BLACK STAR LIONS
GHANA: BASIC INFORMATION
Located in West Africa, Ghana is sandwiched between Cote d'Ivoire on it's western border, Togo on the east and Burkina Faso in the North. The southern shore is the Gulf of Benin which leads into the Atlantic Ocean. Previously known as the Gold Coast, the name of the old empire Ghana was taken upon independence in 1957. It is still a major producer of the world's gold, as well as cocoa, bauxite and timber. It is a major tourist destination for African Americans/Caribbeans because, of approximately 45 total slave dungeons/forts, 32 (70%) were known to be along the coast that is Ghana. Most famous among them are Cape Coast and Elmina castles.
TOURISM: We have a joke about the tourist 'trinity': Accra, Cape Coast/Elmina and Kumasi. It seems that those are the only places tour packages have to offer yet Ghana has so much more to offer. Our region is a popular tourist spot for Ghanaians because of the historical connotations of the Adomi bridge and the Akosombo dam. They were both landmark projects of Ghana's first independent leader, Kwame Nkrumah. The north of the country offers national parks with animals and artistry. For us, the Volta region and parts of the Eastern region are some of the most beautiful places of Ghana, what with the hills, mountains and waterfalls. See our page on Things to Do.
All travelers to Ghana must obtain a valid visa unless you are a citizen of the ECOWAS nations. Check with your local Ghanaian Embassy or consulate. The visa can be for single entry or multiple entry. Visas are being issued that are valid for up to 5 years. Once in the country you are given 60 days 'free'. After that you must extend your visa with the Ghana Immigration Service or pay a fee when you are exiting the country.
WEATHER: Ghana is located 6 degrees north of the Equator on the Greenwich line. Our time is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and we do not change our clocks twice a year, neither turning them forward nor backward. The daily temperature ranges from 25C (77F) to 45C (113F) depending on location and the time of year. The coldest we have ever seen it here along the Volta river is 21C (70F) and that has been the early morning only. During the afternoons it is more likely to be around 40 - 45C (105 - 115F) with concentrated sun. If the sun is covered by clouds it will not reach those heights. The coastal areas and mountain areas are much cooler than our river valley.
Our seasons are not as pronounced as further from the equator. Basically we have two: rainy and harmattan. Rainy season starts in March, with rains hopefully once or twice a week, and peaks in June/July with rains every day or every other day. Mid July to the end of August is usually dry and then rains can pick up again in September, going on through November with the most heavy rainfall in October. December through the ending of February is the harmattan season when the winds come from the Sahara and the air is much drier and the visibility is somewhat lessened. None of this is exact and seems to be changing every year. Hardly anyone is able to predict the weather, including the farmers.
HEALTH:Official recommendations for vaccinations include Polio, Tetanus, Cholera,Typhoid and Yellow Fever. Yellow Fever is the only vaccination that is mandatory. Check with your local Ghanaian embassy because most will not issue a visa without proof of the Yellow Fever vaccination. Many people have already been vaccinated with polio and tetanus so check your doctor or health history. Cholera is prevalent mainly during rainy season but like typhoid is due to poor hygiene, drinking dirty water or eating contaminated food. Hepatitis A is another concern in regards to food and is usually due to poor hand washing practices. The bottom line is be careful of who you eat from, where you eat and what you eat.
When you first get here, buy bottled water. Many are now available on the market. If you are eating street food, make sure you eat it as fresh as possible - meaning you see it cooking (as in roast or fried plantain or yam) and you know there's little to no hand contact after it's been cooked. Kenkey (a food made with fermented corn dough) is always safe because it is reboiled after it's been wrapped in banana leaf or corn husk. One other consideration is women who are walking with food on their heads. Take the 'package' from the bottom of the pile so it hasn't been sitting and stewing (brewing bacteria) in the sun. Traveling with Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthia) and clove can help to ward off certain intestinal problems.
Malaria is a major concern in our country. Avoiding mosquito bites is like trying to avoid the sun. You are bound to be bitten at some time but that doesn't mean it is the Anopheles mosquito that carries the parasite. But better to be safe. It is recommended you start taking malaria medication 2 weeks before traveling. In some places you must have a doctor's prescription to purchase the meds. Find out what is the protocol in your area before you need it. Chloroquine can be bought in any pharmacy in Ghana. We also have P-Alaxin which is made with Artemisin (Artemisia annua). Although it is not taken for prophylaxsis (to prevent malaria), it is a good med to take if you do get malaria as the side effects are minimal. Larium is known to be neuro toxic - that is, toxic to the brain. If this is your doctor's choice, ask for something else. The three best known mosquito repellants (in order of efficacy) are Citronella, Clove oil (has the longest lingering effects) and Patchouli oil. Combine all three with some citrus oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil in a carrier oil of your choice for a great, natural, homemade insect repellant.
THIS IS JUST A GUIDE. BE SURE TO GET THE MOST UP TO DATE INFORMATION FROM YOUR HEALTH SERVICE.
Hydration is another major issue that is rarely talked about. It is not just the lack of water, but a balance between fluids and mineral salts in the body. You must drink lots of water (at least 2 liters per day) but you should also try to get fruit juices or herbal teas as well to maintain mineral balance. Think about drinking a total of 3 - 4 liters of fluid per day while here and more if necessary. Drinks like coffee (even decaf), black tea, beer and other alcoholic beverages will dehydrate you so if you drink those, by all means, drink more of the other fluids.
It would be worth your while to carry your own mini medical kit. Our personal recommendations include Wormwood tincture, clove (oil and tincture), Swedish bitters, Vitamin C powder (1 tsp = 4,000 - 5,000 mg), Nutribiotic (AKA Grapefruit Seed Extract), mosquito repellant (experiments showed that the best natural repellants were citronella, patchouli and clove oil, with clove oil lasting the longest), a triple action cream (antibiotic, anti fungal and anti inflammatory), tylenol (in case of fever) and some incense to keep mosquitoes off at night. The first time we came to Ghana Harriet had been taking Aloe Vera juice for well over three months. It took at least 2 weeks before the mosquitoes noticed her, and mosquitoes LOVE her.