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Highlights Ghana

This year JetLife Vacations is proud to present New Year’s in Ghana, Africa from December 26th through January 5th.

Join JetLife Vacations on this historical tour of West Africa’s gregarious Ghana, home to historic slave forts, wildlife to rival East Africa, and some of the world’s biggest (and brightest) markets.

From the lively city bars and clubs to lush national parks abounding with elephants and golden beaches just waiting to be enjoyed, Ghana is a dynamic destination to meet with enthusiasm and energy.

But wait, there’s more!!! As luck would have it, you’re going to be in Ghana during Afrochella!!!! What’s Afrochella? Afrochella is a mega African festival designed to highlight & elevate thrilling and thriving millennial talent from and within Africa. The festival is an interactive event that explains and explores all things African. The day features a festive celebration of African culture in the form of art & fashion, live painting, the best of African cuisine, and live performances. Have you ever been to the Essence Festival in New Orleans? Well, the best way to describe Afrochella in Ghana is to call it the Essence Festival on steroids!

We’re excited to present Afrochella along with tours, exploring the culture of the city and everything else that our customers have come to expect with a JetLife Vacations, vacation, –especially our JetLife Vacations signature party!

Your Itinerary will be like no other! 7 Nights Accra Ghana2 Nights Safari and so much more!

Things to Know about Ghana

1) Akwaaba! Welcome—that is—to Ghana. Here, people pride themselves on their hospitality. If you stand anywhere too long (and we mean anywhere: gas stations, street corners, in front of someone’s heavily-fortified, barbed wire-topped gate) someone will offer you a seat, or some shade, or tell you you’re invited to their meal. People—and especially school children in pristine uniforms—will want to say “good morning,” or perform a full-on salute. Greet them in return.

2) Plan for traffic. Accra is suddenly huge. Over the past 20 years, the capital has sprawled, literally, to the regional borders. Some neighborhoods are farther away than they may seem on Google Maps. Hundreds of brand-new suburban developments mean that people leave home before 6 a.m. and leave work after 8 p.m. to avoid spending hours in gridlock. Unless you fancy leaving your accommodation before dawn, choose carefully. Generally speaking, avoid anything north of the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange (a traffic nightmare shaped like a four-leaf clover named after the man who first brought cocoa seeds to Ghana in 1876). It’s also best to stay away from neighborhoods west of Mallam or east of the Spintex Road. They’re home to some lovely hotels and guesthouses, but also the city’s worst traffic snarls.

3) Prepare for the noise. Unless you’re staying in a hotel with sealed windows, you’ll likely be woken up early in the morning by a loud church service (and these happen every day of the week); a call to prayer from a mosque; roosters greeting the dawn; or just your neighbor getting up at 4 a.m. to beat the traffic. If you stay by a major road, you will hear the two mates soliciting (more on that later.) And people will play music, or sing at full volume, at any opportunity. It’s a joy to behold. And also, sometimes, deeply irritating.

4) Acquire some Ghanaian English. It’s a relic of colonialism, blended with transliterations from Ghana’s dozen or so major languages. All newspapers are referred to as the ‘Graphic’ after the government-owned daily. All bottled water is ‘Voltic’ after the leading brand. All detergents are ‘Omo,’ (after the Unilever brand) all toothpastes are ‘Pepsodent,’ (also Unilever—we have to talk about multinationals dominating markets in Africa.) All beverages are ‘tea.’ Everything is excessively formal. A few Ghanaian English phrases you are likely to encounter:

  • “Small chops” —hors d’oeuvres, snacks, light refreshments.
  • “Dash me” —give me a little something extra (usually while bargaining at the market).
  • “One mother, one father?”—pretty literal, usually asked after you introduce a sibling.
  • “I quite remember”—a classic rhetorical flourish beloved by middle-aged uncles.
  • “Excuse me to say”—literally translated from local languages, almost like “forgive my bluntness” and usually uttered before something disparaging.
  • “Only your” as in “Only your shoe”—usually high praise about your style.
  • “Go and come”—usually in response to a “goodbye” and from someone who’s expecting you back.

