How to safely travel in Ghana
Ghana is generally considered as one of the safest African countries. Normal carefulness and common sense shouldn't of course be underrated anywhere. By following even the smallest safety habits you can avoid many unwanted situations. Hold your handbag tight in crowded places. Don't carry all your valuables in one place. Consider two separate debit / credit cards with withdrawal limits. Keep an eye on your drink in bars... Sounds familiar?
"The same logic applies well at home
and abroad - in Ghana, too."
Tropical diseases are part of daily life in Ghana. They are scary but can be mostly treated. Now let's rather take a look at the prevention aspect here as nobody wants to go through the horror of having malaria or cholera in Ghana.
To start with, keep your hands clean to prevent the transmission of diarrhoea pathogens. Another common disease in Ghana is malaria and it's highly recommended to take preventive medication before and during your trip. It might not fully protect you from falling sick but it relieves the symptoms significantly. Malaria mosquitoes are around in the evenings, nights and early mornings and the best way to protect yourself from the bites is to sleep under mosquito net, wear long sleeves and use repellents.
Also remember that you'll need a yellow fever vaccine with international certification to enter the country. Other vaccines to consider before traveling are e.g. for hepatitis A and B, cholera, typhoid fever and meningococcus. Discuss about your medical needs with your doctor early before traveling as some vaccines need to be taken long before entering the risky areas.
It's sometimes difficult to assess the safety level of your meals by just relying on your senses. Of course the general hygiene in the eateries gives you pretty clear sign of the food quality too.
Restaurateurs in Ghana are not required to have hygiene certificates or such, but to my experience it's a matter of pride for the local women to cook good and clean food for their customers. And a busy, crowded restaurant or chop bar might be a sign of good food too?
We highly recommend you to give a try to as many Ghanaian dishes as possible - they are delicious! (And we want to believe that a bit of chili and Alomo (local herb and root aperitif) shots will definitely help you avoid food poisonings.. do we agree?)
Just a few things to remember:
make sure your food is served hot
eat only well-done meat
fruits and vegetables should be washed with clean water
Drinking water is available in bottles and 1/2L sachets. The latter option is actually quite handy: just bite one corner of the sachet carefully with your side teeth (this is a skill you'll have to learn - get prepared for a few showers before mastering this..!)
Taxi is a great choice in Ghana. There are two different types available:
1. Shared taxis offer fixed routes at fixed prices for anyone who joins the car. These taxis move only when the car gets full and passengers can get down anywhere along the way.
2. Dropping - normal taxis taking you wherever you want. Discuss a good price before the ride.
Uber is also very useful mean of moving around Accra. Just install the Uber app, find a good deal and the car will pick you from right where you are. You don't need to negotiate the price (there's a rough price estimate when you order the car, and it can change a bit on the way if there's a lot of traffic or the route changes), and you get a chance to follow the route map on your phone. (In the end you can give feedback and rate the driver & ride, and I recently got to know that the drivers also give ratings to the customers! So you! Remember to behave!)
The most affordable and most fun way of travelling is trotro (a minibus / van). Trotros drive between fixed destinations from early mornings till late evenings. They don't follow any schedules or standards. They are authentic, wild, and lovely.
N.B. There's a lot of traffic during holidays and sometimes the passengers' behavior can reach a bit aggressive levels.. So prepare yourself with a whole lot of patience and understanding.
Walking is also a nice way of seeing around places. It's safe to walk in the day time but just remember that it might not be a good idea to carry all your valuables with you.
Always pay attention to advice and guidance given by locals. If you're told not to take certain routes or not to enter some areas it's better to buy that. In general it would be good to have local, trustworthy friends to help you out with things. Yet you can ask for help anywhere, anytime; Ghanaians are always ready to help.
"Trust your intuition, it rarely lies."
+ Remember to buy a travel insurance! It's a small cost as compared to the help you'll get if you end up in any trouble.
A few more tips...
1. The beautiful Atlantic Ocean can get really wild. Even a good swimmer should be careful and listen to the locals who know the beach and the sea with its currents, waves and tides well.
2. There's many dangerous and poisonous animals, reptiles and insects in Ghana, but you rarely come across them especially when living in urban environments.
3. You can safely move around and travel alone in Ghana as a woman! (just to mention as this is not self-evident all over the world)
P.S. Find our awesome Ghana pics on Instagram: #gobeyondghana