12 Gifts for Women Who Love to Travel

A version of this post was originally published on 12/6/15 by SheKnows Media

12 Gifts for Women Who Love to Travel

Ah, the holidays! The warmth, the togetherness, the food, the good cheer, and the quest to find the perfect gifts to give the special people in our lives.

With only a few weeks left, it's time to intensify the search and make your final purchases.

If one of those special people in your life is an independent wanderluster who seems to have been everywhere and done everything, boy do I have some great gift ideas for you!

What do you get the wanderlust-smitten woman who lives to travel the world?

How about an Encircled Chrysalis Cardi! This soft, eco-friendly garment, ethically made in Canada can be worn EIGHT different ways (without the need of pins and straps), making it a top choice for anyone on the go. You can dress your cardi up or down without weighing your suitcase down. It's ingenious, comfortable and classic!

Below are some examples of how you can wear the chrysalis cardi. I packed mine for an autumn weekend getaway. I had so much extra room in my single carry-on purse and getting dressed couldn't have been easier or more fun!

For more details, inspiration and access to their amazing look book click on the Encircled ad below.

12 Gifts  Women Who Love Travel

For other great gift ideas-

Here are 12 Gifts for Women Who Love to Travel!

(photos from

Whichever wonderful winter holiday you are celebrating this year, I hope the season is filled with love and peace!

*Disclosure- this post contains affiliate links :)

Jobs in Ghana: How Volunteering as a Teacher in Ghana was One of the Best Decisions I Ever Made!


Considering working or volunteering abroad? I spent a little over a month working as a volunteer teacher in Cape Coast, Ghana back in 2005. It was one of the best decisions I ever made! Jobs in Ghana: How Volunteering as a Teacher in Ghana was One of the Best Decisions I Ever Made!

Taking a break with Beji


Eagerly, they jumped and wiggled in an assortment of miss-matched raggedy clothing. From where I was standing, by the front gate on the hill, I couldn’t distinguish the male children from the female ones. Ambiguously uniform, they sported short-cropped hair atop skinny boyish figures and faces lit immaculately with smiles.


 So this is Ghana. My first impressions registered slowly. The red dusty earth, so fine, it coated everything with terra-cotta powder, the humidity, so intense it seemed I could drink the air, the continuous comforting aroma of burning wood, the constant presence of sweat beads above my upper lip, and now, effervescent children with half moon smiles.



I stood in the yard of the New Life International Orphanage taking it all in. I had just finished my third year as a middle school English teacher and instead of spending the summer in the sweltering cement vacuum that is Manhattan where I would inevitably spend too much money and bounce aimlessly from beach to brunch as was the case the summer before, I chose to travel to Ghana and volunteer teach. It was time for me to do something greater than myself.


Always ready for an adventure, I traveled regularly, but I’d always played it safe. I had been to places like Canada, a handful of Caribbean Islands and many of the major cities in Europe. Africa, however, was a continent wrapped in mystery. Intrigued since childhood, Africa had been calling my name for quite some time. I did my research and decided that Ghana would be the country to introduce me to the continent. Ghana was full of history, there was a thriving arts scene, the country boasted a diverse landscape, the main language was English and being the first African country to gain colonial independence, the political climate was very stable.

I chose a placement in the Cape Coast region because I wanted to be near the water. I opted to work at an orphanage instead of a school to get a different teaching experience. The orphanage, located in a rural suburb on the outskirts of town was modest at best. A singular, flat, un-painted, concrete structure with an open courtyard, it was home to twenty children roughly aged between one and thirteen. Many of the children had living parents who could no longer afford to take care of them. Some of these parents visited weekly and helped out where they could. Under funded, under-staffed, and under-resourced, the orphanage relied on volunteers for everything.

During the school year a local teacher essentially volunteered his time to work with the students. Over the summer, the facility relied on international volunteers to fill in the gaps. There were many gaps, as Madam Grace, the elderly headmistress and her staff of two had their hands full.



One of three volunteers this summer, I took over the care of the primary group. My students ranged in age from one to three. Irresistibly adorable and affectionate, I happily adopted this group. Because I had the youngest section and because there was only one classroom that the mid and upper grades split, my group spent lesson time outside beneath the shade of a very large tree.


