Saturday, 23 March 2013

Top 3 Things to Do Around Cape Coast, Ghana

Living up to it's traveler-friendly reputation, Ghana is truly an easy place for a foreigner to navigate.  When people contact me about advice on traveling to West Africa, I always recommend traveling with a French-speaker; however, with the official language in Ghana being English, you are good to go English-speakers! 

Cape Coast, a beautiful coast indeed!

Located in the Central Region of Ghana, Cape Coast is a 3-hour drive from the capital of Accra.  Many tour companies will offer one-day trips, but you can also rent your own car/4x4 or take public transport.  Though the beach region has many attractions to keep you busy, below are the must-do top three:

Top 3 Things to Do Around Cape Coast, Ghana

1) Visit the Cape Coast Castle

Originally occupied by the Dutch in 1660 and taken by the British almost thirty years later, the Cape Coast Castle was created for the Atlantic slave-trade.  Up to 100,000 slaves could be held captive at a time with 200 men being put into a cell 30' x 15.'  The moving tour provides a very eerie feeling moving in and out of dungeons ending at the "Door of No Return."

 Cape Coast Castle and the Male Slave Dungeon

2) Tour Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle, located 8 miles from Cape Coast Castle, was built by the Portuguese in 1482.  It is the oldest and largest slave castle in Ghana.  This castle differs from Cape Coast in various ways including where women were kept (out in the open in public viewing and in the rain as opposed to in dungeons).  The plaque below truly hits the emotional feeling you feel spot on.

Note: The castles will try to charge you 20cedis (~$10) just for taking photos. This is highly negotiable if you say it is too much.  Student prices, volunteers, etc. are the way to go, but you can definitely negotiate.  In the case of Elmina, I showed the receipt of what I paid at Cape Coast (20cedis/$10US total as I negotiated there too!) and they let me slide.

Dungeon leading to the Door of No Return (above) and Female Holding Area (below) 

3) Traverse the Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park

Kakum National Park is a special highlight of Ghana.  A tropical rain forest, it was established as a National Park by the initiatives of the local population.  Many endangered animals, such as the African elephant, live here along with 200+ various other species.  Kakum is the only place in Africa to have canopy level bridges that provide access to the forest.  Crossing the 7 bridges that are 40+ meters above the ground is highly worth the trip!


Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park

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