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krisek Busua - A travel report by Krys
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Busua,  Ghana - flag Ghana
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krisek's travel reports

Total Eclipse of the Sun in Busua, Ghana.

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Busua is a small town in western Ghana at the cost of the Atlantic. It boasts superb beach, one of Ghana's best hotels, friendly community, and is close to three fascinating forts. I went there to see the total eclipse of the sun.

Busua beach
Busua beach
I went to Busua for a reason. I selected it carefully from many places along the coast to see the total eclipse of the sun. I wanted a decent place, facing east as much as possible, so I could see the sun unobstructed by hills, trees or buildings. If at all possible above the ocean. With the Ghanaian coast lying in the south that was not an easy task. And I had never been to Ghana before. So what did I know?

Busua was however a good spot. Its beach was curving to the east, and that was perfect. My only worry was weather. It was rather unpredictable. Yet, the resort in the village was rather spectacular and it was 'in the country' far away from hustle and bustle. I was hoping for a calm event to be enjoyed with the local villagers. I was not to be, however.

The minister of tourism of Ghana decided to come to Busua for the same reason. He brought his wife and the US Ambassador to Ghana. That obviously raised the profile of the event a little. The minister brought the national television along to do a live coverage of this celestial event. This meant two things to me. One: the minister knew much more about the weather forecast for the eclipse, and since it was a rainy season and clouds were getting on my nerves, I felt a little more comfortable about the aura. Second: he provided me, and obviously all the other guests, with free entertainment of singing, dancing and drumming. Three different groups came to do artistic programmes. So much for a calm and intimate event...

The first group was awful. There was only one girl and a short boy in the entire group, who danced well, and who, one could clearly see, did it with emotion. The rest was sluggish and did it like it was torture to them. The second group that arrived in the morning for the actual eclipse extravaganza and television broadcast, were so much better. I cannot remember the name of the group, but I know that they came from the town of Mankessin, close to the Fort Amsterdam.

Favourite spots:
Fort Metal Cross, Dixcove
Fort Metal Cross, Dixcove
Busua itself had no significant sights. Its main quality was the beach. But very close, there were things to see.

Fort Metal Cross in Dixcove. It was built by the British in 1692 and it was definitely the whitest and most glistering fortified building in Ghana that I saw. It was very easy to find - on the hill overlooking a semicircular fishing harbour. I could not believe how fresh and new it looked. It even had two flags raised - the Ghanaian and the Union Jack of the United Kingdom. I thought it was great, but none of the flags existed at the time when the fort was built. The state of Ghana did not exist and the Union Jack was only introduced in 1707, when the kingdoms of England and Scotland were united under the Act of Union (called like that by the English) or the Treaty of Union (as it was called by the Scots). Well, never mind. There were no signs of life around the fort and it was not obviously clear that one could come inside to visit it. I did not dear knocking on the door.

What's really great:
I really liked Busua for its clean beach and variety of places to sit down, have a drink and watch the waves. But the atmosphere building up before the totality of the eclipse was unforgettable. Although I was planning for a lower profile event, I liked what it became. Many people from villages further inland came to see this rare astronomical phenomenon. It was fascinating to see their reactions.

There was plenty of dancing and dancing. All was traditional. The groups often changed costumes and really looked like they were having fun. It was a great big morning party! The programme lasted more than three hours and where they took all this energy from, I have no idea. Although it was morning, the day was hot and their routines were not from this planet! Some of the dancers were encouraged to engage the bystanders, particularly foreigners. I did not escape a very peculiar routine myself. For the rest of the trip people in Ghana knew me, as the TV camera caught me, unfortunately.

Busua travelogue picture
The very event I came for, arrived finally just after 9 o’clock in the morning. Weather made me very nervous several times that morning. The overcast was terrible and gave a hazy look of the sky. Many white and grey clouds wandered around the sky occasionally covering up the sun. I was pissed. The television crew was however very confident and everything was going just too well. Boys and girls kept singing and dancing and all was being televised live for the entire nation.

And of course, just before the totality, the sky cleared reasonably well. It was free of clouds, but a slight haze remained and this is why the picture above is not the sharpest one. I walked away from the the television crew and the crowd that gathered around so I could be on my own enjoying it fully and undisturbed.

Busua travelogue picture
The hotel enjoyed a reputation to be amongst Ghana’s best beach resorts. It meant that even the US ambassador was staying there as she was supervising the arrival of an US warship in Sekondi, a good several miles away. The rooms were fine and I had a massive bungalow (almost a villa), fully air-conditioned, clean and comfortable, and right on the beach itself.

