The main attraction of Aburi is the old Botanical Garden. This park was started by the British and opened in March 1890. Today the gardens measure a total of 65 hectares at the top of the hill of Aburi: at heights between 370 and 460 metres above sea level. This height makes that the climate here is always cool, much cooler then further towards the coastline.
All the plants and trees you see in the Botanical Gardens were planted around the old sanatorium, in the middle of the park. The British collected all the plants they could find in their colonies as well as the trees. The result is a great mixture of local trees and ones from other exotic places. Some interesting places in the Gardens are the giant Kapok-tree that is right in front of the former Sanatorium, a "lying" palmtree very close to this Kapok, the "palm-walk" that is 275 metres long: a long lane with giant palm trees at both sides of the road, that is the mainentrance to the park and an interesting "strengling ficus" at about 150 metres behind the Resthouse.
Besides these extraordinary trees, there are nice places in the Botanical Garden like a retired helicopter that was left here by the British, a romantic lane, "Lovers Lane" that is all covered with roses, and an area with the "brown gold" of Ghana: cocoa. And besides all the plants and trees, the gardens are a great place to enjoy butterflies, birds and multi-coloured lizards.
The Aburi Botanical Garden is visited by many people every year. Some famous people have planted trees as a memory to their visit, like Queen Elizabeth of England in 1961 and Prince Charles in 1977.
To enter the Gardens you have to pay an entrance-fee of 20.000 cedis ($ 2,-) but when you stay in the ABG Resthouse, inside the gates you only have to show the bill of the Resthouse to get a free entrance.
At about 100 metres east from the ABG Resthouse inside the Botanical Gardens, you will find one of the two restaurants in the park. One is Rose Plot Restaurant that serves cheap, simple food, and the one where I went is called Royal Botanical Gardens Restaurant.
This restaurant is situated wonderfully in the gardens, overlooking the valley below the hill of Aburi. You can sit outside here, in the peaceful garden behind the restaurant. When I was here, I litterly was the only guest in the restaurant, so it is not special that the service was very good: I had my personal waiter all the evening!
The food I had was very, very nice, but it was my third choice. There was no fish available so I had to choose between chicken and beef. I finally chose the grilled chicken in green pepper sauce with potato chips. And I must say: it was fantastic! The chicken was nice and soft and the sauce was creamy and spicy. Before this I also had a cup of chicken soup, and together with two drinks it costed me about $ 10,-.
You do have to mind that the restaurant closes very early: at 7:30!
Again, not really a Nightlife spot, but at daytime the Canteen in the Aburi Botanical Gardens is a nice place to sit down, have a drink and enjoy the environment. At this canteen you can not only get all kinds of softdrinks and beer, but also lots of different liquors.
The biggest advantage of this place is that all the drinks are much cheaper then when you would have them at the restaurants in the Gardens. And the old British building the canteen is based in, is a nice place to sit.
Not really a Nightlife Spot, but Nora's Spot is a nice place to have a drink at daytime. It is situated at the central taxi-rank of Aburi, right in the centre of town. When sitting at Nora's Spot you have a nice view over the relaxed life of the people in Aburi.
Nora herself is already awaiting you when you walk towards her spot. She has all possible softdrinks, and of course the local Star-beer. But she will not serve you before she has asked you where you come from, what you are doing in Ghana and what you think of Aburi.
In return, you can ask Nora all the things you need to know about Ghana and Aburi: When is the Tro-Tro to Accra coming? She leaves her spot and asks the men who are waiting at the Tro-Tro station. And: Do you know a place where I can have my hair cut? Again, she leaves her spot and 5 minutes later she returns together with barber Kofi (again a Kofi...) who invites me at her saloon.
The cheapest and easiest way to get to Aburi when coming from Accra, is to take the direct Tro-Tro heading there. In Accra this Tro-Tro's leave all day long from Tema-Station, or as the locals normally call it "Accra", close to Makola Market in the centre of the city.
For the ridiculously low price of 8.000 cedis ($ 0,80) you can spend about an hour in the Tro-Tro, on the way to Aburi. The road to the town is a beautiful one. After you left Accra, you drive through the green hills for about half an hour before you arrive in the centre of Aburi.
