Ghana - Accra (Blue)
Day 73 (17 December) – Ouaga to Tamale
It is time to drive to Accra, a thousand kilometers and a border crossing in three days… Will I make it?
I gave a lift to a Swedish guy, Frederick who was going in that direction also, so I didn’t have to drive alone. It was still a 150 km to the border at Paga (the town in Ghana side of the border) and there was even a stretch of road where construction was going on but you still needed to pay toll to drive over the dusty diversion…
The border was very straightforward, check out at Burkina’s police and douane and then registering at Ghana’s police (an old guy falling asleep while we filled in the customs forms) and customs. You could just use the Carnet de Passage to get your car in Ghana, no extra charge!
We also wanted to exchange some money, Ghana uses the Cedi. On the internet I checked last night that roughly 1 euro is worth 1.95 Cedi’s. A few years ago Ghana devided all their currencies by 10,000 and thus you were able to use normal numbers compared to the CFA and Mauritanian units. We asked the hassling guys what there rate was for euro which they started at 1.3 cedi’s/euro and going up as high as 1.8. The CFA surprisingly had a rate of 3 Cedi’s per CFA 1,000, which (at a rate of 650 CFA / euro) comes down to 2 Cedi’s per euro. We were not able to make this clear to them… And so only exchanged CFA to Cedi.
On our way to Tamale (pronounced as Tá-ma-lee), another approximately 200 km… In Tamale we stayed at TICCS (Tamale Institute for Cross Cultural Studies), which is just a quiet hotel with cheap clean rooms, plus your own shower and toilet (!!!). TICCS has also a nice restaurant, called the Junglebar, that serves cold beers for 2 Cedi (the normal 625 ml size beers) and the brilliant cheeseburger with a cheeseburger-on-the-side! Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me but Frederick took some nice pictures of the cheeseburger-on-the-side, I hope he still remembers me and our website (how can you forget?) so he can send me the pics later.
Day 74 (18 December) –Tamale to Kumasi
Frederick took the opportunity to hitch another ride down South with me and I took the opportunity to have some nice conversations while driving the next 350 km. But first I needed fuel and thus again money to exchange. I tried a couple of banks but all are closed on a Saturday and the ATM only accepts Visa, which we didn’t have… The nice guards from Barclays bank helped me by calling a friend to came over quickly. Again the euro ended up to be 1.85 Cedi/euro and exchanging CFA gives me 2 Cedi/Euro. I changed almost all my CFA to have enough for diesel, Kumasi, Accra and the unexpected.
Fuel in Ghana is cheap! Diesel prices are C1.18 per Liter, with petrol being more or less similar. Roughly 60 euro-cents per liter diesel is even cheaper than Morocco’s 70 cents and only Western Sahara (50 euro-cents) was cheaper. In other words, ‘Fill it up!’
We had an omelet and coffee for breakfast on the street just past the Barclays. While the kids do the dishes the woman was making the food and drinks. We paid a whole 2 Cedi for the two of us together: 2 big omelets on bread, a coffee and a tea for 1 euro!
The road from Tamale to Kumasi started with potholes but soon you had to pay for the bridge over the White Volta and Black Volta (coincidentally to the names the water also looks white and black!) and the roads are very decent. Along the way we picked up a pineapple, watermelon and some lunch for a few cedi’s. Also the scenery changes when approaching Kumasi, the savanna made way for rainforest. The rainforest was not too dense yet so you could still see into the beautiful forest. A lovely end of the drive!
Kumasi was chaos and the GPS leads you right through the largest market in West Africa… A lot of the market was on the streets and you had to push your way through the crowd. We spend the night at Guestline hostel in Kumasi, a meeting point for backpackers.
Day 75 (19 December) – Picking up Marijn and Annemieke
Early morning we headed into Kumasi in search of another omelet and coffee. We managed to find a guy making them but this time the charge was C2 per person, still within budget I would say.
Around 9am I started up the engines and headed to Accra by myself. It was a perfect road and most of the 250 km were flying by, until… Until you came close to Accra and the road works started. Apparently someone decided it was time to redo ALL the main roads around and in Accra… You could clearly see that they have been working a lot on the roads, mainly by removing the tarmac (or parts of it) and making diversions for the heavy traffic on the roads. But nowhere anyone started to put some new tarmac down. I guess someone thought it was better to do everything at the same time: First remove all roads, then divert all roads and perhaps then they can start making new roads!
I checked out a place from the GPS where you should be able to camp close to the airport, but nothing was there except a parking spot and a wedding in progress at the KFC look-a-like. By this time I decided to drive to the Accra Mall because I was sweating away in the car. It is soo hot here and the air is very very humid, you just start sweating and sweating… Especially downtown Accra when you are stuck in traffic the water starts dripping off your face, and it doesn’t make your cloths smell any better…
The Accra mall was difficult to reach, there is an enormous traffic jam of cars trying to enter and exit the mall’s parking area clogging up all roads around it! I managed to reach the back side and the guards were so friendly for letting me park there (I think because on Sundays there are no suppliers delivering goods). Entering the mall was overwhelming! After spending so much time at markets and small shops the air-conditioned supermarkets are a treat, but very expensive!
Time to get back into the heat and I have to admit, deodorant could not cover the smell of the cloths… Marijn and Annemieke arrived only 25 minutes later than planned, considering all the snow and cancelled flights in Europe! Imagine, snow and freezing temperatures… I’m sweating my ass off here!
We arrived at Big Milly’s (in Kokrobite just West of Accra on the beach) around 11pm and temperatures finally became pleasant, the air was still very moist. A well deserved beer was at its place!
Day 76 (20 December) – Big Milly’s
Today I thought it would be nice just to hang around at Big Milly’s for the day instead of the car. Although it got hot and sweaty already at 9am, Big Milly’s is a great place to relax!
In the afternoon Marijn and I challenged the heat and replaced Elise’s rear shocks for cheap ones I bought in the UK, although the new ones didn’t feel so sturdy at all…