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Where is Ghana?

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We may all know that Ghana is in Africa, but until 5 years ago, I had no idea of where to pinpoint it on a map.

I know better now, and soon, so will you!

Where is Ghana situated geographically?

Ghana, a green and vibrant country is located in West Africa. It is nestled between Côte d’Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The sea in this corner of the world is known as the Gulf of Guinea.

Ghana is found at similar latitudes as parts of Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and French Guiana, which means that it is tropical. It extends from approximately 4°-12° north of the equator, and this difference of about 8 degrees guarantees a difference in weather and vegetation.

Officially known as the Republic of Ghana this land provides visitors with a wealth of sights to see and experiences to savour. Ghana leaves an imprint that lingers in the hearts of those that visit it, and I am proof of that. One visit and you’ll be hooked and want to return again and again.

The country’s prime geographical location has played a significant role in shaping its development, economy, and strategic importance in the region and on the global stage.

What to see in Ghana’s Regions?

Ghana’s topography is diverse and encompasses a range of landscapes, each with its own unique characteristics. The country’s location and geological history have played a significant role in shaping these features. This diversity gives rise to a range of activities and experiences for travellers.

What to see in Northern Ghana?

The northern parts of Ghana are characterised by the high plains. Now don’t let this mislead you. Instead of soaring peaks these are plains found at a height of 197 – 984 feet (60 – 300 meters) above sea level. In fact, one of the highest points in Ghana is Mount Afadja at 2,905 feet (880 meters) which looked easy to scale but proved to be very challenging to climb. Mount Afadja is found in the South-eastern area of Ghana close to the border with Togo.

So, let’s return to the North and specifically the Mole National Park. Ghana’s largest and foremost protected area is an absolute treat for nature lovers. With a wealth of wildlife including elephants, lions, black and white Colobus Monkeys and Roan Antelopes, it is a must see for any animal fan.

There is more than just nature in Northern Ghana. A visit to the town of Sirigu will expose you to rich arts and crafts. The women of the town are responsible for beautifully painted walls, pottery and basket weaving. These are all part of the artistic heritage previously at risk of being lost, that they have successfully preserved.

When you visit Ghana you will experience a myriad of beautiful stories, just like that of the women of Sirigu that will leave an impact and inspire you to do more

What to see in Southern Ghana?

The southern part of Ghana is made up of low-lying plains, coastal areas, rainforests and elevated plateaus that offer breath-taking views of the Atlantic coastline and ocean.

Starting from the coast, Ghana’s coastal plains offer calming tropical views of sandy beaches and palm trees. Nestled along the coasts and in the plains, are pockets of mangrove forests, previously widespread but now in need of protection, that provide a much-needed home for diverse aquatic animals and birds.

As you can imagine the coastal areas are popular destinations frequented by visitors who are enticed by their beauty and the chance to engage in water activities like surfing and fishing.

The south of Ghana is home to the Volta region with its amazing landscape of rolling hills and valleys, lagoons, rivers and waterfalls. With lush farmlands surrounding the artificial lake Volta, the hilly terrain provides a picturesque backdrop for activities such as hiking. Boat rides along the river can give you a glimpse of village life near the water while mountain biking can take you along less frequented pathways. This offers you a view of Ghana most visitors are not fortunate enough to see.

With its extensive fertile plains, Ghana is one of the leading producers of cocoa, palm oil, and other agricultural products in the region.

On the other hand, during the dry season, which lasts from Mid-November to March, the Harmattan winds blow from the Sahara Desert, bringing with them dry and dusty conditions. If you wear contact lenses, you may wish to bring along a pair of glasses to avoid dealing with irritated eyes. Some moisturizer would also not go amiss, but Ghana has you covered. As the largest exporter of raw shea butter and with a well developed Shea processing sector, you can find shea butter at very competitive prices. Cocoa butter is also easily available. This is a great opportunity to do some organic cosmetic shopping!

So, getting back to the weather.

