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Report on Camera Images visit December 2008

Camera Images looked at many places, looking for a safe place where it could take its training clients, where they could get a wide range of photographic experience at an affordable price. Given that the average photographer with quality DSLR, lenses and other items is carrying the equivalent to a large number of years salary for people in some countries, you can see how temping it might be to help themselves to it even if it could only be sold for a fraction of its cost price. Avoiding the risk of this and selecting a safe and stable country was the first criteria. The second was that it needed to provide a wide range of experience, so that clients would get to master a wide range of photographic skills rather than just have a holiday that they took some photos on.

Camera Images also wanted to run this as a 1 to 1, as they do with all their courses, concentrating on giving the clients total attention and making sure that they fully understand and master every aspect, which is not possible in a group. While the group trip is cheaper to organise as many costs, like guides, vehicles and expertise is shared, Camera Images wanted to go for the best value option, where the client would obtain the maximum knowledge and experience in the limited time available. They also wanted to provide this as near to a complete all in deal as they could, so no extra excursions, entry fees, gratuities, allowances for fuel increases or other price doubling methods, rather the reverse, include everything even including all meals, entry fees, specialist guides, supply of bottled water, snacks, all gratuities and more. Just about everything except the air fair to get there. They choose not to include the air fares in part to allow clients to select their own economy, or better, direct or indirect, and flight times to suit them, but also wanting to keep clear of restrictions that would mean they had to offer this through a specific agent or on a specific airline, which usually would cost more than when you have more freedom. They will do the research for you on available prices and times if you want.

Ghana has many advantages, its stable, safe, English is the official language, its time is at GMT so no jet lag is experienced, and its a shorter distance than many African destinations. The people are friendly and welcome visitors. Experience wise it offers a very wide range from coastal to lakes to inland, has the majority of the forts and castles in Africa, other heritage, genuine wildlife, waterfalls and far more. Colour is everywhere and there are few restrictions on photography.

The first research beyond looking at printed material and the internet that Camera Images did was to make contact with a number of students in Ghana and to get them to both explain more of their country and by sending them a camera get them to take other photos of the culture and life of the people. This continued for several months.

Next they intended to make two trips to Ghana, one to see what the quality of roads, accommodation and the like was like and to find out more on the culture. Then it was planned to put together a route and to visit again going through this looking for suitable hotels and fact-finding on locations. In order to do this car hire was researched, as well as other means of getting about. It became clear that in order to see a fair amount of the country a car with driver was the only economic option, and this was explored, and several travel companies looked at as well.

From this they could see that the process could be concentrated, and what was originally to be achieved in two visits accomplished in one, by using existing local expertise. As no clients would be taken on this trip, there was no time required for training to take place and the hours could be extended, allowing more to be fitted in within a one week trip. In this time it would be possible to cover many of the attractions that was envisaged to be able to be included in the options offered. The only two that would not be would be a trip requiring a day further north to the hippo sanctuary and a day further west to the village on stilts, with would feature in the two week version of the course and experience offered.

There are, besides these, other attractions that are outside the range or where there is insufficient time to include them, and the idea is to visit these on a later exploratory trip if not individually added to trips before.

A travel company who could provide a 4WD air conditioned vehicle and a good guide was selected and the trip then planned, partly utilising the research already done and partly using the expertise of the travel company and guide. This produced a provisional route, and an estimated budget of fuel and other costs. As this was different to other tourist requirements, and more intensive it was not known for sure that this could be achieved.

A date was fixed, airline tickets purchased, visa obtained and all medical shots taken and anti malaria pills obtained.

The flight chosen was just simply the cheapest available, as it was not something that would be offered to clients, and involved a change at Tripoli in Libya. The flight involved a delay, was longer, further, but at a lower cost.

The report below is of this visit.

Visit Report

By Keith from Camera Images


My flight arrived on the evening of Monday 24th November, and a hotel courtesy car was waiting to take me to my first hotel. By the time I arrived, having been through formalities and got to the hotel the reception was shut, but the security people had a key for my room.

I did not, at this point have local currency, it was late at night, it was a hot country, the reception was shut and I had no bottled drinking water.  Luckily with the hotel security people were able to speak English and I was able to get a small amount from them out of one of their bottles. So the first note I made was that it is necessary in future to arrange with the hotel to have bottled water put into the room.

