Following my post on visa free travel opportunities for Ghanaian citizens, here are the first group of countries in Africa that Ghanaians can visit visa free. I stated in my previous post that some countries provide visa on arrival while others visa free. I will start with the visa free countries and later share with you the visa on arrival countries all over the world.
Before scrolling to the 19 countries, I’d like you to know that most of these vacation spots in Africa can be visited by road. Yes, some will take a couple of hours or days on the road but imagine all the fun you can have if you are with the right crowd?
NB: this is rather a long post because there are so many reasons why you should visit these countries.
So here we go:
Benin – Depending on what you are searching for, Benin has a vast variety of tourist attractions. From the history of the succession of kingdoms recorded at the museum city “Quidah”; the Royal Palaces of Abomey; the sheabutter town of Natitingou; the cradle of Voodoos at Allada; to Ganvie which is Africa’s unique floating villages built on stilts. I however doubt you will be traveling to Benin for their history so I will suggest the vibrant and bustling city of Cotonou which is the New York of Benin. This city is known for its stunning paradise beaches with golden sand and palm trees; amazing restaurants; great nightlife; excellent shopping centres and the Pendjari National Park. When you get tired of the bustling city, you can always visit Grand Popo which is an hour’s drive from Cotonou to the Mono River – a great place to walk and see the mangroves and exotic bird life.
Burkina Faso – If you love architecture, hiking, cycling or nature, then Burkina Faso is for you. This country has tourist attractions ranging from beautiful architecture; wildlife safaris and parks; peaks, waterfalls and lakes. You can visit some sites at the rural areas like Sindou peak and Karfiguela Waterfall which is a perfect place for cycling and hiking; Lake Tengrela where you get to see hippopotamuses; the Cathedrals and Mosques; then Gafreh where you can buy souvenirs. For those of you who are not keen on the rural life can stay at the capital “Ouagadougou” where you can visit Bangr Weogo Park (an urban park for animals and plants); the elephant ranch (Nazinga Game Ranch); Ouagadougou markets; Laongo Sculpture Symposium; and Village Artisanal de Ouagadougou for souvenirs.
Cape Verde – As we all know, Ghanaians love beaches but we have somehow lost that exotic feel the beach brings. Either it never existed on our shores or we have become so accustomed to what we have, we do not feel it. Either way I recommend the beautiful island life of Cape Verde. As the country’s source of income is tourism, it provides its visitors with so many activities they keep going back for more. These activities include island hopping; ferry rides; diving to see the marine way of life; quad biking; wind and kite surfing; whale watching; golf; game fishing; turtle seeing; trekking, walking and hiking. For the nightlife, you will enjoy traditional live music and dance (seductive or upbeat songs) which is a combination of European and Latin music instruments. So if you are looking at a vacation full of beach activities, then you should by all means consider Cape Verde.
Cote D’Ivoire – Abidjan must be on everyone’s travel list. This city is the Manhattan in the heart of West Africa with its skyscrapers and smooth roads. If this city is not on your travel list, then go scribble it down before continuing this article. This city has always been known for its magnificent nightlife ever since I was young and we owe it to ourselves to experience this. If you are looking at a weekend out of Ghana to unwind and forget your worries till Monday, then Abidjan is for you. Sure there are many interesting places you can visit like Mount Nimba at the border of Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea; the zoo, the plateau; the galleries; the museums; the virgin forest etc. But if you had just two nights in Abidjan, why bother with sightseeing when you can be living in the moment at places like Zino Bar Lounge; Paradisio; L’Escale Kreyole; L’Acoustic; Paradisio; Windsor Lounge; Le Cabane Bambou; P’tit Monde; Jamaica City; Butterfly Lounge; La Java Disco; Place Vendome; and Le Village Ki – Yi.
