Let’s start at the beginning, how did you end up in Ghana?
Well…. 20 years ago, when I was still young and naive, I went on an adventure as a volunteer for six months . I ended up in the Ashanti village of Banko by chance and was determined to help the poor people. It turned out that the people didn’t really need my help, but I had a wonderful time. A few years later I returned to travel in Ghana. I immediately felt at home again and then slowly the emigration plans started.
In 2010 I left the Netherlands and moved to the same village as where I was in 2001. By the way, many people think that I moved to Africa for a man. Nothing is less true, love was there, but for this beautiful place and the people in general.
What do you think are the main reasons people travel to Ghana?
Ghanaians live all over the world, but generally still have very strong ties to their native country. People still go back regularly for family visits, business or to attend a funeral. When flying to Ghana, the majority of passengers are Ghanaian.
Other travellers are people who are going to volunteer or travellers who want to discover this diverse West African country.
What are some of the things you think travelers should definitely experience in Ghana?
The country is incredibly diverse. We have sun, sea and beaches, beautiful waterfalls, mountains and rich culture. There are many places that almost every traveller visits, such as Busua, Cape Coast, Wli waterfalls and Mole NP.
I am a huge fan of slow travel and off-the-beaten-track. A visit to Ghana is not complete when you don’t leave the coastline. If you want a really special trip then head to the beautiful area of Kwahu, to Lake Bosumtwi and to Bomfobiri in my area.
What type of travelers would be better off spending their vacation in another country?
In my opinion, Ghana is a country to enjoy the whole journey rather than the tourist attractions. We are big in small things. This destination is ideally suited for travellers who love diversity and want to immerse themselves in the culture. Although you can also have a surf and beach vacation just fine.
I think Ghana is less suited to travellers who want luxury and grand tourist attractions or safaris. There are luxury hotels and destinations here, but a roundtrip full of luxury is difficult.
We have a safari park in the north of Ghana, with elephants. But if you are looking for a ‘big five’ safari, then it is better to travel to Malawi.
What prejudices are there about Ghana that are not true?
Oooooh, don’t get me started…
I can’t think of any prejudices about Ghana alone, but then again, Africa is one country. That is prejudice number 1. There are so many. Africans are lazy, Africa is dusty, poor, people live in huts.
The best advice I can give is to book your trip to Ghana and have an open mind, so you can see for yourself that the prejudices and stereotypes are not true!
What about safety?
One of the best things about travelling in Ghana is that you can do it independently. You don’t necessarily need a guide or a car with driver. Of course, things do happen sometimes just like anywhere else in the world. There are pickpockets, especially in the cities and there are sometimes muggings. But if you listen to the locals and make sure you get to your destination before dark, the chances of that happening are slim.
What is the food like in Ghana? And which dishes are your favorite?
The food here is a bit different from what we westerners are used to. Spicy and people like food in ball shape here. But I love it! I’m glad I get to specify more favourites. All-time favourite is still waakye, local rice cooked with beans. But I’m also a big fan of fufu and banku. These are both balls, fufu is usually made from mashed plantain and cassava. Banku is a ball made from fermented cornmeal.
Ghana is quite a big country. What’s the best way to get around here?
That depends very much on the trip you have in mind. Do you have the time and want to interact with the locals? Then definitely choose local transportation! There are luxury coaches on long and busy routes, but travelling by trotro is also very nice. A trotro is a minibus that drives according to certain routes. The people are very helpful.
In the cities there are plenty of Ubers and Bolts available. A small note is that the drivers get paid very badly, especially for the longer trips, so a tip is usually in order.
If you have less time to travel in Ghana and want to see as much as possible, you can also choose to rent a car with a driver. A car without a driver is not common here and maybe that is a good thing. Between the cities, you can also fly, but that is not sustainable of course.
Are there certain diseases in Ghana that you should be aware of and take into account as a traveller?
Ghana is a malaria area, you should definitely take this into account. You can do this by taking prophylaxis and using anti-mosquito spray.
It is also good to keep an eye on yourself regarding wounds. Small wounds can quickly get infected, this is due to the humid climate, flies and dust.
We also live around the equator so the sun can be pretty strong. It is advisable to wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.
How can you help people have a fantastic time while visiting Ghana?
Take a look at the website of Moon&Star guesthouse! We are more than a guesthouse, we organize numerous tours and packages that give you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the rich Ashanti culture. And I am very happy to advise you about the rest of your trip.
I have also written a very informative E-book about Ghana. This book will make sure that your trip will be top-notch. After reading it you will be aware of what you can or can’t eat, the courtesies, how public transport works and I will also help you with the practical preparation.