Miles of Atlantic Beaches  - Click on smaller images to see larger versions

The hotel was by the beach, with paths directly onto it, and had a variety of rooms, the one I had was in a separate building in the grounds coming off the car park at the front with a balcony the other side. It had a double bed, a couple of arm chairs, a table, TV, fridge and storage, plus an ensuite room with a large curtained shower area and WC. The main block of the hotel contained a bar area, patio restaurant looking out towards the sea at a higher level, an internet cafe, and a large gift shop, plus reception area and offices. It also had an octagonal conference room in the roof space. The grounds contained plants and there was a lot of lizard like creatures around, but they quickly ran away when you got close to them. The beach area was sand dunes covered in grass, with sand, then the Atlantic ocean. There appeared to be quite a few people using the beach as a shortcut from one place to another.


I had breakfast, this is not usually included in the room price in Ghana, looked around the beach and chatted to both the owners of the hotel and several of the staff, I also had a  look at the conference room, and other facilities that may be used on later trips. I paid for this hotel with US$ I had with me.

The travel company proprietor, with car and guide arrived exactly at the time I had arranged. We went over the route and accommodation booked and what else would be required before setting out, dropping the proprietor in Accra and then going to an exchange to change some currency I had with me, and stopping to get a supply of bottled water.

As we were leaving Accra the 4WD vehicle stopped and would not restart, after some delay we went on with a hire car. That evening the proprietor of the travel company would catch us up with a second 4WD vehicle that we then used for the rest of the trip.

That first day we went along the coast, getting some idea of the driving, and seeing several buildings including two castles, one of which we visited. Elmina Castle is a large, well preserved slave trading castle, and I had a local guide give me a personal tour, and got to take both many photos of the castle but also photos from the top of the castle of a large fleet of traditional fishing boats nearby. During this day I saw a lot more than I photographed and its an area that requires more time than I had allowed.

That night we spent in a hotel not far from the coast after having had an evening meal in a beachside restaurant, that had rooms being built on it. I took a look with the proprietor at these rooms and it would be a good place to stop in future. That evening I went out to a club with the proprietor of the travel company and guide.

The hotel I stayed in was pleasant, I had a large air conditioned room with a ceiling fan as well. It had a massive wide bed, I estimated to be 14 foot wide, there was quite a lot of furniture and ensuite facilities. Reception, bar  and other items were on a higher level with a pleasant breeze. There was nothing wrong with this hotel, and I put it onto my reserve list.



Elmina Castle


I was up early, out taking photos of the plants that flower throughout the year, also across the valley I could see a lot of boys who had also got up early to practice football, while it was cool and before going to school.

We went and found a cash machine (ATM) to get some more local currency, I wasn't desperate for it but wanted to check that my card worked. We then went to Kakum National Park, this is best known for its walkway through the top of the rainforest, 43 metres off the ground. At well over 120 feet up this is high, but most of the way around, in the air you are looking at the tops of trees so don't notice how high you are. In this park there are forest elephants, a different type to found on the savannah and the northern Mole National Park. It also is said to have a range of other animals, none of which I saw. Wildlife wise I saw a variety of butterflies, ants or termites, and a few lizards. This park is around 25 miles north to south, by over 10 miles wide, and you can go trekking further with guides and then may see more wildlife. On this trip I did a tour including a short ground level tour and then the canopy walk, again having a personal local guide rather than joining a group. She told me a lot about different trees, plants, and the history, I got to see the walkway from the ground, realizing just how far up it was, before going onto it. The terrain involves a long climb up from the reception and exhibition area, then an undulated trip around at ground level before climbing further up the hillside and then a walkway to the walkway above the rainforest. The walkway comes off high ground so there is no major climb necessary to get onto the walkway. The terrain is not extremely steep but is steep over a long distance, and even with regular breaks I found this the most strenuous thing I did while in Ghana.

After this we visited a place where you can see birds and crocodiles but it was not at the right time of day, to see this well. An overnight stay here would allow crocodiles to be seen best at night and birds first thing in the morning.

Drove North, reaching the town of Mampong having passed through Kumasi.


