Once a major stop for slaves on their way out of Africa, Ghana is historically and culturally significant in world events. In modern times, Ghana is one of the safest countries for travelers in West Africa; it has a reputation for open, friendly people and a diverse culture. Governmental regulations and health risks require that you prepare for a trip to Ghana in advance to ensure a safe, hassle-free trip.
Unless you are a national of the Economic Community of West African States, you are required to obtain a visa before entering Ghana. While visitors have long needed to apply for a visa before leaving for Ghana, you can now get a visa on arrival if you are flying into Accra. To get a visa, either in advance from a Ghana Embassy or at the Accra airport, you will need an onward air ticket. Visa fees vary depending on whether you are at the Accra airport or in the U.S., and on whether you need a single- or multiple-entry version. Visas are good for 60 days.
Yellow Fever and Malaria Prevention
Ghana is a tropical country with year-round heat and high humidity; the environment is ideal for mosquitoes. Yellow fever and malaria are serious concerns for travelers to Ghana. Ghana requires that visitors have a certificate of immunization against yellow fever before entering. The certificate must be presented with your visa application. Although it is not required, you may want to bring anti-malarial pills; the risk is high in many areas. Visit your family doctor about two months before you travel, because malaria medications must be started before your trip.
Because quality medications can be difficult to find in Ghana, carry a supply of prescription and over-the-counter medication that will last the duration of your trip. Bacteria in the water and food can cause diarrhea, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that you bring an anti-diarrheal medication to allow you to handle long bouts of travel. Other items to bring include iodine tables, anti-bacterial hand wipes, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Women may want to bring their preferred brand of tampons or sanitary napkins, because Western brands may not be available in more remote locations of Ghana.
Ghana has a reputation as relatively safe, but poverty levels are high and pickpockets can be a problem. A money belt worn under your clothes is useful in busy markets or on long bus rides. Ghana uses the cedi as currency, and larger cities have ATMs that allow you to withdraw local currency at a good exchange rate. Bring both Mastercard and Visa cards to ensure maximum coverage. It is wise to bring some cash for exchange; Lonely Planet advises that US dollars, UK pounds and Euros are the easiest to exchange. When traveling in rural areas, there may be no ATMs, and you will need smaller denominations.