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5 Awesome Ways To Spend The Holiday Season In Ghana

The holidays are almost here again and the most climate-friendly destination to spend it is Africa. In its west coast lies Ghana, the continent’s cliched gateway offering world-class hospitality and adventure.

With a growing tourism industry and continued growth of exports, Ghana boasts one of the world’s fastest growing economies and the culture and environment are changing fast to match this status. The country offers many unique landmarks and vast expanses of wilderness and wild areas which are easy and safe to explore.

Ghana is as warm as its people who will welcome you to an array of activities that will make your stay worthwhile, from palm-fringed beaches, ancient cultures  and bustling cities, to elephant safaris, eco-projects and study abroad opportunities. If you haven’t been there, it’s time to add Ghana to your list this upcoming holiday season.

Here’s what we’d recommend you explore during your trip.

Beaches
The holiday month starts on a Friday which will be marked as Farmers’ Day to honour hard-working farmers in Ghana. The public holiday is a beach day for non-farmers who flood the over a dozen warm beaches along the Gulf of Guinea to cool off. You can visit the popular Labadi Beach in the capital Accra for its night-time parties, bonfires, food and music patronised by locals and tourists alike.

Going towards the west of Accra, you will find Instagram-worthy beaches including Bojo Beach, Kokrobite Beach, White Sands Resort, Anomabo Beach Resort, Coconut Grove Beach Resort, Busua Beach Resort, Ankobra Beach and the Escape 3 Points Beach. On the east coast of the country from the capital, you will not miss Ada Beach, Aborigines Beach Resort, and Keta Beach among others.

Strip down to your beachwear and swim at the secured areas designated by the management of the beaches for safety.

Ariel view of Bojo Beach in Ghana with canoes and a lake. Photo Credit: Eddy Blaze

Hiking
For a first-hand experience of Ghana’s natural environment, you can hike to the summit of Afadjato, the country’s highest mountain in the Volta Region. It can take up to two hours to climb to the top of the 885 metres (2,904 ft.) mountain for a first-timer. The view from the top is worth the sweat as you will see the beautiful vegetation around the mountain and some parts of neighbouring Togo.

An easy walk down the mountain, you can’t miss the highest waterfall in West Africa which is only about a kilometer away. It can be accessed by foot after about an hour’s walk through the fauna and flora of the Agumatsa wildlife sanctuary which is home to monkeys, baboons, butterflies, birds and bats clinging to cliffs in the rainforest.

Wli waterfalls is just one of the five waterfalls in the country. The Boti falls in the Eastern Region also offers an adventurous experience with a guided tour through the Boti Forest Reserve before accessing the twin lower and upper falls.

You should not miss the sight and shade of the Umbrella Rock near the falls which can shelter about 15 people at once. Despite being a small pivot rock carrying a much bigger rock, it is safe and as strong as its history.

The other waterfalls are Kintampo waterfalls in Kintampo, Tsenku waterfalls near Dodowa and the Tagbo Falls which is near Mount Afadja and Wli falls.

Wli Falls Ghana

Historical Sites/ Landmarks
There are several historical sites and landmarks from the south to the north of the country worth visiting. The Cape Coast and Elmina slave castles in the Central Region of Ghana are places you should visit if you want some education on the slave trade. The Cape Coast castle was toured by former United States President Barack Obama during his first visit as president to sub-Saharan Africa in 2009. He toured the dungeons where enslaved Africans were kept before being shipped to Europe and America.

In the same region is the Kakum National Park which is a rainforest covering an area of 375 square kilometres. The highlight of the park is the Canopy Walkway which is one of only three in Africa. It is 350 metres long connected to seven treetops above the forest.

In Accra, a walk down the John Evans Atta Mills High Street, you will spot colonial edifices including the James Town Lighthouse, Ussher Fort, James Fort and the James Town community which has centuries-old buildings occupied by the coastal dwellers. Down the road is the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park which has a mausoleum and statue of the first president of the country, the Supreme Court, the Centre for National Culture, Accra Arts Centre and other public buildings.

About a kilometre away is the Independence Arch, Black Star Square, Black Star Monument, Statue of the Unknown Soldier, and the Osu Castle which was the seat of government until 2008. The National Museum is not too far from these landmarks.

The Western Region is home to the Nzulezo village which is 90 kilometers west of Takoradi. The village is entirely built on the Lake Tadane with stilts and platforms. It can be reached only by a canoe.

In northern Ghana, you can visit the Larabanga Mosque which is the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in West Africa believed to have been founded in 1421. It is located in the Larabanga village and built in the Sudanese architectural style using mud and reeds.

Elmina Castle, or St. George’s Castle in Elmina, Ghana (Fall, 2003). Photo Credit: Dave Ley

Wildlife Reserves
The Larabanga mosque is close to the Mole National Park which is Ghana’s largest game reserve. It has over 93 mammal species including close to a thousand elephants, hippos, buffalo, warthogs and rare species of flora in the grassland savannah. There is also the Paga Crocodile Pond in the Upper East Region. The crocodiles in the pond are friendly and offer tourists a rare photo experience. You can literally touch and even sit on them for a photo moment – after buying lunch (chickens) for the reptile.

The Volta Region offers the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary which is popular for its sacred mona monkeys accorded rights as human beings. There is another monkey sanctuary close to the Kakum National Park in the Central Region called the Monkey Forest Resort. It has different animal and monkey species on the 42 acres of land.

Festivities
On Christmas Eve night, you can attend any church for the Ghanaian Christian experience. It is not a party, but expect some dancing and merrymaking. Christmas Day is also a church day and time for family gatherings. Don’t be surprised if you are invited for meals and offered freebies. That’s the tradition and the typical Ghanaian hospitality.

You can attend the masquerade carnival called the West Side Carnival in Takoradi in the Western Region on Christmas Day.

Westside Carnival 2016

The day after Christmas is Boxing Day which Ghanaians take literally. Boxing events are held especially in the capital Accra which is the Mecca of Ghana boxing. Hours to that, the beaches get filled with holiday-makers. The shopping malls and parks are also patronized by many.

The country’s event centres like the International Conference Centre, National Theatre, and the Accra Sports Stadium in the capital are booked for concerts and church services.There are fireworks at the stroke of midnight, and bonfires at the beach including the Labadi Beach where dance parties and concerts are held featuring the country’s top musicians.

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