Having looked at Mampong, we moved on to visit the Monkey Sanctuary at Booabeng Fiema. This has two types of Monkeys, the black and white that eat leaves and live high up in the trees, and the smaller Mona monkeys that eat many things including items like bread and bananas brought by visitors. Like most of their reserves this has no fences, the monkeys are here because they want to be and could leave if they wanted. This reserve is quite a way off the main road down dirt track roads. The walking is level here, and several troops of the Mona monkeys come to you to get food, and you can get very close to them as they take food from your hand. The local guide could call the Mona monkeys and was able to tell me about the reason they were there and what they ate and more. Many had small ones with them.

We had planed to visit a waterfall, but left this to the journey back so we could get onto Mole.

The route to Mole National Park is up tarmaced roads that in places breaks up to potholes or short mud stretches, eventually you come off this and have around 80km of mud track roads. While there is a lot of traffic in Accra north of Kumasi you see far fewer cars outside of towns, and there are many stretches where you see no cars for some way.

Mona Monkeys with Bananas

The mud track roads were baked hard and the first section was best described as corrugated, making it impossible to drive at any speed. Where you did get a good part you could pick up speed but would then either get to another poor part, a section with potholes or just where the track had broken up. I was surprised that vehicles would stand this amount of continuous rough road, and would not have wanted to have attempted this without a 4WD, that being higher off the ground was able to get through even the worst parts without difficulty, although it was sometimes a rough ride.

Along this journey we saw a small number of towns and many mud hut villages.

We arrived at Mole Park Motel where we spent the night.

Mole is pronounced mole-E.

Mole Motel has a range of priced accommodation, but all very reasonably priced. The air conditioned chalet I had,  had a double bed, fridge, other furniture, and ensuite facilities, plus a balcony with one of the world's best views allowing you to see miles across the waterholes. It has a pool, and bar/restaurant. There is viewing platform on the edge of the hillside with a similar and slightly better view of the waterholes than the balconies.

A Northern Road


Up early to take part in the morning walk around a part of Mole National Park. Here you can walk with a guide who carries a rifle, and are at least in theory amongst the wildlife. You have the option of a morning and some say also an evening walk and if you have a jeep like vehicle you can also drive around a part of the park in the late afternoon, again with an armed guide. There was a delay in getting going while they found more guides. The motel is not fenced completely from the park so wart hogs and other animals can and do visit the motel area.

Mole Park is large, and has no fences, it covers 4,575 sq km so finding any particular animal or group of animals is not practical, instead you stay near the main waterhole and see what comes to you. It has Lions, hyenas and many other predators as well as elephants, and baboons, red monkeys, green monkeys and a variety of deer like animals. It was apparently the wrong time of year to see elephants, and lions only normally hunted at night. I saw lions footprints while walking around the park. The walk around is not too strenuous, you do go over rough ground, over a river/brook and through thick vegetation, and balance over a stream on a fallen branch. The climb at the end back up to the level of the motel is however quite strenuous, and long drawn out.

I saw some animals, but unfortunately I had not planned to also have the time to stay for the afternoon drive, and although a pleasant place its a long way to go unless you make the most of it.                     

Driving back we stopped to look at the oldest Mosque in Ghana, and while I found this interesting and enjoyed the visit, from the accounts others have written its not something you should do unless you have a guide or driver with you to negotiate the right to visit. This including the local guide to explain all about it cost me only 3GHS. Nearby is a stone that has legends about it, and I managed to jump out of the 4WD and photographed it before people came and stood in font of it, I think wanting payment to get out of the way. The road this is by went to the hippo sanctuary, but we didn't have time to visit.

On the way back, by a different route, we saw many more villages, and arrived at the waterfall.

At Kintampo Waterfall there are three waterfalls here, a top one, that can be easily photographed, a middle one that is difficult and a far larger bottom one, that again can be photographed without too many problems. Then you have the 152 steps back up to the car park level.

Top One

Larabanga Moasque

The Mystery Stone

Click on smaller images to see larger versions

I briefly visited a Yam market. Yams are used where we would use potato, it can be cooked in various ways including boiling and frying as chips. It is far more filling than potato.

Then an overnight stop.


