How to ride a trotro
If you are in Ghana and you plan to move around a lot, you might want to consider using a trotro. They are the most affordable means of transport in Ghana and can be found almost everywhere. For the average Ghanaian, trotros are pretty easy to use but from the outside looking in, it could be utterly confusing for non-locals. On the upside, it does not take much to become accustomed to the four wheeled wonder. Privately Owned To begin with, trotros are not owned by any major transport company, they are mostly owned by the drivers and as such are only bound by Ghana road safety regulations. How to get on Unless they are full, trotros stop at every bus stop along their route. If you are not standing at a bus stop, you usually have to flag them down. Most trotro drivers are very vigilant and will stop once they see you. No departure and arrival time Trotros do not operate on departure and arrival times, the idea is to make as much money as they can on one trip so they only move from the stations once they are filled to capacity (which could actually be overcapacity). However, if you are lucky to pick a trotro already on its way, you won’t have much waiting to do. While on To make sure you do not get lost, you should have a conversation with the conductor (mate) about your destination to determine the best drop off point for you. Because the fare is paid on board, getting change back from the conductor is a hustle; it's one man taking money from about twenty or mo
Uber arrives in Accra, partners Time Out
Uber. Uber, Uber, Uber. It’s here, in Accra, and for that we’re happy. Having already enjoyed its services in Buenos Aires, London and, er, Leeds, we’re big converts. Why? Well, it’s so darn easy. Tap your smartphone and, as if by magic, a car appears. But that’s not the best bit. Firstly, no money changes hands, secondly it's secure – you’re provided with images of the driver and the car registration – and you’re notified where it is. And thirdly, it’s reasonably priced. So why is this such a significant arrival in Accra? Well you’ve been in a taxi here. They are cheap, abundant and you’ll probably have a lively chat about Manchester United’s season. They are, however, reasonably behind when it comes technology. The lack of meter is a particular problem; it means every trip requires a stressful negotiation… “Twenty cedi? You’re kidding. Make it ten.” “No [insert something about petrol costs here] I’ll go 18.” “OK, 15 and turn the air conditioning on.” Plus the state of some of the taxis leave a lot to be desired: only a few have air conditioning and few have seatbelts in the back. Finally, many don’t actually know where you’re going. That new burger joint in Cantonments? Unless you can direct them from Labone Coffee Shop you’re subjected to an hour, albeit good natured, of eliminating roads from the roundabout near the US Embassy (can you tell we’re speaking from experience?). Nope, none of these problems with Uber. The pricing is clearly metered, only decent cars are u
A guide to Ghanaian slang & dialect
Ghana is a country with 7 major languages, Twi, Ga, Fanti, Ewe, Dangbe, Hausa and English and although you won’t be expected to understand them all it might help to know a few key words that you can use to pepper up your conversation and charm or surprise people. Many Ghanaians speak English or Pidgin English mixed in with words from these local languages to create a distinct way of speaking that is unique to Ghana. It is a commonly known fact that although many Africans and people of African decent speak Pidgin English it is slightly different in every country. Below is a simplified guide to some slang and tribal terms commonly used among the people of Ghana. Together with examples of how they are used: A beg: I beg, Please: - 'A beg no wound me' - 'Please don’t hurt me' See: On the English speaking West Coast of Africa people often use the word ‘see’ in place of the usual ‘look at’. ‘ - Oh chale, see the way he is dancing! He wan embarrass us oh! - 'Oh dude, look at the way he’s dancing! He’s trying to embarrass us!' Akata (n): a foreigner usually an African-American Akpeteshie: This locally brewed spirit is made from highly fermented palm wine and is highly intoxicating (like moonshine) also known as Apio. Akwaaba: Welcome Alata: A term commonly used to describe Nigerians, to their great displeasure as it means pepper seller in their language. (Derived from the Yoruba language) Asem: Problem(s) (Akan term) Aunty: In West Africa the title aunty is given to any
Accra by area
Your guide to the best shops, restaurants, clubs, live music, art and culture, spas and bars in the central district of Ghana's capital city Overview Along the traffic-choked High Street and 28th February Road, which run parallel to the Atlantic Coast, are many of the major banks, international offices of multinationals and the High Court. The road then opens out and whisks past the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, the Centre for National Culture (Art's Centre) and into Independence Square and Independence Arch. Behind the square is a long expanse of beach, although it's not the best for bathing. The Centre for National Culture is a maze of hundreds of stalls selling crafts, textiles, instruments and antiques from all over Western Africa. And although strictly in the Osu neighbourhood, the beach-bound Osu Castle, also known as Christianborg Castle, is along the beach road and included in this section - it is still the seat of the government until it fully moves to Golden Jubilee House. Locals generally refer to Osu as Oxford Street, the vibrant area a couple of kilometres inland.You'll also find the remarkable (for all sorts of reasons), Independence Square. With modernist and Soviet-influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercia
Airport is not only the first place you'll see in Accra, it is, as you'll notice, where most of the development is happening. New malls, hotels (we hear reports of new openings by Radisson Blu, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton and Hotel Sun by the Villagio group), bars and restaurants - including the unmissable Santoku - are all in what's loosely defined as 'Airport' or 'Airport Residential'. In this site we have split up 'Airport' into 'Airport East' that covers Accra Mall and the Spintex road north of the Airport. In Accra Mall, you'll find plenty of high-end shops such as La Maison and Kiki Clothing, as well as supermarkets, pharmacies and bars, including Rhapsody's. Airport Residential is largely around the southern end of the airport and includes three of Accra's best restaurants: Il Cavaliere Pazzo, La Chaumiere and Santoku, as well as one of the city's most active cultural venues - the Alliance Francaise d'Accra. Also being home to many of the city's offices you'll find other upmarket restaurants such as Nicolino's, Osteria Michelangelo and Branche in the Golden Tulip hotel. Finally Airport City is loosely defined along the Liberation Road and includes places such as the new Marina Mall and Holiday Inn. But best not to get too hung up on the nomenclature - just head to Airport for Accra's most upmarket vibes. Dare we say it? It's overtaking Osu as Accra's hottest neighbourhood.
