My mom and I just returned from a short trip Ghana to visit our sponsor children. We used the Bradt guide of Ghana to show us around and it was really REALLY helpfull! It was packed with reliable information, the maps were incredibly useful and we used it almost every day. Because of this I would like to submit an update with our travel experience.
We stayed at the Somewhere Nice hostel. They told us they had a taxi pick up arranged from the airport but unfortunately, this was not the case. The driver forgot to pick us up. When we arrived at the hostel, the light in our bathroom was not working. The staff wanted to fix the light but the other lightbulb did not work as well. They felt really bad but we did not really mind. In our three day stay, the light did not work and we had some water shortages so showering was a bit difficult at times anyway.
In your guidebook it was told that they did not serve food at the time, this has changed. Everybody gets breakfast when you stay there. You get as many pancakes as you like, some fruit and avocado, coffee, tea, some eggs and toast.
Sometimes they have free dinners as well. When we were there, they served Red-Red with fried plantain and it was absolutely delicious.
Most of the taxi drivers don’t know where Somewhere Nice is. Just tell them to go to Nima circle (a roundabout) and then use the map in the Bradt guide to guide the driver to Somewhere Nice. It’s really easy and the drivers don’t mind you helping them. In fact, they found it fascinating (and a bit weird) that we could read the maps. Also, if you don’t mind walking a bit, you can tell the drivers to drop you off at Hotel Paloma, they all know that. Again with the amazingly accurate map from Bradt, you will get there.
Be aware though, Somewhere Nice is situated in the Muslim area. That means you will wake up from the call to prayer each morning. It takes about 45 minutes before it’s quiet again. For us, this was not a problem but I can understand when people want some peace and quiet when they sleep.
For our last nights in Accra we stayed at the Green Oak Hotel in Osu (Lokko Rd). Definitely a recommendation. If it was bigger I would say it was a business hotel but it was small and the people were amazing. We paid $105,- per night, there was a restaurant on sight and again the service in this hotel was amazing. Nothing was too much. They have free airport pick-up en drop-offs, they store the luggage on your last day and you can still use the restaurant on sight because you can pay here in cash. The food was delicious and freshly prepared, they have western food such as pasta and cheeseburgers but they also serve Ghanaian food (again the Red-Red, awesome!). Every morning you can choose between three different kinds of breakfast. You can eat in your hotelroom or at the restaurant. If you want to eat something, just call the restaurant or the reception and you will be taken care of. You can ask for a hot water kettle to use on your room.
One downside, you hear the airplanes and the generator can be loud. That being said, it was more quiet than Somewhere Nice and I can really recommend Green Oak Hotel. Also because Oxford Street is close by and the rest of the sightings are just a short taxi drive away.
The Green Oak Hotel was supposed to be close to the AACD African Market. Prices here should be fixed so we wanted to go there to see how much we should pay for souvenirs. After searching for some time (two hours, including a wonderfull taxidriver who helped us out a lot that day) we found out that the AACD has moved. According to the locals it should be close to the airport but we haven’t found it.
Kumasi: We stayed at the Four Villages Inn, as recommended by Bradt. I can only say that I completely agree! What a lovely place and such wonderfull people! The owners were out of town because of a funeral so they didn’t have a cook for dinner. But they recommended several places like the View and Piri Piri so we still had very good food. And breakfast, amazing! It was the best breakfast I had in Ghana, especially because they served fresh fruit every morning.
They have a dog at Four Villages Inn, his name is Buddy and when the guard is not on duty, he lies in the entrance and takes over the job. It was such a sweet dog!
If you need to exchange money, you can to this at the Cristal Rose Hotel next door. It’s run by Chinese people. Check with Four Villages Inn what the exchange rate should be and you’ll be fine. We exchanged twice there and we got good rates and a quick service.
The taxidriver used by the Four Villages Inn doesn’t speak English very well. You can hold up a very simple conversation with him but he doesn’t understand more difficult questions. We asked to be taken to the taxipark so that we could use an aircontioned van to drive to Cape Coast. We specified the vans by name (Ford, Stanbic or Yukon) and he said he understood. He didn’t. Before we knew he had bargained us a price and our luggage was loaded in a van. A trotro with AC. Although it was a wonderfull experience to go in a trotro, I wouldn’t recommend it for longer drives. It is cramped and you can sit in only one position. The people however were very nice and helped us wherever they could.