As with everything in life, there are always pros and cons to every situation.  The dry season is perfect for travelling up and down the country. It also offers opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife safaris, as the savanna becomes less dense, and wildlife becomes more visible.

The Mind, Body and Soul Tour 2024

If you have done your research, you would have seen that our Mind, Body and Soul 2024 tour is being organised in July.

“Why?”, you ask, “It falls right in the middle of the rainy season!”.

This is where I let you in on a bit of privileged insight.

In Central and Southern Ghana, heavy rains can be expected from April to the end of June. Interestingly, there is somehow, miraculously a brief respite from July to August. A minor rainy season comes back from October to the beginning of November.  How magical is that?

Important: Your tour is planned during the miracle period. We may get some rain, but the sun will soon be out again, and you will get to see Ghana all lush and beautiful. It is a beautiful time to visit Ghana. I promise you that it is amazing!

Where is Ghana on the map: Things to remember

  1. Ghana is a vibrant country in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa
  2. Ghana natural beauty includes beautiful rainforest, beaches, plateaus, waterfalls, rivers and wildlife. Many things to explore and enjoy.
  3. The Mind, Body and Soul Tour July 2024 is planned within the miraculous respite between rainy seasons. We’ve got you covered!

I want to know more about the tour

Additional Resources:

Learn more about the Mole National Park

More information about Lake Volta:

See how important the Mangroves are to Ghana and what is being done to support them in this insightful video by the World Bank

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Is Ghana Safe for Visitors? Actually, it is!

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Have you heard of Ghana as a destination and wondered how safe it is to visit?

This post answers your questions in detail, looking at different aspects of safety in this West African country and providing recommendations that will help you enjoy a wonderful African adventure securely.

Let’s get to it!

How the African Community Spirit is the basis of safety in Ghana.

Ever heard of “Ubuntu”?

It’s Ghana’s secret sauce – this African philosophy champions community bonds, unity and family as central roles in daily life. Ghanaians are all about that laid-back life and putting relationships and harmony in their social interactions.

It’s no wonder they are known for their friendliness and openness.  This philosophy of “we’re all in this together” shapes Ghanaian interactions, fostering a sense of solidarity and support among its people. 

While keeping the strong values and kind nature of Ghanaian people in mind, it is still important to use common sense while traveling the country.  As with every country, Ghana presents some safety considerations for both locals and visitors.

When exploring this West African gem, four crucial facets of safety stand out: personal safety, safety for women, water and food safety, and transportation safety. Understanding these aspects will allow travelers seeking to engage with this diverse country in a way that will provide them with an exceptional overall experience.

Personal Safety in Ghana: It’s much like the big cities in Europe or the USA

Personal safety in Ghana deserves some attention, particularly in populous cities.  

Just as travelers to London, Rome, Paris, Boston or Barcelona need to safeguard their belongings, one should do the same in crowded marketplaces and bustling urban centers in Ghana.

While Ghana ranks higher in safety compared to some of its neighboring countries, incidents of theft and pickpocketing are not uncommon, especially in high-foot-traffic areas.  Use common sense and leave expensive jewelry and watches at home.  Don’t flash your cash and keep your wallets and purses secure and close to your body.

Should I Fear for my Life in Ghana?

Ghana has strict firearms regulations and carrying firearms in public without valid permits and licenses is illegal and would see serious penalties imposed.  Likewise, travelers should not bring firearms into the country.

To give some perspective, it is easier to obtain firearms in the US than it is in Ghana.  Given the strict laws prohibiting the possession of unauthorized firearms, the likelihood of life-threatening violent situations is minimal.  

Nighttime safety in Ghana: Making the most of the pulsating nightlife!

Generally, the streets of Ghana are safe in the evenings and at night, especially in urban centers and well-populated areas. While no location is entirely free from risks, Ghana is considered comparatively safe for travelers after the sun sets. 

The country boasts a vibrant nightlife, with various entertainment options and bustling activities continuing into the evening hours.

Many areas maintain a lively atmosphere and musical beats can be heard on the beaches and the streets of the city. Africans love to dance and the people of Ghana are no exception!

