Aburi Botanical Gardens: You are in Accra but want to get out of the city? Then Aburi Gardens is just right for you. Find out how you get there, how much the entrance costs, what to see, and how Aburi Botanical Gardens has ever been created.
I have been in Ghana for almost a month now. However, I have only stayed in Accra. The reason: First I had to get involved here. Finding out how everything works. Set me up. It was also important to build this Ghana travel blog. All this took time. A lot of time to be honest. So now it was time to get out of the city. Although it has its charm and there is definitely much to discover, yet one feels quickly smitten by the new impressions. After a month, I just wanted to get out of Accra. To see something else. So I did it like the locals from Accra and visited Aburi Botanical Gardens to relax.
Aburi itself is a small town, which reminds rather of a village in a nice mountain location. It is about 400 meters above sea level and is about 30 kilometers from Accra. The name is pronounced “Abri”. The “u” is a silent “u”.
At the time of my stay, the entrance fee was 5 Ghana Cedis. This corresponds to approximately one euro. Also note you will be asked to pay extra for photo cameras. The cost is about 50 Ghana Cedis in addition to the entrance fee. This charge can be circumvented by hiding the device in your backpack when entering.
Aburi botanical Gardens Ghana – History
As early as 1842, a proposal was made to establish a botanical garden in Ghana. In 1875, the British colonial government built a health clinic for officers in Aburi. During the occupation of Ghana, British colonialists planned to expand agriculture. The aim was to make the colony “British Gold Coast” more independent. As a result, an agricultural research station has now been set up in Aburi around the sanatorium. The management was carried out at the time by the Basler mission. Due to the high altitude and the favorable climatic conditions, Aburi has been chosen as the right location for the botanical garden. Moreover, Aburi is close to the capital Accra and the coastal region.
In order to develop a better understanding of tropical agriculture, one has mainly imported plants from Central America and Asia. Mexico, the Caribbean, Malaysia and India have played an important role in this. First of all, crops, such as cocoa, kola and rubber, were cultivated in field trials in Aburi. Later, also ornamental and spice plants such as vanilla, pepper, cardamom and nutmeg were grown. With this knowledge, the facility was used as an agricultural training station too. Today, Aburi Gardens are also used by locals to relax and unwind from the stressful city life. In addition, Aburi Botanical Gardens is as well a much used tourist attraction. By the way: Because of the climate it is called to be apparently completely free of mosquito. I can confirm this so far.
Aburi Botanical Gardens – how do I get there?
You reach Aburi Botanical Gardens, for example, by Trotro or by taxi. The journey takes about three-quarters of an hour. Time may vary depending on the traffic situation and the place of departure.
Trotro: Minibuses take you to Aburi from Tema Station in Accra Central or from Madina Station. I personally lived near Madina. Therefore, the decision was obvious. Madina is a busy place in the “greater Accra region”. Near the market square you can find the “Mainstation”. From there the Trotros depart for Aburi. But beware, as so often, there are also several stations in Madina. If you want to be sure, just go to Madina and ask the locals for Aburi. The people there are usually very helpful and gladly explain the way to the correct departure place. From there you will reach the terminus, the center of Aburi. The botanical garden can be easily reached from the last stop by foot (a few meters). The cost of Madina to Aburi amounted to 2 Ghana Cedis (circa 0.50 Euro) per person and route.
Taxi: Of course there is also the possibility to take a “dropping taxi” to Aburi. As a destination, you need to tell the driver “Aburi Botanical Gardens”. Note that the prices are of course higher and must always be negotiated before departure. The cost from Madina: These should be per taxi and route between 40 and 70 Ghana Cedis (8 – 14 euros).
Aburi Gardens – Tourist Attractions
Overall, Aburi Gardens has more to offer than you would expect at the first glance. I was two times inside the park. The second time I discovered things that I had not seen before. Therefore, I really recommend a guide. This doesn’t cost much and can show you the hidden secrets of Aburi Gardens. You also support the local population. It is best to ask the doorman at the entrance.
