If you are fed up with crowded and polluted Accra city center, if you feel like breathing better and cooler not too far from the town, I really advise you to go to Aburi.
After you left Accra, you drive through the green hills for about 40 mn until you arrive in the centre of Aburi. The botanical garden in Aburi was started by the British and opened in March 1890.
The Botanical garden in ABURI
It is not expensive to enter with your car ( 2.5€ )and driving into it, there is a line of tall trees that makes you feel like you are in Beverly Hills :
Then you can have a nice walk through Aburi Botanical Garden. Due to the altitude of Aburi, the climate is a really cooler than neighbouring Accra.
However, if you wanted to have a long walk it is not for you since it is quite small…
As you can see , you will discover the ficus tree which is so big that you can enter in its trunk!
There are more than 350 different plants species which are growing in Aburi. There is a romantic lane, “Lovers Lane” where roses are growing, and an area with the “brown gold” of Ghana: cocoa.
There are many huge termite mound too ! Just have a look !
The botanical garden is a great place to relax and take “fresh” air, and watch to birds:
If you want to look to huge majestic trees one after the other, and take a nap under trees in a cool temperature, then you will enjoy the place.
Moreover, I advise you to plan a picnic with friends and children which can be perfect It will be a great place to let the kids run around without any fear : there is a “retired “helicopter which is perfect for them to play inside too.
There are small eating places within the gardens too but it doesn’t seem like good ones. You should come with your own food or go and eat in Hillbury, a greatplace that I love.
If you prefer going to the restaurant with your family or friends and rest to Hillbury resort, you will discover a majestic hotel in the spectacular Akwapim mountain range.
The views is amazing over the surrounding mountains and you an rest in the swimming pool in front of the evergreen valley of the majestic view.You will thenn feel better, escaping the crowded places, and most of all you will enjoy good food.
On the afternoon, you can also go to a farm not far from Aburi center where you can buy fruits and vegetable and see their pigs too!
Then after all this, I am sure that you will come back to Accra with good energy 🙂
When you live as an expat and espacially far from Francee, like in Ghana, you can not always choose your holidays at the good period, and as soon as your parents house is far, you can not go there for 2 days chritsmas feast…
So in 2014, we decided to spend ou first christmas in Ghana under the sun and the heat! It is strange to see christmas trees in street or in shops when it is 35 degrees!!
So, we decided to stay 4 days in Axim, which is 6 hours drive from Accra, located just before the Ivory Coast.
We had booked for a very wonderful and peaceful hotel with perfect nice bungalow.
We wanted to rest, breathes fresh and ocean air, and have good lunch and of course visit all around.
And it is what we did!
Axim, a very nice beach horizon…
We arrived in Axim after being stop several times by police who always stop you even if you did nothing and lies to you to get some money whereas you go to police station…So with few cedis less in our pockets, we finally arrived to our wonderful place to stay and rest.
Axim is a coastal town, about 60 km west of the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi in Western Region.
Our bungalow in Axim Beach Hotel looked like the ghanaian house in North of Ghana, and was in front of the beach, which was out of this world.
Inside, it was great too :
The views are amazing from the chalets; the bathrooms charming with wonderful shells incorporated into the design; the beds comfortable
During the night you can listen to the waves… so relaxing…and magic moment!
But to enjoy this time, make sure to take a lot of bug repellents for the night time mosquito attacks…if you do not have the moquito net!
Eva, a german woman is running the restaurant with meticulous efficiency and always happy to help with any food requests.
Do not forget to request the on duty personnel to get some of the freshest coconut with the sweetest water for you or some hard drink.
Some people might say that the food takes a long time to be served but that is the general timeline of restaurants all across Ghana. We found it very good and advise you to eat there.
One morning, we went on a canoe through the mangrove, 3 mn from the hotel.
Nzuelezo, the village above the water
Early in the morning, we went to discovert a typical village called Nzuelezo, which is not far from Axim.
We took a canoe and we were brought throught different landscapes until we discover….
the stilts village !
When we were on the pontoon of the village, we started to see people cutting piece of wood to make small boat to sell for tourists like us, and of course we bought several for us and family or friends!
In the casi unique “street” of the village, there was also the school.
I met tourist girls (scared with water, wearing the lifejacket) who wanted a picture with a white ‘obruni” so I agreed of course 🙂
Even small children are used to take a boat alone!
Then we went back to the hotel,
and started there to rest
We really had great time there and we both recommand this place!
Shai hills reserve, peaceful place 50mn from Accra
Shai Hills Resource Reserve is les than an hour north of Accra bordering the Akosombo road. The reserve is 51 square kilometres. This makes this location a small but the closest wildlife viewing areas to Accra.
