Adventure by Tro-Tro
Akwabaa and welcome to a grand adventure across West Africa's most welcoming country. You will travel by tro-tro from the remote villages in Ghana's north to the castle-studded coastline in the south. Along the journey you will work at an orphanage, encounter exotic wildlife, shop in a bustling local market, bask in the sun on a palm-studded beach, meet with development experts, canoe to a village built on stilts, taste the local cuisine, dance to the rhythm of African drums, and experience the wonders of life in Ghana.
A good Ghanaian adventure always starts with a tro-tro. These brightly painted vans are ubiquitous in Ghana, blasting lively music as they bump down dirt roads overstuffed with passengers (and sometimes livestock too!). We will hire a sturdy tro-tro and a professional driver exclusively for this program and ride it from the top of Ghana to the bottom. With our own trusty van, we will be able to access remote villages, stop for photos whenever we please, and experience all that Ghana has to offer!
Service Off the Map
The journey will start with a beachside orientation in Accra followed by a short flight north to Tamale, where you will meet your tro-tro driver and get the real adventure underway! Your service will begin in Bolgatanga, where you will work with the excited kids of a local orphanage. Help them with their school work, exchange language lessons, and play games. In addition to spending time at the orphanage, you will improve an underfunded school in the area. Here, the children will be happy to show off the traditions of the north through a cultural show. During your time in the north, you will learn about development issues in this impoverished northern region by meeting leaders of effective NGOs that operate projects in the rural villages surrounding Bolgatanga. In the hours when you are not volunteering, we will venture into the hills in the village of Bongo accompanied by the chief's son, visit a sacred crocodile pond, and learn about the history of slavery by visiting an old slave camp.
Wonderful Wildlife and the Largest Market in West Africa
The journey will continue as you travel across red-dirt roads towards Mole National Park, the country's most impressive wildlife viewing area. Accompanied by a gun-toting park ranger, you will join a walking safari in the morning and a driving safari in the afternoon, giving you the opportunity to safely encounter elephants, crocodiles, antelope, baboons, warthogs, and other wildlife.
During the day, lounge by the pool that overlooks the largest waterholes in the park where animals come to bathe and drink. Then leave Mole behind and journey to Kumasi, the heart of the Ashanti kingdom. On the way, stop off for a picnic lunch below a thundering waterfall and let the cool water refresh you on the journey south. In Kumasi, visit the Kejetia Market, where a maze of thousands of tiny tin stalls sell everything from dried chameleons and kente cloth to cheap toys and fresh fish. Here the group will divide up into teams and scavenge the marketplace for a list of wild items.
Beautiful Beaches and Castle-Studded Coastline
After an epic scavenger hunt, journey south to Ghana's tranquil, palm-fringed coast. Sink your toes into the soft sands of an empty beach and let the tropical waters wash away the dust from a long journey. Learn to bodysurf in the rolling breakers, play beach volleyball and soccer, and listen to music around a beachside campfire. In Beyin, you will paddle a canoe through a coastal wetland to an ancient village built on stilts. Further up the coast, explore the town of Cape Coast and its historic castle- a solemn reminder of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and then walk through the treetops during a canopy walkway at Kakum National Park. This beautiful and fascinating coastline is the perfect place to spend your last days in Ghana and will provide a magical finish to a grand Ghanaian tro-tro adventure!
Who Should Come?
This program is perfect for students who are seeking a rustic African adventure in a friendly country and who don't mind traveling long distances on bumpy dirt roads, eating local foods, and visiting remote villages. We hope you join us on this unique journey across Ghana.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
Depart the USA on an overnight flight to Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Day 2 (Wednesday)
Arrive in Accra in the afternoon and travel to a nearby rustic beach resort for program orientation, including instruction in regional languages and customs.
Day 3 (Thursday)
An hour’s flight north will bring you into the regional capital of Tamale. Here you will meet your Tro-Tro and driver, and begin exploring the northern region. Begin by driving a few hours north to the town of Bolgatanga, where you will settle into a comfortable local guesthouse. Get acquainted with Bolgatanga by venturing into the local market where you can have traditional Ghanaian clothes custom made. At night, visit a literacy program for street children that will teach you about the challenges faced by youth in the region.
Day 4 (Friday)
Visit an area school to participate in an improvement project creating a better learning environment for local children. Rustic Pathways students helped to construct the school last year and while the school has been up and running, there is still work to be done! In the afternoon, you will meet with a local Non Governmental Organization (NGO) in Bolgatanga to learn about their efforts to bring economic development and improved health care to this impoverished region.
