August 2014 trip report

Stefanie O’Bryen writes:

I have been travelling in Ghana with my 17 year old son during August and wanted to share the following points:

1. Currency – I brought some cash dollars but found that the exchange rate was less favourable than it would have been for pounds sterling. You do get a higher rate for larger value notes ($50 and above).

2. Busua – we stayed for 5 nights at African Rainbow Resort, which was really nice, though very quiet due to the time of year. My son took surfing and drumming lessons at Black Star Surf Shop. We therefore had a large bill to pay at the end and the hotel visa machine was not working. We were told that the ATM in the nearest town was also not working (although it probably was – max withdrawal 200 cedis) so had to rely on dollars to settle up. Both hotel and Surf Shop agreed to take dollars, and the hotel gave a reasonable exchange rate (3.7 cedis to the dollar) the Surf Shop had no idea about exchange rates and we ended up at 3.5. However the uncertainty about this was stressful and it would have been difficult to withdraw enough money from the ATM without several journeys. In Accra the maximum amount that can be withdrawn is 800 cedis so it may be necessary to stock up if you are going somewhere like Busua for several days.

3. We took internal flights to and from Kumasi. Antrak Air and Starbow were both reliable but you cannot pay for flights booked online. This was awkward as we were not due in the place we were leaving from until the day of the flight, but in both cases the airline were happy to take cash payment on the day of travel. The website Book Internal Flights Ghana appears to offer a paypal option but I didn’t try it. The flights weren’t full either way and you could have bought a ticket at the last minute.

4. We took a tour with Ashanti African Tours, which was thoroughly recommended as we saw much more than we could have done arranging our own transport. However, their emails are hacked into sometimes and I was given Western Union payment details instead of the correct bank details by a hacker so be careful!

5. It is suggested that only visa cards are useful in Ghana but Mole Motel said it took only mastercard (though I didn’t actully test whether they took them in practice).

6. We particularly enjoyed visiting the Weichau Hippo Sanctuary although we didn’t see the hippos because in the rainy season they stay out of the main river. We did have a really interesting tour of the local village, and saw a dancing display in the evening – the villagers obviously really enjoyed putting this on and their enthusiasm made it fun for us as spectators. The next day we met the local chief in his palace and had a very interesting discussion about his recent visit to Canada and about local matters.

7. We did spend a lot of time travelling on bumpy roads, with rumble strips in all the villages, but there was a lot to look at out of the windows as we went. All in all we had a great time and I would recommend Ghana as a holiday destination provided you remain flexible!

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