Ghana's Central Coast
Cape Coast, Ghana
Ghana's Central Coast Cape Coast Reviews
Feb 11, 2006
If you are going to Ghana, you should definitely take a trip to the coastal area of the Central Region. There you will find history, nature, beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. Cape Coast is the capital of the region and Elmina is a fishing village west of Cape Coast. The Kakum rainforest is a short drive inland.
The drive from Accra to the Central Region is a fun experience in itself. You will pass by open tropical scenery and small villages where all the kids wave as you drive through. I recommend getting a driver or joining a tour group because the Ghanaian drivers and roads tend to be crazy. Last time we were there, they were working on fixing the roads so that may be finished by now. If you want to take a tro-tro, try to get on a nicer one. Tro-tros are old vans that are used for public transport and seem to take an unlimited amount of passengers and luggage. Don't be surprised if the engine falls out of van along the drive... I'm not joking, I've seen this with my own eyes!
There are UNESCO World Heritage Site castles in both Elmina and Cape Coast. Both castles were occupied by different European countries (Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, etc.) before the British colonized the country. They were both orginally set up as trading posts for gold, ivory and other things, but they are mostly known these days for the slave trade. For some reason the Elmina castle hit me harder. Something I'll never forget there was a chapel directly above the dark, dingy unsanitary slave quarters where the slave traders worshipped. There was also the "Door of No Return" which is the last place slaves walked through before heading off to the "New World". Both castles also have small museums and signs asking us to remember what we saw and never again inflict such pain and suffering on other human beings.
Kakum National Forest:
This rainforest is mostly known for the canopy walk. A guide will take you on a short hike through the forest to a series of seven rope bridges. You should wear sneakers- I once saw a woman wearing stilettos, no joke. The guides are really knowledgeable about the trees and plants of the forest. On my first time there, the guide pointed out how there a lot of mosquitos at the visitor center and they vanished when we entered the forest. There is a sap that comes from one of the trees in the forest that is a natural mosquito repellent. They claim the bridges are strong enough to hold elephants- I'm not sure if that's true, but they are definitely safe. It offers really great views of the canopy and you don't always realize how high up you are because you can't see the ground. Usually on the way back down to the visitor center, there is a guy selling refreshing coconut water. For people who are afraid of heights, there is also the option to do a guided ground tour.
Life here definitely revolves around the ocean and you will always see fisherman working along the coast in their long skinny boats. We always stay at the Coconut Grove Beach Resort when we go to Elmina. Resorts are not typically my thing, but this place is not like the gaudy resorts that cut you off from the local culture. It's right on the coast and they've cleaned up the beach. There is a main hotel as well as several bungalows and the architecture blends in well with the scenery. It's great for early morning walks. All day you'll see local kids on the beach and women walking by carrying goods on their heads. It's also a great place to have dinner as the sun sets. The menu carries a lot of Ghanaian dishes as well as some basic options. It's one of those places where you can relax for hours without a care in the world.
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