The Western Region of Ghana is located in the south western part of the country. It takes up approximately 10 per cent of Ghana’s total land area. The region has about 75 per cent of its vegetation within the high forest areas of Ghana, and lies in the equatorial climatic zone making the year round temperature moderate.
There are numerous small and large-scale gold mines along with offshore oil platforms that dominate the economy of the Western Region.
The University of Mines and Technology is the main institution of higher learning in this region.
CAPITAL CITY – TWIN CITY
The twin cities of Sekondi-Takoradi make up the third largest city in Ghana and are the capital of the region. Sekondi-Takoradi is the preeminent industrial and commercial center of Western Ghana and is also of historical and cultural importance to Ghana. The first deep seaport in Ghana is in Takoradi and is very crucial to the country’s import and export industry .The Takoradi Harbour located in the industrial section of Sekondi-Takoradi is the oldest harbor in Ghana with several international cruise lines using Takoradi as a port of call.
GEOGRAPHY AND LOCATION
The Western Region is bordered by the Central Region, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo Regions, and the Gulf of Guinea.
The region has a lot of tropical beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and a tropical climate characterized by moderate temperature all year round. His region includes Ghana’s southernmost point, Cape Three Points, where crude oil was discovered in commercial quantities.
CULTURE, FESTIVALS AND MYTHOLOGY
The culture of the Western region reflects the ethnic makeup of the region.
There are several festivals celebrated yearly, the most prominent of which is Kundum Festival. Kundum is celebrated from July to August and August to November by Western region coastal tribes.
Ritual includes purification of Stools (thrones) and prayers to the ancestors for good harvests. Traditional drumming and dancing features prominently in these celebrations.
The Sekondi Kundum Festival may be regarded as a harvest festival, as well as a period for remembering the ancestors, cleansing the community and setting new goals for the next year.
The unique feature about the Kundum festival is that it moves from town to town. If you miss the celebrations one week you can catch it at another location the following week.
There are other well-known festivals that are no less authentic including:
Nkronu Festival which is celebrated in September by the people of Shama/Beposo. Nkronu is a colorful festival that involves purification of Stools (Thrones) and prayers to ancestors for good harvest and long life.
Edim Kese Festival
Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi
Nearly all these festivals pay homage to the ancestors whose spirits are believed to be always among the living.
TOURISM ATTRACTIONS IN WESTERN REGION
The Western Region has several well-kept, beautiful safe beaches and beach resorts.
The Region has the largest collection of European trading forts (later used for the Slave Trade), highest tropical jungles, picturesque villages and old architecture.
Historic Castles located in the Western Region
1. Fort St Appolonia at Beyin
2. Fort cross at Dixcove (1693)
3. Fort Batensteyn (1656) at Butri
4. Fort Groot Fredericksburg at Princess Town
5. Fort S. Antonio at Axim (1515)
6. Fort Dorothea (ruins) at Akwida
7. Fort Sebastian at Shama
The Village on Stilt of Nzulezu
The village of Nzulezu exists entirely on water on Lake Tandane. The village is located nearly 60 miles from Takoradi. The houses are built on stilts, and traditional village life is carried out on the water. Getting to Nzulezu includes a short sailing excursion in a dugout canoe. The village welcomes visitors every day except Thursday, which is a sacred day for the ethnic group that resides in Nzuluzu.
The Beaches of the Western Region
Western region is famous for some of the best beaches in Ghana. Some of the most well-known are:
1. Busua Pleasure Beach – only 3 miles from Fort Metal Cross
2. Sports Club Beach – behind the Atlantic hotel in Takoradi
3. Ajua Beach – just 200 meters from Dadowa lagoon
4. Princess Town Beach – off the Takoradi/Elubo highway
5. Mimia Beach – a secluded beach with rocky cave perfect for picnics.
Akatekyi crocodile pond
Less than 20 miles from Takoradi at the Akatekyi Lagoon there you will find a pond where crocodiles are enticed from the water by the incantations of a fetish priest and the protests of a live fowl. Visitors can observe this ritual every day except Wednesday (a sacred day).
Although there is no formal admission fee to observe the goings on, bring a bottle of Schnapps for the libation.
Ankasa Conservation Area
Ankasa Conservation Area is twin Wildlife Protected Area comprising Nini-Suhien National Park and the Ankasa Resource Reserve. The Southwestern corner of the reserve is approximately 4 miles from the border with Ivory Coast. Ankasa is the most botanical diverse conservation area in Ghana. The park has over three hundred plant species including orchards, bloody Lilly, Glory bower, Makore, Dahoma, Marantas and Khaya.
Fauna found at Ankassa include bongo and forest elephant, Diana monkey and West African Chimpanzee. At least 263 bird species have been recorded in the area.
The Bamboo Cathedral
The spectacular Bamboo Cathedral is located about 5 miles from the main park entrance.
Though not a church building, and has no presiding clergyperson, creed nor congregation, the site showcases nature’s perfect architectural design.
The giant and suppliant bamboos bow and crisscross at their apex as if in a handshake to form a dome. The bamboo plants forming a canopy give the resemblance of a cathedral over which the breeze provides a perfect area for relaxation.
Bia National Park
Bia National Park is an International Biosphere Reserve Park.
Bia became a protected area in 1935 and an official national park in 1974. Some of the tallest trees in West Africa are found in this park. There are 62 species of mammals known to exist in the park including 10 primate species (three species of colobus, the Diana monkey and the chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, among others), leopard, buffalo, and the forest elephant, Loxodanta cyclotis, and the bongo, Tragelaphus euryceros. Over 160 species of birds including hawks, eagles, bulbuls, flycatchers, the black-collared lovebird and the threatened white-breasted guinea fowl live in this habitat. The park is the only known home of Agama Sylvanus, a newly discovered species of lizard
Getting to the Western Region
The drive in a private vehicle takes approximately 3 hours.40 minutes from Accra to Takoradi.
There is reliable scheduled bus transportation that plies the route daily. One-way fare on a comfortable national or a private bus costs approximately US $8.00 and takes 4 hours from Accra.
There are several flights per day between Accra and Takoradi. These daily flights reduce the travel time from Accra to 45 minutes.
Some of these domestic airlines which do a least one roundtrip daily includes African World Airline, Starbow and Antrak.
From Takoradi to Elmina or Cape Coast, home of the UNESCO World Heritage sites is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Elubo, the boarder town to Ivory Coast is approximately 2 hours’ drive from Takoradi.
Where to stay
With the discovery of Crude Oil in the region and the construction of the Ghana Gas Pipeline together with the numerous small/medium scale industries that continue to grow to support the growing fuel industry, there is an abundance of accommodation choices ranging from the well-established Planter’s Lodge and the newest 4- star property–Best Western Plus Hotel, together with numerous comfortable and professionally managed 3-star and 2-star properties in addition to small hotels and owner- managed guest houses, it is reasonably easy to get accommodation to suit your budget and preference.