My little ones, six in all, were feisty and enthusiastic. Having worked primarily with teenagers, it took a while to adjust to children that small. Every direction had to be broken down into tiny digestible pieces. We jumped around constantly, getting our wiggles out, re-focusing short attention spans.  Despite English being the official language of Ghana, my students learned to speak Fante, the local language before English. Only a few of my toddlers could communicate in and understand English. One little girl named Gifty, who had just turned one, wasn’t speaking yet at all.


I arrived ready to teach. I mapped out lessons. I scoured the central market for books and supplies. But, as is typically the case in education, academic lessons were only a small part of the ever growing list of critical needs facing my tiny pupils. I was often overwhelmed by the enormity of their situations. The children needed proper nutrition, their daily tin bowl of cassava porridge and rice was filling but devoid of nutrients. Dressed quite literally in an array of colorful rags and shredded clothes that were too big, they needed proper and clean clothing. They also needed a proper educational foundation in their native Fante, a language I didn’t know, and they needed love and attention.


It was difficult to accept the fact that as one person, an outsider, with limited linguistic and cultural contexts from which to operate, I had no control over the fulfillment of all of their needs. I swallowed daily doses of guilt and frustration until I learned to focus on the things I thought I could instead control.


I was a teacher, I may not have known Fante and my young students may not have been fluent in English yet but we learned our ABCs and counted beneath the shade of the willowy shea tree using a stick to mark the red earth, our impromptu chalk-board. I became a master of improvisation. Tracing shapes in the moist earth we learned vocabulary words and made up stories.


A child on each hip and several hanging off of my legs we danced and swayed, singing songs and playing hand games. Leaves and sticks were collected and used as building blocks. We created good times and shared many wonderful moments. Moments like the time Judith, a shy two year old, put together her first broken sentence in English, “No. Me up. Take me up.” She demanded one afternoon arms outstretched.  Or when Lisbeth, a bow-legged three year old, finally caught someone during our daily game of tag. The mischievous look on her face - priceless.


Slowly we fell into a routine, circle time, game time, lesson time, song and dance time. Despite the orphanage being a bleak place, there was so much life radiating from the little ones. The children seemed genuinely happy finding joy in the simple moments and in each other instead of in things. It was humbling to be in their presence. If I found myself complaining about the fact that my sandals were always filthy and covered in red dirt, I needed only to look at my barefoot students to feel gratitude. If I felt the urge to complain about being ripped-off at the central market, I needed only to think of my students and their reality, about the fact that if people were earning a livable wage, they wouldn’t need to rip tourists off. If families could take their earnings from the marketplace home and adequately feed and cloth their children, they wouldn’t need to place them in orphanages so that they could be fed and get a basic education.


“I want. I want. I want Benny. I want Benny to come and dance with me.” They would sing. Clapping as the named child performed a dance to the beat. “O how fun. Oh how fun. Oh how fun to come and dance with me.” The chorus continued until everyone was consumed with contagious laughter. They laughed despite having no toys, or a mom and dad to care for them, or the security of a comfortable bed and three nutritious meals a day. They seemed to giggle and smile simply because they were alive, and for the time being together, and feeling well. 



Then our little routine was disrupted. From the beginning I noticed that mosquitoes were ravaging the children. They would come out at night, long after Kathy and Jamie (the other two volunteers) and I had left for the day and by morning, when I arrived to teach, the little ones would be painted in raised red dots. As the months transitioned from July to August, I transitioned from teacher to nurse.


Having hypochondriac tendencies, I brought a massive first aid kit with me from New York just in case. Never did I imagine the important role this kit would play.


It began with the scratching. Visibly wiggly and uncomfortable, the children scratched their little legs and ankles until they were covered in sores. This was made worse by the absence of shoes, and running water. Impossible to protect or keep clean, the sores began to get infected. My kit went to work with me daily. I set up a nurse’s station on the corner of the sunken wrap around porch. Every few hours, I was disinfecting, applying Neosporin and changing bandages. Despite my efforts however, things got much worse.


My nursing station. What a cheerful patient I had.


In my primary group there was a little boy named Jack. Jack had the largest most pensive brown eyes I’d ever seen. Jack’s sores were also refusing to heal. Raised and raw, they began to ooze and puss. Jack grew lethargic and cranky. He no longer joined in the group games opting instead to curl up next to me at my makeshift nurses station. Days went by and it became clear that the situation was critical.