Day 5 (Saturday)
We will continue our work improving the school environment. In the afternoon, you will meet with a special local woman who has started a foster home for orphaned children. You will make many new young friends and hear the inspiring history of this home. Afterwards, we will drive out to the village of Bongo and visit the regional chief before climbing into the sacred hills for a breathtaking sunset over the northern plains.
Day 6 (Sunday)
In the morning, head up to the border town of Paga to visit a sacred crocodile pond where you can pet and pose with big crocs. You will also take a tour around the remains of an old slave-trading outpost. Return to Bolgatanga and finish up the work you have been contributing to and we will celebrate with a football match. In the evening, there will be a guided reflection on the first few days of the program focusing on what you have learned about rural development.
Day 7 (Monday)
Travel across bumpy red-dirt roads towards the north-central part of the country to visit Mole National Park, the country’s most popular wildlife viewing area. Take a break during your journey to enjoy some good local cuisine and market of crafts from the northern regions.
Day 8 (Tuesday)
Awake early and enjoy a walking safari into Mole National Park. Accompanied by a knowledgeable park ranger, you can safely walk through the park in search of elephants, crocodiles, warthogs, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. During the day, you can lounge around the pool, which overlooks the largest watering holes in the park. Take a driving safari in the afternoon for additional chances to see wildlife.
Day 9 (Wednesday)
Leave the north and journey down to the city of Kumasi, heartland of the Ashanti kingdom. On the way you will stop at a huge waterfall for a picnic lunch and a refreshing dip. Tonight have a delicious meal and rest up for your day around the bustling market.
Day 10 (Thursday)
During the day, we will learn about the issues facing the big population of street children in Kumasi. Students will help run an outreach to educate street children about a facility that provides them with resources. Afterwards, partake in an epic scavenger hunt in the largest market in West Africa. Wander through the bustling maze of stalls in search of fun and exotic items, giving you an amusing yet authentic insight into life in Ghana.
Day 11 (Friday)
In the morning, we will turn the tro-tro south until you reach the gorgeous and secluded coast between Cape Three Points and Busua. These beaches, regarded as some of the most beautiful and peaceful in West Africa, are the perfect spot to relax away any lingering aches and pains from the long journey thus far. Sleep at a secluded and rustic beach resort.
Day 12 (Saturday)
Enjoy a completely relaxing day at the beach, swimming in the big waves, playing beach volleyball or soccer, and catching some sun. Tonight we will organize a seafood dinner on the beach and a bonfire that will last into the night as we sing traditional Ghanaian songs.
Day 13 (Sunday)
In the morning we will pack up and head down the coast to the bustling port city of Cape Coast where you will spend the next two nights. In the evening, we will climb an old colonial fort overlooking the entire city and have dinner at a restaurant right on the water.
Day 14 (Monday)
In the morning we will tour the Elmina Castle. This building, which was constructed before Columbus discovered the Americas, offers students an impactful experience learning about the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Tonight we will have a special closing ceremony after a final afternoon on the beach.
Day 15 (Tuesday)
In the morning head 30 kilometers north to visit Kakum National Park. After an up close look at the jungle canopy from hanging bridges suspended 150 feet in the air, we will head back up the coast to Accra to venture into a huge crafts market for unique souvenirs. Enjoy a final meal together and then head to the airport for the overnight flight back home.
An Important Note about Schedule Changes
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
All of the items below are guidelines. If you are doing a combination of trips over two or three weeks, be sure to check the packing lists for all sections of your trip to pack appropriately. The average temperature range for Ghana during our April GAP program is 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. During the months of June, July, and August the average temperature range is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the areas that we travel to within Ghana observe more conservative dress habits so please bring some shorts and/or skirts of appropriate lengths. If you have any questions about the Ghana packing list please feel free to email our Ghana team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copy of passport
Journal and Pens
Contact lenses and accompanying paraphernalia
1x Pants (lightweight hiking pants are great)
1x Long Sleeve T-Shirt
1x Dress Shirt or Blouse (short sleeves are fine)
1x light fleece or sweatshirt
1x Lightweight Rain Coat
1x Hat for the sun
1x Tennis Shoes or Sneakers
1x Sandals or Flip-Flops
Personal First Aid Kit
Flashlight or headlamp with spare batteries
1x Towel (pack towels or hiking towels are great and save room)
Sun screen and lip protection, SPF 30+
Notebook & Pen
Deck of Cards
Musical Instrument (Guitars and Harmonicas)