The hotel was full, but this must have been connected to the total eclipse, on the totality's central line of which Busua lied actually, rather than its quality. I say that because the facility must have had the worst and slowest service on this planet. I was not the only one complaining about it. The minister of tourism was also totally unimpressed. He actually complained several times to the waiters that it was totally unacceptable to be waiting twenty minutes for a drink to be delivered. I shook the minister’s hand on the beach walking from one beach bar to another. We had a wee chat about the hotel and Busua's vicinity.

Busua travelogue picture
There were surprisingly a few decent places to go out in Busua. Most of them were mid-range, but some, including one at the beach, were fit for a low budget and packed good numbers of the locals, it was called the Alaska Beach Club. Party there seemed to never end. On the main drag, near the intersection leading towards Axim, there were a number of local drinking holes, which attracted local men and visitors on low budgets. They were all good, lively and friendly.

The hotel African Rainbow Resort had a rooftop bar overlooking the ocean. It was really a superb place for socialising and drinking. Their drinking menu was comprehensive and, although items on it were not cheap, they were good. The bar played music, was colourfully decorated and candles lit the individual tables.

Busua travelogue picture
Now, back to the minister. His name was Steve. He told me a little about plans he had regarding the area. He wanted to build a small restaurant on a tiny rocky islet off shore and construct the longest wooden, floating bridge there. I think he was fantasising. However, this was the minute when I found that the fort in Butre, just few miles away along the beach, was left to itself. I told the minister Steve that the fort was in a good shape and had a great potential. He responded with the Yoda-like hmm...

At the end of the beach, on a peninsula, which could be reached during low tide, a rustic campsite was being built. It was the ultimate hangout. It was like a secret garden. The lads, who were constructing the venue were very talkative and invited me for a traditional Ghanaian meal at sunset and fresh green coconut. They had hammocks and 'sofas' constructed from wood. It was superb.

Busua travelogue picture
The restaurant at the Busua Beach Resort cooked well, but it was way overpriced. An excellent alternative was the Frank's restaurant. Frank was a fisherman, who specialised in cooking lobsters. Baby lobsters, to be exact. He sold them by kilograms and prepared them perfectly! If you tell him that you want them grilled with garlic and spices that is what you will get! And he will place a table right in the middle of the beach for you to enjoy the view of the ocean. And a half a kilogram of lobster tails cost less than a desert at the Busua Beach Resort!

Nearby, at the Alaska Beach Club, the lady owner asked me to give feedback on her blackboard menu and the quality of English in which it was scribbled. I have to say that I found it funny how many mistakes one could make in a four line menu special. But the varied menu looked promising otherwise.

Other good places were Black Mamba Corner doing good pizzas, and Dan's pancakes. The chief of the village also cooks simple and yummy dishes.

Other recommendations:
Busua travelogue picture
I drove to Dixcove and Butre to see the forts. I could actually walk along the beach and through the forest to get there from my beach cabin, but I was not sure what else to do with the car. And it was just too hot. Plus, I heard reports that it was not completely safe to hike there. Butre, Busua and Dixcove had an ugly reputation of potentially the only slightly unsafe places in Ghana. The villages were about three kilometres apart from one another, if walked along the beach.

Butre and its almost ruined Fort Batenstein were quite well sign posted from the main road but that sign for Butre over there was the only sign for a fort in Ghana. The only one and just too many crossroads. I got lost. I only realised that after driving twenty minutes in a wrong direction through, what I can only call, middle of nowhere. Fortunately, a man on a moped suddenly appeared and told me about the right route. Apart from the fort there was absolutely nothing in the village to write home about.

Published on Monday November 17th, 2008

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Thu, Nov 20 2008 - 01:52 PM rating by rangutan

You chose a good place to see this one! Perfect report, specially well illustrated.

Wed, Nov 19 2008 - 11:29 PM rating by gloriajames


Tue, Nov 18 2008 - 12:10 AM rating by robynallen

This report gave me great insight to a place I know nothing about. A lively read. Thanks for the great picture too.

Mon, Nov 17 2008 - 04:46 PM rating by jorgesanchez

This report is not only useful and pleasant to read, but also fantastic, and with wonderful pictures

Mon, Nov 17 2008 - 01:03 PM rating by frenchfrog

Krys, this is really a great report, written with a lot of enthusiasm. I love your pics especially the one of the eclipse. well done! You put a light on little known place. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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