Returning Home to Ghana
I truly cannot find the words to adequately express what traveling to Ghana meant to my husband and I. As cliché as it sounds, it was as if we made a pilgrimage home. Like birth, the feeling was indescribable, as it should be since a new sense of awareness was born from the experience. My husband is very much into finding out more about his family and ancestry. When we did the DNA tests, both of us had major percentages from Ghana, so we decided to spend our second anniversary there. It was my first time in West Africa and his first time on the continent, so we wanted it to be a memorable trip. We got more than what we expected and now feel that every Black person from the diaspora should make the journey back home. You will be welcomed with open arms, and it will be an emotional yet necessary experience. I still get numerous questions about planning a trip to Ghana and have shared my tour guide with others who utilized him and were satisfied. It’s definitely time to provide you all with a written resource detailing hotels, tours, and activities across one of our favorite countries.
If you think West Africa is all dirt roads and poverty, please get that false assessment out of your head right now. Unfortunately, many people still believe this, which is why I use my platform to showcase luxury travel across ALL continents. We stayed at a 5 star hotel in Accra, guesthouse in Kumasi, and beach resort in Cape Coast.
In Accra, we stayed at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, a 5 star experience that began and ended our anniversary with the romance we desired. As we pulled up to the grand building with an enchanting waterfall in front, the bellhop greeted us as we were escorted into the hotel. My eyes immediately lit up as I caught sight of the extravagant chandeliers and décor. My husband and I glanced at each other and both nodded our heads. The room was clean and modern with a large tub (my personal indulgence) and overlooked the pool area. It truly is the little things that matter, and I was impressed when the TV had a welcome message with my name! The pool/lounge area had food and drink service, there was a bar area that also served bites, and a restaurant in an intimate garden area. We also had the best breakfast buffet experience we’ve ever encountered; unlimited champagne, natural juice shots, cooked to order omelets, meat and cheese station, array of pastries, spread of hot foods (including traditional items), and a live drum band! The con is that there isn’t really anything around it (a mall was being built next door but wasn’t open), but pretty much everywhere in Ghana required a car. Also, the food at the pool can take a long time to arrive. However, I always recommend this hotel for Accra without hesitation if your travel style leans toward luxury or if you’re celebrating something special.
Price: $339/night for Superior King Room and $544/night for Junior Suite
Kumasi is more traditional, which I highly advise to visit since it’s where you can do the naming ceremony (see below). While searching, we really didn’t find anything available that would be considered luxury, so we stayed at Asantewaa Premier Guesthouse, which was recommended by our guide. The room was small and basic, but very clean with a community balcony that made for a nice night viewing the stars and enjoying the moment. There was a small restaurant on site; the food took awhile, but I think that’s just common in Ghana. There really wasn’t anything too special about the hotel, but it provided a safe, clean space to stay while taking part in more cultural activities.
As the name suggests, this area is on the coast and is where our ancestors were held before crossing the Atlantic. A visit here is a must do, as I’ll explain later. Since it is on the water, we were able to spend our actual anniversary day at a beautiful beach resort consuming the best food we tasted in Ghana: fresh seafood. Coconut Grove Beach Resort was also recommended by our guide and was a lush property that offered horseback riding, a pool, and direct beach access with mesmerizing sunsets. The rooms were basic and outdated, but they were large and clean, and the property itself made up for it. This haven of relaxation was definitely needed after the emotional toll we experienced while visiting the slave castles. The hotel is actually based in Elmina, which is a few minutes drive from Cape Coast.
If you take nothing else from this post, please seriously consider hiring my tour guide to plan your Ghana itinerary. I’m not sure if I just wanted to relax since it was my anniversary or if Ghana is difficult to navigate as it has less tourism infrastructure than other places I’ve visited. Either way, I don’t regret hiring Nana to plan my itinerary and had a wonderful time exploring various cities in Ghana with his partner, Kofi. 8 days were planned for us to experience unique parts of the country, but they were very flexible in canceling certain activities if we simply wanted to relax. It was more of a suggestion, but since my husband and I were on a private tour we could tailor the schedule to our liking. The opportunity to speak with and learn from someone who grew up in Ghana was priceless, and we were able to economically support a local, small business. Kofi was with us from pick up at the airport to drop off, as well as a personal driver, and had a hidden talent for photography. The 8-day tour included transportation for the duration of the trip, entrance fees for sites, arranging of the naming ceremony, and airport pick up and drop off for $480 per person. You will not be disappointed, and I can assure that you will be well taken care of without having to stress about the details. Here is our itinerary below.
