vital statistics
  • Accra
  • 26 million
  • English
  • Ghana cedi
about Ghana

For those seeking to dip their toes into Africa, yet still fancy going beyond South Africa and Kenya, Ghana might be just the ticket. Although the options to safari in the traditional 4WD way are quite limited it’s not as though no animals at all live here. Mole National Park, near the border with Burkina Faso, is home to groups of elephants, bushbucks, baboons, warthogs and other small animals. Mona and black-and-white colobus monkeys are revered by the communities in the villages of Boabeng and Fiema, south of Mole, and the small but well-populated Boabeng-Fiama Monkey Sanctuary has been giving these curious creatures a home since 1974. Guests can go on a tour where guides will also point out some of the many birds and butterflies who live in the forest.

History buffs will want to stop a while at Cape Coast, west of the capital of Accra. The fishing port town has been settled by a whole host of European traders, including the Portuguese, Swedes and English, and is best known for the huge Cape Coast Castle, a white fort on the waterfront. It’s one of about 40 such buildings on the coastline first used for storing gold, ivory and other goods that were to be shipped back to Europe, but which gradually became jails, their dark dungeons holding people who were to be sent to the USA as slaves. Now, this building – restored in the 1990s – and many like it have been turned into museums, while others have be converted into government offices, prisons and guesthouses.

The rest of Cape Coast feels like a relaxed coastal community, and the lagoons on the edge of town have some great beaches. You can also do drumming and dancing workshops with a group called Women in Progress, which supports a fair-trade project. And it’s worth taking the time to head to Elmina. There are far fewer visitors here, in what was once a fishing and salt-producing town but became the epicentre of the West African gold trade. These days, it’s still mostly a fishing village but the colourful boats sailing through the lagoon have a backdrop of the oldest European building in sub-Saharan Africa, Elmina Castle, built by the Portuguese in 1482.

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