Welcome to our online Ghana travel guide
Ghana is a country about the size of the state of Oregon. It lies on the prime Meridian about 6 degrees north of the equator along the Gulf of Guinea which is a part of the Atlantic Ocean, which makes for a wonderful tropical climate in the south. The north gives way to savannah type terrain and climate. Ghana is rich with history being the home to a number of indigenous empires before and during colonialism. During colonialism Ghana was known as the Gold Coast, and was a very active member in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. If history is of interest to you, you can not miss Ghana with chances to experience both African history and Colonial History.
Some people will tell you that you go to East Africa for the Wildlife and you go to West Africa for the culture, Ghana will give you the best of both worlds. Our guides are extremely knowledgeable about the areas in which they travel and live; they are fluent in English, potentially French, and a number of local languages. For each trip there will be a cultural host that travels with you to take care of any issues or needs that you may have along with familiarizing you with the culture. Guides will also be providing when traveling to different areas where they live and work so they are more knowledgeable about the area to give you in depth information of their area, tribal culture and language.
Ghana was an English colony until their independence in 1957. As a result of this English Ghana’s official language, with all government business being done in English and Education. In most of the cities and regional capitals you will have no issue in conversation with most anyone in English. In the rural areas not everyone speaks English as well but there will always be someone who can translate, and communicate with you in English.
In addition to English there are about 50 other languages and dialects that are spoken in Ghana. These relate to different geographical areas and tribal groups. If you were to learn another language other than English to navigate Ghana, the choice would easily be Twi (pronounced: chwee), which is spoken by the Ashanti people and part of the Akan language group. This language is pretty universally understood throughout Ghana and part of this is due to the Ashanti Empire’s major consolidation during the time of English colonization, which helped to spread Twi throughout Ghana.
There are some other languages that are the primary languages spoken in certain regions. These include:
- Ga: Ga is spoken by the Ga people who live in the Greater Accra region and are believed to have migrated to Ghana from the area where Nigeria is currently. The language is most closely related to languages in Nigeria.
- Fante: Fante is also a member of the Akan language group and similar is some respects to Twi. Fante is primarly spoken by the Fante peopled in the Central and Western regions.
- Ewe: Ewe is very different from the majority of other languages in Ghana and this can easily be heard when spoken. Ewe is spoken by the Ewe people in the Volta region and parts of the Eastern Region.
- Gonje: Gonje is one of the languages of the Northern Region and the language that will be spoken around Mole National Park by the Gonje people.
- Hausa: Housa could be said to be the official language of the Sahel, even though historically Housa’s were not the primary ethnic group in Norther Ghana there are many that live there and all throughout the Sahel region of West Africa. Many people of many different ethnic groups in the north understand Housa.
Ghana’s currency is the Ghanaian Cedi which at the time of writing this (October 28, 2012) is 1.87 to 1 USD. About 2 to 1. To get the current conversion please use the currency calculator below. Enter your currency in the left and scroll down to Ghanaian Cedi on the right, or reverse it.
There are a couple of different ways to handle the money situation on your trip to Ghana.
US dollars and Euros are very easy to exchange with decent exchange rates in the capital and are accepted at most hotels and by tour companies and other travel services. If you are using a tour company or major service during your trip to Ghana paying in US dollars or Euros is probably the easiest way to handle these transactions.
Be aware though that there are certain risks with carrying large amounts of cash and just use your judgment like you would in any major city in the US or Europe.
After going through immigration in the baggage terminal there is a Forex Bureau that will allow you to exchange US dollars and other major currencies to Cedis. If you can try to ask for some smaller bills because finding change for some of the larger bills can be very difficult at some shops and street venders, also if you are taking a cab from the airport you will want to have some smaller bills handy.
A little history on money in Ghana:
Prior to 2007 Ghana used a different version of the Ghana Cedi than is used today. Then $1 was around 11,000 Cedis. The largest bill that was available was 20,000 cedis so just under $2. This made for a very fat pocket when going to the ATM for $80 worth of cash (the maximum draw at the time).
In 2007 the government re-denominated the currency and reprinted new Cedis with the value of 1 Cedi to $1. With inflation this is currently fluctuating around 1.9 Cedi to $1. Sometimes Ghanaians still negotiations and talk about money in the old Cedi value. So if you are buying something small and you are asked for 9000 cedis try to hold back your estonishment because they are actually asking for .90 new Cedis, .01 Cedi is called a Peswah so they are asking for 90 new Peswahs. This can get a little confusing but just think about a Cedi being around 50 cents or 2 Cedis to a $1 and always ask for new Cedi prices.
The average Ghanaian still makes less than 5 Cedis a day. This makes the money situation difficult when an ATM machine gives you 20 Cedi notes, it will be very hard for you to find many places that have change for that. When getting Cedis try to get small notes or get them broke as soon as possible.
Travelers Checks are accepted at most major banks in Ghana and you will have more luck in Accra than the more rural areas. You will get a decent exchange rate but not as good as cash exchanges and ATM machines. Even in Accra it can be a hassle to deal with travelers checks, so they are not recommended.