We were picked up from the airport and then able to relax that night at the hotel. Relaxation is definitely needed after traveling for nearly a day.
We did a day tour of Accra, and started by visiting the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial, which is where the first President of Ghana rests. We then visited Independence Arch, which is a public square celebrating Ghana’s Independence, followed by one of the highlights of the trip: drumming lesson! For lunch, we stopped at Buka, which provided delicious, traditional food and our opportunity to try Ghanaian jollof for the first time! I’m definitely a fan, but can’t say which is better until I try jollof in Nigeria. We finished the day by stopping by W.E.B Dubois home where we were lucky enough to witness a wedding and snapped a picture at the “I Love Accra” sign.
Starting early, we drove 4 hours to Kumasi, which is a more traditional area of the country. Our first activity was being surrounded by the bustle of activity and hues of various fabrics at the local market. Of course, I selected some fabric and had an outfit made. This was also a good place to see how the local economy worked, as the market sold clothes, food, seasonings, household items, and more. After the market experience, we visited the Manhyia Palace, which is where the Asante King lives. It was remarkable to learn about the history of Ghana beyond what I was always taught in school (basically that people were enslaved) and to witness the royalty of the local King. In that area, the King has more power than the government.
Day 4 was one of the most heartwarming parts of the trip. Our tour guide arranged a naming ceremony for us with a local Asante community. We met the elders of the community, received Ghanaian names, and a Kente cloth embroidered with our new name. The ceremony consisted of the actual naming, tasting cold water and hot liquor to symbolize telling the difference between right and wrong, and having legs and arms cleansed then rubbed with shea butter. My Ghanaian name is Abena (means born on Tuesday) Afrakomah (means strong heart). My husband’s name is Kofi (born on Friday) and Asante (royal). We truly felt as if we belonged and embraced the elders with hugs and laughter. There are no words to express our gratitude for their kindness. After the naming ceremony, we were shown how kente cloth is made, as well as black soap and shea butter from their land.
We drove 4 hours to Cape Coast, stopping on the way to visit the site where the last bath occurred before enslaved individuals were taken to the holding castles. We definitely felt a spirit there as a cluster of white butterflies encircled us as we walked inside the site. It was heartbreaking to hear how people were captured, forced to walk for days barefoot, chained to a tree to be left to die if sick/weak, then forced to bathe in a river with sharp plants as substitute for a cloth. They were also made to do calisthenics to weed out the weakest individuals. Although this was a sad experience, we left feeling hopeful as we were able to write our names and our family’s names on a “Wall of return” marking the day we had returned to Ghana. The guide was also adamant that the river was magical and encouraged us to wish for what we desire. My wish hasn’t come true yet, but I’m working towards it, which is probably the beauty of it. Since it was our actual anniversary, we relaxed for the rest of the day at the beautiful beach resort, watching the sunset and indulging in seafood and another decadent traditional dish, groundnut soup.
This was definitely the most emotionally toiling day as we visited the Cape Coast Castle (or should I say dungeon) that our ancestors were held in before crossing the Atlantic. We could not believe our ears when we were told we were walking on dried up mounds of waste inside the dungeons since people were forced to use the bathrooms on themselves and were often kept in darkness with one tiny hole providing light. Women were raped and brutalized and many fell ill due to the unsanitary conditions. Although the site was beautiful and perched on the ocean, the slaves only saw terror during their time there. My husband and I felt empowered to be able to return as descendants and walk upon a place that was once denied to our people and walk back through the Door of Return, symbolizing that those who left many years ago found their way back. This is a MUST DO.
Days 7 & 8
We drove 2 hours back to Accra and participated in some much needed relaxation at our favorite hotel.
I’ve been to 35 countries, but Ghana is the only one that I recommend all Black Americans visit. It is something your whole family needs to experience, and we look forward to returning with our family and future children. If you are looking for a transformative travel experience, Ghana will give you that and more. Book the trip!
xoxo, Global Midwife