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Akwaaba – Welcome to Africa – Arrival at the Accra airport in Ghana

AKWAABA – Means “Welcome” in Akan. Akan? Is that the Ghanaian tongue? Ghana is like most African countries a multiethnic state with many different languages. The Ghanaian language is not existent. But is one of the most spoken languages in Ghana. Another very frequently used language is English, which is a heritage out of the colonial time. With English you can manage to communicate easily here.

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to Accra Kotoka International Airport (ACC) …, was coming out of the speakers of the aircraft. Yahoo finally we arrived in Accra, I thought. Finally ground under my feet. The flight duration to Ghana over Spain was about 7.5 hours. If you include the waiting time the entire trip to Ghana took me about 13 hours. Thereafter were Jana and me a bit exhausted. Jana by the way is the nice lady I met during the flight to Ghana.

As the doors of the aircraft opened the usual hustle began. Close before the exit, I could feel it already, the warm African air. Since it was a bit chilly on the plane, that was exactly what I needed. With 16 years I landed the first time in sub-Saharan Africa. More precisely it was in Dakar, the Senegalese capital. There it was even more extreme. At once I got out of the plane, I could feel this humid, musty air with its typical odor. First, a bit strange, I even missed this scent when I was back home in Germany. Here in Ghana it isn’t that strong. But maybe it depends on the season. But right now I cannot judge it.

Kindly, the plane parked almost in front of the airport building. What a service. So we hadn’t to walk a far. As we entered the building Jana was suddenly a bit nervous. What is going on, I asked her. She said she isn’t sure if she had taken her vaccination record from Germany. Will this cause any problems, I was asking myself. Before I could thought more about it I already saw the danger lurking. Two ladies were controlling the vaccination records of all passengers. And soon one of them waved us over. Luckily I had all my important documents inside my hand baggage, as well as my vaccination redord. What a pity my nice flight attendant hadn’t. As feared she had forgotten it in Germany. But thanks Whatsapp it wasn’t a big issue. A quick phone call to Germany and a few minutes later the picture with the yellow fever vaccination arrived on her phone. In addition to the vaccination records the temperature was controlled by the two ladies. A security camera showed all incoming passengers in different colors on a screen. This is now common at many airports, especially since Ebola appeared. Thanks to the strict border controls of Ghana Ebola fortunately has never made it up to Ghana. However, we finally made it up!

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Puh the first hurdle was behind us. But the second came straight afterwards: The passport control at the immigration service. When applying for the visa you must provide all sorts of informations to the Ghanaian Embassy Berlin. As a typical tourist usually you will provide the hotel address as your whereabouts. However, I am more a backpacker and less a usual tourist. That means I would like to decide spontaneously where and how long I stay at one place. Therefore I had booked a hotel via booking.com in Accra. Later after obtaining the visa I canceled it. That is why I haven’t had the address of the hotel with me. I thought I won’t need it anymore. Too bad that again I had to provide all those information with an entry form. Also my planned whereabouts in Accra. I hadn’t thought of this. I needed a solution – quickly. Fortunately Jana was still with me. She had shown me her address. Based on this format I could then craft my own address. Hopefully they won’t check this address here in Ghana, my first thought was. But … everything needed to be filled out. Even the profession, said the lady at the counter in Accra. Except from my personal data inside my passport nothing was checked for its accuracy. Lucky again.

After I submitted the entry form, the passport still needed to be controlled. Especially the visa had been targeted by the lady. I had applied at the Ghana Embassy Berlin for a multi entry visa with a 6-month stay. This was also granted to me. But the lady just changed it from six to only two months (60 days). This appears here in Ghana as a common practice. Other African countries such as Nigeria seem to handle it the same way. Accordingly, some days ago I had to renew my Ghana Visa at the Ghana Immigration Service in Accra. In addition, they also took my fingerprints and a picture of my face.

You incidentally needs help with the application for a Ghana visa? The please click here: Ghana Visa Application Berlin – how do I do it right?

Note: The following documents will you need at  Accra airport before entering Ghana:

  • passport
  • vaccination record
  • address of your stay (for example the address of your hotel)
  • baggage ticket

Compared to other countries, in Germany, the baggage ticket is usually not checked. You will receive this ticket after you submitted the baggage at the airport counter. First a strip of paper is attached to your baggage.  Among other things, it says where your baggage goes to. From this strip a kind of a receipt (baggage ticket) will be demolished. This is usually sticked onto your ticket. This baggage ticket serves as a proof that the baggage that you carry away is really belonging to you. Recently in Ghana it was not checked as well. However, I had this case already. If you then cannot show this ticket, it won’t be easy to take your baggage away with you.

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After we had passed the second hurdle we continued to the baggage claim. What struck me was, that the airport was renovated since, 2014. It now looks more modern, tidy and friendly. Not as adventurous and chaotic as it was two years earlier. At that time I travelled the first time to Ghana. What I experienced and how it happened I will write in another article. After the baggage we went on to the exit. There already waited eagerly the boyfriend of Jana. For me waited a friend whom I had already met in 2014. His name is Perry.

Quick and painless, we said goodbye to Jana and her boyfriend. We were in a hurry. Perry had lent the car of his sister to pick me up from the airport. But as everywhere the parking costs money too. The car is a Volkswagen Passat, not too old. In the middle of a busy road there was a very loud knocking noise. Oh no – not that, we couldn’t continue. With its last power, the car rumbled tormented to the next gas station. We left it there for the night. Luckily a nice driver from Accra took us to hitch up to our accommodation. On the way he told us that he already had been to Germany and that he liked it very much. For the first time I was able to stay with a friend of Perry. He had a free room for me. He, too, was already in Germany and has even studied there. Now he works for a large, well-known German company here in Ghana. Late at night we finally arrived with him.

Sure you can imagine, I was happy and content but also quite K.O. After all that I experienced I just went to bed and fell asleep pretty soon.

My Ghana adventure has started.

Your Ben Diaz – travelcap.de

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