“I have no money for a doctor. Transport is expensive. Medicine is expensive.” Madame Grace explained looking worried and defeated.



 Jamie, Kathy and I offered to pool our money together to pay for the services and were granted reluctant permission to transport Jack into the city to the hospital to be seen by a doctor.



The doctor, an American woman from California was very sympathetic. She’d seen cases like this before. She tested Jacks blood for infections and parasites then drained, cleaned, and dressed his wounds. The doctor gave me a crash course in dressing wounds and donated a box of medical supplies to the orphanage.

Jamie and Jack at lunch


After treating Jack to lunch in town, for being such a good boy we returned to the hospital for the results. He had a staph infection, the worst-case scenario. He needed anti-biotics and several follow-up visits. Prescriptions were filled and we returned to the orphanage with the news.


The next day two other children came down with similar symptoms. Their wounds refused to heal. Jamie and I brought them to the hospital where they too were diagnosed with staph infections. Two more children fell ill after that and my new schedule of shuttling children to doctor appointments began.


The yard was no longer filled with laughter and activity. Lessons no longer took place. The orphanage had temporarily been turned into an infirmary. Even one of the adult staff members, the cook, fell ill.


I did what I could and filled in where I was needed. Sometimes that meant giving a bath, other times rocking a crying toddler or showing some of the older children how to dress wounds. After two weeks of uncertainly, we were clear of staph infections.


By late August a full chorus of “One elephant came out to play, upon a spider’s web one day. He had such tremendous fun that he called for the other elephants to come” could be heard all afternoon long. The verses would repeat as the number of elephants grew and until the yard was full of the children swinging their arms in front of their noses like elephant trunks.


My summer volunteer experience as a primary teacher had not gone quite as planned. My students didn’t learn to speak English or count. They couldn’t all recite their ABC’s on cue. Many of my planned lessons went un-taught. My summer in Ghana was about so much more than simply exploring a mysterious new country while volunteering at an orphanage. I had been shaken. The way I approached the moments in my life had been altered. My neurotic, impatient, controlled, New Yorker tendencies subsided a bit making room for a much more appreciative, balanced and patient person. A person capable of improvisation and going beyond the call of duty in order to advocate for a group of children whose voices and needs were rarely validated or addressed. I had become stronger, braver somehow.


Being in Ghana was so exquisitely different from anything I had ever done.  From working at the orphanage to touring the Cape Coast Castle, to visiting the rain forest canopies further inland, to living with a host family, to traveling to a traditional stilt village and forming lifelong friendships with some amazing locals and passionate volunteers, I had changed. 


When I think of Ghana, I remember the red earth, the humidity, and the savory smell of burning wood but most importantly I feel the spirit of the children I was so fortunate to have spent time with.


From them, I learned that its better to smile through pain, through obstacles and hardship than it is to scowl and frown. I learned to sing and clap my hands and to appreciate the little things, life’s finer moments.


Like little Buddha’s, they lived impeccably in the present, drinking the most from each second with the wise knowledge, far beyond there years, that tomorrow was not promised and there would be no way to control what it might bring.


*This piece was originally written in 2012 for an anthology of essays about volunteer tourism







10 Reasons I Love Shea Butter!

All Natural Eczema Cream You Can Make At Home

10 Reasons I Love Shea Butter!Whipped Shea Butter

I love shea butter! I have been a die hard fan of shea butter, since being introduced to it while traveling through Ghana nine years ago.

Simply put, shea butter is one of the best all-natural products you can use to nourish your skin and hair. Intensely moisturizing and curative, the rich cream that comes from the inside of the shea nut, is nothing short of remarkable.