Gambia – There are so many things you can do in Gambia on a budget and you do not even have to do these things in a rush since you get to stay in Gambia for 90 days’ visa free. You can explore the city of Banjul in a bush taxi which is very cheap; visit the crafts and local markets; the fishing villages; the Kachikally Sacred crocodile pool; the monkeys at Bijilo Forest Park; embrace the fantastic birdwatching; enjoy the traditional drumming and dance; relax at the secluded unspoilt beach of Sanyang; go for a walk along the beach at sunset; go for a massage at the luxurious hotel like Coco Ocean Resort and Spa; take a cookery class; and a cruise on River Gambia. While doing all these fun stuffs, you can be staying at an eco-camp or the floating lodges of Mandina and Makasutu on River Gambia. You will be surrounded by the marvellous beauty of nature – a sight to die for.
Guinea – If you have heard of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, then I am certain you would be interested in visiting the Alcatraz Island at Guinea. The latter however does not have the history of the former but well, it is still intriguing and worth exploring. The Alcatraz Island in Guinea is located at the northwest of Boke which is 300km from the Capital, Conakry. The island is a breeding ground for one of the largest seabird colonies in West Africa. From the island, you will be able to visit Capken Tristao and enjoy the beautiful mangrove jungle and beaches. For those of you who would rather not explore the island of Alcatraz, you can enjoy the eco-tour activities and village excursions at Fouta Djalon; the mountainside and city excursions; the cultural immersion and traditional performances; cycling, boating, horseback riding and fishing. Then of course the Loos Islands which are island groups lying off Conakry with beautiful white sand beaches for relaxation and water sports.
Guinea Bissau – Just as you can go island hopping at Cape Verde, you can do same at the Bijagos Islands of Guinea Bissau for 90 days’ visa free. These islands of Bijagos consist of 88 islands and islets located on the Atlantic Ocean. Though there are 88 islands, only 20 of these islands are populated year around. There is a high diversity of ecosystems: mangroves with intertidal zones, palm forests, dry and semi-dry forests, secondary and degraded forest, coastal savanna, sand banks and aquatic zones. There are also the beautiful beaches of Bolama, Bubaque, Rubane, Melo and Varela (this is close to the Senegalese border and the renowned beach of the continental Guinea Bissau). Interesting thing about the journey from Ghana to Guinea Bissau is you can choose to go by road. That means getting the chance to also visit Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea which are all visa free for Ghanaian Citizens.
Kenya – There are so many things to do in Kenya that I am unable to decide. From their safaris; cultural and historical sites; the beautiful city of Nairobi; to the waterworld and exotic beaches, one will have to make a difficult choice when in Kenya since most of these tourist attractions are at different places in the country. When in Kenya, you can visit Masai Mara National Reserve, Lake Nakuru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo West National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Lake Naivasha, Hell’s Gate National Park, Great Rift Valley, Mount Kenya National Park, Shimba Hills National Reserve, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Nairobi Snake Park, Nairobi Safari Walk, Diani Beach, Nyali, Lamu Beaches, Vipingo, Tiwi, Watamu Beach – Turtle Bay, Gazi Beach, Bamburi Beach, Kikambala, Shanzu, Funzi Island, Kiwayu, Lamu Archipelago, Lamu Island, Manda Island, Mombasa Island, Wasini Island, Rusinga Island, Mfangano Island, Pate Island, Ndere Island, Central Island, Fort Jesus, Gede Ruins, Olorgesailie, Koobi Fort Museum, Siyu Fort, Lamu Fort, Vasco da Gama Pillar, Nairobi Railway Museum, Malindi Museum, Nairobi Gallery, August 7th Memorial Park, African Heritage Pan African Gallery, Abasuba Community Peace Museum, Bomas of Kenya etc. You can also go for hiking, mountain climbing, walking, island hopping, boat rides, water sport and camel trekking. It is good to know that Ghanaian Citizens can stay in Kenya for 90 days without a visa.
