Calling all Americans and people around the globe. Have you been to Africa? If so, where have you visited? Morocco? South Africa? Yes, these are great places to visit but not the only places in Africa. If you haven’t visited Africa, why not? If you’re like me, places outside of Egypt, Marrakech and Cape Town aren’t on the travel radar because they simply aren’t discussed as vacation options, and frankly, I have often been told, “Africa is dangerous!”

After deciding to embark on an around the world trip, I researched locations in Africa to visit. Did you know that Africa has over 50 different countries and is currently the continent that has the most countries? That meant lots of options for me to choose from. As I was planning my trip, I made a commitment to only visit countries that I had never visited. I visited Morocco and Egypt many years back so for my upcoming visit to Africa, I selected Ghana as one destination. Continue reading as I give you some insight on why you should visit Ghana and what you should do and experience during your trip.

Things to see and do

Kakum National Park

Do you love the great outdoors and a challenge? Then I suggest you visit Kakum National Park during your visit to Ghana. Depending on traffic conditions, a visit to Kakum National Park from Accra will take about 3.5-4 hours. Don’t let that deter you though. Fun and adventure are just around the corner in this wonderful, lush rainforest rich with wildlife. Arrive early to go on a nature hike or if you are seeking adventure, Kakum offers some additional options to quench your thrill seeking thirst. Ready to conquer your fear of heights, try the canopy walk. In pictures, the canopy walk looks awesome against the lush, green tree canopy backdrop, but once you step on the suspension bridges that are 100 feet off the ground, you might get a little weak in the knees. I know I did, but the feeling I felt to complete the walk across the narrow, wobbly bridges was amazing! Move over Laura Croft and Indiana Jones! If you want to take the adventure to another level, inquire about the availability of the treehouses onsite so you can spend a night in the park.

Cape Coast Castle

If you want to visit a place rich in history, you absolutely must visit Cape Coast Castle! A visit to Cape Coast Castle and other nearby castles should be on EVERY American’s travel bucket list to learn about the atrocities performed against Africans centuries ago that created the foundation for America to become the great nation that it is today. When you are standing in the cramped, dark, unlivable dungeons where captured Africans were held against their wills for weeks and months prior to being packed into ships to make the long journey to America never to return to their homeland, you can’t help but feel the pain and question how any human being could treat another human being so inhumanly. For people of color who are descendants of Africans who were captured, tortured and put into slavery, you will better know and understand the true strength of the roots that make up your DNA. For those with no direct African lineage, you will learn a tremendous amount about how the African Slave Trade influenced the history and the development of the Americas and be able to better understand the origins of Americans with African ancestry.

Shai Hills Resource Reserve

Ready for a bit of hiking that has mild elevation changes that get your heart pumping and take you to heights that offer spectacular views of the expansive protected nature reserve? Shai Hills Resource Reserve is the place for you to get some fresh air and a fresh, new perspective! I am not an avid hiker so I opted for a 2-hour tour, but the park offers treks to different areas of the reserve that last 6 hours or more, and they offer rock climbing. My visit to the reserve was relaxing, informative, and gave me an opportunity to get in some exercise. Portions of the hike included some mildly steep inclines over smooth rock which required a romp to aid in the ascent. After reaching the highest point on the route I chose, the guide reviewed the history of the area and answered my questions. After the history introduction, I took some time to enjoy the beautiful views, cooling breeze and amazing photo ops.

For your taste buds

Ghana has many tasty foods to try so don’t be shy about trying new things. The flavor profiles are great, and if you like spicy food, you will be in taste bud heaven. Here are just a few menu items you have to try.

Groundnut soup with fufu

Light Soup with goat and fufu

Chicken Kebob

Goat Kebob with Suya sauce

Garden egg stew with Tilapia (Kobi) and a side of yams

Grilled fresh Tilapia and Kelewele

These are just a few suggestions of things to experience during your trip to Ghana. Make sure you include these on your itinerary along with other activities available in different regions of the country. Ghana is rich in natural resources, natural beauty, and culture so expect to have a great time. If you have never been to Ghana or Africa before, expect that some things will be different from your everyday way of life, however do not let that deter you from visiting. During my trip, I experienced and saw things that were in opposition to my “normal,” but I never once felt unsafe or afraid.

You should proceed with awareness of your surroundings when you go to any new place, but in Ghana I was welcomed at every turn so much so that “Akwaaba” is now a staple in my foreign language dictionary. Akwaaba! Welcome to Ghana!

Disney World, My First Solo Trip.

Getting There.

Where do I begin? I definitely don’t want to offend anyone with this post but I have to be completely honest because it will give a better understanding on how and why I began traveling alone.

