‘The Year of Return’ is here and experiencing Ghana is a rather exciting prospect for the average Jamaican.
Kissed by the Atlantic Ocean, Ghana is blessed with idyllic beaches, cosmopolitan cities, and remote nature reserves full of exotic wildlife.
For Jamaicans who would want to begin their journey across the Atlantic, now that visa-free restrictions between the two countries no longer exist, therein comes another issue: What. To. Do?!
Ghana has the reputation of being one of the friendliest countries in Africa and many recommend it as an excellent entry point for first-time travelers to the continent.
Luckily for us, there are many similarities between Jamaica and Ghana – to the point some have been surprised the country almost feels ‘like home’.
So similar is the West African nation that many consider Ghana to be the ‘most Jamaican’ of any country on the continent.
Whether you’ve already booked your first flight and are gearing up for a new adventure, or just looking for a refreshing change in scenery, BUZZ presents five places, sights and attractions you must go on your visit to Ghana:
1. If you’re a beach lover, feel compelled to feed your inner adrenaline junkie on the open ocean, then Ghana’s most popular beaches are the first stop! Located around Kokrobite, these pristine sands are home to the particularly beautiful Langma Beach.
Kokrobite is a quick 20-mile ride away from the capital, Accra. While there, be sure to check out the popular beachfront hotel, Big Milly’s Backyard, which offers laidback accommodations – complete with a friendly bar and restaurant where backpackers, volunteers, and Ghanaian Rastafarians chill out.
2. Catering to the shopaholics, culture junkies and history-buffs, Ghana’s vibrant capital of Accra is a sprawling city, and is considered one of Africa’s safest.
One possible way to pass the time is to bargain with vendors in the iconic Makola Market —a central hub selling everything from fresh produce to local arts and crafts.
Other things to do in Accra include a visit to the National Museum of Ghana, where the legacies of the Ashanti Kingdom and the transatlantic slave trade are housed in beautiful displays.
Take a trek down Accra’s many scenic beaches, and rock to the vibrations of local and Jamaican Reggae on Labadi Beach, Coco Beach, and Bojo Beach.
Kakum National Park
3. Similar to our Blue Mountain Forest Reserve, the Kakum National Park is a dense tropical rainforest on Cape Coast in southern Ghana.
The forest – home to more than 40 mammal species including forest elephants, forest buffalo, meerkats, and civets – also hosts a thriving birdlife population, with over 250 different species recorded.
For hikers and nature enthusiasts, the best highlight of any visit to Kakum is a stroll on the Canopy Walkway (pictured above).
Suspended 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground, this 350-meter walkway will have you cross several bridges as it offers a unique perspective of the park’s flora and fauna.
Cape Coast Castle
4. Speaking of journeys across the Atlantic, step back into a darker period in time at the Cape Coast Castle, one of the largest forts still perfectly preserved in Ghana.
Built in 1653 for the Swedish Africa Company, this building was originally used as a trading post for the timber and gold industries. Dutch and the British colonisers expanded the castle’s footprint later, as it served as an essential holding station for enslaved Africans bound for the Americas.
The Cape Coast Castle is now a museum full of information about Ghana’s history, the slave trade, and local culture. Tours take you through the dungeons and the “door of no return,” through which the castle’s enslaved blacks once passed, never to see Africa again.
Paga Crocodile Sanctuary
5. This last visit is NOT for the faint-hearted or for anyone squeamish, as it is strange and unusual.
On the cusp of Ghana’s northern border lies the town of Paga, nestled right up against Burkina Faso. If that wasn’t uniquely qualifying for the village, Paga sits on a sacred crocodile pond, where locals believe that reptiles hold the souls of the deceased.
Paga’s crocodiles are considered sacred and protected and are allegedly as safe as any domesticated pet.
As a Jamaican, Paga’s regular interactions might just be a tad extreme, but for the locals and the 110 crocodiles in the main sanctuary – life is a breeze.
The fact that no one has ever been harmed by one of the crocodiles is an achievement more stunning that any feat at the Black River Safari.
With dozens more tourist and cultural experiences to choose from, knowing where to start your adventure in Ghana can be difficult.
But whether you’re exploring a historic castle, surfing world-class waves, or heading out on a safari, the experiences you’ll have in Ghana will surely remind you of Jamaica in more ways than one.
Whenever and wherever you decide to embark on the ‘Year of Return’, we hope you #seeGhana #feelGhana!