Ghana travel guide
They call Ghana “Africa for beginners”, which in many ways is quite the compliment. It’s a friendly and largely safe country, with a list of enticements as long as an Accra traffic jam: for a start, you’ll find sunshine, beaches, wildlife, national parks and a deeply colourful cultural heritage. The long tropical coastline is in some ways the most natural draw card for travellers, but you’re unlikely to come to Ghana for the sole purpose of lying on a beach. There’s too much going on for that.
The capital, Accra, is a vibrant but often misunderstood city, a heaving metropolis of food stalls and football shirts, music and markets, swish hotels and swirling street life. It has few big sights as such, but makes for an engaging introduction to the country as a whole. Further along the coast, there’s just as much to absorb in seaside settlements like Cape Coast, once a slave port but now a cultural destination in its own right. Its dark past is testament to the various European powers that at different times held sway in the region.
Inland, meanwhile, Ghana sets out its eco-credentials with habitats ranging from savannah to dense rainforest and hiker-friendly mountains to relatively arid sub-Saharan plains. Many of the individual national parks and game reserves are rather small compared to some other African countries, but the network is extensive.
In the far north, the plains of Mole National Park are still home to elephants, while in the south the forested Kakum National Park has a hugely popular treetop walkway, not to mention a range of animal and birdlife.
The northern city of Kumasi, the ancient capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, is another major draw. It remains the home of the Asantehene (Ashanti King) who holds court at his palace every sixth Sunday – one of many colourful traditional festivals, full of pomp and pageantry, that can be can still be seen throughout the country.
238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles).
28,033,375 (UN estimate 2016).
110 per sq km.
President Nana Akufo-Addo since January 2017.
President Nana Akufo-Addo since January 2017.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are most commonly used.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Demonstrations in the capital Accra are normally well policed and peaceful, but sometimes they occur at short notice and can cause disruption. You should remain vigilant and avoid any demonstrations, monitor local media for up-to-date information and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Most visits to Ghana are trouble free, but incidents of petty and violent crime do occur. Avoid carrying large sums of money or valuables, use a hotel safe whenever possible and be particularly vigilant when withdrawing cash from ATMs.
Take care at public beaches and avoid going to the beach on your own. Theft is the main problem, but there have been isolated incidents of sexual assault.
Theft of luggage and travel documents occurs at Kotoka International Airport and in hotels. Make sure your passport is secure at all times and don’t leave baggage unattended. Be wary of offers of help at the airport unless from uniformed porters or officials. All permanent staff at the airport wear an ID card showing their name and a photo. ID cards without a photo are not valid. If you are being collected at the airport, confirm the identity of your driver by asking for ID. British nationals have been robbed by impostors who have approached them before the main arrivals area pretending to be their driver.
There has been an increase in street crime in Accra this year. If you’re visiting Accra you should be vigilant, particularly at night. Avoid travelling alone and where possible try not to walk to and from destinations. There have been cases of violent robberies involving foreign nationals who have been attacked and robbed at gun point and while travelling in taxis after dark.
There has been an increase in petty crime, like pick pocketing, bag snatching and opportunistic theft on certain roads in Accra. The main areas of risk highlighted by the police are: Graphic Road, George Walker Bush Highway, Accra Mall Roundabout, Awundome Cemetary Road, Pokuase-Amasaman Road, La Beach area and Teshie-Nungua Road. You should be especially vigilant in these areas; keep windows up and vehicle doors locked.
If you’re unlucky enough to be caught up in an armed robbery, you should immediately comply with the attackers’ demands. Those who have suffered injury or worse during such attacks have been perceived as not complying fully or quickly enough. The vast majority of those who endure such attacks, and follow this advice, do so without lasting physical harm.
Most armed robberies occur at night though some incidents have happened during daytime. Be vigilant and drive with doors locked.
British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists operating in West Africa. The scams come in many forms – romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities, and can pose great financial risk to victims. You should treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa.
If you or your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Ghana you should make absolutely sure that it is not part of a scam and that you have properly checked with the person receiving the money that they are requesting it. If the caller claims to be in distress, you should ask whether they have reported the incident (by phone or e-mail) to the British High Commission in Accra.
If you have sent money to someone you believe has scammed you and are contacted by a police officer for more money to help get your money back, then this is possibly another part of the scam. Scam artists have also been known to use the identity of officials at the British High Commission in Accra. If you receive an email from someone claiming to be an official at the British High Commission, contact the officer using the phone numbers or contact details for the British High Commission.
As a result of occasional local Chieftancy, land disputes and political tension, isolated inter-ethnic violence and civil unrest can occur at any time; specifically but not exclusively in the Northern, Upper East and Volta Regions. When there’s unrest, it’s normal practice for local police to impose curfews that usually run from 7pm to 5am but these times can vary.
Recent localised violence and unrest in Bimbilla has resulted in the deaths several people. A curfew has been imposed from 6am to 4pm. You should remain particularly vigilant, follow local media and the advice of the local authorities.
This follows a renewed government curfew on conflict areas in the northern and Volta regions in July 2016 which included Bimbilla, Alavanyo and Nkonya townships, Nakpanduri and the surrounding communities of Kpatritings, Bonbila, Borgni Boatarrigu and Sakagu. If you’re visiting the area, check local advice about curfew times before you travel.
If you’re travelling to the northern region, remain alert to the potential for new outbreaks of fighting. Keep in touch with daily developments through the local media.
Flooding is common in the upper west, upper east and northern regions during the rainy season (March to November). You should monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.
You can drive in Ghana using an International Driving Permit or a local driving licence. A UK driving licence is not valid. If you’re applying for a local driving licence from the Ghana DVLA,
you must get your UK driving licence authenticated by the UK DVLA. You should carry your driving licence or International Driving Permit with you at all times when driving.
Roads are mainly in a poor condition, particularly in rural areas. Street lighting is poor or non-existent. Avoid travelling by road outside the main towns after dark, when the risk of accidents and robbery is greater. Grass or leaves strewn in the road often means an accident or other hazard ahead.
Safety standards on small private buses, known as ‘Tro-Tros’ and taxis are often low. Don’t use ‘Tro-Tros’ outside the major towns and cities. Avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
A list of recent incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
In 2006 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safety oversight in Ghana.
There have been attacks against ships in and around Accra’s waters. Be vigilant and take appropriate precautions.
Swimming is dangerous on the beaches along the southern coast of Ghana due to rip tides and undertows.