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Adventure Magazine

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  World on the Cheap
Ghana: Insider's Africa
White-sand beaches, solo safaris, and a languid cruise up Lake Volta, all for U.S. $1,300

• Where to Go
• How to Go
• Lodging and Food
• Visas and Vaccinations

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 Africa—sleepy coastal resorts, village-to-village freighter cruises, and solitary foot safaris in elephant country.

All prices in U.S. dollars

Where to Go
The beach town of Ada, east of the capital, Accra, is where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It's an ideal starting point for a tour of Ghana's diverse terrain. Stay in a reed hut, visit jungle islands, and sunbathe on a beach that's frequented from November to March by nesting sea turtles.

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 animals—lions, leopards, buffalo, and 300 bird species. Rangers lead tours for $1.50 an hour.
 

How to Go
In November, round-trip flights to Accra start at around $1,000 from New York and $1,200 from the [U.S.] West Coast. Travel agencies that specialize in Africa have the best deals.

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
Ghana is extremely inexpensive. In most towns, a double room in an attractive hotel or guest house costs approximately $8. Ada's Cocoloko Beach Camp Resort (+233 968 22023; www.cocoloko.com) provides double-occupancy seaside huts for $6. In Larabanga, the tourist office can arrange housing with a family for about $3 a person.

Guest houses and restaurants called chop bars serve traditional Ghanaian fare for around $2; expect thick soups accompanied by cassava, corn, or plantain dishes.
 

Visas and Vaccinations
Visas—required for most visitors—are issued at the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (+1 202 686 4520; www.ghanaembassy.org) for $20.

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).


—McKenzie Funk

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16 Days in Ghana
(Cost per person, based on a group of two)

Airfare
(U.S. East Coast/West Coast; November departure)
$1,000/$1,200
Local Transportation
(Bus, taxi, and ferry; seven travel days)
$50
Lodging
(Two nights in Accra; four nights each in Ada and Larabanga; five nights in Akosombo, Tamale, and other towns)
$60
Activities
(Volta islands tour, walking safari, four-day Larabanga bicycle rental)
$40
Food
(Forty restaurant meals, cruise provisions, snacks)
$125
Incidentals
(Single-entry visa, Mole National Park entrance fee)
$30
Total $1,305/$1,505
 

Related Web Sites

Ghana: Country Facts and Maps
Get the basics from the National Geographic Atlas of the World online.

Africa Photography, Wallpapers, Maps, More
National Geographic's best online Africa resources on a single page.

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November/December 2001:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | 10 Ski Trips | ANWR | Dry Tortugas | Lost at Sea | Papua New Guinea | Forum | Junger | Camera Picks | GPS Tools | Mountain Hardware | Ghana Guide




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