10 Reasons I Love Shea Butter:

  1. Shea butter is rich in vitamin A, which works to remedy irritating skin conditions like eczema, acne/blemishes, and dermatitis. Vitamin A is also known to aid in the smoothing out of wrinkles (double whammy!)
  2. Shea butter is full of vitamin E, which is highly effective when it comes to anti-aging and fighting off free radicals. Vitamin E also increases circulation to the skin.
  3. Shea butter is a pregnant woman's best friend as it is very effective when it comes to the prevention of stretch marks.
  4. Shea butter is extremely versatile and can double as lip balm, cuticle cream and hair moisturizer (best for thick curly hair).
  5. Shea butter should be a staple in everyone's summer first-aid kit as it helps to heal sun burn and treats insect bites, poison ivy and poison oak.
  6. Shea butter is thick and creamy in consistency, making it ideal for dry, cracked, wintery skin. A dab of shea butter in the winter can equal instant relief!
  7. Shea butter can be used to relieve minor cuts, abrasions and burns. Applying shea butter will reduce the chance of scarring too.
  8. Shea butter is gentle and natural enough for newborn baby skin.
  9. Shea butter contains a natural SPF of about 6, which is great for days when you're in indirect sun.
  10. Shea butter is all natural and won't pollute your skin and body with chemicals and additives!

Interested in Shea based products? Check out my ETSY store to view my shea based line of organic skin care called Touch of Ohm.

10% off all orders on Monday (12/2) w/ code: CyberMon2013

Touch of Ohm Holiday Gift Set

Nourish yourself from the outside in!

My Unlikely Introduction to Shea Butter at the Cape Coast Castle


My Unlikely Introduction to Shea Butter at the Cape Coast Castle A woman walks the beach behind the Cape Coast Castle


I glanced up from my orange Fanta. I had just become used to the fact that my name, when spoken, sounded like soldier.

Seeing no-one in my immediate space, I continued to nurse my soda. Seated at the Cape Coast Cafe, I had the perfect view. I watched the waves of the Atlantic crash against the brown boulders that encircled the Cape Coast Castle. Gray tufts of sea mist rose as a result of the spectacle. The salt of the ocean lingered on my lips. My book was purposely left behind, I promised myself I would watch, listen and take in this experience my first experience of Africa, traveling solo in Ghana, and accepting without distraction the beauty around me.

"So-jah!" I heard it again. Closer this time. Turning my back to the Atlantic, I spotted a remotely familiar face in this new and still foreign space.

"Can I sit?"

I shifted nervously trying to recall his name, place his face. He made himself comfortable before I had the time to reply.

"You look well So-jah. Ghana is agreeing with you."

"Thank you."

I searched my head for his name. The details were filling in slowly. He was a drummer, a Rastafarian, we'd met before here at the castle. He owned a shop with his brothers. They sold drums, gave drumming and dance lessons mostly to British and French tourists. We'd talked a few weeks ago when I visited the castle to buy souvenirs after work with some of the other volunteers at the orphanage. He asked me where I was from, grew excited when I said New York. He had just been there, had some cousins and a favorite uncle who lived in the Bronx. We talked about being vegetarians, about cooking with coconut oil. How could I have forgotten, it had only been about two weeks ago. He, like most of the people I'd encountered in Ghana remembered my name, looked me in the eyes with a warm smile while addressing me by name. I, like many Americans, like many Westerners, let names roll in one ear and out the other, became embarrassed and apologetic when confronted by my instinctive and dismissive behavior.

"I'm so sorry," I finally managed. "What is your name again?"

His name was Elaji. He lived in town. He was the youngest of seven siblings, four boys and two girls. His mother and grandmother owned the shop next to his. His father was from Burkina Faso.

We began to talk. Elaji ordered a bottled water. I had another Fanta. The waves crashed. Flies buzzed. Skinny stray dogs settled at our feet.



"How is business?" I asked.

The long breaks in our conversation unnerved me.

"Business for me is very good. " Elaji smiled.

His teeth were pointy. He slightly resembled a fox.

"So many English this time of year. They all want lessons. We have drumming and dance circles when the moon is full. You should come, they're here in front of the castle." He pointed with his water bottle to the open space before the castle.

"I'm not much of a dancer, but I'll come. I'd love to watch."

"You'll watch, but then you'll dance. You won't be able to stop yourself."

A hearty chuckle escaped my gut as I imagined myself gyrating and spastic, dressed in kente cloth, backlit by the glow of the full moon. It wasn't a pretty vision.

"I want to show you something." Elaji grew earnest.


"Your face," he reached forward and touched my nose causing me to recoil alarmed.

"I"m sorry. Did that hurt?"

"No, I'm sorry. No, you didn't hurt me."

"I was saying your face is too dry. Your skin is peeling."

