Ghana- Year of the return
In 2018, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared 2019 The Year of the Return. The initiative would bring people from the diaspora to Ghana, West Africa. This also would mark the 400th year of enslaved Africans being brought to Jamestown, Virginia in the United States. Throughout the year there were several events such as galas, charity events, musical concerts, dance parties, educational programs, fashion, cultural events, and special ceremonies where people were granted Ghanian citizenship.
Celebrities such as Boris Kudjoe, Lupita, Jidenna, Rick Ross, Steve Harvey, Beyonce, Cardi B, Ludacris, Akon, T.I., Idris Elba were in attendance for the festivities.
Purchasing an airline ticket– Various airlines such as Delta and South African Airlines have direct flights from the East coast.
The following airlines also fly into (ACC) Accra, Ghana: British Airways, KLM, Air France, American Airlines, Emirates, Jet Blue, Brussels, Tap Air, United, Ethiopian, Asky, Egypt Air, Air Italy, and Air Cote d’ Ivoire.
Flying to Ghana
I live in California. The easiest and most efficient route is to fly from Los Angeles (LAX)- Washington, DC (IAD) (5 hrs) – Accra (ACC) (10 hrs). Unfortunately, direct flights during the holiday season are going to be expensive. I decided that I wanted a cheaper flight. I used my chase travel reward points to purchase a flight from Los Angeles to Houston on Southwest Airlines.
I purchased a flight for $1250 with Ethiopian Airlines. I flew 12 hours from Houston to Togo; 5 hours from Togo to Ethiopia; 12-hour layover in Ethiopia overnight and then off to Accra the following morning. After reflecting, I realized that I unnecessarily went pass my final destination and will opt to take a direct flight next time.
Free Hotel from Ethiopian Airlines
If you have a prolonged flight, I suggest booking a route that allows you to explore during your layover. Unfortunately, I was unable to tour Ethiopia because the flight landed at 7:30 pm. I am happy to report that Ethiopian Airlines offers a free hotel room and dinner if you have a long layover. It was not a fancy hotel but I was grateful for a place to shower and sleep.
Prior to traveling, if you are a U.S. citizen you must purchase a visa. Go to the Ghana embassy website and complete the application. Please provide 2 passport photos, a money order, and a stamped return envelope. There is an office in NYC, DC, and Houston. Houston does expedited shipping for an additional cost. You can pay $60 for a single visa or $100 for a multiple entry visa. I purchased a multiple entry visa and it is now good for 5 years.
The benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card are various types of travel insurance. I always advise people to get additional medical insurance in case of an emergency. I recommend researching which insurance best fits your travel needs. After completing a survey via Facebook, the majority of my travel friends utilize Allianz. You can purchase trip insurance for each vacation or you can pay for a yearly plan.
Always check out the Centers for Control Disease and Prevention (CDC)website for all recommended shots. Yellow Fever is the only shot that is required. I have Kaiser so the yellow fever shot was covered under my insurance. The Yellow fever vaccination currently has a shortage in the U.S. and can also be quite costly. If you are traveling to another country, I recommend having the shot there as it will be less expensive. I also heard that you can get a yellow fever shot at the Accra airport but I have not attempted this method.
The official language is English and it is used to conduct business and form legal documents. There are over 80 dialects spoken in Ghana. Twi is widely spoken and its origins came from the Asante Kingdom.
Thank you – Meduase
How much?- Wa Ya Sen
How are you? – Eti Sen
The current rate is 5.7 Ghana Cedis for every dollar. I sometimes have difficulty with calculating exchange rates but it was easy for me to remember that 20 cedis is about $4.
Please bring new $100 bills as older bills are less likely accepted. You can exchange money at the airport, banks and various Forex money exchanges in the city. If you retrieve money from the ATM, it will provide Ghana Cedis. Major Credits are excepted at most places but always have cash if necessary.
