Skip to content

Out and about in Africa: An adventure in Ghana with the guided tour company Elsewhere

July 21, 2022
9 min read
TPG Peace Jam in Ghana
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor's Note

Elsewhere paid for the author's guided tour in Ghana as part of a TPG-financed trip for PeaceJam. The opinions expressed below are entirely the author's and were not subject to review by Elsewhere, which is owned by our joint parent company, Red Ventures.

Editor's note: Elsewhere paid for the author's guided tour in Ghana as part of a TPG-financed trip for PeaceJam. The opinions expressed below are entirely the author's and were not subject to review by Elsewhere, which is owned by our joint parent company, Red Ventures.


I recently had the trip of a lifetime to Ghana in Western Africa, where the TPG team met with young leaders, including a few TPG fellows, that we've been guiding for the past several years as part of PeaceJam. The organization works with Nobel laureates and students in developing countries to find and shape the next generation of student leaders.

As part of the program, I've been mentoring a young man named David. He currently studies at the University of Ghana, and he hopes to someday work for the World Bank so he can help his home country of Liberia.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

While there for the PeaceJam program, we also wanted to see the sights in Ghana, so we turned to a new guided tour company, Elsewhere (owned by TPG’s sister brand, Lonely Planet). Elsewhere pairs travelers directly with local experts in destinations around the world, including parts of Africa.

The company paid for several TPG mentors to experience a few days of touring from Accra to the Cape Coast, with another day at Lake Volta.

Here were a few of the highlights of our visit.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Cape Coast Castle

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

We began our tour at the Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about four hours by bumpy road from Accra.

We were greeted by a dramatic oceanfront setting encircled by bright, colored fishing boats and palm trees — but there was nothing pretty about its history.

Cape Coast Castle was one of around 40 so-called "slave castles" on the coast of West Africa. It served as a point of no return for thousands of Africans being shipped off into slavery.

Related: How to visit West Africa on points and miles

We walked through dark, damp dungeons that once housed thousands of enslaved prisoners at a time. There were no toilets, there was no room to lie down and no real windows — just a few small openings that let in a little light.

Meanwhile, upstairs, the governor lived in a lavish apartment that offered sweeping views and cooling sea breezes.

It was a truly sobering and emotional experience.

Our entire tour was conducted by our Elsewhere guide, Oscar, and was comprehensive.

When we arrived at the site, we bypassed all the other lines of visitors and didn't have to deal with the usual entrance fees — everything was already taken care of so it was a seamless experience. Several times during the tour, we ran into other guides and folks working at the site who knew Oscar and greeted him warmly — a testament to Elsewhere's mission of connecting travelers with "true locals."

Our trip was just getting started, though.

We did a full day with Oscar and his helpers, an overnight back in Accra, and then a whole other two days and one night in the Volta region.

Kakum National Park canopy walkway

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Our next stop was Kakum National Park, which is one of only a handful of places in Africa with a canopy walkway. Oscar pulled some strings and we had the park to ourselves. That's the power of having local guides.

Guides: Top 9 ways to fly business class to Africa using points and miles

The 145-square-mile park itself was breathtaking. We walked across all seven bridges, which hang 40 meters (131 feet) above the ground. Each bridge offered a unique perspective of the surrounding rainforest.

In addition to Oscar, we were accompanied by another guide named Paul who specializes in birdwatching. He pointed out species along the way such as rare hornbills and grey parrots.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

Elephants, buffalo and leopards also live in the park, but we weren't lucky enough to spot any on this visit.

We were able to explore the park at our own pace and take all the photos we wanted. Our guides took extra special care of us the whole time making sure we all felt comfortable.

Oscar was a fountain of knowledge about the history of the many tribes of Ghana. He entertained all of us with the history of Ghana during the trip.

At the end of our long first day of tours, Oscar told me about Ghanian legends on the long journey back to Accra.

Kente cloth making

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

On our second day and third days, we'd be traveling to the Volta Lake region of Ghana. One of our stops was an inspiring visit to a small village where they make kente cloth — Tafi Abuife Kente Village. The village is about four hours north of Accra (again over some very bumpy roads).

Kente is a Ghanian textile made of handwoven cloth with strips of silk or cotton (or both). We got to see young men at the looms working on new reams of fabric. It was pretty incredible to watch them work, as their technique that looked more akin to dancing than weaving.

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

It was a completely private experience and we didn't encounter any other tourists during our tour. You get to see how the cloth is made and then, of course, there's the opportunity to buy some of the kente cloth and other gift items.

One of my favorite things was seeing TPG founder Brian Kelly play with local children, who were fascinated with his height.

Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary

The Tafi-Atome Monkey Sanctuary in the Volta region is home to more than 200 Mona monkeys, which are an Old World monkey species that live in forest environments.

Monkeys have made this area their home for more than 200 years, protected by locals who believed they were messengers of the gods. They've been officially protected in this sanctuary since 1996 when the government began formal efforts to save the animals and their forest habitat.

On our way to the sanctuary, we stopped at a local town to buy bananas to feed the monkeys. The monkeys were extremely playful and were quick to jump on us to eat the bananas we were feeding them. But the monkeys were picky eaters — they would only appear if the bananas were perfectly ripe.

It was an awesome experience getting up close and personal with them. (It was also a little scary, if I'm being honest, because they jump on your arms and are not shy about grabbing whatever you're holding.)

The Royal Senchi Resort

(Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)

We also spent one night at The Royal Senchi Resort on the Volta River. The former restaurant is now an 84-room resort sprawling along the river banks not far from Lake Volta. Rates start at about $245 a night and suites can be reserved for around $580 a night.

The rooms are comfortable and well air-conditioned. Many are suites with large, separate living spaces. My room had a view of the river and I would have loved to spend several days there relaxing.

Instead, the group of us did a river tour on one of the hotel's boats. The hotel provided drinks and a leisurely boat ride up and down the Volta River.

There wasn't a lot of wildlife to see, but it was a nice evening on the water. Our guides weren't with us for this part of the journey, but that gave us some quiet time to reflect on all we'd seen.

Bottom line

Our trip to Ghana was an incredible introduction to Africa. Not only did I get to meet a brilliant young man who I've been mentoring for several years, but I also got to experience a little taste of Western Africa.

Elsewhere did a great job of pairing us with local guides who really took care of us and enabled us to see parts of Ghana that not many folks will experience. This is not the kind of trip you can do on your own. The three days of touring were priced at a total of $1,445 for each person (not including tips).

Not many tour companies offer trips to Ghana at the moment. Intrepid Travel had it on a trip itinerary back in 2020 but isn't currently offering this tour. Other tour companies haven't discovered Ghana. For example, Abercrombie & Kent offers many fabulous African tours starting at around $8,000 — but none include Ghana (though you can get a tailor-made tour for Ghana).

Even if you don't want to duplicate our trip, Elsewhere provides local guides in dozens of countries. Check them out before you plan your next trip.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured image by (Photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases