Travelling in Ghana - How to stay out of jail!

West Africa is a region of colour and chaos, very different to countries in the continent's south and east. The differences may be the reason for travelling there, but could also be the same thing that gets travellers in trouble.

Ghana has an array of local laws that may surprise tourists, but need to be followed if your trip is to go smoothly.

Before heading to West Africa's hectic world, prepare yourself by reading through some basic laws.

Drugs A Bad Idea

Never become involved with drugs of any kind in Ghana.

Drugs are a growing problem in Ghana and the authorities are determined to tackle and control the problem. Penalties for drugs related offences (including class C drugs) are severe including a "no bail" restriction on anyone implicated in any drug related offences.

Even possession of small amounts of marijuana can lead to a prison sentence in excess of 5 years, usually after a lengthy and expensive legal process.

Class A drugs such as cocaine are likely to be laced with other substances - foreign visitors have died after taking these drugs.

Get high on your travel experience, not on drugs.

Sex in Ghana

Ghana follows the same rules as most African nations

Homosexual acts are illegal and attract a minimum sentence of 7 years in prison.

This is not to say homosexuals aren't welcome, but be careful if you decide to engage in any relationship. African countries are quite aggressive against this behaviour.

Possession of pornographic material is also illegal.

Beware What You Wear

West Africa is a place of extremes and the culture shock can be quite tough for some travellers.

So watch what you wear - if may sound strange but Ghana officials are strict on what some people have put on.

Wearing military-style or camouflage clothing is prohibited.

This is not a unique rule and one that is followed throughout Africa.

With many rebels groups operating in the region, the last thing you want to do is be linked to something a little more sinister.

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Ghana and you should take care not to offend.

Conservative standards are often linked with religion and Ghana is definitely a country immersed in religion.

Girls travelling through Islamic regions should be careful to cover up.

And don't fight the standards, respecting different cultures is the best way to travel.

Snapping Away

Whenever you travel, it's best to stick to photography of animals and people, not of sensitive buildings.

Photography near sensitive sites such as military installations or the airport is strictly prohibited. Such sites may not be clearly marked and the application of restrictions is open to interpretation.

Photographers should ask permission if they want to take a photograph of a building where there are guards on duty outside.

Where there are not, unless there are notices forbidding photography, there should not be a problem, but caution should be exercised.

Permission should also be sought from people if you wish to take their photograph (a small tip or "dash" may be required). But beware of self-appointed officials trying to charge fees for tourists to take pictures of well-known sites of interest.

The Diamond Trade

West Africa is often associated with the diamond trade, with many of the world's best gems coming out of the region.

But don't be too silly with your money if you are greeted by a "good deal" for diamonds.

Usually these good deals are too good to be true. As a traveller to Ghana, you may be approached by touts on the street, hoping to sell diamonds to you.

Just be warned.

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  • phillip said

    be careful of taxi's.....when flying i go to an officer and ask him to direct you to a state sanctioned taxi

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