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I travelled to Ghana on a budget, here’s how you can do it too

The earlier you stop the back-and-forth currency conversion, the better for your mental health.

Ghana Independence Square, Accra

Earlier in April, when Temi wrote about three African countries you can visit with less than ₦‎100k, I was triggered. Less than ₦‎100k! Really? That’s a little below my salary, so I could afford it with proper planning and budgeting.

I ended up spending more than ₦100k, and I had to confront Temi that she misled me but then, I was grateful for the push, even if I didn’t say it to her face.

Going to a foreign country would require serious homework and I set out to do it. I’ll give you a breakdown of it so that you can have straightforward planning when you want to embark on yours.

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The first is the transport cost. The transport agency I followed to Accra charged ₦‎55k and you’ll need either your passport or any other government-issued ID card.

You should also have in mind the number of days you want to spend there. The number of days will determine your accommodation cost. I spent about two weeks though.

One hack you’ll find very useful if you’re travelling on a budget is that hotels are cheaper uptown. You can budget between ₦15-20k per night. You should also keep some ₦20k for intra-city transport. The three most popular ride-hailing apps are Yango, Bolt and Uber - arranged from the cheapest to the costliest.

Lastly on this, bear in mind the exchange rate: ₦1000 will get you 15 Ghana cedis - yes, 15 cedis. I was in similar shock when my hefty ₦50k could only get me 700 cedis plus. Don’t let Google's exchange rate fool you, please.

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  • Transport (to and fro Nigeria) = ₦120k
  • Intra-city transport = ₦20k
  • Feeding = ₦10k per day 

And don’t forget to arm yourself with a rich playlist and a solid power bank. A 20,000maH capacity power bank is enough for the trip.

Maza maza, Mile 2, Lagos State is the easiest place to get a bus going to Ghana. There are a number of transport agencies there: ABC, GUO and Chisco are some that come to mind. They charge between ₦55-60k. They often move early in the morning or late at night.

I won’t disclose the one I patronised because I didn’t get optimal service from them and that has affected my willingness to give them free publicity. Another nugget of wisdom for you is don’t be tempted to go by a big luxurious 50-seater bus. The smaller, the faster and the faster, the better.

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The journey takes between 12 to 15 hours, should there be no unnecessary drama on the way. From Maza Maza, Lagos, the road travel will take you through Badagry to Cotonou, Benin Republic; Lome, Togo then finally Accra, Ghana.

Passing through Cotonou and Lome is enough to catch glimpses of the socio-cultural differences between the places and Nigeria. Perhaps the first thing that will jump at you is there are dedicated lanes for motorcycles, just like the Lagos BRT lane.

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There’s also a stark difference between the quality of the road when coming from Lagos and when you enter Cotonou till you enter Ghana. Even if the roads are not so good further into the country, every traveller using the road will at least get the impression one country is intentional about its public image.

Probably because of the rainy season we are in, the impression that you get in Lomé is that it is a poorly planned city that is suffering from flooding and erosion. The roads are good, just like Cotonou’s but one thing a keen observer will notice is the number of beer parlours by the roadside.

Some had barely 500 metres between them. I dare not call Togolese people drunks but they definitely enjoy popping alcoholic bottles.

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Quite interesting that two French-speaking countries separate Nigeria and Ghana and all the people we meet along the way can’t speak a letter of English. The situation may be fair in Cotonou if you are lucky to come across those who speak Yoruba, although their Yoruba sounded a bit funny, perhaps because of the underlying French accent. I should have taken those secondary school French Language lessons more seriously.

For the currency, if you are conversant with exchange rates, you’d have an idea of how battered Nigeria’s economy is. Both cephas and cedis are more valuable than naira.

The reality will properly dawn on you when you change money and you see what that money can(‘t) actually do. What may drive you crazy is if you try to mentally convert the cephas/cedis you spend to naira. You may even feel reluctant to spend the money because a food vendor will tell you that one scanty plate of rice is 20 cedis, and you just changed money from 15 cedis to a thousand naira.

You may not know when you scream that you can’t actually buy that rice for ₦500. But it is what it is. The earlier you stop the back-and-forth currency conversion, the better for your mental health.

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Lest I forget, go along with all the cash you want to spend. The bureau de change guys you meet at the Togo and Ghana border crossings won’t accept transfer or an ATM card.

On getting to Accra, the bright landscape and structures will definitely catch your attention. It suggests a well-planned, electricity-spoilt but expensive city. They say the traffic is mad but anyone who has experienced proper traffic in Lagos will see it as child’s play.

The last stop for your bus will be Circle. It is from there that you’d navigate to the hotel you have reserved for yourself.

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Or you still want me to teach you how to navigate that? You’d have to pay at this point sha. Feel free to reach out to me on social media for consultation. I charge in cedis, not naira. Lol.

A Google search and online booking should help you. Areas like Lapaz, Gbawe, McCarthy Hill, Dansoman should give you nice and affordable lodges.

This post is long enough, considering that you didn’t even pay for the premium info. Read the follow-up article here where I discuss at length what you should expect during your adventure on the Gold Coast.

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