Tough luck in Tamale

Tamale Travel Blog

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High AND Low quality
May 25, 2010
Hotel: Christian Council Guesthouse, Tamale, Ghana
Another long push to the south today; we were hoping to cross over into Ghana and reach the town of Bolgatanga or even Tamale.  I had checked the bus schedules and saw there was a Rakieta bus leaving at 10AM for Po, near the Ghana border.  However, Rakieta has several stations around town apparently; the station to Po wasn't the same one that we arrived from Bobo.  We caught a taxi (2500 CFA) to the station around 9AM, bought our tickets then had a bit of a wait.
  Each bus company in Ouaga and Bobo had their own stations, though in many smaller towns there will be a common gare routiere.  The bus today was a mid-sized Toyota bus, but no aircon this time.  According to the Lonely Planet there is only a single bus to Ghana a few days a week (but not today); we should have checked at the bus station as we later saw several other companies headed to Kumasi or Tamale.

The drive to Po was about 3 hrs to travel 150kms.  The road was in pretty bad condition here as well, but to be fair they were working on this section.  I sat next to a Canadian couple, they had just arrived in Burkina and they were spending three weeks traveling down to Accra.
  They were planning on visiting a nearby game park once arriving in Po.  We arrived there about 1PM then immediately caught a shared taxi to the Ghana border.  We noticed that the style of mud huts had changed slightly on the way down from Ouaga.  Here, some of the mud houses were decorated by geometric designs, painted lines and black diamonds.

The shared taxi dropped us off at the Burkina border which was easy to negotiate.. then it was a half mile walk or so from the Burkina side down to the Ghana border post.  Suddenly, we were back in Ghana; English-speaking, good roads, and home of Wonderbread.  We noticed a Kumasi-bound bus at the border but he said he was full.  We opt for a private taxi to Bolgatanga for 12 Cedi; hoping to catch onward tro-tro to Tamale.  The driver wanted to take us all the way to Tamale.
. after reaching Bolga and changing some $ to Cedi, we decided to take him up on the offer.  An expensive transport segment, about $20 each to go over 200kms.  You could tell we were back in a richer country; the road was in great condition and actually had white divider and shoulder lines, with guardrails.

One thing to note about changing money in Ghana.. you can get a much better rate for changing US $100 bills than smaller bills, you can get 1.41 or more for a Franklin but only 1.30 (or worse!) for a $20.  With the fees my bank charges for ATM withdrawal, I was actually getting a better rate changing cash than using an ATM.

It took a few hours to reach Tamale; we had our taxi driver drop us off at our first choice of hotel, the Catholic Guesthouse.  Too late, our taxi had already driven off when we find out that the hotel is full!  Our next hotel choice the TICCS guesthouse is about a half mile walk way.
. we arrive there just after a group in a Landcruiser; they get the last two rooms! Bad luck!  We haven't seen many tourists/gringos for nearly two weeks yet Tamale is full of them.  So we walk back out to the main road and manage to get one room at the Christian Council Guesthouse, a huge but very basic room.  There is air-con, but the slats on the AC are broken, we manage to hold them open with wads of toilet paper.

For dinner, we head back to the TICCS guesthouse which has a jungle bar and supposedly good food.  My friends were wanting to try the Castle Milk Stout beer which is available in Ghana.  At the bar, we met a couple who was just finishing up their three year Peace Corps stint in Mali.  Dinner took ages to prepare, but was good when it finally arrives.  By now it is dark as we make our way back to the guesthouse.  They had brought in an extra mattress which turned out to be little more than a foam pad.  I drew short straws and slept on the floor, so far my most uncomfortable sleep.

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High AND Low quality
High AND Low quality