I gaped at his blunt observation.I touched my nose.

"I'm peeling because I lost my sunscreen in Accra before I came here and I haven't been able to find any more."

"Sunscreen?" Elaji's face wrinkled.

"You know, cream that protects your face and skin from the sun."

"That's what I want to show you." Elaji was all smiles. "My mother's shop has the cream for your face. Shea butter. In Ghana, we use Shea butter."

"Shea butter? I can't put shea butter on my face?"

"Of course. Why not?"

"It's too heavy. My skin will break-out."

"You don't have to worry about that. Shea butter removes blemishes."

"But it's greasy."

"Not at all."

"No, it's definitely greasy."

"Come, lets go to my mom's shop."

Skeptically, I followed Elaji's quick gait across the cobblestone road, through the gates of the Cape Coast Castle and into the shady courtyard that housed the artisan shops. I was led by hand into a small dimly lit nook. The three walls were lined with rickety shelves and stacked high with tubs of white, yellow and brown.

An attractive dark-skinned woman, popped out from behind a pile of cardboard boxes. She moved quickly, stepping forward and offering a greeting I didn't understand.

"Mama Sophia." Elaji proudly announced wrapping his arm around her shoulder.

I smiled. Mama Sophia wrapped me in a warm hug. She was simply stunning. Surprisingly petite, I was drawn in by her bright eyes and shining skin. She couldn't have been more than five feet tall. Her eyes danced with childlike joy.

Elaji exchanged slow words with his mother in Fante as she nodded and clicked her tongue in my direction.

"Sit." Sophia led me to a stool in the center of the room.

She had a metal basin of water. Using a cloth, she wiped at my face. I gripped the edge of my stool. Elaji appeared cradling a marble sized amber ball.

"This is black soap. It's good for your skin. You should use this. It works very well."

Before I had time to respond, Sophia was rubbing the black soap in enthusiastic circles around my face. She rinsed the suds then patted my skin dry with a towel.

"Feels good, doesn't it?" Elaji was beaming.

It did feel good. My skin, heavy with humidity and sweat was breathing. It felt alive and light.

"Close your eyes." Elaji said, motioning to Sophia.

I did what I was told. Shea butter was massaged into my face under the direction of Sophia's firm hands. When she finished, I ran my fingertips across my forehead, swept them down my right cheek. My face wasn't greasy. My skin wasn't sticky, or heavy, it didn't feel clogged.

I watched for hours as Sophia packaged tubs of Shea butter, some prepared with a turmeric mixture others pure. Elaji translated as I fired away with questions. I stayed until the shop closed and left that evening with a tub of shea butter and a tub of black soap.

Figuring I had nothing to loose, I set whatever facial cleanser I brought with me aside and began my black soap and shea butter regimen.

I stopped peeling and didn't burn as badly. I didn't experience a single nasty blemish. Shea butter provided a layer of protection beneath the harsh Ghanaian sun.

I visited Mamma Sophia almost every day from that point forward. My serendipitous and unlikely introduction to Shea butter marked the beginning of my shift towards all natural and organic bath and body products and eventually fueled Touch of Ohm.

What discoveries have you happened upon on your travels?

Ghana Slide Show


A few weeks back, I published a post entitled Ten Reasons to Visit Ghana. Since I didn't have all of my pictures organized at that time, I promised a slide show in a future post and here it is. Boy has it been an adventure trying to upload these images. My eyes are crossed. In 2005, I worked as a volunteer at the New Life International Orphanage in the Cape Coast region of Ghana. I returned in 2007, with donations from home and was able to catch up with old friends and guest teach my beloved kiddies. Here's my story in images.







10 Reasons to Visit Ghana

Two weeks ago, I was invited to speak on a panel at the Sojourner Truth Research Room in Oxon Hill Maryland on the subject of Ghana. The program, titled, “The Door of No Return” highlighted the relationship between Ghana and the United States, past, present and future. I was one of three panelists, who had embarked on a personal sojourn to Ghana and had crossed through the symbolic “Door of No Return” in the Cape Coast Castle.

While the majority of the conversation focused on the past, Ghana’s role in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Cape Coast Castle and the Elmina Castle, the conversation expanded to focus on tourism in Ghana, the crucial future element.


