Africa Ghana

Ecotourism in Ghana

20 April, 2012

Ghana is a small equatorial country on the western coast of Africa with a long history of kings and chiefs, and gold and cocoa, and colonial rule and human exploitation, and…green riches. That Ghana is endowed with not just yellow gold but green gold too is not as well-appreciated as it should be, especially considering that its northern region is mostly arid and desert-like. To assume that any African country must be exploding with forests and jungles is an overshoot; to assume that any African country is either a southern safari land or a northern Maghreb desert is an overshoot. But – O, to take the time to really discover the variety and spice that flavours even one tiny country such as Ghana, is to realize that, yes, the forests are there; but even in the desert and savannah that blend in, therein beauty lies. 

Ghana has a burgeoning ecotourism industry, and it encompasses its micro-worlds – from the sea and beaches on the south shore, to the forests in the middle, the lakes and rivers on the sides, and the dry savannah in the north. The former British colony’s Ministry of Tourism – founded as late as 1993 – promotes the practice of community-based ecotourism, whereby tourists, conservationists, and local communities work together to attract and facilitate visits to the many natural resources across the country in an environmentally responsible and ecologically sustainable manner. There is much to discover. Not all of it green. And not all of it on solid ground. Here are the highlights:

Ecotourism Destinations in the Volta Region:

  • Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary
  • Amedzofe village
  • Mount Afadjato
  • Wli Falls & Wli Natural Reserve
  • Tagbo Falls
  • Xafi Bird Watching Sanctuary
  • Digya National Park
  • Keta Lagoon
  • Kyabobo National Park
  • Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Mount Gemi

Ecotourism Destinations in the Greater Accra Region: 

  • Shai Hills Resource Reserve
  • Beaches – Ada Beach, Labadi Beach, Coco Beach, Bojo Beach, Kokrobite Beach
  • Arts Centre

Ecotourism Destinations in the Central Region:

  • Kakum National Park & Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve
  • Domana Rock Shrine
  • Elmina Castle
  • Cape Coast Castle
  • Beaches – Anomabo Beach Resort, Coconut Grove Resort, Brenu Akyinim Beach, Elmina Beach, Cape Coast Beach, Gomoa Fetteh & Senya Bereku Beaches

Ecotourism Destinations in the Western Region:

  • Nini Suhien National Park and Ankasa Resources Reserve
  • Bia National Park & Resource/Biosphere Reserve
  • Amansuri Wetland Sanctuary
  • Nzulezo village on stilts
  • Beaches – Busua Beach Resort, Axim Beach, Ankobra Beach, Takoradi Beach

Ecotourism Destinations in the Eastern Region:

  • Aburi Botanical Gardens
  • Boti Falls
  • Dodi Island
  • Volta Lake
  • Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana
  • Kwahu Mountain
  • Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm

Ecotourism Destinations in the Ashanti Region:

  • Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Owabi Forest Reserve and Bird Sanctuary
  • Kumasi Cultural Centre
  • Bobiri Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Lake Bosomtwi
  • Craft villages – Pankronu, Ntonso, Adanwomase, Ahwiaa, and Bonwire

Ecotourism Destinations in the Brong Ahafo Region:

  • Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
  • Bui National Park
  • Kintampo Waterfalls
  • Fuller Falls

Ecotourism Destinations in the Northern Region:

  • Mole National Park
  • Craft villages – Doboya, Jakarayili, and Kikuo

Ecotourism Destinations in the Upper East Region:

  • Paga Crocodile Pond
  • Widnaba hiking trails
  • Bolga Basket Centre
  • Art and craft village: Sirigu

Ecotourism Destinations in the Upper West Region:

  • Gbele Resource Reserve
  • Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary
  • Dahile and Hamile Caves

With so many attractions to choose from, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Here is a little seasoned advice to help you plan your ecotourism adventure in Ghana.

Some Things to Prepare For: 

Your experience of Ghana can be very different depending on which season you go in. Ghana has two main seasons: the rainy season (roughly from April to September), and the dry season (which you will sometimes hear referred to as “Harmattan,” though this is more specifically the dry wind that blows in from the North during the dry season; the dry season occurs roughly from November to March). The dry season tends to be the hotter of the two seasons, while the rainy season––although, obviously, wet––is cooler.

Something else to consider, in tandem with the weather, is the humidity factor. Being a tropical country, the weather in Ghana can get unpleasantly humid…particularly in the rainy season. The dry season has the opposite problem. Your task: pack appropriate clothing and body care products.

In addition, partly due to its proximity to the Sahara desert, the wind in Ghana can be quite dusty, spreading around swirls of reddish dust that makes its presence visible on, in particular, white clothing. So you may want to reconsider packing pairs of new, white jeans, or things like white tennis sneakers, for this trip. They will not come back the same. You should, however, wear light clothing—and a hat or cap, sun block, and sunglasses—as these will help deflect UV radiation and the heat.

Finally, it may be worthwhile to stuff your pockets with small change or little treats for kids, especially if you are White or light skinned and if you are visiting a more rural area of the country; for foreignness tends to be equated with wealth––and you may be dismayed to find yourself constantly harassed for money.

Safety

The usual commonsense rules apply to travel to Ghana, as to travel to any other country in the world: protect yourself against theft; be vigilant for suspicious activity; make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. In addition, you might do well to stick to bottled or boiled water, be wary of street food (unless it’s deep fried), and—most important of all!—protect yourself from mosquitoes. Malaria is very much alive and well in Ghana, and catching it is a surefire way to ruin a good trip. So take your anti-malarial medication before going, pack mosquito-repellent sprays or lotion, wear light clothing (any local can tell you that dark clothing attracts mosquitoes), and sleep under a mosquito net.

Resources

Ghana Ministry of Tourism: http://www.touringghana.com/
U.S. State Department: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1124.html

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