6 Things You Need to do in Ghana (Part Two)

I thought I was a pretty good dancer – until I went to Ghana. I’m convinced that dancing is ingrained in their DNA – it’s like a language. Dancing to afrobeat was a daily ritual at the intern house where I stayed. Even if you had two left feet you just could not resist a bit of groove. If you are ever in Ghana, you MUST MUST MUST experience the nightlife. It’s so vibrant and full of life. The beat is contagious – even if you don’t like to dance you will definitely enjoy watching the battles on the dance floor.

Here’s a list of a few more things you can do in Ghana.

1. Nzulezo – The Floating Village

I love how almost everything in Ghana has a story to explain it’s origin. I was amused by this particular folklore. According to local legend, the village of Nzulezo was built by a group of people from Oualata (WA-LA-TA), a city of the ancient Ghana Empire which is present-day Mauritania. It is believed that the the early settlers or the ancestors were led there by a SNAIL!!! That’s right. A snail. The snail is therefore a totem and revered by the people of Nzulezo.

The canoe trip to this floating village is quite scenic and serene. The Amansuri wetlands are lined with beautiful evergreen palm trees on almost every side and pristine swamp forests. Look out for various bird species, fish, turtles, monkeys and other wildlife as you enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Coca-Cola is definitely the most well marketed brand of all time; despite Nzulezo’s extreme remoteness, one of the shacks had a Coca-Cola advertisement on the wall.

 

2. The Elmina Castle

The castle was originally built by the Portuguese as an establishment where trade took place but later on became one of the most important stops on the route for the Atlantic slave trade.

The slaves, often captured in the African interior by the slave-catchers of coastal peoples, were sold to Portuguese traders in exchange for goods such as textiles and horses. The slaves were held captive in the castle before exiting through the castle’s infamous “Door of No Return” to be transported and resold in newly colonized Brazil and other Portuguese colonies. The walking tours through the castle give you a sense of the traumatic experience the African slaves went through.

Sensei Tip:

In addition to the Elmina Castle you may also want to visit the Cape Coast castle.

 

3. Kakum National Park

This was one of my favourite places to visit while I was in Ghana. It is located in Cape Coast and there are numerous activities to do. We started with an interactive cacao “treasure hunt” session in the native tropical forest. Just so you know, in its raw form the cocoa bean tastes nothing like the finished chocolate product you and I are familiar with. Which makes me wonder how the first person who invented chocolate “stumbled” upon it. Hmmmm…

You must definitely go on the canopy walk and take in the view of the thick, lush, evergreen forest from above. The forest is home to species such as the endangered forest elephants, dwarf crocodiles, forest buffaloes and many other animals.

Sensei Tip:

If you are keen on getting a glimpse of the rare forest elephant then it would be wise to reserve overnight accommodation in advance as they are nocturnal.

 

4. Lake Volta

Given the magnitude of it, it’s hard to imagine that Lake Volta is a man-made lake as you cruise on it. I went on a cruise with a couple of friends to view the Adomi Bridge. Its a fun activity to do if you want to wind down and relax. A lot of the motor boats that offer short afternoon cruises have a stereo so you can practise your azonto moves as you enjoy the cool breeze.

 

5. Manhyia Palace

Now turned into a museum, the Manhyia Palace is a very interesting place to visit especially if you appreciate history and anthropology. During the walking tour, I noticed immediately that there were several stools that had been turned upside down. Each stool is understood to be the seat of the owner’s soul and when not in use is propped against a wall so that other souls passing by may relax on it.

I also learnt about the Golden Stool which is extremely significant in the history of the precolonial Gold Coast. This is the royal and divine throne of the Ashanti people. Legend has it, Okomfo Anokye, High Priest and one of the two chief founders of the Asante Confederacy, caused the stool to descend from the sky and land on the lap of the first Asante king, Osei Tutu. The Golden Stool is believed to house the spirit of the Asante nation—living, dead and yet to be born.

 

6. Afadjato

Let me be honest for a second…Afadjato, Ghana’s highest mountain, is a mere 885 metres above sea level. I, come from East Africa where our mountains are just slightly higher – Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895m above sea level) and Mt. Kenya (5,199m above sea level). So, when my Ghanaian friends suggested that we should hike up Mount Afadja, I automatically assumed that it would be a breeze for me. In fact, I underestimated the climb so much so that I did not even bother to carry any drinking water (big mistake). I figured it would be half an hour up and fifteen minutes back down. I was obviously wrong. It was an extremely challenging trek as it was a very steep climb and the hot, humid climate made it even harder. I can respectfully say that this mountain humbled me by the time I got to the top.

The best part of the day, after the long hike, was cooling down and relaxing by the Tagbo waterfalls.