 
5) Branch at the mango tree. There is a uniquely Ghanaian way of giving directions, based on the fact that there aren’t always street signs and most buildings have a technical address based on the land registry, rather than a street address (we’re working on it; the government just introduced a digital address system). ‘Branch’ means turn. Instead of street names, people will send you to a landmark, like a mango tree. Said landmark may or may not still be there. If you’re going to ‘Oxford Street’ (actually the Cantonments Road, but locally nicknamed after the one in London) taxi drivers will ask if you’re going to ‘Total,’ after the gas station nearest the Danquah Circle roundabout; ‘Penta Hotel’ which is no longer there, but further down the street; ‘Papaye’ (more on this legendary culinary institution later); or ‘Shoprite’ after the supermarket in the mall at the other end of the stretch.
 
6) Keep up with “Kumkum Bhagya” and “Osofo Dadzie.” Ghanaians take their soap operas seriously. In some neighborhoods, people will bring their televisions outside so everyone can watch. They are the small-talk topic of choice. There are local classics like “Osofo Dadzie” and “YOLO.” There are also a plethora of telenovelas and Korean dramas dubbed in English or Twi, a local dialect. The current hit is the Indian show “Kumkum Bhagya,”
 
7) Get connected. Event listings are weak, so the best way to find out what everyone’s doing on Friday night is social media. Follow institutions like the Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institute, or venues like the jazz bar +233 to find out what’s on. Add local friends on WhatsApp (Ghana’s finest source of gossip and viral videos of Congolese uncles dancing.) Listen to Joy FM or Citi FM or national broadcaster GBC for grownup news, and YFM or Live FM for information about what the kids are up to.
 
8) Yaa nshonaa. (“Go to the beach,” in Ga, one of our local languages.) Accra is by the sea, but most of the shore is heartbreakingly choked with trash. The exceptions are Labadi Beach, Kokrobite Beach (a longer trip from Accra), and Titanic Beach in Tema, named for that one time a ship ran aground. (What can I say, gallows humor is a national pastime here.) If you can’t be bothered with the trek—or the nature—most of the major hotels have lovely pools open to the public. Our favorites are the Mövenpick (they also do a lovely, if overpriced, Sunday brunch); the Kempinski (although the vibe is very ‘obnoxious dude who pulls up in a Maserati’); the faded but iconic African Regent; and the charming old heap that is the Golden Tulip.
 
9) Go chop. Which means go eat. As soon as we fly in, we usually stop at Papaye, a fast-food place in Osu—a busy district east of the center—that will sell you a mound of rice and half a chicken (grilled, fried, or rotisserie) with coleslaw and a searing black chili sauce called shito for the equivalent of US$4. (Don’t judge us. The flight gets in late and we don’t eat airplane food.) A few days later, once we’ve built up the constitution for street food, we go to Osu night market for kelewele (ripe plantain seasoned with ginger and chili and fried to caramelized perfection) grilled tilapia (fresh from the fishermen on the shore just 10 minutes away and slathered in a green pepper sauce), and banku (a delightfully toothsome ball of fermented corn dough and fresh cassava.) We also make sure we go to Azmera at least once. It’s a high-end buffet place with food from all over Ghana’s 10 regions, fresh palm wine and sobolo (hibiscus and ginger tea, thank me later.) Accra has dozens of ‘chop bars’ for food close to what grandma used to make. Notable among them: Heavy Do in Kokomlemle and Bush Canteen in East Legon. Then there are the ‘spots’ specifically known for one dish, like Philipos, (also in East Legon) for banku and tilapia. If you want to spend a stupid amount of money on a decent linguine with prawns, we suggest Bistro 22 in Labone.
 
10) Join café society. Accra is full of young entrepreneurs, kids running start-ups from a single laptop, and returnees (people born or raised abroad who have… returned.) All these self-employed millennials can be found in the city’s cafés. The OG Accra café is the chic-kitsch Cuppa Cappuccino in Airport residential, which does a legendary cappuccino with a giant head of foam. Café Kwae in Airport city has great fresh juices and looks like it’s in Brooklyn, if you’re into that kind of thing. Tea Baa in Osu has refreshing teas and legendary events. There are branches of Vida e Café everywhere, but the coffee is acid reflux-inducingly bad. Café Mondo comes highly recommended.