Since Ghanaians are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, it contributes to a sense of security for individuals exploring the streets after dark.  

In essence, travelers should have the same safety behaviors in Ghana as they would in any big city in the US or Europe.  

Stick to common-sense precautions, such as avoiding isolated or unfamiliar places, remaining in well-lit and populated areas, and refraining from displaying valuable items openly. 

Ghana is safe for Female travelers either traveling alone or in a group, but please Respect local Culture

Ghanaian society generally holds a positive regard for women, hence women travelers can feel at ease in many situations. However, in Ghana, as in many parts of the world, women may face specific safety concerns and challenges. 

While Ghana is generally considered safe for women travelers, there are certain factors and cultural considerations to bear in mind.The main safety concerns for women in Ghana, as in various other places, is the risk of harassment or unwanted attention. In some instances, women may encounter verbal or non-verbal harassment, especially in crowded areas or public transportation. However, this behavior is not pervasive and does not reflect the majority of interactions. 

Understanding and respecting local customs and traditions, including dress codes and behavioral norms, can help women reduce the risk of unwelcome attention.

Christianity and Islam are the two dominant religions in Ghana, with Christianity being the predominant.  Keeping that in mind, modest dress is essential to show respect and understanding of local customs and norms. 

Clothing should be of lightweight material, after all Ghana has a tropical climate, and should cover shoulders, cleavage, and knees.  Tight clothing is generally inappropriate.  Loose-fitted clothing is acceptable and more comfortable for the warm environment.  

A woman may have to “kick it up a notch” in terms of modesty when visiting religious sites.  For these outings, dressing in a culturally sensitive manner by covering the legs, shoulders, arms, and in some cases the head with a scarf, is essential.  In Ghana women are generally allowed to enter mosques, but rules can vary at specific mosques.    

Again, as you would in any place you are not familiar with, use common sense when it comes to safety.  Women should avoid walking alone in poorly lit or isolated areas, especially at night.

Utilizing reputable transportation services, staying in well-known and secure accommodations, and dressing modestly and respectfully according to local customs can contribute to a safe experience.

Food and Water Safety in Ghana

Water and food safety are crucial concerns for anyone visiting Ghana. While the country boasts rich and diverse culinary traditions, travelers must prioritize consuming safe food and potable water.

Opting for reliable drinking sources, like bottled water, is advised, and selecting restaurants or vendors with good hygiene practices significantly reduces foodborne illness risks.  Basic hygiene measures such as handwashing before meals further contributes to a safer culinary experience. 

If you decide to join our Mind, Body & Soul Tour for July 2024, you will have me and my carefully vetted local travel guides on hand to ensure that you are well advised on safe places to go and things to do. Our entire role is to make sure you have an excellent experience, so please do join us!

When it comes to street food, caution should be exercised regarding meat items. In Ghana, the lack of consistent refrigeration in street food settings may pose a higher risk of meat spoilage or improper handling, potentially leading to foodborne illnesses.

To minimize these risks, it is advisable to opt for cooked vegetarian options or dishes prepared with boiling or frying methods, reducing the chances of consuming contaminated or undercooked meat. 

Bearing all this in mind, you may want to think twice about eating raw foods, fruits and vegetables without washing them in distilled water first.  Only eat salads at international restaurants or restaurants accustomed to tourists to avoid getting foodborne illnesses.

Transportation safety in Ghana: Info and Options on Getting Around!

Concerning transportation safety, navigating Ghana’s roads can be an adventure in itself!

Taxis, a popular mode of transport, vary significantly in terms of safety and reliability. While some taxi services adhere to professional standards, others might lack basic safety measures. Travelers should opt for licensed and recognized taxi services or ride-sharing apps that offer more accountability and safety features. 

In Ghana, adherence to traffic rules can vary depending on various factors, including location, time, and the density of traffic. This is all part of the relaxed Ghanaian spirit, so take it in your stride!

While efforts have been made to improve road safety and enforce traffic regulations, there are still instances where drivers may not consistently follow traffic rules. 