Slowly, one by one, statements were heard from the audience:


“I never knew these things existed in Ghana. Why don’t they advertise?”


“I had no idea, there were beaches in Ghana and resorts.”


“Someone should organize a tour group for people interested in finding their roots in Africa.”


“How is a person supposed to know where to stay when they go to Ghana? You can’t find information about it on Travelocity or Expedia?”


“Really, West Africa is to Europeans, what the Caribbean is to Americans. How was I supposed to know? Why isn’t African tourism promoted in the United States?”


There are many reasons why tourism in Ghana isn’t promoted widely in the United States. As the questions and ideas began to circulate, our conversation narrowed on development and how we as Americans could potentially support developing countries in Africa, such as Ghana through tourism. I was ecstatic.


I have always been firm believer in responsible, sustainable, local travel. I see travel as one of the best ways to uplift struggling communities and stimulate and revitalize local economies. There is enormous strength in our tourist power. When we as travelers make conscious decisions to journey forth in a deliberately local and sustainable way, it becomes in essence a form of quiet activism.


Europeans have been vacationing in Africa for decades, they are well aware of the beauty of the landscape. With this influx, tourist dollars are being brought to the African continent, but there is a catch. Tourism, for the sake of tourism, doesn’t always impact development. Just as there are many Europeans vacationing in Africa, there are many European run bars and hotels, which benefit from the tourists dollars. The money spent in many ways trickles back to Europe, leaving the local economy relatively untouched.


I haven’t included my photographs and travel stories from Ghana in this blog because I began working on this project long after I had traveled to Ghana, however, in the spirit of promoting tourism and stirring up curiosity, I will compile a photo essay to share. First, I will share my top ten reasons to visit Ghana. Every business/ attraction listed below is locally owned and run providing a direct benefit to the people and communities in Ghana.


10 Reasons to visit Ghana:

  1. Ghana has an incredibly diverse landscape. In the Cape Coast and surrounding areas, you’ll find secluded, pristine beaches. If you like large cities Accra and Kumasi are bustling business and entertainment centers. In Tamale, in the Upper Volta region you’ll find elephant and hippo safari reserves. There is something for everyone to enjoy in beautiful Ghana.
  1. The Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle are worth visiting. These former slave forts, which have now been restored and turned into museums and monuments tell the story of the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade and bear witness to those who were snatched  from the shores of Ghana and forced on a passage westward. Melancholy and haunting, you should visit to remember, you should visit to experience, and you should visit to honor those who perished or passed through the dungeons and doors of no return. Just as people visit Auschwitz, these castles, are places of remembrance and bear testament to how far we have come as a civilization. On the brighter side, the Cape Coast Castle is home to a wonderful community of local artists. You can go to the shops in the courtyard and find wonderful and authentic gifts.   I connected with many locals and established friendships by hanging around the castle, being present and asking questions. Ghanaians are extremely friendly and eager to swap stories and tales. The Cape Coast Café is also a great place to grab a Fanta and watch the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash against the boulders below.

  1. Kakum National Park is a lush 375 square km forested park in Central Ghana. Kakum is home to jungle canopies; an exotic variety of flowers and plants, several species of monkeys, colorful birds and butterflies, and apparently, during certain seasons, forest elephants.  The canopy tours are adrenaline pumping. I’m not afraid of heights, but the bridges were so narrow, and those wooden planks so delicate, that I was a bit shaken. Well worth the anxiety, the views were astonishing. I wanted so badly to spot a forest elephant, but it wasn’t meant to be.


  1. Nzuelo Stilt Village- Located in the middle of lake Anasuri, the Nzuelo Stilt Village is a traditional village, which has existed on the lake for the last 500 years. A photographers paradise, a visit to the village is a visit back in time. Accessible only by canoe, through snake and crocodile infested waters (how's that for adventure) you can spend the night in the village and get to know the locals who live life; in a way that is very similar to the way they lived it centuries ago. A small fishing community, women and children are often seen walking around naked and topless. My friend Alison and I made the trek in 2005. The chief and his son greeted us ceremoniously, the local women prepared traditional meals and we were allowed a rare glimpse into a way of life that is about as close as can be to tradition in this modern world. This recommendation comes with a caveat however. Female travelers, be prepared to stand your ground. Alison and I had to deal with some pretty inappropriate advances from the chief’s son and his friends. It made for some uncomfortable moments. I wouldn’t visit the village as a solo female traveler.



