After spending my first days in Ghana at Cape Coast, I decided my next stop should be the Volta Region, a big region in the East (kind of South-East, surrounding Lake Volta. I’d heard about it being quite scenic and rural with lots of adventurous things to do, which is why I decided to go.
I’d found a place online called Maranatha Beach Camp (website here – http://maranathabeachcampghana.com/) and it looked pretty cool because the accommodation is individual beach huts, and it’s on the sand between a river and the sea. Couldn’t go wrong with that, surely!
Getting to Maranatha Beach Camp was definitely a bit of a mission. Coming from Cape Coast, I went from there to Accra to basically ‘begin’ my journey to Maranatha. You’ll probably have to do that if you’re coming from anywhere to the West of Accra.
In Accra, you have to go to Tudu Station (basically a concrete rectangle with loads of trotros in it). People will ask you where you’re going (or just say “Obroni?” which means “foreigner?”, and they’re expecting you to say the name of where you’re going). Tell them you’re going to Ada Foah, and try to pronounce it as Ghanaian as possible so that they understand you. As usual, you’ll have to wait until the trotro fills up, which could take anything between 5 minutes to 2 hours. It took about an hour for me. This is one of the journeys where you pay for a ‘ticket’ (a tiny piece of paper about 2cm x 2cm with a little scribble on it!) before the trotro moves off. It cost approximately 20 cedis (stupidly this was the one price I didn’t write down).
Unfortunately, because I’d come all the way from Cape Coast, I hadn’t been able to use a toilet for hours and hours, so I had no choice but to go in Tudu Station, which was quite interesting!! I had to go into a really dark old wooden building and try to meander through sleeping topless Ghanaian men without waking them up, go up a load of stairs past people wearing only towels because they’d come to this building to pay for a shower I think… and then I paid a guy sitting outside about 20 pesewas for some toilet paper, and then found some toilets around the corner with broken doors, no seats, loads of flies, no flushes and no tap for after. Anyway, all part of the experience, as they say!
There are lots of people selling things off their heads in the bus station, so you can easily stock up on snacks and drinks for the journey. Thankfully I also managed to stock up on some hand sanitizer from one of the vendors!
It took 2 and a half hours to Ada Foah, which is the nearest town to Maranatha Beach Camp. From there, I was supposed to take a motorbike taxi to Maranatha. The hard part was, there isn’t any way (as far as I know) to distinguish between a normal guy on a motorbike, and an actual motorbike taxi driver. Everyone was already staring at me because I was the only obroni, so I was a bit nervous to go to a random motorbike and ask how much to Maranatha, when they could just be a regular guy with a bike!
I decided to stand around for a bit in the hope that one of them would come up to me and ask where I was going. After pretending to text on my phone for about 5 minutes, my plan worked, but when I said “Maranatha… Maranatha Beach Camp”, the driver looked at me with a blank face and kept repeating “Maranatha?!”…
By the way, it’s best if you pronounce the last syllable like TA rather than THA, because that’s how they say it.
He proceeded to ask about 10 different people where Maranatha is, until one waved his arm in a certain direction, so off we went that way…
Soon, the road became a little dusty path, and the guy kept stopping to ask more people for directions. Everyone seemed quite confused and didn’t seem very confident with their directions, but he kept going in the direction of their arm-waving.
The small path got even smaller and bumpier as we carried on. About 20 minutes later, it literally just came to an end and he said he can’t go any further. I paid him 20 cedis (£3.20) which is probably too much, but I had no way of agreeing a price with him beforehand because neither of us knew where we were going, and anyway he probably needs that money more than me so it doesn’t matter.
I was now standing in a village that was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. There were no shops, no roads, no restaurants, basically nothing except very basic houses and some sheep, goats and chickens. It actually felt quite unreal to be there, because I’d only really seen places like that on documentaries.
A man appeared out of nowhere and basically told me I could follow him to the beach camp (he obviously knew that’s where I must be going because I’m an obroni), so I followed him through the village for an entire 30 minutes and then Maranatha Beach Camp was finally in front of me. You can tell where it starts because all their palm trees are painted with rainbow colours on the bottom part of the trunk. Interestingly, there was no fencing or anything actually separating the camp from the village.
It was actually very different from what I was expecting. It spans quite a long distance along the beach, and it’s quite spread out. There are loads of long tables and the atmosphere is quite party-ish, with loud music and lots of people drinking beer etc. It was far busier than I was expecting.
They have some dorm-huts, but not many. I went for a double hut (hut with a double bed) with a concrete floor for 50 cedis per night (sand floor is 40 per night). I shared with another girl (a friend who was also travelling in Ghana who I just met up with for a few days) so I only paid half. This was my hut:
Each hut has a light (not a very bright one) and a power outlet. To be honest, the floor got sandy almost straight away, so you might be better off just getting a sand floor because it won’t end up making much difference.
My friend and I decided to jump in the river straight away. The sun was about to set, but the weather was still good enough:
The water isn’t the cleanest, because there’s a bit of a rubbish disposal problem in Ghana, but it’s still perfectly fine for swimming. The sea in Ghana can be quite rough and it often has riptides, so it was good to not have to worry about that in the river.
The bar/restaurant at the beach camp serves regular Ghanaian food as well as some other things such as coconut curries. Being vegan, it wasn’t ideal. I stupidly hadn’t realised it would be so far away from everything, so I had no choice but to eat from the restaurant. Basically the only thing I could eat was red-red (a beans and plantain dish) but they make theirs with egg too, so if you’re vegan, remember to order it without the egg! The prices are higher than street food obviously – the red-red is 20 cedis.
The day I arrived happened to be part of Easter Weekend, which meant that there were lots of Ghanaians staying at the camp to party because they didn’t have work on the Monday. I made friends with a group of Ghanaians who had brought coolers full of drinks, and giant speakers. They shared their drinks with me and I ended up having a great night dancing on the beach with them!
The next day, I basically lazed around on a hammock (they have some really comfy ones there), admired the views, chatted to a lot of new people, and bought fruit and jelly coconuts from the vendors who pass through from the village. I literally ate 3 coconuts that day.
I stayed one more night and moved on the next day, which is a story for another time.
So, in conclusion, Maranatha Beach Camp is very picturesque and good for lazing around and socialising. If you want to go somewhere to mess around with a big group of friends for a few days, it’s perfect. It’s probably not the best place for a solo traveler though, or for travellers who want to do lots of activities every day.
Make sure you bring lots of cash because there are no cash machines nearby, and if you’re vegan, bring emergency supplies like crackers because you will literally only be able to eat red-red otherwise!