I’m in Ghana, Accra to be precise. I normally tell people to try visiting Calabar (Obudu Ranch), Yankari Game Reserve, Zoological Garden in Ibadan (UI), Olumo Rock at Abeokuta, Oguta Lake in Imo, Kainji Dam, Abuja.
There are a lot of place to disappear peacefully with nature in Naija. But if you insist, maybe the following info on visiting Ghana might help
Nigerian Coming to Ghana.
ABC, Cross Country (Yaba), EFex (Yaba), The Young, Chisco (Festac) all go to Ghana (daily). Find out from their office about their schedules. It should be around 15 – 18 more if your passport is virgin (i.e never been stamped) .
With ABC, Cross Country, and co, you will submit your passports or ‘Naira substitute’ to the bus operators in their office. They will take care of the stamping (or settling as the case may be). They will only call your attention if they have problems, especially with our overzealous Immigration, and NDLEA officials. Or if there are things about your passport only you can explain to the official.ghana
Frankly speaking, it is far less stressful to travel without (stamping) passport – just my opinion. The last time I came to Ghana by road, they squeezed out 13k for a single ticket. It was after Christmas. I was returning back to work in Ghana. Don’t ask where I work, that’s not relevant. wink
Alternatively, you can dash to Mile 2 (festac side) or Agege (I don’t know the exact location) and get those private cars that ply the Lagos Accra route ferry you. It’s cheaper, but less convenient. Avoid one chance, enter the car park and be sure ‘he is one of the good guys.’ I have used this option many times. Apart from the discomfort of squeezing between two people at the back, I had no other major concern
If you choose to come by road, prepare to spend the whole day on the road. If you leave Lagos by 7.30am, you will get to Ghana around 5 – 6pm plus. Adjust your watch backward by one hour for time zone correction.
If you are using the private cars (mile two, agege connection)
Nigeria-Benin border (seme) is the easiest to cross without ‘passport.’ That is via Okada. But to stamp passport, you will pay. The Nigerian officials are smart; they will come up with some excuses like yellow card or something. They will ‘beg’ you for ‘something’ if your documents are ok. That will be at your discretion. Be careful with border touts. They will re-direct you to a wrong direction, where there uniformed collaborator will obtain you for frivolous reason. And the tout will still pester you to pay for ‘service’ rendered.
From my experience, the easiest border to cross is the Benin-Togo border. Even if all your documents are correct, valid, and up to date. You will ‘settle’ especially at Togo-Ghana border.
You can bravado the Nigerian or Ghanaian officials if your papers are complete and accurate (and passport is not virgin). But the Togolese and Beninese are worse. Ceteris paribus (all other things been equal), they won’t stamp your passport unless you pay!
My worst experience happened on the Togolese side of the Ghana-Togo border (Aflao). I was on my way to Lagos (using the Tudu private cars – Ghana’s mile two agege equivalent). I have cleared immigration at Ghana and togo border. I did not pay a dime at the Ghana side of the border (documents ok). I paid close to 2 CFA at the Togo immigration desks (with same valid document).
Then a tout approached me. He wanted to show me direction. I told him I don’t need any. He insisted (can you imagine). I sensed danger, but continued going without minding him (since I know my way). The silly guy then demanded money from me (like I owned him), he tried to hold my shirt and I deflected his handle. He threatened me by showing a bulge by his hip (gun or whatever it was I didn’t know nor cared). This standoff lasted for about 30 secs, people were passing but nobody minded us (it was just me and him). Anyway, in the end I did not pay him a dime. But I was visibly shaken and annoyed. Thugs (tout) in Nigeria don’t harass people like that in broad day light, or threaten them like that.
When I told my colleague back at work, he told me next time, if I’m travelling with those private car operators, I should dress very casual. (Dirty jeans, shaggy top and leather sandals). Don’t stick out, blend! Lesson well learnt ever since.
There are two options (1) with passport or (2) without passport. You will pay more money if you don’t have a passport. (Nigerian or ECOWAS). You will also pay more with the private cars (Mile Two or Agege axis). The driver will tell/show you how to cross the borders. You may choose to stamp your passports or cross with Okada (if you don’t have). I’m sure the Okada rider will ‘settle’ immigration from the 500 Naira you pay for the crossing. Remember, if you stamp into a country, you must stamp out. If you don’t stamp in, don’t stamp out.
For those with passports, you should carry a yellow card (immunization card). Try and get one or you may be made to squeeze out more Naira.
Then again you can fly. From Abuja; Virgin or from Lagos; Aero Contractors and Arik Air. With Virgin, it’s around 45 mins flight from Lagos. I’m not sure how long it is from Abuja. And I have not used the other airlines.
N.B: You CANNOT board international flight without passport. You cannot ‘settle’ this one. smiley
Akwaaba Ghana! (Welcome to Ghana)
Don’t change your money at the Airport – they will cheat you! By giving you low rate. You should go to a place called Tudu. That’s where I normally change my money (Naira or Dollars to Cedis). Their rates are competitive.
For those coming by road, Lakonji is the best place to change money. Lakonji (spelling is not correct) is the border between Benin and Togo. They usually have good rate. The other best place is Tudu. The difference is marginal.
Hotels and Accommodation
Accra is a city of around 5 million people, well planned, and serene, with lots of greenery. Hotels prices varies from (+ or -) GHC 40 (per nite) to $250 per night. As for the dollars, I’m sure you’ll know better. So the cost of hotel accommodation is a function of your pocket size.
You would not have the luxury of Okada, so for forget it! Your best bet is to move around the city is in cabs. A short trip is 2-3 GHC. My advice for tourists is to negotiate for hourly rounds. Pay for an hour or two and make your rounds. An hour round with Taxis is around Ghc10 plus or minus. Don’t worry most of the taxis are neat and convenient. The drivers are mostly genuine, but they say ‘trust God, but lock your doors’. So don’t be naive as to lower your guards totally. They are humans like us!
Place of Interest
For the places you can visit if you are spending a weekend. There are two options.
1. Lagosians (mainlanders especially, and few Islanders)
2. Abuja dwellers
If you fall in category one, your best bet is to ask the driver to take you round the city. You’ll probably be thrill by the city (and rant and rave about Nigerian government in anger). Before your one hour elapses, let the taxi take you to the beach. Labadi beach is the closest and more popular (more like bar beach). If you have enough time (it’s around 1hr plus or minus to get there) you may prefer to go to Bojo beach (a little more exotic). Accra beaches are not free. Be ready to cough out 3-5 Ghc.
Abuja dwellers will probably twist their nose at Accra and say (So this all about the so called Accra, Ghana nonsense!) Abuja is by far lovelier than Accra, sorry to bust your bubbles. So for the Abuja folks to enjoy their visit to Ghana, they may have to make the early morning 2hr.30minstrip to Akosombo, and catch a Ferry to some Island (Sorry I haven’t been there myself) still planning (or maybe cos I grew up Lagos main-lander – category one.
Not interested in the Dam, maybe because of the proximity of Kainji to Abuja? Then you may want to go to Kakum Park. It’s still another 2 1/2 hours drive. But there are eateries, bars, and night clubs around Accra, if those tickle your fancy. Night life is although been curtail for security reason.
More Info Needed?
I live in Accra, but I cannot guarantee, that I will be available to meet any of you should you decide to come. I’m quite a private person, besides I have a day job, which sometimes requires my presence at the weekend.
Hope this helps.
Lastly, Mastercard and Visa cards works in Ghana so no money hassles