Shai Hills is a plain by topography but has outcrops of 5 hills. The hills in the Shai area is base to several stone quarries.
Shai Hills also has rich history and heritage of Ga people : the hill was home to the ancestors of the people of Shai and still contains vestiges. It was the British colonial masters who forcibly expelled them in 1892 on the allegation that the natives were committing ritual murders.
Its vegetation is a combination of open and wooded grassland, savanna covered plains. To date 31 mammals, 13 reptiles and 175 bird species have been identified in the reserve.
The baboon troop at the front gate can be very amusing, but be warned these are dangerous animals and they love to snatch your unattended personal belongings!
Two ostriches are also there and they come to you when the guards call them with a “specific noise”.
Best times are in the evenings or during sunset. The lighted city skyline is a sight to behold.
During morning, you may meet Kob antelope, bushbuck or monkeys, although the monkeys here are not habituated like at Tafi Atome or Boabeng-Fiema.
You can travel the park in a 4X4 vehicle or on foot with an armed escort from the hours of 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Visitors can climb up the summit of the caves and the inselbergs in the reserve to view the plains of Accra.
Three caves can be found in the reserve and these are Adwuku, Sayu and Hieweyu.
These caves provide an excellent home for bats which will spend the entire day sleeping only to wake up in the night.
It is an easy clim (look, I even did it with my flip flop!) It takes 10 mn for the 1st one (the photo underneath) and one hour the one on the above photo)
Crocodiles, snakes and tortoises can also be spotted …they say…. but noone of my friends have seen them already !!
The bird life in the park is something really important since migratory birds can be seen :
There are the Senegal parrot, grey plantain eater, hornbill, red northern bishop and violet turaco are in the Shai Hills reserve. Other birds to be found in Shai Hills Resource reserve include Senegal cuckoo, stone partridge and francolin. This makes the reserve a bird lover’s paradise.
At night, we went to sleep to Stone Lodge , at 5km from the reserve, a very nice hotel in the middle of the contryside with a nice swimming pool and quite good meals.
Ada is a town is located along the Volta River, in the estuary of the Guinea golf.
The Volta River Estuary is the place where the waters of the sea and the river join.
The original estuary was shifted across the Volta River towards the other side by the force of the waves.
As a consequence, this original site was dredged open by the Volta River Authority to reopen the estuary and allow salt water to enter the river.
March, Sunday the 12th
We were invited by friends there to do sailing with their boat.
As a sunny sunday (as usual in fact) and we drove for 1h45 to get there, going through Tema on the motorway, 70 km on the East side.
To go there, if you do not have a car, you can take also Tro-tro from Tudu Station in Accra or STC-Bus. It takes more than two hours and costs us about $3 each – a bargain to reach the dreamy coastal town.
And to get to the other side of the Volta River there is a ferry connection to and from Anyanui too, but it only operates on Wednesdays and leaves Anyanui at around 1pm and 6pm and takes about 1 1/2 hours. It departs in Ada Foah around 8am and 3pm.
Ada history :
Tradition says that people living in Ada were coming from the east in XVII century.
Afterwards, Ada became a big place thanks to its trategic positioning in the mouth of the river.
The sea traffic reached the locality of Yeji. Then Denmark occupied the territory until 1872 when the British Colony arrived and changed the political organisation of Ada to such a point that the territory did not have a leader ( the Matse) anymore. They bought their forts and trading posts to the Danish, and Ada became a major market for the salve trade until it had been abolished.
They had to wait until 1727 to see Dake II be the chief and 1977 Abram AkuakuII wich is the actual one.
Ada has no much traces of physical structures such as forts, factories and shops remaining, since large parts of the town
have been eroded and washed into the sea.
In order to solve this problem, the construction of a sea defense wall is under way since 2010.
With the start of the cocoa industry, Ada lost its importance, since cocoa was transported on the road instead of the river and was harvested far away from Volta River.
Also, the construction of the hydroelectric dam in Akosombo dried up the Volta River and ships could no longer pass…
Discovering the islands in Ada
The islands in the river and in the estuary are a wildlife paradise: marine turtles, birds, crocodiles and monkeys are some of the animals living there.
The mangrove vegetation in the salty parts of the estuary is another attraction and an important ecosystem.
It is however endangered by human activity along with rare animals that are often hunted down.
The estuary also offers the best conditions for water sports like sailing, canoeing, fishing, water skiing, wake boarding and jet skiing.