Liberia – I know Liberia wouldn’t be on anyone’s travel list due to the history of the war and the harm it has brought to the country. It would however be wrong to write off a country due to the errors of other people. So how about giving this country a chance and visit all the cool places it has. You can start with the Capital Monrovia where you can explore the Liberian National Museum, waterside market, Centennial Pavillion, Cece Beach, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Matadi Central Mosque, Providence Island, Bushrod Island etc. Then move on to the port city of Buchanan; the coastal town of Harper situated at Cape Palmas; the “almost” historical town of Careysburg; the fascinating Blo Degbo Rock of Paynesville; the beautiful fishing town of Robertsport which has Lake Piso; also the Mount Nimba which is on the borders of Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire. Also you can visit other places like Ganta, Zwedru, Barclayville, Harbel, Cesstos City, Bopolu, Gbargna, Sacleapea, Foya, Tubmanburg, Bensonville, Karnplay, Voinjama, Sanniquellie and Greenville.
Mali – For those of us who were obsessed with the movie “the Mummy” fell in love with not only the gorgeous characters but also with the desert, camel rides and the ancient history. Yes! We loved the idea of riding a camel in blazing sunlight; the vast area of a waterless desolate land and the ancient history of civilisation and its artefacts. So if you don’t mind the desert, then let’s go to Mali. Over there, you can visit the city of Bamako which is alive with music, bustling markets, Museums, the national park, and zoo. Then the Dogon Country with its traditional crafts and culture; then the legendary city of Timbuktu where you get to see ancient manuscripts, visit the oldest mosques and the Ethnological Museum; Djenne and Mopti. Also there is Segou which is along a river and Bandiagara – a town carved into the mountain. Other activities in Mali include fishing frenzy at Antogo, camel riding, hiking, camping and sailing on the Niger River where you soak up the sights and sounds from the Sahara area.
Mauritius – Oh Mauritius!!! A paradise for beach lovers. Though the flights to Mauritius are slightly on the high side, this beautiful island with beautiful people is totally worth it. There is the Grand Bassin (a lake high up in the mountain); the Chamarel Waterfall which is the highest in the country; the Black River Gorges National where you get to see the famous pink pigeon; the great nightlife and hot shopping spots in the fishing village of Grand Baie; go for the horse racing at Champ de Mars in Port Louis; the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden; La Vanille Crocodile Park; the white sandy beaches of Ile Aux Cerfs which is not only picturesque but serves tasty delicious meals; the preserved colonial wooden mansion called Maison Eureka; the Museums at Port Louis; the churches, mosques, Chinese and Indian temples; Casela Nature and Leisure Park; then of course the beautiful beaches all around. You can also feel a rush of adrenaline as you partake in Skydive Mauritius for spectacular view of lush green forests and turquoise blue waters. Other activities on the island include diving, sailing, waterskiing, windsurfing, parasailing, excursions and all the water sports you can think of.
Niger – Since Niger shares a border with Mali, it means part of the country is a desert. However, this country is also blessed with beautiful rivers and waterbodies where you can go sailing along the beautiful deserts and national parks. Holidays in Niger means sightseeing, shopping, camel riding, visit to their towns; and the joyous colourful tribal festivals filled with tribal dance, outfits, music, games and delicious delicacies. With regards to sightseeing, visit Niamey where you can see the colossal Grande Mosque, the Cathedral de Maorey and the interestingly architectural mix of European and African styles; and the Dabous Giraffe Rock Art. You can go for camel rides on the Niger Desert where you get to see the beautiful natural views of the desert, mountain, hills and the Djao Plateau. From there, you can visit the towns of Zinder for a merge of traditional and modernized trends; Agadez where you will have to climb the mountains to see the grand mosque; the great traditional kingdom of Dosso; the picturesque town of Ayorou; then Koure which is the home of herd of giraffes; then there is the annual camel racing. For shopping, the Niger Street has a vast collection of items (accessories, traditional outfits, décor etc.) for you. So you see, Niger couldn’t be boring afterall.