So, at the time of the trip, I was in a relationship. July 2, 2015 was our 3 year anniversary. I always wanted to go to Disney World and at the time, I had a friend that was a Supervisor there. He told me whenever I’m ready to come, just let him know. So, I did. I planned a short 3 day trip for us to visit Disney World for practically FREE. I had everything lined up. I booked a resort for dirt cheap through my SAM’s Club membership. I think I paid under $80 for 3 days!

Anyway, on day 1, we were supposed to drive down to Orlando for our Baecation. He told me that morning of that he could no longer go for an unmentionable reason. I was so upset! Imagine planing this for months, being super excited and on the day of (of all days) get told by the person you’re celebrating love with that they can’t go. How Sway?! Instead, he went to work. Wow.

So, now here I am. Too late to cancel the hotel without losing money and two non refundable tickets for Magic Kingdom (because that's the only park of the 3 we had to pay for) What am I supposed to do?

Day 1 

I consider myself to be pretty organized, resourceful and quick on my feet. Although I was extremely hurt and upset, I was way too excited about this so I planned to still go. After all, I had never been before. Instead of driving alone for 8 hours, I found a Megabus ticket online for $75 roundtrip that will get me to Orlando that night at 20:55. So, I booked it. I left the house with a stuffed backpack and I went to Disney World. Alone.

11:00 Once I got to the Civic Center Station where the MegaBus does its ATL pick up, I really had a moment. Not emotionally, but mentally. I was asking myself “Is he really allowing you to do this without him? He obviously doesn’t care and isn’t trying to do anything about it.” All of my friends were just as shocked and upset as I was. This was crazy yet real life. He was never the type of guy that would do anything to intentionally hurt me. But whatever. The Megabus experience was definitely ugly. Long story short, our bus broke down along the way and I didn’t get to my hotel in Orlando until maybe past midnight. I didn’t care. I made it!

I checked into my hotel at the Raddison Resort Orlando in Celebration, FL. and went straight to bed. This has been the roughest day of my life.

Day 2

As soon as I woke up, I got myself ready for this oddly exciting day. I had breakfast at the hotel and caught the Disney Shuttle all by my lonesome.There were families on the shuttle all dressed up in Disney Gear, then there was me. Whatever.

I arrived at Magic Kingdom and almost shed tears! I AM REALLY LOOKING AT CINDERELLA’S CASTLE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!! This was insane! I was so excited. I spent an entire day At Magic Kingdom. I used the Disney app to reserve my place in line at all the popular places to make things easier and it was seamless. I probably waited no more than 10 minutes at each ride and the single rider movement worked ever so greatly in my favor. This was really a magical experience. From the parades, boat rides, being called "princess" by the staff to the shows and performances and the perfect weather!

Y’all, I never did so much walking in my life….in a skirt! Lol, my thighs hated me. According to my Apple Watch, I had taken 19,456 steps between 9:30 and 20:59

Day 3

This day mattered the most. This was my 2nd and last day. I had to some how visit 3 other Disney parks by 22:00 to catch my bus back home. 10:14 I met up with my friend Anthony at Epcot. He gave me a park hopper pass which allowed me to visit each park (excluding Magic Kingdom, but that didn't matter because I went yesterday) as much as I want in a single day. I can’t even remember which rides I caught first, but Epcot was definitely my 2nd favorite after Magic Kingdom. 14:47 I took a shuttle to Animal Kingdom. This particular park was about 15 minutes away from Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. This park was so cool. I think the first ride I took was the Kilimanjaro Safari. This was amazing! Being so close to wild animals, transporting via boat & got to see my favorite animal..the Giraffe! I didn’t spend too much time at Animal Kingdom because I knew there was a commute back & I also had one more park to visit. I enjoyed a few attractions, got some food and hopped back on the shuttle to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

18:00 I arrive at Hollywood Studios. This park was great but it is my least favorite. The main thing I had to experience while here was the Tower of Terror which I vow to never ride again. Lord Jesus, lol. On this ride, there was a guy sitting beside me and I had to warn him before it started that I may grab him out of fear lol! He was cool with it.

20:52 I arrive back at Epcot to enjoy more attractions. This park was pretty in-depth. I also stuck around long enough to catch fireworks from a distance which was major for me because I wanted to at least see a single spark to complete my Disney experience. I caught my shuttle back to the hotel while the fireworks were going on. Once I got back to the hotel, I had already checked out hours ago, but I needed a place to relax and charge my phone lol of course.

I arrived back in Atlanta around 7:45 the next morning. I really can’t even remember if my ex and I even spoke to each other the entire time I was gone. In fact we never even talked about the trip, how I got there, how much I enjoyed it, etc.. I don’t think I even got an apology for at least a few weeks or so. But anyway, I’m not bitter about it. It’s behind me. I’m actually thankful things worked out the way they did because from that point forward, my adventures began.

The Writer: Alicia Arnold

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