What to Bring
Medical supplies– Make sure you bring Pepto-Bismol, Imodium, Digestive pills, Probiotics(Natures Bounty or Nature Made), Charcoal and Cipro (prescribed by a doctor for travelers diarrhea) in the case of an upset stomach. If your forget any medications, you can purchase at a pharmacy in Ghana.
You will also need your malaria pills that can be taken weekly or daily. I prefer the daily pills as the side effects of the weekly are hallucinations and vivid dreams.
Tissue, wipes, and hand sanitizer– Be prepared to pay coins to use the bathroom at some locations, but the bathroom, attendants only give you a couple pieces of toilet paper, so bring your own tissue in the case you have to do more than pee. Some people have mastered the art of squatting but it is something that I’m still working on. Hand sanitizer is essential as some bathrooms don’t offer soap.
Suntan lotion-Even if you think you don’t need suntan lotion, please use and apply.
Mosquito repellent– If mosquitoes love your blood like they love mine, you will need it. Try using skin so soft spray from Avon.
Washcloth– Most hotels have large body towels but no small washcloths.
Chargers– You much purchase a universal charger and they are sold online at Amazon or sold in stores such as Target, Bestbuy, etc
Jollof rice is a spicy tomato-based dish that is widely served at restaurants. Local food such as fufu, banku, fish, chicken, red-red, waakye, yam, plantain, cassava, and others are widely sold and eaten. Ghana also has several fast-food restaurants such as Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, etc. The food is fairly cheap but if you go to a hotel restaurant, food will be more expensive. Bring your patience and be prepared to wait at restaurants, service is very slow but the food will be delicious.
Snacks– You can go to the grocery store for snacks or purchase from vendors selling street food.
Tro-Tro is a cheap method of local transportation. They also have ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Bolt. If you want to travel to another city, you can fly or take a CTC chartered bus.
Wifi should be available at your housing accommodations. If you don’t have a phone service that includes an international plan, purchase an internet router and buy credit in Ghana. I loved having wifi on the go.
I purchased a Samsung and sim card in Accra for 300 (GHS) or $5. I was able to call back home as long as I had credits on the phone. You can also purchase an unlocked phone from Amazon before your trip.
Although you don’t necessarily need a guide, I highly recommend a tour guide as they will provide a local experience. I used Kofi da tourist during my trip. Please contact him and he will create a trip itinerary based on your travel interest. Instagram @Kofidatourist Whatsapp: +233 244 12 3894
Ghana offers a variety of accommodations such as Hotels, Airbnb, B&B, hostels, homes, resorts, etc. In Accra, I rented a 3 bedroom home near Aburi Gardens, in Kumasi I stayed at an Airbnb, in Cape coast resided at Golden Parker Hotel. Stay tuned for a detailed post on places to stay in Ghana.
Shop till you Drop
I highly recommend shopping at the markets in Ghana. In Accra, go to the Arts Center, Makola market and Kaneshie. In Kumasi, head to the largest market in West Africa. Here you will have the opportunity to purchase items such as fabrics, clothes, shea butter, jewelry, handbags etc. In the market be prepared to haggle and bargain with vendors. They will quote you the highest price and then ask what’s the best price you can offer? They have various shopping malls around town where you can shop as well.
Things to See in Ghana
In each city, there are so many things to do but I will highlight the main attractions in each city.
Accra: Black Star Square aka Independence Square, Osu Slave Castles, Labadi Beach, Aburi Gardens, Jamestown, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial, W.E.B Dubois Centre, Cultural Center, Makola Market
Kumasi: Manhiya Palace, Kumasi Central Market: the largest market in Ghana, Armed Forces Museum, Okomfo Sword Site, Kumasi Zoo, Ntonso Andikara Village, Lake Bosomtwe
Cape Coast: Elmina Slave Castle, Cape Coast Slave Castle, Monkey Forrest Resort, Ampeny Beach, Kotokuraba Market, Hans Cottage, Cape coast fishing hub, Kakum National park
Volta Region– Wli Waterfalls, Monkey Sanctuary, Spa and Health form
Northern Region– Mole National Park