Nigeria – If we are vacationing in Nigeria, then it means we are touring Lagos which is the largest city in the country. Lagos has a wide range of activities you can undertake during your stay and given the fact that the Cedi is bigger than the Naira adds more joy to this trip. Unless you are a show-off, you wouldn’t have to spend much because compared to Accra, Lagos is quite cheaper especially when it comes to food. I believe Lagos being affordable should be enough reason to visit but if you are still not convinced, then let me share with you some of the many things you can do in Lagos. You can visit the Banana Islands; go gallery hopping; get an art education, socialize and learn about the Nigerian culture; enjoy the seaside atmosphere at the Lekki Leisure Lake; visit the natural savannah habitats and swamp; go bowling; play board games and network; join in the nightlife and enjoy delicious suya at the University of Suya. There is still so much to do. For instance; Festac Town, the numerous beaches and resorts, markets, museums, theatre, go-karting, eating from local restaurants, explore Lagos in a lagbus, Moule or BRT buses etc.
Senegal – My friend Ellen suggested we move to the city of Dakar for a month or two since she believes in her heart of heart that I will love it. This had me researching Dakar and I was not disappointed. Dakar is the heart and soul of art and culture. This is the home for Creative Artists and enthusiasts who just want to unleash their innermost thoughts; get inspiration or just enjoy the beautiful magic of arts and not apologize for their heart’s desires. This beautiful city holds festivals to celebrate the breath-taking creativity of arts and artists. If you are a Creative Artist in Ghana who feels unappreciated, take a trip to Senegal where you will realize how blessed you are to be gifted with such talent. God is an artist, remember? After visiting the numerous art centres and galleries; you can go on a walking tour inside Dakar; take a stroll through the wealthy town of Les Almadies and escape to its beautiful private beaches; go surfing, sunbathing and a romantic picnic; see the changing colours of Lake Retba or Lac Rose (meaning pink lake); go on an Accrobaobab adventure. Should you ever get tired of Dakar (which is unlikely), you can take a 15-minute ride to St. Louis to see its tourist attractions. Or catch a bus to the Gambian border and switch to another car or a ferry and see the beautiful city of Banjul which is also visa free.
Sierra Leone – As Freetown is the largest city in Sierra Leone and also its major port city, why not explore every inch of this city? Freetown is lively both day and night so you will never be bored. Over there, you will experience the laid back sandy beaches and mingle with locals; surfing at Bureh Beach and River Number Two Beach; explore the late night hot spots in Lumley and Aberdeen; visit all the historical sights and museums; soak in the numerous cultural events to capture the history of the country; dine on local delicacies and shop at the local markets. Other parts of the country also have a lot to offer. For instance; Tiwai Island (hiking, climbing, monkey and bird watching); Banana Islands (fishing, free diving, scuba diving, snorkelling and scenic boat trips); Bunce Islands (holds significant historical sites for the States); the Western Peninsula Rainforest (borders beautiful beaches, has walking trails and breath-taking views of the mountains); Outamba-Kilimi National Park (beautiful scenery and fascinating wildlife); Kolente River, Kaba River, Seli River, Ribi River etc.
Swaziland – This country may not have the beaches vacationers seek but holidays should not only be about watersports but also a chance to learn a new culture. If you are willing to forgo the usual holiday activities, then visit Swaziland – a country filled with such culture, you would want to discover more about your tribe, country and family history and beliefs. The country has cultural villages like Mantenga Cultural Village – this village is located in a lush setting in the Mantenga Falls Nature Reserve. The locals give visitors the incredible opportunity to enjoy traditional harmonies and energetic dances. When the show is over, you will get to tour a reconstruction of a Swazi hut village. If you are lucky to be in Swaziland during their Umhlanga Reed Dance at the end of August, you should not pass up the opportunity to see it yourself. You can also enjoy the stunning mountain scenery and peaks; go for camping on Shewula Mountain Camp which is eco-friendly; visit the wildlife sanctuaries, waterfalls, rock shelters and paintings, local markets; go on excursions to their numerous rivers; the fascinating workshops and factories (Ngweny Glass factory). If you still yearn for watersports, the tour operator Swazi Trails provides White Water Rafting on the Great Usutu River. Don’t forget to buy the famous Swazi candles as souvenirs for your family and friends.
