Tropical Climate of Ghana Ghana boasts a classic tropical climate due to its low altitude and proximity to the Equator. Daytime temperatures consistently reach or exceed 30°C on most days. Coastal regions experience humidity levels above 80%. While nights bring a slight temperature drop, this is more noticeable in the dry north than in the humid south. Visitors from cooler climates will find both daytime and nighttime temperatures in most parts of Ghana to be quite hot. However, the highlands flanking the Volta Basin offer a respite, with genuinely cool temperatures after dusk.
Steady Temperatures and Unique Rain Patterns Ghana’s equatorial location results in minimal seasonal temperature variations compared to the experiences of Europeans and North Americans. The temperatures remain relatively stable throughout the year. An interesting phenomenon is that some areas in Ghana have higher average temperatures during the northern hemisphere’s winter months than during the summer. For instance, Accra experiences its highest temperatures from November to January, despite being in the same hemisphere as Europe. The primary seasonal variation is in rainfall. Rainfall is concentrated during the European summer, peaking in May and June. In the south, the rainy season often starts as early as March, with a brief reduction between June and October before intensifying once again. This has led to the perception among northerners that southerners experience two wet seasons each year.
Rainfall and Climate Variations
Diverse Rainfall Patterns Rainfall distribution varies significantly across different regions of Ghana. The forested southwest receives the highest rainfall, with some areas recording over 2,000mm per annum. Conversely, the north and the plains around Accra experience lower rainfall, with less than 800mm of rain per calendar year. The reason behind the drier climate of Ghana’s eastern coastal belt compared to the western coast is the southwest-facing slopes. These slopes prevent rain-bearing westerly winds, associated with the monsoon, from depositing substantial moisture. This geographical feature, known as the Dahomey Gap, encompasses Accra, eastern Ghana, Togo, and Benin. It separates the Upper Guinean forests (stretching from central Ghana to Liberia) from the Lower Guinean forests (spanning from southern Nigeria to the Congo).
Harmattan Winds and Climate Impact
The Phenomenon of Harmattan Winds An intriguing climatic phenomenon in this region is the Harmattan winds. These winds blow from the northeast during the dry season, carrying dust from the Sahara desert and significantly reducing visibility, sometimes to as low as 1km. The harmattan winds usually occur between late November and early March. While most tourists are minimally affected, except perhaps those flying to or from Tamale, photographers and those seeking scenic mountain views may face challenges due to reduced visibility.
Optimal Timing for Visiting
Ideal Time for Exploration The most favorable period to visit Ghana corresponds to the northern hemisphere’s winter, spanning from October to April. During these months, the weather is more comfortable due to lower humidity levels. This dry season translates to fewer mosquitoes, thus reducing the risk of malaria transmission. Additionally, the condition of dirt roads is better, and the likelihood of sudden storms drenching travelers or their belongings is minimized. This season is particularly well-suited for enthusiasts of natural history, as the lower grass height enhances game viewing, and migratory bird populations are complemented by various Palaearctic migrants.
Drawbacks of the Dry Season The primary drawback of the dry season, especially from December to February, is the intrusion of Saharan sands brought by the harmattan winds. While this might not significantly impact most travelers, it can diminish the appeal of beaches and impede hiking experiences. Furthermore, photographers might find the subdued light and gray skies unfavorable for capturing high-quality images.
Highlights and Itineraries
Tailoring Your Itinerary Creating an itinerary is a personalized process influenced by factors like interests, travel style, budget, and available time. Rather than presenting fixed itineraries, we offer general guidelines considering these variables.
Recommended Regions for Exploration Numerous regions in Ghana offer diverse attractions:
- Accra and Surrounding Areas: Explore Accra and its environs.
- Coast West of Accra: Enjoy the coastal region west of Accra.
- Eastern Ghana: Discover the offerings of the eastern part.
- Kumasi and Central Ghana: Immerse yourself in Kumasi and the central regions.
- Northern Ghana: Experience the unique offerings of the north.
Duration and Flexibility For those inclined to thoroughly explore Ghana, a month-long itinerary with a quicker pace or five to six weeks for a more leisurely exploration is feasible. Conversely, some travelers prefer extended stays at specific sites, such as the beach cluster between Busua and Cape Three Points along the west coast. Such stays can be complemented by a few days in Accra and Cape Coast or Elmina.
Guidance for a Two-Week Visit A typical two-week visit would concentrate on two regions (excluding Accra, assuming a brief stopover). The west coast, with its beaches, historical sites, urban centers, and access to Kakum Forest Reserve, is a popular choice. Northern and Central Ghana offer a blend of cultural sites, Sahelian architecture, and wildlife viewing. Eastern Ghana is suitable for budget-conscious adventurers seeking scenic hikes and beach retreats. A one-week trip is feasible but naturally has limitations.