From there it is less then a 10 minutes walk to anywhere in the town. And from the same place where the Tro-Tro stops, you can get one to get back to Accra too.
If you look for a place where you can buy souvenirs that are nicer and cheaper then the ones at the huge Cultural Centre in Accra, then you should really visit the Craft Market in Aburi.
Along the mainroad from Accra to Koforidua you will easily find this small market. Here they sell a lot of very nice artworks, from very small to very big. The prices here are much better then in Accra and most of the art here is made in the village itself. The speciality of Aburi are the woodcarvings: statues, masks, drums...
Too bad I had already bought all my souvenirs when I came here, but next times I'm in Ghana I will definitely drop by here to do some shopping.
Very close to Aburi, in a nearby village named Konkonuru, you can see the place where the widow of Bob Marley, Rita Marley lives. You might think: what the hell is she doing in the hills in Ghana? Well, both she and Bob are Rastafarians. These Rastafarians have a bond with the continent of their roots: Africa. A return to this "motherland" is always their wish. And because most of the Jamaican Rastafarians were brought to the island as slaves from Ghana, Ghana is often seen as this "motherland".
That is why Rita Marley decided to moved to Ghana. Today she is living there in a huge house together with her children and 37 grandchildren. She even is made chief of the village and is locally known as Nana Afua Addobea. She has founded a day care centre here as well as a school and they are working on a hospital at this moment.
Just before you enter Konkonuru you can visit the Bob Marley Gift Shop that is ran by a former bodyguard of Bob, and just before you enter Aburi coming from Accra you can see the new music studio's that were built here. This way, the Marley-family does not have to go back to Jamaica to do recordings.
If you want to now exactly where to go, you can just ask Kofi of Aburi Bike & Hike Tours. He can explain you or even take you there by bike.
If you want to do something active during your stay in Ghana, Aburi really is the place to be. The environment all around the little town is stunning and the climate is very suitable for sporting because it is very cool comparedto other places in Ghana. The company "Aburi Bike & Hike Tours" offers tours by mountainbike or on foot through this area. Aburi Bike & Hike Tours is situated just outside the mainentrance of the Botanical Gardens. It was founded by a Swiss couple, and is now taken over by Kofi.
Kofi can arrange a lot of different options for you. There are hike tours from a couple of hours to 3 days that lead you through the hills all the way north to Koforidua. Along the way you see rivers, local villages and spectacular waterfalls.
I did the mountainbiking. For the mountainbiking too, there are short routes starting at 11 kilometres that will take you 1,5 hours, but there also are routes that take you up to 4 days, all the way to Akosombo.
I decided to do a route of 20 kilometres. This route leaded me over steep hills and through the valley in between them. I visited a small village on the way, where Kofi told me about their customs, we stopped at a local, traditional gin-brewery, and we visited a Bob Marley gift shop that was founded by his widow Rita (more about this in my "Off the beaten path-tip"). And in between these stops we passed absolutely great nature. Hills that are covered with cassave, valley full of banana-trees and palmtrees and we had to pass a lot of very narrow paths that normally are only used by the local people, on foot.
A tour like this costs 39.000 cedis for bikerent per hour ($ 3,90) and 35.000 for the guide for up to 3 hours. So for the 2 hours I was away I had to pay 78.000 + 35.000 = 103.000 cedis ($ 10,-).
I absolutely loved the tour! It is great to be active once in a while, the environment is fantastic, and the guide was very good. You don't have to be afraid that it will go too fast for you: Kofi takes it easy. In fact he had to let me go on every single hill.
Equipment: Aburi Bike & Hike Tours takes care of your mountainbike and helmet. You can also get a bottle of water and a small backpack if you think you need it. The only thing you need to take care of yourself are the clothes you are wearing. Wear shorts and a thin T-shirt, and some solid shoes.
The village of Aburi is originally founded by the British and still, you can see that in the construction style of a lot of houses in the centre of the town. Not also all the buildings inside the Gardens all are typically colonial-British, but also a lot of buildings around the central taxi rank in the village. Even though they are not taken care of at all, it is still a nice sight to see these houses here.
And besides the buildings, the higher parts of the town are perfect to look out over the brilliant environment of Aburi. When you go to the mainentrance of the Gardens, or to the new mainroad from Accra to Koforidua, you can have a great view of the green hills.