West Africa up close: diary of an excursion to Ghana
In July, 16 IUBH tourism students spent nine exciting days in the West African country of Ghana. As part of a project with Cape Coast Technical University (CCTU) they examined the country’s tourism potential. Kristina and Maria write about their travel experiences.
Day 1: Wednesday, July 18th
Akwaaba in Accra! We planned to meet up with the remaining members of our excursion group here at the airport. After four long hours of waiting and some flight delays, they arrived and our group was initially complete. We checked into our overnight accommodation and the next day we would get started! Our guide Albert, Tourism Professor at Cape Coast Technical University (CCTU), introduced himself and gave a short overview of the programme – we were very excited about the upcoming days.
Day 2: Thursday, July 19th
At 5:30 we departed for Cape Coast Technical University (CCTU) – including a few latecomers who joined the group during the night. After arriving at the university and a warm welcome, we moved into our student rooms. We then set off for our first attraction: canoeing and visiting a village built on water. On our way back, we had a more or less traditional Ghanaian dinner: chicken wings and rice.
Day 3: Friday, July 20th
Today, thank God, the programme started a bit later. Shortly after 8 o’clock we drove to the city centre of Cape Coast and then onward to a highlight of the region: Elmina Castle. The tour was interesting but also distressing: our guide led us through several stone dungeons where slaves were once held captive. In the last dungeon, he closed the door for a few seconds…
In the afternoon we went on our long awaited trip to a rain forest, where we balanced ourselves over wobbly suspension bridges! However, since it then started to rain heavily we had to go back to the bus. Due to this change in schedule, we had time to visit a crocodile farm where we, undaunted by death, even fed the animals!
For dinner, we were served traditional food that is eaten with your fingers: fermented corn porridge. Along with this, we slurped a slightly slimy soup made from animal skin, vegetables and fish.
Day 4: Saturday, July 21st
Today we set off from Cape Coast toward Mole National Park. Our guide Albert had already warned us about the long bus ride, which in the end turned out to be even longer thanks to bad weather and traffic. We used the time to talk with Albert about the details of the excursion itself as well as the situation in Ghana. Along the way, we stopped several times and tasted fresh coconuts, banana chips and other delicacies. Another stop was in the city of Kumasi, where we visited a museum dedicated to numerous Ghanaian kings. After about another 125 km, we arrived in Sunyani, had a late night dinner at 22 o’clock and then we all collapsed into bed, exhausted.
Day 5: Sunday, July 22nd
Today is Sunday and since religion is deeply rooted in African culture, our priority was to visit a church. After about an hour drive heading toward Mole National Park, we found one. The locals immediately invited us to sing and dance with them.
Later we visited a monkey park and directly afterward the Hand-in-Hand Community in Nkoranza. This is the only orphanage in the country that takes in disabled children, a sad number in comparison to almost 26 million (!) citizens. This experience left us with strong impressions that will certainly stay in our minds and provoke further reflection. At 22 o‘clock we reached the gates of Mole National Park.
Day 6: Monday, July 23rd
Today we went on a safari tour! We sat on the rooftops of three jeeps in total, and cruised the beautiful Mole National Park. Here you can see antelopes, elephants, boar and numerous birds.
Otherwise, today was our first, and only, relaxing day. The hotel even had a pool, we ate pizza and pasta for lunch, were then able to talk with the regional director of tourism, and in the evening, went out on a stalking tour again.
Day 7: July 24th
Today it was back on the bus. After our break yesterday, we had to make up some of the distance and cover more than 400 km. We stopped at Kintampo Falls and looked at Ghanaian housing. Most families have a residential hut, a stable and a storage silo. Word got around that we were visiting and suddenly more and more neighbours appeared, excited to see us.
We spent the night at a very nice resort in Kumasi. Before going to bed, we had the chance to have an informative talk with the manager.
Day 8: Wednesday, July 25th
Our last day and back in Accra – amazing how fast the time has passed. Unfortunately, our visit to a cocoa plantation had to be cancelled due to lack of time. Later, a friend of Albert’s who runs a professional catering business welcomed us. He served us all sorts of traditional delicacies. Afterwards we all went out – once again – to a bar together and talked about our experiences. We agreed that there were both positive and negative, but in any case, countless formative experiences which will take time to process.
Day 9: Thursday July 26th
Departure! As a natural part of the package, we used the last few hours for extensive souvenir shopping – bargaining desired! Packed with scarves, figurines, key chains and many other nick-knacks, we drove to a farewell dinner on the beach. Our friend from the previous evening did the catering. A few quick farewell photos, and then off to the airport.
Medaasi Ghana, for a wonderful, adventurous, sometimes chaotic, funny, thought provoking, definitely unforgettable time! The trip has left both of us with long lasting impressions. In addition to the upcoming project reports about this trip, we plan to write our bachelor theses with a reference to Ghana and their perception of tourism and travel. Some members of our group already have plans to go on the Kenya excursion next year – things certainly continue to be exciting!