by Akinyi Ochieng
Ghana’s tourism sector is woefully underdeveloped. As home to some of Africa’s greatest empires, the country’s history and culture have been beautifully preserved, albeit poorly understood by the outside world. From its beautiful wildlife to rich, unique cultural traditions from kente to batakari to the castles and forts that dot its shoreline, Ghana should be one of the world’s top international tourist destinations. But there’s something to be said for domestic tourism too.
To many people, the big city is the be-all, end-all.
I get it. It’s a mentality I understand myself as a former self-described “city girl.” But it was Ghana’s beautiful, under-explored retreats just a few hours outside the city that changed my mind—and I hope will change yours too.
Here are three gorgeous weekend escapes from Accra that every person should make:
The majestic Akwapim mountain range begins about forty-fives minutes outside of Accra, in Ghana’s Eastern Region. Aburi has breathtaking views of the lush, green mountains, which are often shrouded by fog in the early morning. The cool weather and quiet make it one of the most serene locations in southern Ghana. The Aburi Botanicial Gardens and Aburi Craft Village are also well worth the visit. Check out nearby Ashesi University, one of Africa’s first liberal arts universities if you’re looking to feel inspired. Founder Patrick Awuah was recently named a MacArthur Genius Fellow.
About 120 km east of Accra, Ada might be off the beaten track of most guidebooks, but it is well worth the visit. The town is easily reachable by tro-tro from Accra (hop on one of the regularly moving vans leaving from Tudu Station). At about $5 each way, it’s a bargain for such beauty. Situated right where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean, stunning wetlands dot Ada’s coast. The area is a noted birdwatchers’ paradise, but there are plenty of activities for water sport lovers at the local Aqua Safari Resort. Visit Rum Island to sample some akpeteshie, locally distilled spirits. Buyer beware—it’s strong!
Sitting near the village of Dzita is the eco-tourist lodge Meet Me There. Built using locally sourced materials, the lodge has a serious eco-friendly vision from the compost toilets to the organic garden where many of the ingredients for its delicious dishes are sourced. Enjoy a walk by the beach or take a swim the saltwater lagoon. Located in a quiet area, the sound of the waves will lull you to sleep as you take a nap on the veranda under the coconut trees. If you’re looking for nearby activities, you can check out Fort Prinenstein, a former slave fort or take a boat trip down the Volta. Profits benefit the lodge’s sister NGO, Dream Big Africa that focuses on sanitation, education, youth empowerment and health. Learn more here.
About the author: Akinyi Ochieng is a writer and researcher of Gambian and Kenyan origin who studies the culture and politics of emerging markets. She is the Executive Editor of Ayiba Magazine, an online hub for African’s innovators, creative, and entrepreneurs. You can follow her on Twitter @kikiochieng and her blog.