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HELPFUL TRAVEL TIPS FOR OUR TOURISTS
GHANA’S OPEN DRAINAGE SYSTEM
Unlike, most developed countries; the sewer system is on the side of the roads in most of parts of Ghana. Some have concrete blocks covering them and some have metal grates. Either way they are covered (or not) they are still in disrepair. You must watch where you walk, especially at night. You could easily twist your ankle.
BUYING FROM TRAFFIC LIGHTS
Many people earn a living by selling foods, mints etc from traffic lights. They are to be commended as it keeps them away from other not so savoury industries! Do beware however. You will always see bags of apples being sold with packets of toilet paper. The apples are kept cool by soaking in barrel of water and bagged 6 to a bag. You can find almost anything which is found at the grocery store on the principal streets of Ghana.
Early explorers and missionaries, including the Great Egyptologist, Belzoni, died soon after arrival in Ghana. Today, the traveller’s risk of dying by dysentery is low, and most other health risks can be vaccinated. The sole threat remains malaria, an illness spread by mosquitoes.
Authorities prescribe prophylactics a month before, during, and for a month after the trip, unless it will last more than several months. Prophylactics for malaria are not a vaccine but act to combat reproduction of malaria cysts in the blood. Mosquitoes detect humans by respired CO2, but less than 10% of mosquitoes carry malaria.
Ghana physicians at government clinics easily diagnose malaria. The side effect you may dislike is the nauseating side effects of the prophylactic. There are a number of both private and government owned hospitals to take care of medical cases. You find most of the government owned ones crowded with patients, records kept on index cards, banded and boxed.
We are not medical experts but suggest the following. First, use a DEET clothes wash kit to treat a set of clothes before leaving home. Second, use a 50% DEET lotion to stop mosquitoes from landing on the skin. Third, wear long sleeves and pants, especially at night. Fourth and most importantly, since being bitten at night during sleep is very common, stay in hotels with air-conditioning. Most towns in Ghana have at least one hotel with A/C, which eliminates a habitat of stable, hot, humid air that mosquitoes need and disperses/evacuates respired CO2. If you are a traveller is on a very tight budget, or if no a/c is available, a good fan near the bed can help, but then sleep in a mosquito net. Fifth, avoid spending time about the open sewers common in the cities.
by Pieter11 Written Aug 8, 2007
You often read and hear stories about “that you have to be careful in Ghana”. Everybody is strongly advised to be very careful in busy or dark places; for robberies, pick-pocketing, violence and all other kinds of drama.
I stayed in Ghana for 2,5 months and in this period I visited a lot of busy places and I walked alone in the streets at night in major cities like Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Cape Coast. I don’t know what more I should have done to get in dangerous or threatening situations, but I experienced nothing like that.
The Ghanaian people are friendly people and are sincerely interested in the visitors in their country. And according to my experiences, that doesn’t change when it gets darker, when it becomes crowdy or when you walk alone in a desolate place.
Of course it is wise not to walk around showing off expensive things and of course you’d better stay away from poor areas in the middle of the night, but there is absolutely no need to scare yourself because of all the stories you hear here and there.
TAKING PHOTOGRAPH’S OF PEOPLE
Ghanaians don’t like foreigners pointing cameras at them, and who can blame them?
Some, in the more touristy places, will ask you for a considerable sum of money as a way of dissuading you. When people are this good-looking and photogenic, this can be frustrating, but I think it’s best to respect people’s feelings – and avoid turning this into another commercial transaction.
That said, not everyone feels the same. The best way is to ask your tour guide to politely request the local people in the local dialect, if it is alright for you to take pictures of them. Should you be specifically interested in Photography, kindly alert us right from the start of planning your tour itinerary so that tips can be included for photographs.
Generally speaking, rural Ghana suffers very little in the way of traffic jams. Please expect to experience between light and heavy traffics in the major cities of Ghana like Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Cape Coast etc especially in the mornings and late evenings around 15.00-18.00 GMT.
There are many police road checks along the way, which often cause tailbacks; we make sure that all our vehicles are properly insured, certified, road regulations are followed through and drivers adhere to traffic rules and regulations.
Road works are common, causing traffic to build up, or complete road closures making long deviations necessary. Often these are not signposted, and at one stage one may have to rely on the knowledge of a local bus driver to find your way around a closed road. It is all part of the fun of driving in Ghana
During the dry season, dust can be a major problem for visitors to Ghana. Not only is dust unsettled by passing vehicles, at this time of year you get the very unpleasant Harmattan – a dust laden wind from the Sahara. If you drive in a vehicle with the windows open, every time you pass another vehicle, you will be covered with dust, as you can see from picture five.
It is not just the fact that everything you wear becomes filthy, cameras really don’t like dust, and as for what it does for your lungs, time can only tell. This may result in dry mouth so we often advise our travellers to have handy lip balms with them to keep their lips moist. It is also a great idea to stay hydrated all the time by taking lots of water; you can find safe drinking water in bottles of mini, medium and large sizes as well as some trusted brands in the form of bagged water affordable at just .20 Ghana pesewas.
Sometimes you don’t even realise just how dusty the atmosphere is –you can’t see it with the naked eye, but the flash gun certainly picks it up!
You will find a number many of the roads in Ghana not paved and some are really no more than dirt tracks. There are lots of pot holes, road ramps. Allow more time than you think it will take, even to travel short distances. There are also many road works, as well as road checks by traffic police. You may be stopped two or three times AT LEAST, every single day by police checks, etc.
BARGAIN, BARGAIN AND BARGAIN SOME MORE
One of the cultures of the local people in Ghana is the art of bargaining. Purchases and sales of simple food items, crafts and arts, personal items may be found on shelves or simple tables in the local markets in Ghana. You should be able to bargain when you are buying something from the local market and not the grocery shops which already have their price tags.
When a taxi quotes you 5 cedis you tell him 2 cedis and that is in the evening. Of course, it depends how far you are going. You will find a lot of Ghanaians very friendly and kind but some may also jack up their prices when it comes to selling to a foreigner; so watch out.
You can cautiously ask your tour guide or driver guide to bargain the prices of items you may be interested to buy.
There are no fast rules about tipping in Ghana. It is normally not charged on services received in restaurants, hotels, and other places. If someone does an extraordinary service, you can tip them between USD5-USD15. The decision is yours to make.
KEEP AN OPEN MIND AND DON’T HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS
I reserved this for the last so that this rings a bell all the time when you travel through Ghana. Generally, Africans in general may consider time differently from Westerners. Things take time here in Ghana to be specific. You may here something like Ghana Man time “GMT” but don’t be too worried that it may never get done but it will!