Tourist boutique

2012-05-04 11:05

If travel was a shoe boutique, Ghana would be in the designer section and you’d be hard pressed to pick a pair.

This West African tourist state is a distinct mix of the old infused with the new.

Ancient cultural practices that date back to antiquity are still in force, exclusive African arts and craft distinct to Ghana abound, it also boasts rich African culinary delicacies as well as beaches that rival the best in the world.

Ghana – where English is widely spoken – is divided into 10 regions and each, believe it or not, has its unique tourist attractions.

The Greater Accra region is the smallest.

It occupies a mere 1.4% of the total land area but is the second most populous region.

It is in the capital city, Accra, that the transition from British colonialism to modern cosmopolitanism is most visible in the architectural landscape.

Among the noteworthy structures are the University of Ghana in Legon, the Centre for National Culture and Independence Square, where Ghana is honoured as the first sub-Saharan nation to gain independence in 1957.

 Also there is the WEB du Bois Memorial Centre dedicated to the American civil rights activist and sociologist.

Greater Accra is also home to some of the continent’s most beautiful beaches, and each has a unique character to draw visitors.

The Cocoloco beach is about an hour’s drive from east Accra.

It is a sanctuary for some of the most exotic birds in the world and offers waterfront accommodation in bungalows built from all naturally sourced materials.

Ada beach is also a popular destination for tourists, especially for those wanting to tie the knot. Regular seaside weddings are held there and it’s also a nesting beach for sea turtles – drawcard for nature lovers.

La Pleasure beach is the most famous and obviously very busy.

If you do not mind a crowd and you’re looking for a lot of local ambience, then this is the place.

The Ashanti region is known for its deep connection with ancient culture.

Take a tour of the Patakro Shrine or walk where the Ashanti kings of the past walked and see where they lie in their royal mausoleums. Local craftsmen also offer visitors a chance to try their hand at some of the local crafts.

The next stop is the Eastern region, which is postcard beautiful. Here you can enjoy both the natural beauty and the lure of Koforidua Ghanaian culture.

The region is dominated by Lake Volta, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, and you can take a cruise on the Dodi Princess Ferry to Dodi Island from Akosombo Harbour.

Another of the water features not to be missed are the Akaah, Boti and Begoro waterfalls, which are picturesque spots for a picnic.

The Western region also sports some of the best beaches such as Mimia and there are many mines in the region.

Historical sites such as Fort Sebastian, which was built by the Portuguese during the 16th century, and Fort Metal Cross in the costal town of Dixcove, are also a must-see.

The Brong-Ahafo region is situated at the heart of Ghana and is home to the distinctive heritage of Brong-Ahafo.

The area is full of relics, monuments and antiquities of the Bhengo people who have lived in this part of Ghana since 2000BC.

The Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary is a definite must-see.

It houses many families and species of Colobus and Mona monkeys which are held sacred by the locals.

A part of Ghana’s history that cannot be ignored is slavery, so a sombre tour of the slave market
in the northern regions is a must to get a feel of what life must have been like.

There are many slave relics, memorial walls and souvenirs to be seen in this region.

Among them are the slave cemetery and the Salaga slave market where shackles and the wells where slaves were kept before they were sold can be seen.

After all that horror, visitors can take some time out to experience prayer at the 13th century Larabanga Mosque.

Some other picture-worthy sights include the Wa Naa’s Palace and the Nakore Mosque, which is regarded as a sacred place to Ghanaian Muslims, who can be found only in the Upper West region, near the region’s capital Wa.

Also, visit the Gbollu Defence Wall to take a virtual journey with the brave Ghanaians who tried to fortify themselves against slavery.

Be a daredevil and head up to the Paga Crocodile Pond located in the Upper East region, near the town of Bolgatanga.

Here you get a chance to take the photograph of a lifetime with a 1.8m-long crocodile after it has been coaxed out of the water by experienced custodians or just look at the crocodile keeper work his wonders from a distance.

And if the crocodile experience is still too much to handle, you can take a ghostly adventure to the Tongo whistling rocks.

This natural mass of granite rocks promises a unique experience as it comes alive when the winds blow, encouraging tourists to whistle back.

The food in Ghana is eclectic and global, and the locals enjoy their food hot and spicy so always be sure to ask for the mild version.

Some of the local delicacies are kenkey with hot pepper and fried fish, banku with fish or meat and omo tuo – rice moulded into balls – served with palm nut or okra soup.

There are a number of daily flights to Ghana from OR Tambo International Airport in Joburg.

Some of the flights include South African Airways, Ghana International Airlines, Kenya Airways, Emirates and EgyptAir.

The planes make their final stop at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra.

» For more details, +233 302 22153 or call the Ghana Consulate in South Africa on 012 342 584

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