Things to Know Before You Go – Ghana
Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa, located along the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean and just a few degrees north of the equator. Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana is a richly endowed country blessed with dozens of historical monuments and tourist sites. It is also known for diverse wildlife, lush forest, old forts and miles of sandy beaches along a picturesque coast secluded beaches.
Ghana's year-round tropical warm climate along with it wildlife; exotic waterfalls such as Kintampo waterfalls, as well as the largest waterfalls in West Africa, the Tagbo Falls; Ghana's coastal palm-lined sandy beaches; caves; mountains; meteorite impact crater and lakes such as Lake Bosumtwi, make Ghana the place to be.
The wonderful diversity of natural attractions, historical heritage and the vibrant cultural identity offers visitors of Ghana a microcosmic taste of Africa. Known for the hospitality and friendliness of the people, Ghana is an obvious first port of call for especially first-time travelers to the African continent. Ghana is one of the few English speaking countries in the region.
Throughout the year, there are many tribal festivals, with traditional dances and costumes. The Homowo Festival (May, Greater Accra), encourages a rich harvest. Major Christian and Islamic holidays are also celebrated. Panfest (Dec, every 2 years) celebrates Pan-African history and culture.
Akwaaba! means Welcome! You will hear it several times daily as you travel around Ghana. Welcome to a haven that combines the charms of a tropical beach idyll with a fascinating historical heritage, rich cultural variety and some interesting wildlife in the national parks.
Visa Regulations and Guidance
As for all international travel, a visitor to Ghana South Africa is required to be in possession of a valid passport. Entering Ghana as a U.S. citizen also requires a travel visa. Passport Requirements: Original, signed passport valid for 6 months beyond stay in Ghana, with at least one blank passport page available for Ghana visa stamp. Nationals of other countries must check the list of visa exempt countries to see if they need to apply for visas.
As a general precaution, all travelers are advised to carry a photocopy of the photo/bio information page of their passport and keep it in a location separate from their passport.
Health and Medical Information
Some vaccines are recommended or required for Ghana. The CDC and WHO recommend the following vaccines: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis and influenza. You are also advised to consult with your doctor well in advance of your visit so that you may begin the usual-anti-malaria treatment.
Banking and Currency
Ghana's currency is the cedi (pronounced CD) which comes in denominations of GHC 50, 20, to 5 and 1. Coins come in denominations of 1 GHC and also 50p, 20p, 10p and 1 pesews. Foreign currency can be freely exchanged at any Forex Bureaux in the country.
Apart from Forex Bureaux, some commercial banks also exchange foreign currency. Banks are normally open from 09:00 -14:00 GMT. Most large commercial banks will also have automatic teller machines located outside and available during and after hours. Most will take VISA and a few other credit cards.
All banks and Forex Bureaux accept Travellers Cheques although the rate of exchange may be slightly lower than for cash transactions.
The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa and Mastercard. These cards are accepted in major hotels, restaurants, banks and businesses. Your card may be used for payment at most all airlines, leading hotels and major supermarkets. However be cautious when using your credit card to avoid fraud.
Travel, Transport and Getting Around
Public transportation is readily available in cities and along major inter-city routes but it is often crowded and rarely air conditioned.
Privately-operated trotro's (minibus taxis), carrying 10-20 passengers, are abundant in Accra (Ghana's administrative capital) and also provide connections to many cities. Government owned STC (State Transport Company) buses are also usually available between major cities.
You can also negotiate to charter taxi for daily or multi-day travel. Another option is rental cars - generally only available with a driver. With careful negotiating, these options can be reasonably priced and can save you the aggravation of finding your way.
Food, Drink and Cuisine Advice
Many restaurants in the larger towns and cities serve both European and Ghanaian dishes. For westerners, the Ghanaian food is an interesting experience. Their main dishes are organized around a starchy staple food, with which goes a sauce or soup containing a protein sauce. Food and drinks are offered for sale on the street, like roast goat meat, pieces of cleaned sugarcane, roast cobs of corn, coconut, bags and bottles of iced mineral water, oranges and plantain chips.
Stay healthy by drinking bottled water or sachets, rather than tap water and avoid ice in drinks. Bottled water for drinking is readily available throughout Ghana and is recommended. Fresh fruit is readily available.
Tipping is permitted in hotels, restaurants etc. It is rarely added to your bill. Whenever it is not added, the quality of service should dictate your generosity to the waiter, taxi driver, porter, tour guide etc.
Climate and Weather
Ghana has a tropical climate with temperatures varying with season and elevation. Average daily temperature is 30C (86F). The coolest time of year is between June and September when the main rainfall occurs. The minimum temperature at this time is around 23c (73F), with clear skies and lush growth to most of the country.
Electricity and Plug Standards
If you are bringing along any electrical appliances, they should operate on or be adaptable to 220/240 volts. Electric outlets in Ghana accept either 3pronged or sometimes 2-pronged. British or Continental Europe type plus or converters.