Tanzania – My plan has always been to spend a month or two exploring the lands of Ethiopia→ Kenya→ Tanzania→ Botswana→ Namibia. And having two of these countries visa free for Ghanaians only adds to my excitement. Just to clarify, Tanzania is third on the list not because it is not beautiful but because it is a direct and an easier route coming down from Ethiopia. Tanzania as we all know hosts the tallest mountain in Africa which has three peaks called Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Given the fact that tourism is one of the main contributors of the Tanzanian economy, this country’s tourist attractions are one of a kind. You can take a trip through the safari in a hot air balloon; enjoy some cozy cruises into the sunset; go on a hiking and climbing tour on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, Ngorongoro Highland; visit the numerous safaris and lakes like Serengeti National Park, Serengeti Balloon Safari, Selous Game Reserve, Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa, Lake Rukwa, Lake Manyara,; go to the beaches and islands of Paje, Unguja, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar Archipelago, Mafia Island, Songo Songo Island etc.; check out the historical Sights and Museums of Stone Town, National Museum of Tanzania, Uhuru Monument, Old Dispensary, Hamamni Persian Baths, Ngorongoro Crater, Ol Doinyo Lengai, House of Wonders, eco-tourism trips, etc. Who wouldn’t want these experiences?
Togo – My readers and followers know the mad love I have for Togo. This place is like a second home to me as I have friends over there and I also enjoy the nightlife, hospitality and their cuisine. I must also add that it is cheaper to live in Lome than Accra. If you are a foodie looking to treat your taste buds to some delicious delicacies, then this city is for you. You will fall in love with their amazing baguette sandwich, delicious seafood meals and wowzer pizzas. Though these meals are mostly at hotel restaurants, they are rather very affordable. Togo is about a 2 hour or more drive from Accra and it is visa free. The minute, you get past the Ghana / Togo border, you are met with the beautiful clean beaches of Lome. Here is a list of things I can vouch for in Togo and things I intend to try out;
- For meals: you have to try out Le Patio (amazing pizza), Le Philippat (yummy seafood meals), Le Phenicien (Lebanese dishes, pastries and icecream); Alt Munchen, L’Annexe, Restaurant Mini-Brasserie, Barakouda, Le Gallion, La Main a la Pate, La Bella Luna etc.
- For a swim or a walk on the beach: Pure Plage Hotel (beach and pool); O Lodge (pool, waterslide, boatrides, Lake Togo and horseback rides); Le Patio (pool); Marcelo Beach, Hotel Palm Beach, Radisson Ble Fevrier etc.
- Drink and dancing: Beach Café, La Villa, Le Mandigue Jazz Club, Tshaka Tshaka Lounge, Le Privilege,
- Excursions: Pome, Kpalime, Aneho, Sokode, Tsevie, Tamberma, Agbodrafo, Lake Togo, Lome, Kara, etc.
- Shopping: Secondhand market (Hedzranawoe); Grande Marche; Akodessewa Fetish Market (for those interested in the voodoo culture).
- Transportation: cabs or bikes depending on your preference.
Before I forget, most of the hotels give you the password to their wifi whenever you go for a swim or a meal.
Zimbabwe – If you are tired of the Boti and Wli Waterfalls and want to see some real action, then pack your bags and go to Zimbabwe – the home of the largest sheet of falling water in the world. Victoria Falls or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the smoke that thunders) is on the Zambezi River and described as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World by CNN. At Victoria Falls, you can bungee jump; go for white water rafting on Zambezi River; get on a helicopter flight over the waterfalls; swim on the edge of the waterfalls; and cruise above the waterfalls. If you are wondering whether Victoria Falls is the only thing Zimbabwe has to offer, the answer is no. You can go for a walk with a lion (Lion Encounter); go on an elephant ride; visit Soper’s Curios Snake Park, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Waterwhirld; Mukuvisi Woodlands etc. Just saying: if I was in Zimbabwe, I wouldn’t bother with the rest of the country since I will be spending my entire trip exploring all the nooks and crannies of Victoria Falls.
So here you have it! 19 visa free countries right here in Africa. Next Wednesday, I will be sharing with you reasons why you should visit the 4 Visa free countries in Asia.