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Ghana: Insider's Africa
White-sand beaches, solo safaris, and a languid cruise up Lake Volta, all for U.S. $1,300
Encompassing 92,000 square miles [238,280 square kilometers] of tropical forest, savanna, waterfalls, and empty beaches, Ghana holds the breadth of classic African landscapes in an area the size of Wyoming.
Travel here is easy: Ghana's government is a stable democracy, its official language is English, and its people are famously friendly. But it's not too easy.
Though savvy Brits and Germans have trickled into Ghana, its forests and game reserves still lack some of the tourism infrastructure that draws crowds to Kenya and Tanzania, and the country has retained the attractions (and rock-bottom prices) of yesterday's Africasleepy coastal resorts, village-to-village freighter cruises, and solitary foot safaris in elephant country.
All prices in U.S. dollars
Where to Go
Then, when you're ready to move on, take a three-hour, $5 journey by tro-tro (a minibus), via the town of Tema, to reach Akosombo Dam. Board the ferry Yapei Queen and cruise up massive Lake Volta on a 24-hour trip past wooded hills and farming villages and into Ghana's arid north, docking at Yeji.
From here, you can travel to the ancient Muslim village of Larabanga, home to a 13th-century mud mosque. Rent a bike in town and pedal four miles [six kilometers] to Mole National Park, which harbors a wealth of savanna animalslions, leopards, buffalo, and 300 bird species. Rangers lead tours for $1.50 an hour.
How to Go
Try Cape to Cairo (+1 202 244 5954; www.capecairo.com), International Travel Exchange (+1 212 808 5368; www.americatravelclub.com), or Spector Travel of Boston (+1 617 338 0111; www.spectortravel.com). In Ghana, you'll find long-haul buses, seven-seat "fast cars" (shared taxis), and slower, inexpensive tro-tros plying local routes. The 12-hour bus ride from northern Ghana back to Accra costs only $10. The Yapei Queen departs from Akosombo Dam for Yeji on Mondays; book a cabin with the Volta Lake Transport Company ($10; +233 21 665300). From Yeji, you'll embark on a short boat ride to Makongo ($6), then take buses to Larabanga via Tamale ($4.50).
Lodging and Food
Guest houses and restaurants called chop bars serve traditional Ghanaian fare for around $2; expect thick soups accompanied by cassava, corn, or plantain dishes.
Yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, and other tropical diseases are endemic to Ghana, and cholera surfaces occasionally. Check the CDC's Web site (www.cdc.gov) for updates. For more travel information, contact the Ghana Tourist Board (+233 21 222153; www.ghanatourism.com).
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