The holidays are here again, which means many Ghanaian families in the UK and around the world will be going to Ghana for some holiday sun.
Usually when we holiday in Ghana, we tend to stay in the southern part of Ghana, notably in Accra or Kumasi. In case you have forgotten, Ghana is made up of 10 regions! 10 regions with its own unique rich culture and tourist attractions. I mean, do we really explore Ghana when we visit? How many of you have visited Wa (Upper West region), Ho (Volta region), or Bolgatanga (Upper East region) just out of curiosity and interest?
Our motherland has so much vibrant history and culture that can be easily missed if one does not look. Holidaying in Ghana should not just revolve around Accra and Kumasi, so I’m going to give a short breakdown of the different regions in Ghana and what each has to offer. If you’re in Ghana this summer or will be visiting in the Christmas period, why don’t you take some time to go to some of these places? It just might change might your view of Ghana for the better…
Upper West Region
Let’s start with the Upper West, noted for its lush green savannah and also boasting a rich cultural heritage. Home of the Damba festival and many others, the xylophone, pito and tuo zaafi, a trip to the north-western part of Ghana is an adventure one is unlikely to forget!
You can fly to the upper west region by air to Tamale then continue your journey by road using STC buses. If you’re travelling from Accra or Kumasi to the region by bus then the journey time is 15 and 11 hours respectively. International visitors can also come through Burkina Faso via the Hamile border.
Where to stay
It is true that the infrastructure in the northern part of Ghana is perhaps not as developed as the rest of the country; however the Upper West region offers a few choices of quite nice accommodations in forms of hotels and guesthouses. Upland Hotel and Jam Guest House in Wa are probably the best places to stay – the rooms have air con, running water, fridge and TV.
Things to do
There are countless things to do in the upper west region that will occupy your time. The Wa Naa’a Palace in the capital Wa is a magnificent piece of architecture one must not miss. Built in the 16th century, the palace is home to the paramount chief of Wa. Another equally charming palace to visit is the Jirapa Naa’a Palace, the first multi-storey mud building in Ghana.
The Upper West region is rich with history – just north of Wa is the Gwollu Defence Wall, a defence wall built by Gwollu Koro Liman to defend the town of Gwollu against slave traders in the 19th century. One can also see the legacy of the trans-Saharan trade in the form Islamic influences in the towns within the region – the region is dotted with mosques, most notably the ancient Sudanese mosques at Nakore.
Make sure you explore the region’s rocky landscape, including the beautiful mushroom shaped rocks known as the Wulin Mushroom Rocks. Visit ancient caves found in Bulenga, Dahili and Sankana, which served as refuge for those fleeing from slave traders, and remnants of former slave camps can be found in Pizaga and Dolbizon.
The Upper West region is also known for its many wildlife and nature reserves – take in some of the natural wonders Ghana has to offer by heading to the Gbelle Game Reserve and Bird Sanctuary in Tumu, which is home to buffalos, elephants and Ghana’s largest herd of roan antelopes. The Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary is another wonder, and also home to other reptiles and birds. Experience one of the best dawn choruses (bird song) in Africa by spending the night at the Hippo Hide Tree. Other nature reserves to explore are the Sombo Bat Sanctuary, the Jefiiri Sacred Royal Python Sanctuary and the Crocodile Pond in Eremon.
Finally, get your party groove on by attending some of the festivals held all year round in the region, notably the Damba festival, the Paragbiele festival, Willa Festival and the Kakube Festival. These are occasions to witness the chiefs and people of the region in their smocks and traditional attire. Listen to xylophone players while tucking into a bowl of tz or ‘tuazaafi’ and a of calabash millet beer (pito)!
Yaa Nyarko (@yaayaa_89)