Check Out Ten Amazing Ghanaian Tourist Sites
Ranked among the most peaceful and friendliest countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Ghana’s combination of lush environments, exotic wildlife and landmarks, rich traditional fashion, tasty local dishes, and a hospitable populace, has made the country a favourite vacation spot for travellers and citizens alike.
One activity travellers can engage in is visiting Ghana’s interesting tourist sites. From villages on stilts, to suspension bridges hanging over lush forests, this article will speak on ten amazing Ghanaian tourist sites, and where to find them.
- Kakum National Park
It is probably considered a crime to make a list about Ghana’s tourist sites without including the Kakum National Park. Located in Cape Coast, in the Assin Attandanso Forest Reserve, the Kakum National Park is one of the most visited tourist sites in Ghana. The park teems with wildlife, which includes elephants, leopards, birds, and various butterfly species. The animals aren’t the main attractions in the park though.
The main attractions are the park’s seven suspension bridges, which, even if you have a fear of heights, are a must have experience. Together, they form a 333-metre (1092 ft) canopy walkway, 27 metres (88 ft) above the forest floor, presenting a fascinating view of the whole forest and its trees, some of which are over three hundred years old.
Bird watchers and animal enthusiasts will be pleased to know that there are also trails on which professional guides can take tourists on hikes to observe the wildlife. There is also a children’s centre where kids can be kept entertained in case parents don’t want to take them on the hikes. If a breath of fresh air is what you require after a hectic lifestyle, then Kakum is your best spot to achieve it.
- Cape Coast Castle
Ghana has over 30 forts and castles calling the country home, the largest number of colonial-era forts and castles in Africa. These grand, stone relics of a bygone era are handprints of the Europeans who colonised this country. The twenty first century has brought with it, superior technology and better living conditions, yet the past is still worth revisiting. For those interested in visiting Ghana’s colonial history, Cape Coast Castle is a good start.
Originally built as a fort by the Portuguese, in 1555, the castle exchanged hands between other European settlers, and locals, before finally being captured by the British in 1665. The British would later reconstruct the fort after it was damaged in a French attack, building it into the castle it is today. The Cape Coast castle was the British seat of governance, and one of the Gold Coast’s major holding posts for slaves awaiting transport during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
Despite its sordid past, the Cape Coast Castle, now a historical museum, has become an irresistible tourist site for history lovers, people awed by large structures, and Black people around the world seeking to reconnect with their roots. Tours which begin at 9am to 4pm daily, acquaint visitors with the castle’s slave dungeons, the cannons used in its defence, its infamous Door of no Return, and a Ghanaian arts and crafts gift shop.
Entrance fees are dependent on age and range from GH₵ 1.00 to GH₵ 5.00 for Ghanaian citizens, and from GH₵ 5.00 to GH₵ 40.00 for foreigners.
- Wli Waterfalls
It may not be as tall as the Tugela Falls in South Africa or have as much volume as the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, but Hohoe’s (Volta Region) Wli Waterfalls does not lack in either height or beauty. Flowing in two levels, an upper and a lower level, from a height of 80 metres (262 ft), Wli Falls holds the title as Ghana and West Africa’s largest waterfall, and one of the largest in Africa. Its sheer size has led locals to refer to it as Agumatsa Falls, which means “allow me to flow.”
Nestled within a dense rainforest filled with various wildlife, the Wli waterfalls is nature’s gift for those who seek to be one with it. The waterfall flows from a cliff into clear pools that visitors can swim in. Climbing to the upper level takes a few hours but will reward tourists who brave the climb with cool pools that will suck the tiredness from their bones, and a magnificent view of the forest and the lower levels. The lower level is easily accessible, but to get to the upper level of the falls, tourists will have to hike up the cliffs. Tour guides are available to help visitors hike up the cliff, and also designate safe swimming spots in the pools beneath the falls.
Besides viewing the falls, tourists who want to enrichen their knowledge can visit the Shrine of Lesser Gods, which legend has it, was carried by the locals’ ancestors during their exodus from Togo. There is also an ostrich farm, the Agumatsa Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to more than 200 and 400 bird and butterfly species respectively, and a resort where tourists can rest, and watch displays from local artisans. Visiting the waterfall’s lower levels
at late hours will reward tourists with a flight of the many fruit bats that nest in the cliffs nearby.
Wli Falls open at 8 am to 5 pm daily throughout the year, though it is advisable to visit from April to October when the falls are at their highest volume. Climbing up the upper levels during the rainy seasons can be a difficult endeavour, however, due to slippery pathways.
- Mountain Afadjato
The Volta Region has an impressive line-up of tall, breath-taking artworks of nature that have been attracting people for years. Mount Afadjato is one such artwork of nature. Standing at 885 metres (2,904 ft), Mount Afadjato is the highest peak in Ghana. When the locals first migrated to the area, they named the mountain “Avadze-to” due to its resemblance to the mound water yam is grown in. “Avadze” means water yam in Ewe, and “to” means mountain. Today, the name Avadze-to has been transformed to the Afadjato that is more popular today.