Visa and Master cards are the most widely accepted card in Ghana. It is advisable to use your card to draw money from ATM machines as you will get the best exchange rate this way and it is also the most convenient method to get money as there are ATMs in most major towns and all regional capitals in Ghana. It is NOT advisable to use credit cards for general purposes or paying hotels because for one not many places have the capabilities to accept credit card and Ghana has a fair share of credit card fraud.
This also applies to any lodging provider or tour companies trying to get you to book with credit card ahead of time. Make sure you do the home work on any tour company before you book ahead of time, as it is standard policy to pay for a tour before you travel, most tour companies in Ghana still do not accept credit card though. You can also use a company like Green Bug Adventures which is US owned and based and partnered with operators in Ghana, this offers the best of both world the security of paying with credit card ahead of time and then traveling with in depth local knowledge.
Ghanaian food tends to be spicy, there are a number of variations on their staple meals. Typically the most popular with Ghanaians is a dish that has a starchy consistency lump in a bowl of soup. The starch is eaten with the hand and used to pick up the soup and eat it. There are different kinds of starches and different kinds of soup and then different proteins that can be added also. Some of these variations are listed below.
Fufu- Fufu refers to the starchy lump which is made from cassava flour, and plantains. It is beaten to a slimy consistency and is by far the favorite for Ghanaians overall. It is typically swallowed without chewing.
Banku- This also refers to the starch. Banku is thicker than Fufu and is usually served piping hot. It is made from a corn meal and is more grainy then the slimy Fufu. I personally like this one very much.
KenKey- Like the above this name also refers to the starch, KenKey kind of reminds me of massa like what is used in Tamales in the US. But it has a bit of a sour taste due to it being fomented in a banana. It can be found on most road sides and id not typically eaten with a soup. Because of that it is good for going on the road or taking for a lunch. You usually eat it with Pepe sauce, which is a pepper and tomato sauce with some onions in it, very spicy but very good. Often it is also accompanied with a smoked fish. You eat it with your hands an break little bits off the kenkey ball and use it to pick up some pepe sauce and fish.
There are many other starches that are eaten in this similar manner in Ghana and it seems that each region has its specialty. There is Omo-Tuo which is a rice ball, travelers usually love this one. There is also Tezert (unsure of spelling) which is more common in the north and often called TZ and it is almost a thick liquid consistency.
Palm Nut Soup- This is a soup a that is eaten with Banku and fufu and is made from the nut of the palm tree, the Palm Nut. It has a bit of spice to it.
Ground Nut Soup- This is one of the most popular soups and it is made from a peanut butter base. Also usually spicy.
Okra Stew- Other than Ground Nut Soup this is the other most popular. It has a thicker consistency because of the okra, and is very savory.
Those are the primary meals that many Ghanaians will crave and eat over and over again. After picking your starch and your soup you then pick your protien. Many place only fish will be available. But for the most part you can find chicken, Guinea hen (in the North very yummy), and goat.
There are also some other dishes different from those above:
Redred- Named because of the color of the red bean with the fried plantains (has a red hue to it, especially if fried in palm oil), then Gari is sprinkled on top, which is a form a casava, it has next to no flavor but the texture of cheese. This is by far the favorite of travelers to Ghana.
Jollof Rice- This is the second favorite of visitors to Ghana and a dish that different variations of can be found throughout West Africa. It is a stewed rice that is red due to the peppers and tomato’s that it was cooked in. It can vary in spiciness but usually has a little bit of a kick to it. It is primarily served with fish or fried chicken (I have to say the best fried chicken I have ever had is in Ghana).
How to Get around:
Just like anywhere you can walk, drive, bike, fly, and get around in the conventional means. To find out what is best for you please review our ‘How to Get Around Ghana’ articles.
The airline industry in Ghana right now is going through a lot of changes. When things settle down a little bit, we will get an article out there about how to fly around Ghana.
The weather is very nice all year round and does not experience any extreme weather like hurricanes or tornados, and absolutely no reason to pack a winter coat. There are two different seasons there is the rainy season and the dry season, each season occurs twice a year.
January to March- Dry Season. Max temp 88F, Min temp 73F
April to June- rainy season. Max temp 84-88F, Min temp 73F
July to September-Dry season. Max temp 81F, min temp 72F
October to December- Rainy season. Max temp 88F, Min temp 73F
Even with these seasonal changes Ghana is relatively hot and humid all year round. Being close to the equator (between 4-11 degrees North) the temperature does not fluctuate too much; neither does the length of the day. In the rainy season there is usually one rain storm in the afternoon rather than it raining continuously all day every day.
Where to go:
Greater Accra Region
Ring Road Area
The Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
|Greater Accra Region Beaches|
|Bojo Beach||Dolphine and Cocoa Beach||Kokrobite|
|Labadi Beach||Pram Pram Beach||Tawala Beach|