My 2018 Ghana Road Trip on a Budget with four friends

This time last year, I had begun to prepare for a road trip to Ghana even though I still had my doubts on moving ahead with the plan. Asides the anxiety from never having travelled out of the country getting me stressed, wasn’t sure I’d be given a time off from work. The plan and budget were centered around 7days.

I was relatively new at my job at the time, only 6months old. And for all the period I’d been employee at my work station, none of my colleagues had ever taken that number of leave days in a stretch before, even my boss. Was I even eligible for a leave?

So what I got to do was work tirelessly on some project for some international visit. When the event was over and I requested for the leave, my boss thought I was trying to escape an impending illness after having stretched myself all through the visit preparation.

So much so he immediately granted my leave without a moment’s thought. Leaving me surrendered to be mesmerized in anticipation of my travel that was about six weeks ahead.

Planning a Road Trip on Budget

We planned for a road trip so it could be readily affordable. We were five single ladies about to throw all care out the window and embark on a week’s worth of adventure. That plan did not involve spending a buck load of money on the least fun aspect of the adventure – getting to the destination.

From analysis, air travel cost roughly 4times the price of bus transport. The journey would be shorter, but 9hrs wasn’t all so bad either. We’d have full on 5days for exploration, not terrible. After all it was only Ghana.

The choice for Ghana wasn’t premeditated upon. There was a pool of options – Zanzibar, SA, Seychelles, but various factors were considered, like time of the year, length of travel and rate of exchange. Accra won and the planning begun.

You know how it always goes where rigorous planning for an event is made and contingencies are accounted for which all seem adequate at the time. Come the day of the event and some emergency crops up and everyone is shaken about the fate of the event. That didn’t happen. Every last man showed the first morning and the journey began its countdown.

We had already sorted our accommodation online before the day of the trip. We’d paid for a 5 4 star 2bedroom apartment in Accra on Airbnb, and we had been pre informed on distance/ price via Uber from bus terminal so we were relaxed about the time of arrival. The bus terminal was even conveniently located on the overhead of Shopryte.

The apartment was one of luxury, located at East Legon. It was a serviced apartment and it also came with a gym, pool, and other fancy sights. Funny enough, individually it didn’t cost us a lot. The house went for about N30,000 per night, and among 5ladies, that was just a week’s accommodation cost for each of us since we got to split each day.

The Early Events of the Road Trip

About 6am thereabouts, we had started to leave GUO bus park in Lagos. This transport cost about N19,800, same for return also. We were expecting no more than 9hrs on the trip, but we knew we’d be alright if we dilly dallied past that time too.

The road trip was breezy and it came with a few stirs. There was the Lagos border that didn’t waste a lot of time, say 7-12mins. Then came the Nigeria-Seme border that felt like a red flag imploring us to head back home and plan a budget around air travel. The immigration officers were not having it. It wasn’t easy to plead and bribe our way past for incomplete documentation like it could have been within the state.

Some young lady passenger had no passport, according to her, as per usual on her multiple trips. Her voters card always served, only not this time miss. And get this, I and my friends happened to possess fake yellow cards we were ignorant of. It was so much ruckus that we all had to alight for questioning and engage in a lot of pandemonium which lagged close to an hour.

Finally, our yellow cards were confiscated with warnings, and we were advised to obtain legitimate cards for our return. Voters’ card miss made some water works, and was also set free.

The Later Events of the Road Trip

We got through that and soon enough we were in the Republic of Benin. Through Cotonou we transited small towns, roads and streets. Nothing short of strange compared to the sights in Lagos. If we were looking for one, the high point would be the separate lane for bike commute. Just like Nigeria’s BRT lanes, but here not a single biker was spotted without helmet.

The next stop was the border into Togo where we had to gather our legs and walk through. It was interesting that all passengers were requested to alight from the bus and maneuver through traders and tourists in a straight file to the border blocks on the other side. The bus was supposed to travel forward empty and it wasn’t a straight route. There were a lot more travelers into Ghana so there were a lot more back packers through this procedure asides us.

I’ve watched a lot of black history movies to make me feel apprehensive for my safety at that moment. Everything got me edgy. We could pass for hostages being shipped to Border Trip master. Master not pleased with yellow card misunderstanding. Master deal with culprits.

There was also the slight panic of missing the bus so we made the walk hastily and quietly. My fingers were dutifully crossed for all our sakes. Then there was the pause moment where we had to wait, and wait for our bus. Or master.

The walk/ cross over landed us in Lomé where there were traders, money changers and roadside hawkers everywhere. On advice, we converted thousands of Nairas to Cedis. The exchange rate blown at our faces. We priced a few items and got some snacks before the bus arrived finally. Our joy could have caused us to hug the driver at that moment. It was probably only just me.

Lomé’s landscape was beautiful. We only passed through a town and could already see a picture perfect scenery. The palm trees that surrounded the blue beach; blue skies overhead and golden sands underneath. Beach parties were so evident we made a plan to visit Lomé in the future.

The Final Events of the Road Trip

When we got to the Ghana border, it was already bordering 4pm. But the time difference gave us 1hr backwards so we were still on daylight hours. At the border control unit called Afflao, the immigration officers had to do some legitimate checks on our luggage so we had to alight.

While it went on, we purchased new SIM cards so we did not have to worry about data charges from roaming. We got call cards too, and since we paid in cedis, we had to make swift mental exchange rate calculations to internalize the actual cost. It was a lot.

Even though we had gotten into Ghana, the journey to Accra still consumed almost 2hrs more, or pretty close to it. Once there, we knew already by the size of the personal cars and Uber rides.

The Events of the Ghana Trip

To be honest, we spent more time bonding friendships, swimming, and engaging in in-house karaokes than actually exploring the city. Among 5 ladies, chances would be that some would have Ghanaian friends yea? So we did a lot of meet ups and eating, clubbing and basically fooling around.

Through these other friends resident in Ghana and google Trip planners, we could sensibly tour around, though minimal. Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum, Jamestown Lighthouse, Fort James, *Elmina castle, Craft village, *Cape Coast, Labadi beach…

On day 7, we remembered the road that led us home….

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