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Ghana may not be as well known as its neighbouring African countries, but tourists should think twice about bypassing this stunning country. Driving along the miles of pristine coastline and taking in the beautiful beaches such as Busua and Dixcove is enough to sell a holiday. Add to this the impressive ruined fort of Cape Coast Castle, lively fishing villages and wildlife spotting opportunities, and you have the makings of an ideal holiday destination.
Recent improvements mean the southern roads are in decent condition; however, the northern roads are best navigated with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Cars with foreign licence plates are not allowed on the roads between 18:00 and 06:00, so renting a Ghana-registered car is preferable.
Driving licences: UK licences are not valid here. Only an International Driving Permit will be accepted here when renting a vehicle.
Which side does Ghana drive on: the right
Rural areas: 49mph (80kph)
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.08 per cent; in line with the UK limit of 0.08 per cent. Fines are in place for anyone found driving over the limit.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: compulsory for all passengers. Children under the age of five must sit in the back. Although booster seats are not compulsory, they can be hired and are recommended for children under the age of 12.
Mobile phones and GPS: using a mobile phone when driving is prohibited. This recently introduced law is strictly enforced and police can impose on-the-spot fines for anyone found breaking it.
Cost of fuel in Ghana: just over half the price of the standard UK rate.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit card payment is accepted at some petrol stations, but not all, so having cash to hand is recommended. Paying for car rental with a credit card is standard practice.
Insurance: third-party insurance is usually included, but renters should always double-check this and take out additional cover if needed.
Traffic and parking: driving can be difficult in the rainy season, as flooding can cause traffic congestion and rerouting. During the rest of the year, traffic does not present a problem outside of the cities and parking is easy to find.
There are currently no international rail services into the country. However, there are domestic rail services between Accra and Nsawam and Tema with fares of around £5. Both services run at least twice a day on weekdays, with one or two weekend services. The rest of the railway system is being renovated, with new routes scheduled to open.
Taxis are prevalent and easy to spot. Fares should be agreed upon before setting off, and haggling is expected. Short routes should cost around £0.30, while longer trips from city to city will cost more. Depending on prices, most drivers are happy to take on journeys of up to around an hour, but for longer trips, a rental car or public bus is best.
The State Transport Corporation (STC) runs services into Ghana from surrounding countries, with fares costing around £20. The buses are air-conditioned and comfortable. STC is the major domestic coach company. It offers the most efficient service, although timetables aren’t strictly adhered to. Service runs to and from all major cities, with a number of services each week. Buying tickets, which typically cost between £5 and £10, in advance of travel is recommended.
All international flights from London, land in Kotoka International Airport in Accra. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly daily from London-Heathrow. Flights cost between £500 and £600, depending on the season. Domestic flights between Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi and Tamale are scheduled weekly, with Antrak Air having the most services and often the cheapest deals. Citylink is another local airline with a number of services from the capital to the nation’s big cities. Taxis run passengers from the airport to the city, with fares regulated.
Accra is the capital and by far the largest city in the country. Here, tourists can enjoy a few cold beers and recover from their flight before setting off to explore Ghana at large.
Cape Coast in the Central Region is where tourists will find Cape Coast Castle, which has been listed by UNESCO World Heritage. Originally a slave fort, it now stands as a museum of Africa’s slave history.
Nearby Elmina, also in the Central Region, is another coastal town brimming with historical buildings left over from the slave trade. Although a visit to this one-time slave trading post can be harrowing, it is a must to help visitors understand this crucial slice of the nation’s history.
Tamale is the largest northern city and is the gateway to Mole National Park. Here, buffalo and antelope wander the savannas, along with lions and elephants. Visitors can either take a day safari or even spend a night in the park under the stars.
In contrast, Kakum National Park, just under 20 miles from Cape Coast, is a lush, green rainforest park with a huge canopy that is home to a number of birds and other wildlife.
For those wanting to get back to nature, the Eco Village in Sognaayilli offers the chance to spend time with the local people of the north and experience real village life.
With a tropical climate, Ghana is hot and humid all year round with seasonal rains. The coastal region sees rain from April to June and again from September to October, while the north sees slightly less humidity than the coast. Across the country temperatures hover around the 30ºC mark, dropping by a few degrees during the drier months and peaking at 35ºC during the rainy seasons.