Mountain Afadjato is located in the Agumatsa Range near the Ghana-Togo border. It is among the most visited tourist sites in Ghana, with many of its visitors being climbers who want to experience the sheer victory of reaching the mountain’s peak. The high peak has also seen used by religious worshippers who literally seek to be closer to their Lord.
It can take over 2 hours to climb up the mountain, but visitors who make it to the top are in for a treat as the high peak offers a clear view of nearby towns, other mountain ranges, the Volta Lake, and even Togo. The climb is best made early in the morning, or late afternoon because the lack of shade on the mountain’s pathways will expose climbers to the sun’s rays. Visitors who accept the challenge can even hike from Afadjato’s peak to the nearby Mount Aduadu.
For visitors who wish to enjoy the view from the mountain’s peak, it is advisable not to make the climb during the harmattan season since the view is usually poor then. Tourists at the foot of the mountain can watch palm wine tappers work, and also drink some palm wine if they so wish. There are also drumming and dancing services from local cultural groups. A visitor centre provides food and accommodation for tourists.
Tourists can visit from 8 am to 5 pm daily.
- Nzulenzu Village
Italy has Venice, Benin has Ganvie, and Ghana has Nzulenzu, a village built on a lake with its houses supported on stilts. Located in the Western Region, near the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire border, Nzulenzu is a 400-year old village situated on Lake Tadane, that is home to hundreds of settlers. It is unique in Ghana, and this uniqueness has made it a thriving tourist location. Nzulenzu is Nzema for “surface of water” and it makes an apt name for the village. Its residents sustain themselves through tourism, fishing on Lake Tadane, and farming on nearby lands.
Fans of the 1995 movie, Water World, should feel right at home should they visit Nzulenzu, and lovers of a simple convergence between man and nature will appreciate the serene atmosphere the village exudes. Like most functioning villages, residents of Nzulenzu have set up businesses, schools, places of worship, and a community centre, on the lake. To cater for the tourists who visit every year, Nzulenzu has a guest house with multiple rooms. The windows of the guest house gaze out onto the lake Nzulenzu does not have access to electricity so the villagers power up their televisions with car batteries. For luminosity at night, lanterns and rechargeable lamps are used.
Tourists heading to Nzulenzu will have to have board a canoe from the Beyin visitor centre. The one-hour trip will take visitors through Ghana’s largest strand and mangrove forest, and pools of water that are home to aquatic life such as crocodiles, and birds like egrets, and kingfishers. Life jackets are issued to all passengers, all safety precautions observed.
Before visiting the village, tourists can take evening tours on the beach near the Beyin visitor centre to see turtles that swim ashore to lay their eggs in the pristine sands, or the hatchlings making their way back to the ocean. Cultural performance groups are also available to provide entertainment during the evenings.
Nzulenzu is worth a visit at least once in everyone’s lifetime, if not for the uniqueness of the village, then to be reacquainted with the simplistic ways of living that can be achieved without the hectic schedules of today. Visitors can visit from 8 am to 4 pm.
- Manhyia Palace Museum
The Asante Kingdom is one of the few remaining monarchies in the world, and one of the most respected in Africa. The Asante Empire has often been compared to the Zulu’s of South Africa due to the Asante’s many conquests and multiple stands against the British Empire. The Manyhia Palace Museum in Kumasi holds artefacts that tell the history of the Asante Empire, the culture of the tribe and immortalizes the kingdom’s past leaders.
Built by the British in 1925, for then Asantehene Agyeman Prempeh I, to reside in after his return from exile in Seychelles. Though the building was given as a gift, the Asante decided to pay the British for it before allowing their king to take up residence there. It was also the palace of his successor, Otumfuo Sir Osei Agyeman Prempeh II. The Manhyia musuem’s lower floor has been preserved just like it was during Otumfuo Agyeman Prempeh II’s reign, in honour of his service to the kingdom.
Also on the same floor are photographs of important events that transpired in the kingdom’s past, the first black and white TV gained by the Asante back in 1965, a bronze head of Nana Prempeh II, and a map of the Asante Empire. The Museum is home to life-sized effigies of past Asante leaders, and also an effigy of the current ruler of the kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Also included are furniture, drums, medals, and palanquins that were used over two-hundred years ago.
Tourists will be led through the palace’s rooms by professional tour guides who will also educate them on the Asante kingdom’s rich history, its lineage, and its conquests against the locals, and the British. The entrance fee is GH₵ 10.00, and the Manhyia Palace Museum opens from 9 am to 5 pm.
- The Site of OKomfo Anokye’s Sword
Many, if not all, nations have fantastical tales about great people and the great deeds they performed during their lifetime. Ghana has its fair share of such legends, one of which is the legend of Okomfo Anokye, a powerful Asante priest whose divinations are said to have aided the Asante kingdom in becoming as powerful as it is today. One of Okomfo Anokye’s most famous deeds was to plunge a sword into the earth, a sword that has since been stuck where he plunged it 327 years ago.
The site marks the grounds of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, and the mystery surrounding the sword continues to attract tourists today. It is believed that Okomfo Anokye plunged the sword into the same spot from which he called down the Golden Stool of the Asante kingdom. He also predicted that the site will be a healing site for millions of people, a prophecy that likely led to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital to be built on the same grounds.