On top of that, challenges such as inadequate signage, road congestion, and a lack of consistent enforcement can contribute to deviations from traffic rules.

Pedestrians should exercise caution and be vigilant while navigating Ghana’s roads. As a pedestrian, you should use designated crosswalks and remain alert, as drivers may not always yield to you, especially in busy urban areas. The roads are busy so watch out!

While touring with us, you will be given the best transportation options.  We do not recommend driving and advise trusting local operators who are used to the traffic and know the routes to our destinations.

In a Nutshell: How to be safe in Ghana?

In summary, safety in Ghana presents a nuanced landscape that demands a blend of awareness, caution, and adaptability. In terms of personal safety, you need to behave as you would traveling to other unfamiliar places in the world.

So, what should you remember?

1. While instances of serious crime are relatively rare, personal safety requires vigilance against petty theft and pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas.

2. Women are generally safe to travel Ghana, but should take common sense precautions and dress appropriately so as not to draw unwanted attention. (I hear you; same story everywhere we go!)

3. Water and food safety need careful selection of sources to avoid foodborne illnesses or water-related diseases.

4. Transportation safety, whether as a passenger or pedestrian, involves being discerning about modes of travel and adhering to road safety norms.

Fall in Love Tours travel hosts for the Mind, Body & Soul Tour, July 2024, are also an additional safety net.  We are equipped to handle safety concerns of all types in a timely manner.  Myself and the Tour Guide Partner host can provide up-to-date information about safety advisories, transportation, restaurants, nightlife and more so you can have fun securely.  

Join our multi-region, diversity-packed tour where you can kick back with a drink at stunning beaches, enjoy sumptuous meals, get from one awe-inspiring sight to the next, and dance till dawn in comfort because we got you! 

We’ll take care of everything so you can truly let go and have a life-changing African experience.  After all, Ghana is a welcoming and beautiful land with much to offer!

Tell me more about the tour

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Exploring food in Ghana: What makes up the Ghanaian Cuisine?

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Traveling to Ghana is a feast for the eyes in every way – from the natural beauty that surrounds you as well as the tantalizing dishes at mealtimes!  The scent of spices and stews in the air will have your mouth watering.  Ghanaians source their proteins from the land and sea and add to it a diverse range of vegetables and grains.  

The traditional dishes offer a range of spicy, savory, sour and sweet flavors combined with soft, chewy and sometimes crunchy textures.  The combinations of ingredients delight anyone venturing to try out this cuisine.

Tasting local food gives travelers a multi-sensory experience.  Through your eyes, you see the colors, shapes, & size.  Through your nose, you smell the spices and the marriage of flavors coming together.  Through your skin, you feel the heat from the pepper or perhaps the kitchen or the street side market stoves.  

Since traditional foods are eaten with your hands, the tactile sensation enhances the experience further, especially when eating fufu, banku or jollof rice.  Not a fan of eating with your fingers?  Don’t worry, both local and modern restaurants have forks, spoons and knives, too!  

Do you know what fufu, banku, or jollof rice are?  

Read on and get a well-rounded understanding of ingredients, cooking methods and names of dishes, so not only will you be well-armed with knowledge, but your taste buds may actually direct your fingers to book a trip to Ghana! 

What types of meat and fish proteins are present in traditional food in Ghana?

Beef, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, smoked turkey and fish are the typical animal proteins.  Among the fish, tilapia is plentiful along with local herring and anchovy.  And let’s not forget about octopus and prawns in the seafood category.  While fish is the most abundant animal protein, chicken is the most popular.

Were you expecting the Ghanaian diet to be a bit more…exotic? 

Look no further, because for those with an adventurous palate, there are game meats (e.g. Antelope), reptiles (e.g. monitor lizard or snake.).

If you are quite daring, you may want to try snails, crickets, African palm weevil and other insects, which are eaten in specific regions of the country. 

