Tamale to the border




We luckily left Accra at 5.30 in the morning as the road out of Accra to Kumasi is a nightmare at the moment due to roadworks. Once you get out of the madness of the city though, all is well and we enjoyed the nice soft landscapes of Ghana. One of the books we had  read describes Ghana as “Africa for beginners”, and rightly so, as Ghana is a kind country, developed, friendly and easy as long as you stay in the towns and cities, and not in the villages as we did! The country is overrun by aid workers (mostly female though who seem to meet and hook up with local guys fairly quickly) as well as tourists from all over the world, and in our opinion offers some of the best experiences Africa can offer.


Even though we had a great time here, it is now time to move on as we are ready to absorb all that the rest of the countries that we will still travel through, have to offer. We drove for 10 hours and spend the night in Tamale in the north.


Before we got there though, I (Annaliese) had to live up to Stewart’s opinion of my “fast” driving and for the first time on this whole trip, I was stopped for speeding….I am sure by the only camera in Ghana!! I think I was more surprised than the cop, who could not believe the right hand drive car and to top it all, a female driver! But all was well when I humbly apologized, promised to never do it again and we were send on our way with a “have a safe journey”

 Kumasi capital of the North  Shea trees, the seeds are used to make shea buttter , the stunning body cream.

The first difference you notice as you enter the Northern region is the amount of mosques as well as the increased amount of people of Islamic faith and “Arab” look. Also the vegetation is different and the amount of agriculture is noticeable. Interestingly this area is one of the few in Ghana which actually suffered due to political unrest based on ethnic conflict. This was in 1994,  the same time as the  Rwanda massacres and South African Elections, so it went unnoticed by the world, but at least 2000 people died and 150 000 were left homeless in refugee camps. This could be the reason for all the foreign aid at present, as the organic farming of mangoes as well as the produce of Shea butter is booming and clearly noticeable as you travel through the area. It seems all the political problems are sorted as well as confirmed by the locals we spoke to. Another interesting thing about Tamale is that Bafana Bafana was based here for the Africa Cup and therefore has a lot of local support!


Noticeable too are the amazing amount of cell phone towers everywhere. Reception is brilliant here and you can see the most primitive village with 2 or 3 towers surrounding it. What we do not get though, is that these villages do not have electricity so how they charge their phones, is a mystery to us.


We spend the night at TICCS Guesthouse (Tamale Institute for Cross Cultural Studies), cheap, basic accommodation for 16 cedi’s (about R150) for the night. You can also have supper at the local Island Bar if you are lucky enough to convince the waitress that you actually would love to eat and drink and not just sit there for the view!!

TICCS guesthouse in Tamale    Check the cell tower!!

After a nice breakfast for R40 (VERY cheap by West Africa standards) we tried to spend our last cedi’s at the petrol station, a bit difficult though as the conversation went as follows:

Stew: Good morning

Attendant: Good morning

Stew: Do you have diesel ?

Attendant: Yes we do

Stew: Can I have some?

Attendant: No

Stew: Why not

Attendant: We have lysou

Stew: LYSOU ? I do not understand…….

Attendant: We have lysou, go to the other petrol station!


Well, took us a few minutes to understand that “Lysou” means,” lights out”which in turn means “We have no electricity” !!!! Stupid stupid us


With those famous last words, we were on our way to Burkina Faso