It is not for no reason that Ghana is called as 'Africa for beginners' as it is one of the most welcoming, hospitable and safe countries to visit. With stunning beaches, rich wild-life, incredible national parks topped with a vibrant cultural heritage, there is a lot to explore and understand in this West-African nation. It is impossible to narrow down as to why Ghana is such a charming place as there are far too many attractions that makes it a compelling destination to plan a trip to.
Begin the holiday by first hitting Accra, the country's capital. The largest city of the nation is a sprawling metropolis housing around 2 million inhabitants. It is a mix of modern buildings, shanty towns, occasional castle and numerous bustling markets. Some of the notable attractions that ought to be visited are: the National Museum (exhibits talking about Ghana's culture and history including the slave trade and Ashanti Kingdom), Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park (One will find a monument dedicated to the nation's first president - Kwame Nkrumah as well as his mausoleum where he is buried along with a small museum devoted to him) and Independent Square (commemorates Ghanian independence from British in 1957 and sports an eternal flame). Beach-a-holics can lounge around in the many beaches housed there such as Labadi Beach, Coco Beach and Bojo Beach.
Those who are inclined to learn more about the slave trade ought to visit Ghana's Atlantic Coast that is brimming with old forts (castles) that were built by various European traders during the 17th century. Cape Coast Castle is one among the 40-odd 'slave castles' that are erected on the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana). They were used to hold slaves prior to them being shipped off and sold in the Americas, particularly the Caribbean. This 'gate of no return' was seen as the final stop before they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Today, it is a museum where one can educate themselves about the history of slave-trade and local culture.
Take a trip to Elmina, a beautiful fishing town that is known to be home to one of the country's top attractions - St. George's Castle. The museum and guided tours through the dungeons will offer a glimpse of the history of the place including more knowledge on the gruesome slave trade. Head over to Kumasi, former capital of Ghana's Ashanti Kingdom and the second-largest city of the country. The gold jewellery and trinkets from this metropolis are world-famous as is their local Kente cloth and wood-carved stools. Some of them can be seen at the National Culture Center as well as other craft villages on the outskirts of Kumasi. History aficionados will enjoy exploring the Manhyia Palace Museum.
Need some quiet time? Then spend some time sitting by Lake Volta (or Volta Lake) - the biggest man-made lake in the globe. Those who are adventurous can take a passenger boat that runs the entire length of the lake between Akosombo in the South to Yeji in the North with the entire journey taking about 24 hours one way. If you're a wild-life enthusiast, then don't forget to head out to at least few of the national parks residing in Ghana. Kakum National Park is a dense tropical jungle in southern Ghana and the woods is home to more than 40 species including elephants, mona meerkats and civets including over 250 different bird species. Another incredible location to visit is the Mole National Park. Ghana's largest wild-life park is situated in north western Ghana. Apart from the large number of elephants, there are several other animals glimpsed there as well such as roan antelopes, warthogs, hyenas and so forth.
When it comes to shopping, there are urban shopping centers found in big cities such as the sprawling Accra Mall. But the true charm of the country lies in exploring the traditional markets for local goods such as the colorful Makola Market in Accra or the bustling Kejetia Market where one can procure the famous Kente Cloth in affordable rates.
As for cuisine, be sure to dig into a few of their local specialities in 'Chop Bars' where one will be served either rice or other local staples such as Kenkey (Firm ball of fermented maize boiled in plantain leaves along with a spicy tomato sauce or hot peppers and fried tilapia) together with a meat or vegetable sauce. Some of the local drinks are Pito - beer brewed in the Northern region and is prepared from millet or Palm wine - potent wine made from the sap of palm trees.
The stay options in Ghana are abundant with those who are heavy on the pocket opting for the best luxury hotels. Budget travellers and backpackers can choose modest accommodations and cheap apartments.
Ghana experiences tropical climate. The best time to visit would be from July to August and November to March for it a relatively dry period in Ghana during those months.