On some Ghanaian websites, the beauty of Aburi Botanical Gardens is somewhat exaggerated. There Aburi Gardens is described as “one of the most beautiful places on earth” or at least one of the most fascinating places in Ghana. The area offers really a lot to see. However, I would not describe it as the most fascinating sight in Ghana. But Aburi Gardens is definitely worth a day trip. Alone the way up the mountains to Aburi is wonderful due to the breathtaking views over Accra. For this reason, a visit to Aburi Botanical Gardens can also be combined with a hike through the mountain landscape around Aburi. For further activities and sightseeing in Aburi, see the section “other activities”.
Below you will find a list of my found attractions in Aburi Gardens:
- different tropical plants
- silk cotton tree
- strangling ficus
- palm avenue
- VVIP Garden
- birds and butterflies
- rock garden
- the pergola or lovers lane
- the old helicopter
- the sleeping palmtree
- old colonial buildings
- carving tree
Right at the entrance you will find the probably most famous tourist attraction of Aburi Botanical Gardens, the palm alley. Imposing and proudly the giant old palm trees protrude from the ground. There are more alleys inside the Aburi Gardens. In total there are two palm avenues and some others. At the end of the first avenue there is the old sanatorium located. That was converted to a hotel. You can even stay there. The building, however, looks a bit adventurous from the outside. Pay attention to the balconies. Nearby the hotel you will find the “sleeping palm tree”. This is a sunken palm which is very suitable as a photo motif. Going a little further and you will get to two further avenues. If you follow those paths, you will also find more buildings from the colonial era.
In the middle of Aburi Botanical Gardens you will find another, very interesting tourist attraction. Do you know what a strangling ficus is? No? I did not know it so far. This is a tree parasite. If some earth accumulates in a bifurcation of a branch and one of the seeds of the parasite is landing there, then the trees end has come. The seeds germinate there in airy heights. Then the young plant rises and grows beyond the crown of the tree. In addition it stretches its roots deeply until it finally reaches the ground. Thus, the stranger takes away the life-giving light above the tree and below it steals the nutrients. In the end, the tree is usually completely enveloped by it until the tree dies slowly but surely. Afterwards it is an easy target for the numerous termites in Ghana. What remains after that is an empty shell. Outside it looks like a tree, but it is hollow. May I introduce – the strangling ficus.
You don’t know what a VVIP Garden is? There were a few clever people who have come up with another place of interest. In this garden, various international figures have set a plant. Including 1924 Queen Elizabeth II and 1977 Prince Charles.
Also near the entrance of Aburi Gardens is the old helicopter. Even if you certainly do not expect it inside Aburi Botanical Gardens, it has its right to exist. It is also a great motif for taking pictures. But even for children it is very popular. Very close to the old helicopter is a pergola which is also lovingly called lovers lane. That is a path that is surrounded and covered by flowers. Naturally best suited for couples who are in love. But also all others love to use the Lovers Lane.
Of course one must not forget the many different imported tropical plants of Aburi Gardens. Most are signposted. On the signposts you will find the correct Latin name for each plant. If you have booked a guide, he will gladly explain to you the individual plants. Quite fascinating in between all the plants I found the huge Kapok tree, which is often called white Silk-Cotton-Tree. This is said to have been there even before the time of Aburi Botanical Gardens. With a height of up to 75 meters it is one of the largest trees in West Africa. It often stands out of the Ghanaian landscape. As if to stand out from all the other plants. But beware, in the youthful age the tree has many thorns on its bark. However, these disappear with increasing age.
Besides the living plant world there should be a carving tree located inside Aburi Gardens. This is a dead tree which has been completely decorated with beautiful carvings. I could find many pictures of it on the Internet. However I have not seen it in real, the carving tree. Also not seen or possibly not noticed by me was the rock garden and the numerous butterflies as well as the birds which should live there.