Although most restaurants will serve the types of meats and fish that we are accustomed to, moving away from the capital and into the countryside may give you the opportunity to try bush meat. We would advise you to be cautious, and though you are adventurous, to keep in mind that there are high risks involved in consuming these sources of protein. These risks are health based, as such meats may lead to the transmission of infectious and deadly diseases and in certain areas some of the meat may come from animals that have been poisoned.

What vegetables, fruits, grains & spices are used in Traditional Ghanaian Cuisine?

Basmati & jasmine rice as well as cassava, yam, and corn are the country’s main starches.  Black eyed peas are present in many dishes and offer starchiness and a decent load of protein and fiber to make it a healthy staple of the Ghanaian diet. 

Aromatics like onion, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and peppercorn are used to add flavor. Bay leaves, allspice, curry and thyme add depth to the recipes. Tomato is used heavily for color, acidity, and water content to round out stews, mains, and sides.

Other vegetables included in the diet are eggplant, garden eggs (varieties of small eggplant with different colored whitish or yellowish skin), okra, peas and cocoyam and cocoyam leaves. Cocoyam, better known as taro in the US, is a type of tuber or root. Jute mallow leaves and young fruit are also used in some traditional dishes, providing a good dose of fiber and vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

Bananas and plantain are often fried and served with a meal. If you have not tried fried plantains or bananas, you are missing out! When done right, it is soft, sweet, and tender on the inside and crip and caramelized on the outside!  Papaya, pineapple and mango are eaten as dessert, while peanuts are a common snack. Peanuts are also prepared into soup or a dessert.

On that note: People with peanut allergies should advise restaurants and hotels. They are used quite extensively when preparing food in Ghana

An education on yams: A staple traditional food in Ghana

Now comes the low-down on yams that you definitely need to have!

You know how we use the words yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably in the US? We´re wrong! They are two different things, my friend.

A sweet potato is orange, sweet and soft when cooked. The one we put in sweet potato pie. Yams are something else!

I know, I thought the same way until I traveled to Africa!

Yams have tough brown skin, and pale-yellow insides. The texture is drier and more fibrous than that of a sweet potato.  Most would say that yams are very mildly sweet to not sweet at all. The flavor and texture remind you of a white potato but with a little stronger flavor.

Yams and sweet potatoes originate in completely distinct parts of the world, too! Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes are native to South America.

And since yams are a staple of Ghana, trust me, they know how to cook it right and make it delicious! You won’t miss the orange stuff!

What are the Most Popular and “Must Try” Dishes in Ghana?

Ghanaian cuisine includes many dishes, both sweet and savory, that will be enjoyed by a more Western palate. Here I have categorized them according to the time of day they are eaten.

First up: A Ghanaian Breakfast- the “most important meal of the day!”

Ghanaian urbanites may opt for a “modern” breakfast of coffee or tea with bread as they head out the door, but folks out in the country and manual workers, needing a more “stick to your ribs” kind of breakfast lean toward the traditional fare of Waakye, Oblayo, Hausa Koko with Koose, or Bofrot and yogurt, the poor man’s breakfast.

Oblayo (Hominy Corn Porridge) is a traditional Ghanaian dish made from using dried corn kernels that have been soaked in water and cooked into a porridge-like consistency. Oblayo is typically flavored with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger, and sweetened with sugar or sweeteners like condensed milk to enhance its taste.Waakye, pronounced “waachey” is a hearty, savory dish made with rice and black-eyed peas or red beans. This rice-bean mixture is the heart of waakey, but these days it is often accompanied by spaghetti, salad, meat and/or fish, egg and shito, the famous spicy sauce eaten at many or all meals. 

Sometimes “garri” is added to the morning plate of goodies for extra texture.  Garri is a grated, slightly fermented and roasted cassava side dish.  The final taste and texture being crispy, slightly sour granules of delight.

Bofrot (Puff Puff), is a deep-fried doughnut-like pastry with a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, fluffy interior, often enjoyed as the first meal of the day or a sweet treat at any other time.

Hausa Koko is a spicy millet porridge, paired with Koose, a bean cake or fritter, usually served together in the morning.