Overview Osu is probably the most happening part of town. The busy Cantonments Road, known to virtually everyone as Oxford Street, is a hub of activity 24 hours a day. Many of Accra's best bars, restaurants and shops are in Osu. Stalls line the street and hawkers hound tourists selling personalised wristbands, fake Rolexes and football shirts. Cantonments Road, between Lokko Road and the busy Danquah Circle, might be known as Oxford Street, but shares little with London's shopping hotspot. The only similarity is the volume of people and traffic. Probably the busiest street in Accra, it's the site of bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique shops. There are no specific tourist sights, but its constant bustle makes it an essential part of any visit.Expect some friendly hassle at the northern end (one scam is to ask your name and then appear 20 minutes later with it embroidered on a wristband), but this dissipates further down. The area is even busier during the evenings when revellers hit the bars. Many of the shops and restaurants are actually off Cantonments Road, on the quieter numbered lanes. At one end of Cantonments Road is the busy Danquah Circle, a roundabout on the Ring Road, named after one of Ghana's founding fathers JB Danquah. The circle is generally crowded day and night. _______________________________________________________________________ Your guide to the best shops, restaurants, clubs, live music, art and culture and bars in the most bustling part of Ghana's ca
Hotels in Labadi Labadi Beach Hotel The Labadi Beach Hotel is probably Accra’s plushest residence. In keeping with its reputation, its restaurants are also highly renowned, particularly the Akwaaba Restaurant under the keen eye of chef Gary Howard. There are buffet and à la carte options. The menu includes some superb fish options. La Palm Royal Beach This hotel was once one of the best in Accra, but it is being eclipsed by the new openings: Mövenpick and other improved offerings. With that in mind, it is going through a needed refurbishment process. The rooms have always been good. The 152 rooms (when they are all open) are based in round ‘chalets’ – the idea is it’s a village complex. Standard rooms are large, clean and well laid out, with a flatscreen TV, safe, wireless. The rooms are clean, air conditioned and spacious with comfy beds. It’s the lobby and bar that need work – it’s not the best introduction. This is a shame, because behind it is one the best pool complexes in Ghana, an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday. New is the La Palm Kids Theme Park, a pleasant and safe enclosed park right by the pool. All pool facilities are open to non-residents; be sure to make use of them! Facilities include a casino, fitness centre and spa and sauna. Meals can be taken in the bar. There are several restaurants, including the Royal Dragon Chinese restaurant and the Continental Restaurants – we’d avoid those and head to the open-sided and thatched Ghanaian Village (0302 215 100). The
Accra's best attractions
Free things to do in Accra
Artists Alliance Gallery
This three-storey gallery is home to a large array of Ghanaian artists and sculptors such as Augustine Gokah, Betty Acquah, Nii T Mills, Ebenezer Borlabie, Kofi Setorji and Gabriel Eklou. Ablade Glover (see interveiw on page 4), one of Ghana’s most respected artists, conceived the Artists Alliance Gallery in the 1960s. He saw the need for a showcase for fine arts in Ghana to act as a driving force to gain recognition around the world. There are not only contemporary arts, but also collectors’ pieces: beautiful, fragile Asafo flags with appliquéd and embroidered symbols, and ancient strip-woven kente cloths. It sells art directly from the artist.
Independence Square and Independence Arch
With modernist and Soviet- influenced lines, the stands around Independence Square can seat 30,000 people. The vast area, built under Kwame Nkrumah, is designed for huge events and military marches, but it is usually empty except for a few soldiers sheltering from the sun. The only times the square comes alive are at commercial events such as concerts and fashion shows, which take place throughout the year. Even if there’s not much happening it’s worth wandering around just to marvel at the sheer audacity of it all.The Independence Arch, at the centre of the busy roundabout, is also known as Black Star Square, thanks to the motif that dominates the arch. The sculpture is a nod to Ghana’s acclaim as the ‘Black Star of Africa’: it was an inspiration to other African countries vying for independence and the Flame of African Liberation, lit by Nkrumah, still burns strongly nearby. Please note that there are (seemingly unwritten) laws about taking photographs and we strongly suggest that you don’t take photographs of any part ofthe area.
Arts Centre (Centre for National Culture)
Along the seafront near Black Star Square is the Arts Centre. Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find carvings, baskets, drums, bags, beads, fabrics, sandals, sculptures, stools, rugs and occasionally antiques. It’s a place to unearth some incredible finds and gifts. The best bet is to head past the hassle which you’ll inevitably encounter at the entrance and make your way towards the back of the complex, where it’s a bit more relaxed. Haggling is expected. There’s also an art gallery, which sells prints and paintings at reasonable prices.
Reggae DJs play on Wednesday night near an open bar that is stocked with local and imported beers. There are occasional live bands, as well as acrobats and other entertainment. The groups come from around Accra as well as from neighbouring countries. The standard is very high and you’ll likely catch something that gets you moving. It draws a mix of international students, reggae lovers, rastafarians and the less pious ‘rental dreads’ looking to hook up with a foreigner or at least sell some Rasta-styled wares. A worthwhile trip if you are in town.