Ghana offers an abundance of traveller hot-spots, including the rain forests of Cape Coast, the almighty Lake Volta and the elephant watering-holes of Mole National Park. Ghanaians also share a love for sport that surpasses most other nations.
Ghana is a rich and beautiful country, packed with culture, history and authentic African tradition. Like many people who visit Ghana, you will soon fall in love with the laid-back attitude towards life and the variety of fantastic restaurants, ‘highlife’ bars and African music. However, most of all, you will fall in love with the warmth and charm of the locals.
- Lake Volta is the world’s largest man-made lake
- It’s not rude to pick your nose in public!
- A tro-tro is a local Ghanaian minibus used by locals and tourists
- Swimming under the Wli Waterfalls – the highest in Africa
- Kakum National Park canopy walk – enjoy the forest on another level
- Elmina Salve Castle – a fascinating insight into the African slave trade
- Admiring the sunrise at Mole National Park – Ghana’s leading game reserve
- Watching Hearts of Oak play football – expect lots of drumming and dancing!
Where is Ghana?
The Republic of Ghana lies on the Gulf of Guinea, on the western coast of tropical West Africa and is similar in size to Great Britain. Burkina Faso borders it to the north, with Togo to the east and the Ivory Coast to the west. The southern coastal boundary opens onto the Atlantic Ocean.
Language in Ghana
Over 60 languages are spoken throughout the country, the most common tribal languages being Twi, Ewe and Ga, although English is the official language and taught in schools. You will quickly pick up the local dialects and slang, so there is no need to worry about communicating with the locals. Ghanaians also love to speak in proverbs, the use of which is taken to be a sign of wisdom. Although proverbs are short, and sometimes funny, proverbs teach the ethical rules of the community.
Music in Ghana
Ghana is known as a country for festivals, music and traditional dances. The loud sounds of ‘highlife’ can be heard blasting from speakers on almost every corner and Ghanaians will hardly ever refuse an opportunity to party. There are many bars, restaurants and clubs that can be visited to sample the authentic African sounds where live music and dancing take place. In many of the markets, you will often see handcrafted wooden drums, bongos and other musical instruments.
Food in Ghana
You will have ample opportunity to discover the tastes of Ghana, especially at local ‘Chop Bars’. In these family-run places, food and drink is cheap and the food served can be varied and tasty. You should also sample Fufu (fermented cassava), Banku and Kenke which are often accompanied by a sauce or relish. Dishes such as ‘red’, plantain and groundnut soup are a favourite among travellers.
The People of Ghana
The people of Ghana are renowned for being very warm, welcoming and friendly. Typically, Ghanaians come from six main ethnic groups: the Akan (Ashanti and Fanti), the Ewe, the Ga-Adangbe, the Mole-Dagbani, the Guan and the Gurma. You will most commonly come across the Ashanti, Ewe and Fanti tribes.
Ashanti: the largest tribe in Ghana and you will be regularly greeted by their smiles and hospitality. Today, they are most famous for their craft work and, in particular, their woodcarving and kente cloth making.
Ewe: Based mainly in the south-eastern region of Ghana, many Ewe are farmers who keep livestock and specialise in crafts. If you travel east towards Togo you will certainly come across this group of people.
Fanti: A tribe mainly located in the coastal areas of Ghana where fishing is an important trade. You will often come across small fishing towns whilst exploring the coastline where a number of sites may interest you including the famous Elmina slave castle or simply sipping a cool drink on one of Ghana’s golden beaches.
Religion in Ghana
60% Christian, 15% Muslim and 25% indigenous beliefs. Anyone visiting Ghana will be overwhelmed at the deep faith of many of its people. You will often see company names such as ‘Jesus Loves You Hairdressers’ or the ‘God Bless You Tyre Centre’ around the capital city. It is also likely that you will be invited to an early morning church service by the friendly locals – an invite well worth accepting. The early morning call to Mosque is also a familiar sound that can be heard at the crack of dawn.
Art and Craft in Ghana
There are many specialised crafts, from weaving to ceramics to woodcarving. Kente cloth is very common in the south and is of a very high quality; hence it is usually only worn during festivals and other formal occasions. Wood carving is also an area practised by many Ghanaians and in itself is divided into different branches, each with its own specialists. It is a common sight to see sculptures and carvings of outstanding artistic quality laid out by the side of the road so that passing tourists can purchase them. You will most certainly want to buy gifts for friends and family and such items will be easy to get hold of. However, you should remember that it is standard practise never to accept the first price presented to you. Therefore, you will have to get used to bartering and ‘knocking down’ the price of pretty much everything, and this does not only apply to art and craft items!
Travelling in Ghana
During your stay, you’ll have plenty of time to meet both locals and other travellers. There are countless places to visit. You could take a Sunday pleasure-cruise on the biggest man-made lake in the world, Lake Volta. Or you might want to visit the slave castles of Cape Coast and Elmina. Or take a walk on the wild side with the elephants and hippos in one of Ghana’s National Parks. How about a stroll in the 30-metre high rainforest canopy at the Kakum National Park? Accra, the capital, is worth visiting and full of great places to explore. There are also a few western-style bars and restaurants if you’re craving a pizza after a few weeks of only eating Ghanaian food! You’ll also get the opportunity to enjoy many of the bars and restaurants that provide authentic African live music and dancing. And if you get time, head down to the National Stadium to watch Hearts of Oak play football where you will be able to sing, dance and drum along with the locals.
Sport in Ghana
Ghana has regularly competed in the African Cup of Nations and FIFA World Cups, confirming football as the nation’s most popular sport. Ghana is therefore the perfect place to coach football at the grassroots level. The young football players are extremely keen to learn sports skills from you. However, sport in Ghana is not all about football. Boxing and basketball also enjoy huge success in Ghana alongside a number of newer sports such as rugby, netball and tennis. By embracing Ghana sports, and providing access to more sports for children, especially in deprived schools and communities, your contribution to sports in Ghana can make a real sporting difference to the future of Ghana’s youngsters. So get involved!
Volunteering in Ghana
Working as a volunteer in Ghana is a fantastic way to explore this enchanting country while volunteering your services to children and local institutions. Working with other volunteers in Ghana also gives you the chance to volunteer with other like-minded people and share your passion for sports with children. Volunteering in Ghana as a volunteer sports coach will, no doubt, be a life-changing volunteer experience for you. And one that you’ll never forget.
Gap Year and Career Break Travel in Ghana
A gap year or career break in Ghana is one of the best experiences you can have in Africa. A gap year or career break in Ghana will let you combine volunteering through a sports coaching and playing project with exciting travel opportunities. You will also meet plenty of other sporty people in Ghana.