The trotros to Cape Coast can go to Takoradi, they just stop at Cape Coast. If you want to get out at Cape Coast just ask a local on the trotro or ask before you embark. Tell the driver where you need to get off and there is always a taxi ready when you’re offloaded.
Cape Coast: We stayed at the Kokodo Hotel. At first, this was not very good. They didn’t have our reservation (even though we had confirmed our booking), we were put in a room, after an hour they came and said that the room was given to someone else so we had to move. The second room didn’t have electricity so we had to move again. The last room had a bed which was only 1.90 metres long (I am 1.84 tall so I didn’t fit) with a footboard so I couldn’t lay in bed properly. In the evening, our food was way overcooked. The steak tasted like a leather shoe, that’s how far it was baked. The second day was way better. The food was good (loved the spicy chicken wings) and we had a hot shower. We had a waitress, she was amazing. My mom was sick and just wanted some fruitsalade but they were out. So they went and got my mom some fruit because they felt that my mom needed to eat. It was so sweet of them! And the waitress helped us by learning us how to play Oware, a very well known game in Ghana (and a great souvenir).
The driver used by the Kokodo hotel is an amazing guy. He is not available in the early morning because he drives children to school but after 08.30 he can help you. He was one of the few drivers who actually knew where he needed to go, his English was very good AND he knew what we were talking about when we asked to be taken to the Ford station. Best taxidriver we have had in Ghana, he goes by the name Pappa and his number is +233 24 355 1425. If you need a driver in Cape Coast, this is your guy.
When we were in Cape Coast, we decided to have lunch at Baobab, this was really delicious. I wouldn’t stay there overnight though. The showers and toilets are outside, you share them with the staff. If you don’t mind getting wet from the rain while using the toilet, this shouldn’t be a problem. The toilets I saw were relatively clean. Also, sleeping is upstairs and the toilet facilities downstairs so at night this could possibly be problematic. It’s also a busy neighbourhood so you will wake up really early.
To travel from Cape Coast to Accra, we can really recommend the Ford Vans. Easy to do and really comfortable ride.
Early morning calls: Even in the south, there are a lot more Muslim communities than one would think, and travellers should be aware that you will often hear the early calls to prayer from your hotel.
Dress: A lot of people in Ghana are a bit conservative. Most women wear dresses or skirts. When you, as obruni, did this as well, people seemed to appreciate this. They were more open and showed a bit more respect. For example, when you say no to a guy who wants your phonenumber, they take this more serious when you dress a bit more conservative. And as a female, they will ask for phonenumbers. Or hotelrooms. Or emailaddresses.
Transport: When you want to use an airconditioned van, just ask to go to the taxipark. You will find it yourself and then you have control over where you are going. With us, our luggage was already put in a trotro by our taxidriver (they unscrewed a bench to put away my mom’s suitcase, so kind of them, how could we say no?) and we didn’t have a choice anymore.
When you get out of a bus or a van, taxi drivers will swarm you. They will try to take your luggage even though they don’t know yet where you want to go. From Accra to Kumasi, we had to almost fight to get my mom’s suitcase back. Luckily for us, the other drivers thought the one driver was in the wrong as well and as we yelled at him, they yelled with us. Back in Accra again, we had negotiated a price which was already over the top but my mom was sick so we wanted to go as quickly as we could to the hotel. In the taxi the driver called with the hotel (I called first, so I knew he had to take me there) for directions and suddenly charged us more, he said it was too far to drive. He knew the area because I had said it was in Osu and that it was close to Oxford street (which he knew). We wanted to get out but couldn’t since we were on a very busy road. The driver got really angry and practically tried to kill us with fear with the way he was driving. We asked later on how much the drive should have cost us (maybe we were in the wrong). He charged us three times as much as it should have been. This however, was the only time someone was THAT rude and scary. Most of the time people are very kind and are willing to help, even the taxi drivers.
Short version: Watch your luggage when you get off public transportation and look for a reliable taxi driver.
I hope this has been of some use. In any case, the Bradt guide to Ghana was the best guide I have ever used! I hope to use more of the Bradt guides since they are awesome.