  1. Mole Game Reserve- Lions, antelope and elephants- oh my! The Mole Game reserve is Ghana’s answer to the vast Savannas of her Southern and Central African neighbors.  The game reserve sits on 1300 square miles of lush land. Guides will take you through the maze of tall grass and trees. Get ready, to get surprisingly close to the wildlife. I had my first of many crocodile encounters here. Make sure to look down.


  1. Kumasi is the capital of the Ashanti region and hands down, one of my favorite areas in Ghana. Not only is Kumasi a culturally rich mecca seeped in tradition and history, but the Ashanti people are some of the most hospitable and generous in the world. The spirit of Kumasi is one of a kind. The stately golden Manhiya Palace, home of the royal family is a must see. A great day trip is Lake Bosomtwe, in the Rain Forest Region, the largest natural lake in Ghana. Conservation efforts are in place to preserve the lake, where the Ashanti’s believe the souls of their dead gather. Massive and warm, Lake Bosomtwe is surrounded by misty blue mountains and vibrant green forests. Donations can be made to help support local conservation efforts. Kente cloth is also produced in the Kumasi region. A stroll around town will allow you a glimpse at skillful artisans at work.


  1. African dance and drumming classes. With a little planning and preparation, you can take Djembe drumming and African dance classes. If you are in the Cape Coast region, you can literally go to the Coast Castle and ask for lessons, if you find yourself in another city or prefer a more structured approach, you can look online for schools and schedule a class or two in advance. However you go about it, take a class!


  1. African Art- Ghana is home to a broad variety of African Art. From paintings and sculptures, to carvings and Kente textiles, you can truly become immersed in the art scene. There are a variety of museums and galleries that can be visited. A few are listed below.


-       The National Museum of Ghana– Accra

-       The Cape Coast Castle Museum- Cape Coast

-       Elmina Castle Museum- Cape Coast

-       Volta Regional Museum- Ho

-       Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum and Museum- Nkroful

-       Upper East Regional Museum- Bolgatanga



  1. Great food!!! I ate very well in Ghana. I definitely didn’t like everything, I would be lying if I said I did. In fact, Fufu, the national dish, I couldn’t stand. I did however, enjoy the fried plantains cooked to perfection in palm or coconut oil, the fresh fruit, the delicious fish, the black-eyed peas that were cooked to perfection and seasoned with tomatoes and spices. I loved the soy kabobs that could be purchased from vendors in the markets and the fresh doughnut pastries that women sold out of hot boxes balanced on their heads. There were several locally run restaurants in the Cape Coast region that I visited regularly. Ask locals for  recommendations. Be adventurous and open. Western style restaurants are everywhere as well, for those of you who prefer to stick with what you know. You can also find Indian and Chinese food establishments due to the large population of Asians, particularly in Accra. And if you are a chocoholic like myself, you will be pleased to know that Ghana produces high quality cocoa. Try a Star candy bar, Ghana’s very own brand (they can be purchased at most markets and shops)- delicious!


IMG_0590 IMG_0589

  1. Visit your local Central Market!!!!!! I love Central Markets. Wherever I go, I make sure to patron the local market. You get such a great feel for a group of people and the regional culture at these gathering places. Every dollar spent also goes directly to the people and the community, which is always a good thing. In a central markets you can almost always find restaurant stalls where you can sample local food. Markets  are a wonderful place to purchase locally made jewelry, clothing and art. I’ve visited many central markets across Ghana; my favorite was the Kumasi Central Market, which is the largest in Western Africa. I was able to interact with locals, learn about the many medicinal applications of Shea Butter, see various salves and tinctures being created, have a dress custom made, and I was able to purchase everything on my list – EVERYTHING!


Who should visit Ghana? Everyone should visit Ghana. Ghana is diverse in landscape, rich in culture, relatively affluent, politically stable, and is seeped in history and tradition.


My great travel goal has always been to travel to every country in Africa, capturing both in photograph, words and film, moments of beauty and promise from each country. Yes, there are some very difficult and unfortunate things going on in Africa, but Africa, and all of her 53 countries host a vast array of extraordinary beauty, promise and potential.