From a sunset cruise on Lake Volta to kicking back at a relaxed beach resort, and from the colourful display of Elmina to the canopy of Kakum National Park, Time Out Accra presents the best ideas for a great weekend out of the capital...
We were rather taken aback by Aqua Safari. It faces out to the estuary of the River Volta, a mile or so upstream from the ocean. From an open-sided restaurant and bar you can see Ghana’s island-dwelling folk crab-fishing and clam-diving in the water. The forward-thinking owners offer guided tours to the islands for boat-building and basket-weaving workshops – there’s also a lot of water to play around in on a jet-ski or one of the pontoons. Game-fishing excursions can be arranged too. Best of all is the option to spend a lazy couple of hours exploring one of the most beautiful areas of Ghana by boat. The whole river environment gives a relaxing and slower pace of life; a stark contrast to Accra two hours away. The rooms are well-appointed, and large chalets all have sizable and impressive common areas and kitchens. There’s also a small pool if you don’t fancy a dip in the river. There’s a new, large conference centre with all the modern amenities you’d need.
The Royal Senchi Resort is a bold undertaking; a largely thatched 84-room complex with facilities for large conferences just west of the town of Akosombo. Its location by the river gives it a wild tropical feel, while being within a 90-minute drive from Accra. The four-star hotel is impressive. The rooms are broken into four blocks. The 74 standard rooms (called River View rooms, for obvious reasons) were sizable, with a private patio area and even a view from the bathtub. Ask for an upstairs room for the airy high ceilings. The nine suites are large too, and the presidential suite has a private plunge pool. Those not willing to splash out quite so much can splash around the lovely pool that also overlooks the river. There’ll be all the usual amenities: spa, shop, business centre, restaurant, lounge bar, and the conference suite with two break out rooms and meeting areas is well equipped. There are canoes and launches for playing on the (crocodile-free) river. There are plans for a nine-hole golf course, a football pitch, basketball and kids' play area among other attractions.
To find Ghana's best wildlife, it's Mole National Park in the north of the country where you need to head. Here's our guide to the park. Mole (pronounced Mo-lay) National Park is Ghana’s biggest wildlife sanctuary. There are 93 mammal species in the park, including buffalo, warthogs, hippos and several antelope species. For practical purposes, one of the places to stay is Mole Motel (027 756 4444, www.molemotelgh.com), the only hotel inside the park. Situated on the edge of an escarpment and looking out over a waterhole, it’s somewhere where monkey-watching becomes just another part of breakfast, lunch or dinner. In the dry season, it’s not uncommon for elephants to pay sneaky visits to the hotel’s swimming pool. A new luxury residence is about to open called Zaina Lodge (030 393 8736, www.zainalodge.com). This ecolodge is located in Mole National Park. Facilities will include an infinity pool, open bar fire pit and 25 rooms with private balconies and outdoor showers if you choose! The park office next to the motel acts as the meeting point for localised game waland looks over two waterholes (on which elephants tend to be the main draw), or 4x4 tours much deeper into the Mole Park. Despite the hotel and park office, there’s very little in the way of tourist infrastructure. This is seen by many as a positive thing, and one consequence is that it’s become an important place for scientific study, particularly in relation to poaching and sustainability. Two hours from th
Is there a more colourful vision in Ghana than Elmina's fishing port on a clear morning? This masculine little town subjects the visitor to a whirl of sights, sounds and smells like nowhere else on the coast. The clatter and chatter of the fish market is a world unto itself and truly a sight to behold - a swarming rainbow palette of batik dresses and football shirts offset by great tubs of crabs, squid and mahi-mahi, all dominated by the painted hulls of newly returned pirogues, themselves strewn with flags and washing. When you factor in a supporting cast of goats, chickens and wheeling birds of prey, not to mention the oven-door heat blast, it's quite a scene.
You’ll most likely be aware of Cape Coast Castle already (Barack and Michelle Obama visited in 2009 to much fanfare), as it was here that some of the worst atrocities of the slave trade era were committed. The city was founded by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and the solid white bulk of the castle acted first as a fortified base for overseeing the export of gold and other goods before ‘market forces’ initiated a move into human trafficking. A tour of the site today makes for a harrowing, but undeniably salutary, visit. Thousands upon thousands of West African men and women were imprisoned within the castle’s scratched dungeon walls – in truly horrific conditions – before passing the ‘Door of No Return’ and being shipped off to the Americas, the majority of them not surviving to reach their final destination. To establish a clearer understanding of the crushing reality of the period, the 45-minute guided tour (included in the ticket price) comes highly recommended. There’s also a museum on site. The Castle is now listed as a World Heritage Site, and gazing down today from its old ramparts at the late-afternoon hubbub of fishermen and red-dust footballers, it’s hard not to be stirred by the human cost of its past.