Local Transportation in Ghana
There are a lot of options for travel within Ghana. Sadly, not all drivers are licensed. Use your judgment on the condition and appearance of the vehicle and the operator before using any mode of transportation. Insurance and registration stickers are displayed in the front windscreen of all vehicles in Ghana, allowing easy verification that the vehicle is current. Most road accidents in Ghana are caused because of tires that are in poor condition.
All taxis have orange corners. Some are comfortable, with law-abiding drivers and air conditioning for an extra fee. Others are filthy death traps with unlicensed drivers. Use your judgment on the condition and appearance of the car and driver before using a taxi.
Passing taxis that you flag on the street are referred to as "dropping" taxis, and they will take you directly to your destination. There are also dropping taxis that wait for passengers at various locations, but taking a parked dropping taxi is always more expensive than flagging a taxi that is driving by.
When a taxi stops, greet him through the open car window and ask how he is doing. After a proper greeting, tell him where you are going and determine that he knows the destination. When he tells you to "get in", your reply should be "How much?"
Always negotiate with the taxi driver before you get into the taxi. Otherwise you will pay double the rate, or more. See our tips on Paying for Things.
If a taxi driver believes you are a tourist, he’ll automatically assume you are rich and demand a high rate, telling you of petrol prices, tax increases or some other sad story. Whatever price he quotes, offer half of that. After he is done acting insulted you can work together to find a happy medium. If you do not get a good rate, move on and hail another taxi.
The issue affecting the rate in cities is traffic, not distance. Accra and Kumasi roads cannot support the number of cars, so massive traffic jams are typically encountered at any time of the day or night, especially around certain known bottlenecks. In rural areas, it may be easy to hire a taxi for a full day at a reasonable rate.
Shared Taxis or Passenger Taxis
These are taxis waiting at transport stations that go directly to a pre-specified destination. They look exactly like a regular dropping taxi except they will have a sign on top of the car or on the dashboard indicating the destination.
As the name indicates, these taxis are shared by 4 to 6 passengers and wait at the station until full before departing. Because you are sharing the fare with other passengers and these fares are fixed by the government for certain routes, these taxis are quite inexpensive. However, you may have a long wait for the car to fill before it departs. You have the option of paying for the empty seats to get the taxi moving immediately to its defined destination.
If the car is empty, these taxis can easily be converted to a regular dropping taxi by negotiating with the driver to take you to the destination you request. Again, this is a more expensive option than flagging a passing dropping taxi.
These are private cars that are at transport stations waiting for enough passengers to go directly to a pre-specified destination, usually indicated by a sign on the dashboard or on top of the car just like a shared taxi. These fares are not set by the government, so these cars tend to be more expensive, but they are also generally more comfortable than a shared or dropping taxi. These cars do not have the orange corners like a taxi.
A private car can be a licensed or an unlicensed driver offering himself and his own car for hire. These are not regulated by the government and you should use careful judgment when hiring these cars. Check that the driver has a license and that he has current insurance and registration.
A tro tro is a shell of a vehicle, usually a minivan, that holds 16-24 people, crammed as tightly as possible. Tro tros travel every bit of road in Ghana, making them a valuable link in the transportation system for smaller town and villages. As a rule, tro tros are uncomfortable, dirty, dangerous and yet thoroughly exciting for an adventurous visitor to Ghana. This is an excellent ways to rub elbows with people - literally!
You can flag down a tro tro anywhere along the road, or take one from a station. Since tro tros normally wait at their station until full before departing, it is sometimes difficult to find an empty seat on a passing tro tro. Taking tro tros from a station is best. When taking a tro tro on a little traveled route, inquire the day before about the departure time. On well traveled routes you can be assured that a tro tro will be full and departing soon. Far fewer tro tros run on Sundays.
Fares are very low and because the rates are set by the government, overcharging is not a problem on tro tros. The more significant danger is traffic accidents. Tro tros pose a higher probability of risk to your health than mosquito/malaria roulette does.
Generally buses provide the best balance of safety, expense, speed and comfort, especially when traveling between major towns. Many have air conditioning and video, but not all.
Buses will charge an extra fee for luggage. You may disembark at any point along the way, but the full fare for the bus's destination will be required.
The recently privatized State Transport Company (STC) has scheduled bus service that runs along nearly all paved roads in Ghana. Tickets book in advance, so buy your tickets early rather than going to the bus station expecting to be on the next departing bus. Because the air conditioned buses are more comfortable the tickets sell out faster - sometimes days in advance.
VIP also operates nice buses along major routes. They have a newer fleet, more flexible schedules, and, like tro tros, will depart for their destination once the bus is full.
Metro Mass is the other main carriers between cities, and they run on much more flexible schedules. These operate along major roads, but also along routes not serviced by other bus companies. These buses are slower and less expensive, but usually provide the same level of safety and comfort as STC.
Because the buses run full from their point of departure, it is very difficult to find a seat on a passing bus unless it is far from its original point of departure. STC and VIP will only pick passengers from stations, while Metro Mass will pick passengers anywhere along the route, if seats are available. This is why they are slower.
There are ferries that cross Volta Lake at various points. There is also one ferry traveling north-to-south along the lake. These are frequently not running due to water level or the condition of the ferry boat itself. Always inquire locally. When not running, the ferries are generally replaced by converted fishing canoes.
There is currently no passenger rail service anywhere in Ghana that can be recommended to guests. The twice daily commuter service between Accra and Nsawam is currently suspended and the Accra-Tema route is still in service.
Domestic Air Travel
There are a limited number of domestic flights on propeller driven planes. See our Air Travel page for a listing of domestic airlines operating in Ghana.