Ghana is a nature lover’s delight. It’s sunny equatorial climate and fertile well-watered soils sustain an enchanting selection of wildlife, ranging from elephants to monkeys and marine turtles to crocodiles, as well as hundreds of colorful bird and butterfly species. More than 5% of the country’s surface area has been accorded official protection across 16 national parks or lower-profile conservation areas, of which the most popular tourist destinations are the vast Mole National Park in the northern savannah and the forested Kakum National Park near the coast.
Over recent years, Ghana has emerged as a pioneer in the field of community-based ecotourism, which aims to create a mutually beneficial three-way relationship between conservationists, tourists and local communities. The Boabeng-Fiem Monkey Santuary, home to sacred troops of mona and black-and-white colobus monkeys, led the way in 1995, and it remains the flagship for more than two dozen other community-based tourism projects countrywide. These range from the award winning Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary in the Upper West and Amansuri Wetland Sanctuary in the Western Region to cultural sites such as the Domana Rock Shrine, set in the forests near Kakum National Park, and the painted houses and pottery of Sirigu in the Upper East.
Volta Region, the most topographically varied part of Ghana, also hosts the country’s largest concentration of community-based ecotourism sites, and offers outdoor enthusiasts some superb opportunities for hiking, rambling and mountain biking. Popular attractions include the sacred monkeys of Tafi Atome, a plethora of magnificent forests and waterfalls around Amedzofe, the country’s highest peak on Mount Afadjato, and the magnificent forests and waterfalls around Amedzofe, the country’s highest peak on Mount Afadjato, and the impressive forest-fringed Wli Falls, the tallest cascade in West Africa.
Ghana is highly alluring to birdwatchers, with 725 species recorded in an area comparable to Great Britain. For casual visitors, it is colourful savannah birds such as gonoleks, rollers, parrots and weavers that tend to catch the eye, as well as the eagles and other raptors that inhabit the drier north. Serious birdwatchers, however, are likely to want to seek out the more elusive residents of the shadowy rainforests interiors of Kakum, Bui and Ankasa, as well as the exceptional variety and volume of marine species that congregate on coastal lagoons such as Keta, Songor and Muni-Pomadze.
Not least among Ghana’s Natural attractions are the suberb palm-lined beaches that line its 500km Atlantic Coastline. One of the most beautiful is Ada Foah, on the Volta Estuary, an important nesting site for endangered marine turtles. The beaches flanking Elmina and Cape Coast are ideal for those who wish to combine their sunbathing with some historical sightseeing, while their less developed counterparts further west around Busua, Axim and Beyin offe the opportunity to truly get away from it all in idyllic surrounds. And for those with limited time, there is always La or Coco Beach, lively sun-drenched expanses of white sand situated on the outskirts of the city of Accra.