Getting Around Ghana
Formerly very expensive, domestic flights are now quite affordable and a viable alternative to travelling by bus or car.
The only way to reach most sites of interest in Ghana is by road, whether you rent a car and driver, or catch public transport. Be warned that all commercially available maps of Ghana (as well as those issued by the Survey Department in Accra) are seriously out of date, or riddled with inaccuracies, or both. These maps are fine for general orientation purposes, but can't be relied upon fully.
Side of the roadRight
Urban roads are generally in good condition, but can be in poor condition outside of the towns.
Available in Accra but there are few outlets, and hiring a car can be rather expensive, with or without a driver.
Taxis are available throughout Ghana.
This is usually the best way to travel between major centres. The market used to be dominated by the State Transport Company (STC), which still operates along most major surfaced routes, but better and more reliable air-conditioned services are now provided by operators such as VIP and Metro Mass.
The usual form of transport on minor routes is minibuses or vans. These break down into two broad categories: newer air-conditioned vans known variously as Fords, Stanbics or Yutons, and older and less comfortable bangers called tro-tros (or sometimes lorries). In small towns and villages, public transport generally arrives at and departs from one central terminus (usually referred to as the ‘station’, or ‘lorry station’).
Larger towns usually have several different stations. Most road transport doesn’t operate to a fixed schedule; vehicles simply wait at their designated station, and leave as soon as they are full. This can seem quite chaotic to first-time visitors, especially where departure points are decentralised, but it is actually quite efficient and straightforward. Local transport is cheap too, though unfortunately the standard of driving leaves a great deal to be desired on the safety front.
The speed limit is 50kph (31mph) in towns and 80kph (50mph) outside of towns.
A UK driving licence is theoretically valid for 90 days, but you are less likely to be queried by bribe-seeking officials if you carry an International Driving Permit.
Accra has extensive bus and taxi services operated by the private sector. There is an abundance of taxis in the towns. Prices are reasonable. Drivers do not generally expect tips. Other ways of getting around, for the more adventurous traveller, are tro-tros (minibuses), which are usually far less comfortable than taxis.
The rail network is limited to a more-or-less 1,000km (600-mile) triangle by the coast connecting the cities of Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi and several intervening towns.
The Yapei Queen, a lake steamer, runs once weekly across Lake Volta between Akosombo and Yeji. Ferries connect at Yeji for Buipe and Makongo, both from which it is possible to arrange onward transportation to Tamale. Booking is advised and can be organised through the Volta River Authority (www.vra.com).