Month: August 2014
Ghana is one of West Africa’s most popular tourist destinations. It’s a relatively safe and friendly country filled with interesting historical sites, lots of culture, colorful festivals, good beaches and decent wildlife parks. While volunteering in Ghana, you might wish to take a short weekend break to explore the beautiful, exotic and fascinating attraction sites.
1. Kwame Nkrumah Park – It’s all bronze statues and choreographed fountains at the Kwame Nkrumah Park, dedicated in the early 1990s to Ghana’s first president. The park museum houses a curious collection of Nkrumah’s personal belongings, including his presidential desk, bookcase, jacket and student sofa, as well as numerous photos of him and various world leaders
2. Makola Market – There is no front door or welcoming sign to the Makola Market. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked by the human undertow from the usual pavements clogged with vendors hawking food, secondhand clothes and shoes to the market itself. For new arrivals to Africa, it can be an intense experience, but it’s a fun – though perhaps a little masochistic – Ghanaian initiation rite.
3. Mole National Park – With its swathes of saffron-coloured savannah, Mole National Park offers what must surely be the cheapest safaris in Africa. There are at least 300 species of bird and 94 species of mammal, including African elephants, kob antelopes, buffalos, baboons and warthogs. The park organizes walking and driving safaris. If you do not have your own vehicle, you can rent the park’s for C100 for the two-hour safari; park rangers are happy to let you pool with other travelers.
The safaris are excellent and sightings of elephants are common from December to April. You’re guaranteed to see other mammals year-round, however. Sturdy, covered footwear is a must.
4. Cape Coast Castle – The Cape Coast Castle was built for the slave-trade and is one of the most impressive of Ghana’s old forts. It was originally built by the Dutch in 1637, later expanded by the Swedes, finally the British took control of it in 1664 and turned it into their colonial headquarters. It stayed that way for the next 200 years until they moved the capital to Accra in 1877.
The Cape Coast Castle is now an excellent museum with information about the history of Ghana, the slave-trade and local culture. Tours are a “must” and will take you through the dungeons and the “door of no return”.
5. Kakum National Park – An easy day trip from Cape Coast, Kakum National Park is home to over 300 species of bird, 600 species of butterfly and 40 mammal species – on paper, that is. In practice, you’ll be lucky if you see a monkey.
The park is famous for its canopy walk, a series of viewing platforms linked by a string of bouncy suspension bridges 30m above ground. The trouble is that it is being sold as an attraction rather than a national park, with steep admission fees, raucous noise on visits (which are always done in large groups, with no insistence from rangers to keep quiet) and consequently, very little wildlife. The short nature walks offered from the visitor centre are hardly more authentic.
If you would like to see wildlife, you will need to venture further into the park and make special arrangements with a guide the day before.
The cafe at the visitor centre serves basic food, snacks and homemade ginger juice. Kakum is easily accessible by public transport. From Cape Coast, take a tro-tro from Ciodu Station.
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