Another way of transportation by bus is Metro Mass. This is a bus company with less luxurious busses then the STC, with cheaper rates and with routes that, unlike STC, also cross bad, bumpy roads.
The Metro-Mass busses in Tamale depart from the Tro-Tro-station, but in other places they sometimes have their own station. All the busses are easy to recognise: they are all orange. The rates are more or less the same as the rates of the Tro-Tro, but as disadvantage that they only leave once or twice a day to most destinations, and that they charge luggage-fees.
Metro-Mass sells their tickets starting a day before departure, and it is often wise to buy them as soon as possible, because otherwise you take the risk of having to stand all the while. Sometimes people have to stand for 5 hours in these busses.
One last thing: be prepared that these busses (as far as I can tell) ALWAYS leave too late. Waiting for two hours is normal...
Metro-Mass in Tamale has at least services to Bolgatanga, Kumasi, Wa and Larabanga/Mole N.P.
The most important way of transportation in Ghana is the Tro-Tro. A Tro-Tro is every vehicle that is bigger then a normal car and smaller then a bus. It can be anything: vans, pick-ups, small busses...
Every trip in a Tro-Tro is an adventure. The vehicles always are at least 20 years old, they are extremely uncomfortable, and very, very packed. An a small van they can fit at least 18 people. But the Tro-Tro is the cheapest possible way of transportation, often it is the only way to get somewhere, and it is the perfect way to get to know the real Ghana and the real Ghanaians.
Every town in Ghana has its own Tro-Tro, or Lorry-station. In Tamale the Tro-Tro-station is located right next to the STC-station, at Bolgatanga road, just north from the market. From here a lot of Tro-Tro's depart. There is some structure in the station, but the easiest way to find the correct tro-tro is by asking. Once you get to the tro-tro you have to buy your ticket, that is very, very cheap. The average price for an hour is about $ 1,-, or 10.000 cedis. Once you have your ticket you can get in and the tro-tro will leave as soon as the vehicle is completely packed. There are no schedules of the departure times, if there are no passengers, it does not drive. Most of the times though, it will leave within an hour after arriving at the station.
From Tamale, and of course also the other way, Tro-Tro's leave to these and other destinations:
East: Yendi, Makongo, Salaga
South: Kintampo, Techiman, Kumasi, Sunyani, Wenchi
West: Wa, Damango, Larabanga
Because shared taxi's only have fixed routes, you might need a drop-taxi once in a while. A drop taxi will bring you from anywhere to everywhere. You can ask any taxi out on the streets to be your "drop-taxi" because the driver can ask much more money for a drop. Everybody is willing to do that.
But: a drop taxi does not have fixed prices like a shared taxi and they will try to fool you. It is important to bargain before you get in when you take a drop-taxi. Normal prices are somewhere between 15.000 and 30.000 cedis for a trip inside the citycentre or to the closest suburbs. For a trip to the airport from the centre I paid 40.000 cedis, about $ 4,-. And that trip took about 30 minutes.
Getting around in Tamale by taxi is very easy. Everywhere you look you will see very old, yellow and grey cars, mostly with cracked windows, rusty doors and some even without dashboards inside. These are the normal taxi's in Tamale.
In Tamale you have two kinds of taxi's: shared taxi's and drop-taxi's. The cheapest way is the shared taxi. These taxi's have fixed routes through the city centre: normally only one main road that they do up and down over and over again. The driver in a shared taxi is always looking for more passengers for his taxi and he will stop whenever he sees that there is someone in need of a taxi. Up to 5 passengers can fit in a taxi. This makes that a trip that normally would take only 5 minutes might take 15 minutes because there are a lot of other people getting in and out. But the big advantage of a shared taxi is: a normal trip will not cost you more then 3000 cedis: $ 0,30.
If you are new in Tamale, it is wise to ask the driver if you are in a shared taxi or a drop-taxi. Otherwise he will change his taxi into a drop-taxi immediately and ask you to pay 10 times the normal price.
By far the most popular way of transportation around Tamale is the (motor)bike. In Tamale you don't see a lot of cars, and the most of those cars are taxi's. The rest is done on foot or by bike.
A great thing about Tamale is that it has bicycle-roads next to the main roads in the centre, so you can ride safely away from the cars. Only thing is that these bicycle lanes are also used by pedestrains, salesmen and by the goats so still you have to pay good attention to where you ride.
If you stay within the centre of Tamale you can easily reach every part within 10 minutes, and everywhere you can find repair shops in case there is something wrong with your bike. Of course you should always lock your bicycle, but even if you don't the chance is big that it will still be there 2 hours later.
The most comfortable way to get around in Ghana are the STC Busses. These busses normally are fully airconditioned and have good, comfortable seats. The STC Busses arrive and depart from the STC station, opposite the Ghana Commercial Bank and north from the central TV Antenna.
There are daily connections between Accra and Tamale as well as between Kumasi and Tamale. You can also take these busses to go to other places on the route, as the STC stops every two hours in the main towns on the route. You can just get off there, only thing is that you pay the full rate of the tour.
A single way ticket from Accra to Tamale costs about 175.000 Cedis (17 US$) and to Kumasi it's about 110.000 Cedis. Make sure you book your tickets at the office at least a day in advance to be sure of a seat.
A very easy, but relatively expensive way to get to Tamale and away is by flying with Antrak Air. This small airline has daily flights between Accra, Kumasi and Tamale.
For a trip from the capital to the north it makes a difference of 15 hours by for US $ 17,- to 1:20 hours by plane for US $ 130,-. Especially when your time to visit the country is limited, it might be worth thinking about this option.
The flights between Kumasi and Tamale don't really look useful to me. A bus ride only takes 6 hours, and the route is not that bad, so you'd better save your money and just take the STC bus on this track.