feet from the forest floor, but this is only part of what Kakum has to offer. One of the best ways to immerse yourself into the Kakum experience is to stay the night in the forest. With the forest floor being wet and trafficked with all kinds of critters it is not the best place to get a restful night. Luckily for you there are a couple of amazing options for staying in the park. Near the park headquarters is a platform in the forest where guests can stay the night, this is a nice intro but does not get you too far off the beaten path.
Another better way to sleep in the forest is provided by a partnership between Mosomagor Eco-Village and the Ghana Wildlife Division. The village is located along the eastern side of the park and requires driving part way up the road from Cape Coast to Kumasi before navigating a dirt road that can be quite difficult to reach the village, especially in the rainy season. You need to get to the village by early afternoon so you can arrange with the community guide and the Wildlife Division guide who will accompany you into the forest. It is a 2 hour hike from the village to get to the tree platform; most of this is through cocoa plantations and fields before even reaching the park boundary. It is important to get to the tree platform before dark especially in the rainy season because it is believed that the forest elephants will charge the light from a flashlight.
It is also nice to walk the trail in the daytime because when getting into the thick rain forest there are a number of obstacles like hanging vines, and fallen trees that need to be traversed, along with other natural obstacles The guide will also be able to point out hundreds of plants and tell you about their traditional medicinal and commercial uses which are very interesting.
The tree platform itself is built around the trunk of a very large tree, about 50 feet from the tree that is said to be the largest in West Africa. The platform or tree house is about 6 feet in the air which is reached by climbing a really long latter which would make anyone afraid of heights queasy. The platform is large enough to sleep around 10 people and has a roof covering so if it rains you will still be dry and comfortable When the sun has set and it is time to bed down, that is when the forest comes alive with all sorts of interesting noises and it may even be possible to see eyes out in the tree tops and forest floor. Your guide can tell you about all the noises but there is no need to fear them as you are safe in the tree platform.
The next morning if you are lucky this is one of the best chances that you will get to see the elusive forest elephants who are said to frequent the area.
Bring plenty of water, and some food for the evening and the next morning if you wish. It would be kind to bring some to share with your guide.
Hippo Hide at Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary:
Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary is a community based hippo sanctuary brought together by 17 communities working together protecting about 42km of the Black Volta River in the Upper West Region of Ghana right on the border of Burkina Faso. The sanctuary is located about 30 minutes outside of the regional capital Wa. To get the most out of your visit you will want to stay at least a couple of days, and because of this it is not practical to stay in Wa. There is a guest house at the sanctuary that has some beds, but you will need to bring your own food and work with the guides for cooking.
The guest house is very basic and showering is done with a bucket shower, there is a pit toilet for those needs. During most of the year it can be quite hot to sleep inside, and my traveling companion in 2011 had something bite his toe while sleeping.
Because of the reasons listed above there is another way better option for your nights rest at Wechiau. Along the river in a few places there are hippo hides where you can sleep. A hippo hide is not actually the skin from the hippo, but an elevated platform that can be used for viewing the wildlife and the hippos. This can make for a unique experience because you will get to see the Hippos in the water during the day, not seeing much more than their heads and ears, with an occasional great shot when they decide to open their large mouths and yawn. Hippos come out of the water and feed at night. This may make it a little difficult to see them when they are out of the water being dark without a full moon, but you can hear the sounds they make below and potentially see them in the early light of the morning.
Once again you will need to bring your own food and plenty of water. The guides will prepare your food for you and make a mean batch of spaghetti you can pick up the provisions in the village of Wechiau before reaching the sanctuary.
Castles and Slave Forts:
Ghana is very unique in that it has more European forts and castles than any other country outside of the Europe. The coast line still boasts over 43 standing colonial and pre-colonial forts and castles. They started life in the trading times prior to the slave trade as trading centers; they were built by the Swedes, Danes, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and even the Hapsburgs. In the 1700 with the advent of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade most of them found a new function as holding cells and dungeons for the slave trade and sometimes the last place Africans stayed before leaving Africa forever. The most famous of these is the Cape Coast Castle where over a million souls were ship out of Africa. This dark history has left these monuments of people’s suffering, and are a must visit for anyone traveling to Ghana.
There are a few forts that have been converted into guest houses and are a very different place to stay. Fort Iron Cross in Senya Breku about an hour west of Accra is one of these. It is a four walled fort with fortification built on a hill on the cape overlooking the town and beach. Many African Americans and other go out of their way to stay here because of the stories of spirits talking at night and being seen. The rooms are along the east wall overlooking the beach and are comfortably furnished with decent beds and wardrobes. The courtyard also has a bar and restaurant to make the stay comfortable. The cost is very minimal and reasonable.
The other fort that has been converted is the Fort in Princess Town in the Western region which started life as a possession of the Hapsburgs and was eventually sold to a Ghanaian Chief who lived in the castle from that time on. This is a great place to stay to enjoy the empty, clean beaches of the Western Region and hike the Cape Three Points area.
Hand in Hand Hermitage:
Located behind the hospital in a community called Nkoranza in the Brong Ahafo Region near Techiman is a very unique place that goes by Hand in Hand or Peace and Christ Guest House. This is a guest house that started life as an orphanage for mentally and physically handicapped children in Ghana. This is an important need because often these children are left by their parents at orphanages because they do not have the skills, or finances to take care of a child with these kinds of needs. They often end up in orphanages around Ghana who also do not have the skills required to help these children, they are often neglected. Hand in Hand takes in these children from all over Ghana and gives them a caring home with the help of volunteers and some very skilled employees.
The guest house on the grounds helps significantly for them to fund their mission along with generous donations and the sale of crafts from the children’s craft workshops. The guest house has a number of well-furnished and comfortable bungalows. There is also a more unique spot great for independent travelers because it can really only house one person. At the end of the football pitch at the edge of the property is a rock outcropping that has been sculpted into a bungalow with the front walls being made out of cement but the rear walls are formed by the rock face. This solitary room along with the surroundings makes this a great off the track place to stay while heading north. It is also a great place to set up a base camp for exploring Baobeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and Tano Sacred Grove.
Village Home stays:
If you travel to Ghana without visiting the rural areas you are truly not visiting Ghana. Ghana has so much more to offer than its popular Castles, cities, and National parks. The rural life in Ghana is like another world to most travelers and they will be floored by the generosity of these people that on the outside it looks like they have very little. One of the best ways to experience this is through staying with a family in a home stay. There are a number of great Eco-Villages around Ghana that have set up formal programs for guest to be able to this, screening families and the room that they have to house guests. You will get to slow down to the life of the village, eat with the family and most likely experience some sort of village entertainment being the games that the children play, the stories the old me tell, or dancing and drumming around a fire at night. In the north often people sleep on their roofs to enjoy the cooler evenings, this is a very nice place to enjoy the stars with very little light pollution and the clearer skies of the north.