Okomfo Anokye’s Sword as it looks today.
Legend has it that there have been attempts to pull out the sword since it was stabbed in the ground in 1695, all of which have failed. Okomfo Anokye is noted to have said that no one would succeed in removing the sword. Unlike King Arthur’s mythical sword in the stone, which grants whoever pulls it out with kingship, the Asante believe that their state would collapse should Okomfo Anokye’s sword ever be pulled out. As such the site of the sword is protected, both for its history, and for future generations. Even the Asantehene regularly pays visits to the hallowed site.
If old legends are your cup of tea, then the site of Okomfo Anokye’s sword is worth a visit.
- Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum
The building of Mausoleums to commemorate the dead, or to immortalize great people is not uncommon in human societies. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs had grand pyramids built for them to serve as mausoleums marking their final resting places. The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum, located in Accra, may not be as grand and fancy as the Ancient Egyptian pyramids, but it holds the remains of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister of Ghana, a man respected and revered by Ghanaians and numerous Africans, and Black people worldwide.
Established in 1992, the mausoleum serves as the final resting place of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his wife, Fathia Nkrumah. A black star is situated at the mausoleum’s apex symbolizing unity, and the mausoleum is surrounded by water, an element usually regarded with life. It can be said that the water immortalizes the name, the memory, and the deeds of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
The Kwame Nkrumah Museum, however, includes books, photographs, and other personal belongings of the former prime minister. The photos of Nkrumah show him interacting with some great figures, including Queen Elizabeth II, President John F. Kennedy of the USA, and Mao Zedong of China. The museum also holds the metal coffin which housed Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s body during its journey from Guinea to Ghana.
An iconic bronze statue of Nkrumah with his hand outstretched forward stands in the Memorial Park, situated at the same site where he declared Ghana’s independence from Britain on March 6, 1957. The architecture of the park itself is a view to behold. On both sides of the walkway leading up to the statue’s front view are multiple statues of flute men blowing water out through their flutes.
The park is great for relaxation and taking photos and sees thousands of people visiting it every year. The museum is welcome to all Ghanaians, and anyone interested in knowing more about Nkrumah’s lifestyle, his struggle for Ghana’s independence, and his vision to unite Africa. For anyone who finds themselves in Accra, the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum is a must visit.
- Independence Square/Black Star Square
March 6, 1957 was a very important and triumphant day for Ghana and all Ghanaians around the world, as it marked the year that Ghana achieved independence from her English colonial master. To commemorate the achievement of independence, and the sacrifices made to do so, Dr Kwame Nkrumah had the Independence square built. It was completed just four years after Ghana’s independence, in 1961.
The Independence square is more than a public square, it also symbolises Ghanaian freedom, and as such is revered by many, if not all Ghanaians. The square boasts a sitting capacity of 30,000. The Independence Square’s main highlights are the Independence Arch, a gigantic arch that has its back toward the sea, the Tomb/Memorial of the Unknown Soldier, which honours the Ghanaian soldiers who fell during the struggle for independence, and the Black Star Gate, a monument carrying the Black Star of Africa.
The square is Ghana’s main site for military parades, the annual Independence Day parade is also usually hosted there. Besides these events, the square is open for civilian functions and tourism, though permission must be sought for the former. While tourists are usually free to take pictures, permission must be sought before photos of the Independence Arch are taken. The square is not far from the Osu castle, which is another historical tourist site that tourists can visit.
- Aburi Botanical Gardens
While it may show up as the tenth tourist site mentioned in this list, the Aburi Botanical Gardens is just as fascinating, as all of the other sites that were mentioned before it. The saying, “the best is often saved for last” should ring true here because the Aburi Botanical Gardens stands among the most beautiful gardens in the world. The location of the garden itself is wonderful. Situated in the mountains of the Akuapim-Togo range, the atmosphere of the Aburi Botanical Gardens is usually fresh and cool.
The garden was grown by the British in 1902. Despite being over a hundred years old, the garden is still a sight to behold. It is filled with rare species of trees and flowers, classed into three groups; economical plants, botanical specimen, and decorative plants. The beautiful and serene nature of the gardens has often made it the site of weddings and picnics. The aura of the garden has proven to be irresistible even to foreigners since thousands of tourists make the trip each year.
Tour guides are available to educate tourists on the history of the garden, the plants grown there, and the medicinal benefits some of the plants are said to give. The entrance walkway of the gardens is flanked on both sides by tall palm trees, and while in the garden, tourists can visit the Retired Helicopter, the Bush House, the House of Horticulture, and other interesting attractions in the gardens.
Entrance fees for Ghanaians range from two to five Cedis, foreigners pay up to 10 Cedis. The Aburi Botanical Gardens opens daily from 8 am to 4 pm.
While these ten were chosen for this article, Ghana is still home to a large number of other tourist sites that are worth visiting. With that said, should you ever find yourselves near the locations of these ten sites, do give them a visit. It will be worth the trip.
By Derrick Deti Kafui