Koko with Koose (Cornmeal porridge and bean cake/bread): Koose, or bean fritters, are deep-fried bean cakes often enjoyed with Koko, a spicy cornmeal porridge, as a breakfast or snack.

Rice Water is a rice porridge often sweetened with milk, cinnamon and sugar.  Sometimes it is eaten simply with a little salt.

Tom Brown, a smooth, creamy porridge, is made from a blend of roasted corn, millet, and groundnuts (peanuts) and cooked with water or milk. The grains are toasted and ground into a fine powder before cooking.  It is sweetened with sugar or honey and with spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.

Any of these will give you a tasty start to the day, and as you have seen, some serve as a delicious “pick-me-up” during a day exploring this amazing country.

Next Up: What can you expect at Lunch and Dinner meals in Ghana?  Main Dishes!

After all that sightseeing and hiking, you’ve surely worked up an appetite!

Before getting into the dishes, you need to know that cassava or yam, in some form, are often served in a soup or stew.  Sometimes they are served on the side, where you tear off pieces and dip it into your soup or stew. At other times, they are eaten with cocoyam leaves and shito, which is the famous chili sauce known to be in every restaurant and household in Ghana. 

The meats, if added, are cooked/steamed separately and then added to the soups and sometimes dried fish or meats are added to soups and stews during the cooking process to add flavor from the get-go.  Either way, the flavors come together to dance on the palate and bring you nothing but joy!

A few traditional dishes go through a fermentation process, which gives the final product a bit of a sour taste.  Most countries around the world have some sort of fermented food as part of their tradition and the fermentation process mentioned here adds important probiotics to the Ghanaian diet!

7 delicious dishes in Ghanaian Cuisine to get you started on your culinary journey! 

  1. Fufu: A staple in Ghanaian cuisine, Fufu is a dough-like dish made from pounded cassava, yams, or plantains, often combined with cocoyam. It’s typically served with aromatic soups or stews and is enjoyed for its smooth texture and its ability to soak up flavorful sauces. In the photograph above, Fufu is the ball of dough-like substance you see. It is often wrapped in cling film to keep it moist and fresh. 

  1. Jollof Rice: A vibrant and popular dish across West Africa, Jollof Rice is a one-pot dish made with rice, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices such as thyme and curry. It’s known for its rich reddish-orange color and savory flavor, often accompanied by meats or vegetables.
  2. Ghanaian Red Red: A delightful dish featuring fried ripe plantains served with a savory bean stew. The plantains are fried to golden perfection and paired with a flavorful bean sauce, usually cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices, offering a sweet and savory combination.
  3. Kelewele: A beloved Ghanaian street food, Kelewele consists of spicy, cubed plantains seasoned with a blend of ginger, pepper, and spices, then deep-fried until crispy on the outside and soft inside, creating a delicious sweet and spicy flavor.
  4. Kenkey: A fermented cornmeal dish wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed, Kenkey has a sour taste and a dense, dough-like texture. It is often enjoyed with soups, stews, or fish.
  5. Banku with Tilapia: A traditional dish combining fermented corn and cassava dough, Banku is commonly served with grilled or fried tilapia fish. The dish offers a unique blend of flavors and textures, complemented by the spicy and tangy taste of fish.

  1. Shito (Hot Pepper Sauce): A spicy and aromatic black pepper sauce made from a blend of hot peppers, fish, shrimp, onions, and spices, adding a fiery kick to various dishes.

Wrapping up your introduction to traditional Ghanaian dishes

You should now have a good overview of the food in Ghana. What would you like to try first?

On the Mind, Body and Soul Tour in July 2024, I have planned an itinerary that gives you the opportunity to try some of the Ghanaian Cuisine safely.  Having visited Ghana several times, I worked with our tour guide host and partner to curate a list of the best places to eat and we’re looking forward to welcoming you and seeing the look on your face when you first try some of the local dishes!


Would you like to know more?

Additional resources:

Learn more about yams and how to cook them

Become more informed about bushmeat consumption in Ghana: Take a peek at some of the top restaurants in the capital Accra:

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