Travelling to Ghana

Language

English is the official language and also the most used language for all kinds of communication in Ghana. English speakers will do just fine anywhere in the country! Ghanaians usually speak English quite fluently, but with some particularities according to each region.
 

Climate

Ghana stretches from the Atlantic coastline in the south towards the fringes of the Sahara desert in the north. Not surprisingly, it presents diverse climate areas and most of all a big difference between north and south. In Ghana there is a wet and a dry season.

Northern Ghana has its rainy season from March to November while in the south, including the capital Accra, has the rainy season from April to Mid-November. On the rest of the year, it is relatively dry.

The coastal area is hot and humid practically all year round, with temperatures around 30°C on most days. From February to May it gets even a bit hotter, and even nights are very warm easily  reaching 26°C on average.
 

Cuisine

We can’t say there is a specific national food or delicacy. Ghanaian cuisine is mainly about vegetables mixed with rice, small portions of fish or meat and some condiments. You’ll have the chance to taste some new ingredients that you’ve only heard about like yam, plantain, cassava, groundnuts, palm nut, okra, banku, gari, kelewele and list goes on… There are thousands of possible combinations to do with these ingredients and they are all different on each restaurant.

Although, a few dishes are quite common to serve in most restaurants like the Fufu, Banku or Omo. These dishes are eaten with your right hand (note that Ghanaians eat only with their right hands) by dipping the dough into the soup or cream.
These Ghanaian meals or even lobster and shrimp dinner in a restaurant can cost between €2 or €3!
 

Time

Local time is GMT/UTC (the same time as UK and Portugal)
 

Electricity

Ghana uses 220V power, so if you are bringing any electronic devices, you may need to purchase a “step down” transformer that can be purchased locally for about $10-12USD; and a plug in adapter will cost about $1USD.

Occasional power outages still may occur but they are getting less frequent and many places have back-up generators. Anyway, you may want to consider using a surge protector.
 

Health

The only vaccination required upon entering Ghana is for Yellow Fever. All the others are optional and may depend on how long you intend to stay, and whether you plan to stray in the cities or in the forest. So, talk to your doctor before you go. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Ghana.

It is strongly recommended to request vaccinations against Hepatitis A & B, Cholera and Typhoid fever if you’re planning to go beyond the city areas.

And of course, don’t forget Malaria and take the necessary precautions! Just like most African countries south of the Sahara, Malaria is prevalent in the country. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a mosquito net.
 

Safety

Ghana has always been a stable and peaceful country. Nothing compared with its neighbouring countries.
 

Money

ATMs are relatively easy to find in main towns and will accept most cards. Credit cards are also accepted at major hotels, guest houses, restaurants and some shops. However, Mastercard and Maestro are only accepted at Stanbic.
Local currency is the Ghana Cedi, which you should always have some in your pockets to purchase random products. Although, Dollars, UK pounds and Euros are generally accepted. Avoid using credit cards. Unfortunately, credit card fraud is common, so you should take care when using your cards, and contact your card issuer before you go in order to put a limit on your account.
Not all Travellers’ cheques can be exchanged in hotels, banks and bureaux de change and only a maximum of US$250 per transaction is allowed. Please check with your bank before you travel.
 

Entry requirements - Visas

Visas are required by everyone except Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) nationals.
It's technically possible to pick up a visa upon arrival but it's thus best to play it safe and get a visa in advance.  A three month single-entry visa costs US$60/£50 and multiple entry six-month visas costs US$100/£70).
If you’re planning to stay longer, no problem… you can get a visa extension at the immigration office in Accra near the Sankara Interchange.
Yellow fever and Malaria vaccination certificate is mandatory to be presented to customs when entering.
 

How to get there

By plane
All International flights to Ghana land in Kotoka International airport at Accra. Actually, the only practical way to travel quickly to Ghana is by air. There are plenty international flight companies flying to Ghana, especially from Europe. Have a look here all the flight companies flying to Ghana. A normal flight from London may take 6 hours 30 minutes and from New York around 10 hours.
Avoid flying to Ghana only with a one-way ticket because you may find some problems with airport immigration officials if you don’t have a return ticket. Also, when you decide to return home, you'll find that flights out of Accra are very expensive, so you’ll almost certainly end up paying twice as much for a cheap return.
 
By train
No international rail connections exist!

By car
It’s an option… You can use all crossing borders with Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Togo but prepare yourself for some bureaucracy, especially if you’re coming from Ivory Coast. The Ivorian guards seem much more keen on applying the rules. Just make sure you have your car papers and insurance in order and you’ll have no problems.
Main roads are normally in a good condition but some secundary roads are potholed or of the dirt and gravel kind and sometimes impassable during the rain season. Traffic drives on the right and a an international driving permit is needed.
 
By bus
This is also an option but most of all an adventure as it may take a couple of days, you may need to change buses a few times, cross the border by foot, sleep in some road town…
There are buses from the neighboring countries and from Lagos (the capital of Nigeria). Nevertheless this can be an adventure as much of the buses don’t have a fixed schedule and some only run once a week.
 
Communications
Most of the Cellular carriers from Europe or US can roam while in Ghana. Although you can get a cheap cell phone here and SIM card for under $5 US Dollars ) and top up for air-time credit from $1-20 US Dollars, in any phone credit sellers easily to find everywhere.
Mobile phone coverage is very good and reliable even in remote areas.
You can buy these local SIM card from any of the 6 providers (Vodafone, MTN,GLO, Expresso, Airtel and Tigo).
Broadband access for laptops by USB sticks can also be easily bought anywhere for around $13 US Dollars (2GB). Anyway, many hotels also have broadband access via wireless hotspots.
If calling from abroad, the Country code is +233.
 

Useful contacts

  • Police 191 
  • Fire Department 192/999                        
  • Ambulance 193             
  • National Disaster Management Organization 024-4508351
  • Electricity Company 0302-664941