After a quick visit to another larger Yam market, which was only part open on a Saturday, we went onto a village to see how Kenti cloth was made. This is woven on hand looms in narrow strips and then sewn together. I also tried on some traditional wear. I also saw Cocoa, that is used to make chocolate, growing, and sucked some of the Cocoa beans straight from the pod, and saw a range of other things.

A lot of funerals take place on Saturdays, and in Ghana funerals are a social occasion that large numbers attend. I visited a large one where I estimated that there were at least 4,000 people, all in traditional costume. My guide checked that we could visit and take photos, and I was given complete freedom to go where I liked and photograph everything I wanted to. I have a separate article on funerals. We stayed there until it got too dark to photograph, before going on to the B&B in Kumasi.

That evening I went to a Chinese restaurant in Kumasi, a very popular large place where you had to wait for a  table. This was more expensive than other places we had eaten and attracted what was clearly a better off group of Ghanaians, many of which were known by others present.

That night I stayed at the 4 Villages B&B, I think this was the most expensive place I stayed but also the best. The home of retired Canadian teacher Chris who for some years taught in Ghana and Ghanaian wife Charity, who was a chef in Canada. The fridge here was fully stocked with a variety of drinks, and water. My room was large had a double and a single bed, ensuite facilities, tea making and guide books etc. There was a large lounge and a large patio outside. A good cooked Breakfast was served in a dining room.


After a late start we spent part of the day exploring attractions in Kumasi including the palace and sword, before returning to 4 Villages to collect Charity and visit a trade school she runs in a village some way away. I am looking at ways we can support both some into education in Ghana and the trade school, so also while there met up with some of the students I had been in contact with before and a few others.

Smaller replica of the Sword

Sword in the Ground

Following returning Charity to Kumasi, we went on to the crater lake, arriving after dark.

The hotel I stayed in had a ceiling fan but not air conditioning. It was a very pleasant photogenic place, with its own private beach. Each room was a separate hexagonal building, with a small ensuite room within it. This was the only place I stayed that did not have air conditioning. This evening there was little breeze and so it was right on the edge of what was comfortable. I photographed and made notes on this hotel but as it has no air conditioning put it on my reserve list.


I was up early to take photos before others were about and to take photos of the lake/beach early.

After breakfast, we visited another hotel on the lake that has air conditioned rooms, and direct views across the lake. This also had birds and other attractions. This is a better place to be based for training.

Then it was back into Kumasi to visit the market, the largest and best in Africa, maybe the largest in the world. It's a maze of market stalls and I managed to get some 180 degree wide-angle shots from the upper floor or a part of it, its huge due to its unstructured format you can't even estimate how many stalls there are.


Then it was the trip back to Accra, I had plenty of time my plane not leaving until very late, however the Kumasi to Accra road, although estimated to take 4 hours, took far longer, partly due to the traffic volume, and partly due to other problems and road works. I had intended to stop at another hotel to get showered and ready to go to the airport, plus have a final meeting with the proprietor of the travel business that had been supporting me throughout. As time passed and we were still battling the traffic it was clear that I needed to go direct to the airport. I did get there in time. In future however its clear that with the state of roads and traffic management  we do need to be back near to the airport the day before. There is quite a bit to see in the Accra area so this is not a problem.

In this report, I cannot cover a fraction of what I saw, experienced, or learnt from my knowledgeable award winning Guide.


Arrived back in the UK, and got back to Cheltenham.

Over the week

  • I achieved everything I had set out to, plus far more.

  • Had seen each of the main places I wanted to take photographers to.

  • Seen all the hotels and in some cases second and third options.

  • I experienced no tummy upsets, something that had concerned me before I went.

  • Produced a detailed costing.

  • Took over 900 photographs.

There was a few major changes I needed to make, including reversing a part of the route and allowing unscheduled time at the end, before the flight back. Besides this there were a number of organisational points, most of which we resolved along the route.

I see no problem now in organising the VIP PLUS service where people can get both training and experience with nearly everything included, but it is necessary to do this in cooperation with the local travel business and a  driver/guide.

It is a country that a lone traveller could safely travel and not have too many problems, but you would need a lot of time, with limited time and a lot of items with us we need a 4WD vehicle, and the driver/guide was well worth the cost.

See Also:

Photography training and experience on Ghana


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