You will also see beautiful houses from rich ghanaian people such as the brother of the president :
There is a ferry and boat harbor at the riverside where boats can be rented for a cruise around the islands in the river.
We had prepared our lunch box to be able to stay on a quiet and lonely beach on the banks of the lake.
We took their boat with the dog too ( the boat which is “2 in 1” being also a jetski).
The place is so beautiful, the palm trees which fall into the lake and the sand with coconut tree which have fallen down into water make it special and amazing place.
You can observe the fisherman there : they build their traditional fishing boats which requires much work and is very expensive. The lower part of the boat is made of one big piece of wood, the upper part of planks.
All the boats are then painted in many colors with religious sayings written on it. There are many fishing villages around, the bigger ones being Akplabana and Pute.
And there are also different types of birds on Keta lagoon as you can see below :
This island hosts thousands of migratory European birds wintering in Ghana.
If you look carefully to the sand, you will oberve hermit crabs
What about crocodiles, turtles and monkeys?
There used to have many crocodiles living on one of the islands in the river. But increased human activities drove them away. All that is left nowadays are two or three crocodiles living in a small walled cage on Pediatorkope island
There is no tour to visit them, but any boat operator will take you there if you want or just rent a canoe and paddle there yourself.
We did it one time going with a fisherman boat and we saw crocodiles in a duck pond : they were given some part of chicken (if we paid for it).
The attraction worth it because the crocodiles open their mouth and within a second the chicken is Destroyed and nothing exceeds its mouth.
Turtles are revered to as god for the local people life in Ada and are therefore not to be touched, killed or eaten. But unfortunately, some still eat them or sell them to make money with it.
Every year from August to February the Leatherback turtle, Green turtle and Olive Ridley turtle lay their eggs at the seashore. The main nesting areas are the islands/sandspit between the two estuaries and beaches westward of the estuary. Unfortunately it was not the good period for ud this time to see them …and be there at night!
To see monkeys (Spot-Nose monkey and Green Monkey) on so called “Monkey Island” you will have to get up early and arrive around 6.30 a.m so that you may see them because they go inside the forest during the day.
END of the day…
We have swim and rest under a parasol and after a while we went water skiing as you can see me below 😉
I was a great day for all of us and we got fresh ideas to start a new week in great shape!
At 40 minute drive from Accra, just past krokobite beach and you get to is this little piece of paradise to escape at last from the crowded and noisy Accra.
Here is the nearest beach from Accra : BOJO BEACH !
Entry fee is Ghc 15 but be aware that you are not allowed to take your own food or drink.
You will walk on a stone trail to a large canoe-type boat which will takes you across the lagoon to the white sand of Bojo beach.
Then it is time to rest and enjoy the sea with a wind …If you want , you can ask a table 10 meters from the sea, without nobody in front of you ! Just amazing 🙂
You can order food such as tilapia, chicken, jollof, yam chips, but also french fries, octopus, etc. Smoothie, Pizzas are also available. Prices are correst (around 35 GHC the chicken /french fries meal and 2 GHC the bottle of water).You should try to order as soon as you arrived so that you will get your meal for lunch -and not for dinner- 😉
You can also have fresh coconuts for 2 GHC to quench your thirst after swimming or having a walk along the beach.
The sea is quite clean, the beach all around the restaurant also, but all garbage are hidden in holes under the sand…… you can see in front of you the man “cleaning” by digging a hole and put all the litter inside….
The “attraction” here is to see the fishermen firing their nets in front of you. They are about 20 men doing this :
You can talk to them and they will love to explain their work.
Today, I met Francis a ghanaian from accra, who come every week-end to Bojo Beach to go fishing from 6 am to 11 am. During the week , he works as a security guard in Accra Mall.
They sell their frying of fished on markets or to you if you want of course.
==>But what I saw is so so so small fishes ….
The waves tends to be strong and you have to swim well and dive under each wave coming to you … it can be quite difficult to stay along inside because of it. The sea is hot and you feel good inside!
Some people also play in the volley ball court but it is so hot that I did not even tried once!
Be awared also that music start from 2 pm from the restaurant : so if you feel like dancing, and love music, it is perfect !! But if you want to rest in a quiet place, it is no more possible. So you should choose to come early and leave early !
On the afternoon, you can have a walk and discover all the colored fishing boat in wood, and meet ghanaian tidying up and folding fishing nets, and also children collecting crabs to cook ! Since it can be far, I had the security guard following me.
At the end of the day, you can take advantage of the light turning down with the silver reflections of the sea…
Colored fishing boats along the coast are particularly wonderful at sunset.