Other activities in Aburi Ghana
The entire area of the garden is quite large (about 65 hectares), but only a fraction (about 1,2 hectares) of it is actually set up as a park. So it could be that you have some time left after visiting Aburi Gardens. If yes, I would recommend you to explore Aburi and the surrounding mountains. Due to the mild climate, the attractive mountain landscape around Aburi is ideal to discover on foot or by bicycle. This was probably a business-minded Ghanaians thought too. Together with a Swiss, he opened a bicycle rental service next to the entrance to Aburi Botanical Gardens. There you will find more information and maps on different routes around Aburi. He is offering just the bikes as well as complete guided tours starting from some hours to some days. The corresponding website and contacts can be found here.
Anyone interested in African carving is just right in the Craft Market. There you will find beautiful wood carvings “made in Ghana”. Among them are wooden masks, wooden statues as well as decorated drums and other beautiful handmade things. The creative art can also be found in Accra, but in Aburi they are much cheaper. You can find crafts all the street leading to Aburi. But the most of them are located in the craft market. The craft market is located at right side on the way to the botanical garden, on a junction you can’t miss. On the building you can easily read “craft center” oder “craft market” or something similar.
Right in the middle instead of just being there. At the time of my stay there took place a marathon every Saturday on the winding road from Accra to Aburi. It started in Ayi Mensah at the foot of the mountain. Ideal if you want to exercise something sporty. In addition, you can participate directly in the Ghanaian life and quickly make friends. Registration is not required. Everyone can participate spontaneously. Further information about the Marathon can be found on the following website.
By the way: It can be cold in the Aburi mountains, even below 17 degrees.
Accommodations in Aburi Ghana
If one day is not enough or who wants to use Aburi as a stopover there is also a handful of accommodations from cheap to luxury. Unfortunately I personally was not in any of those accommodations. The following accommodations I have found there for you:
€€€€ Peduase Valley resort
€€€ Hillburi Restaurant
€€€ The Lansdown
€€ Little Acre Hotel
€€ Maasankofah Hotel
€ Sweet Mother Eco Resort
€ Olyander Hotel
€ Botanical Garden Resthouse
Food in Aburi Ghana
On the way from Accra to Aburi you can see small restaurants along the street. The one very cheap, the other a bit more upscale. From international dishes to traditional fufu everything is on the menu. Unfortunately, I did not come to that. However, I’ve seen a few really nice restaurants on this track, which are certainly worth trying it.
If you want to eat directly inside Aburi Gardens, there are two restaurants: the Rose Plot Cafeteria and the Royal Botanical Gardens Restaurant. In the latter I ate on my second visit. On my first visit, I picniced in the park. Both I can highly recommend. If you have the opportunity, you can bring your food from your favorite restaurant. Aburi Botanical Gardens invites you with its green meadows and cozy benches.
Alternatively, I highly recommend the food at the Royal Botanical Garden Restaurant. The food there tasted good and was affordable. BUT: Before you order, you should ask what is available on the menu. For my visit there two times I needed to reorder, since both choices were not available. In the end, it turned out that only around 25% of the menu was available. Not only can I recommend the restaurant in the park. Also the location in the middle of the jungle under small shady roofs is beautifully situated and invites you to linger. The Rose Plot Cafeteria should even be more affordable. This is located right next to the hotel, the Botanical Garden Resthouse. I have not tested this however.
FAZIT – Aburi Botanical Gardens
Aburi Gardens is definitely worth seeing it and worth a day trip. There is a lot to discover and by the way one can relax there in the wonderful mild climate. In addition to the garden is also the complete mountain landscape around Aburi very worth seeing. Alone the ride there is rewarded with an incredible view of Tema and Accra. You can also visit a craft market with beautiful carvings on the way. Ghanaian art can be purchased here.
Did my article help you? Have you visited and tested one of the restaurants on the way to the park? Or did you book one of the accommodations? Then write me gladly here in the commentary.
Ben Diaz – travelcap.de