Camping, the outdoor recreation flare boosting domestic tourism


For the most part, camping is a good way to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. In post-pandemic Ghana, however, a rise in camping as an alternative accommodation to staying in traditional hotels to save cost – rather than merely as outdoor recreation – is helping to revitalise our domestic tourism. PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson takes a look at the camping phenomena sweeping the nation.

Somewhere near Koforidua in the Eastern Region, a group of over 100 blue and white-collar workers and some entrepreneurs will converge for a three-day food camp festival this weekend. And, especially across the Volta Region, an increasing number of backpacker youths and groups taking a break on the Farmers’ Day weekend will hoist tents at convenient spots to camp for the night as part of activities in the itinerary of their excursions.

The recent increase in camping’s popularity worldwide shows no signs of slowing down, with some recent statistics showing that the global camping and caravanning market will grow from US$67billion in 2022 to US$72billion in 2023.
No figures have yet been recorded to ascertain the quantum of numbers as they pertain to Ghana, although we can be sure that it would be miniscule.
This is simply because typically, Ghanaians do not participated in camping in its traditional sense. Traditionally, camping tends to be a family-oriented outing that helps to build bonds and relationships within the family unit, away from all the distractions at home. In Europe, Australia and America, for instance, where it has a huge market, camping is also a regularly planned and executed activity produced by organisations who teach young people such life skills as how to build a fire, pitch a tent or read a compass with hiking as a main feature.

Camping means different things to different people. In Ghana, going on a road trip and staying in a tent has become the ‘in-thing’ with mainly youths and groups including camping as part of itineraries as a crucial alternative to staying in traditional hotels to save cost.

Only a couple of years ago, it was almost unheard of for people going on domestic excursions to opt to have a tent and none existent outdoor sanitary facilities as accommodation. With the increase in more adventure tourism options nowadays, it has become quite commonplace, and young people especially are choosing to stay in tents when on an excursion or expedition.
Responding to this new phenomenon, entrepreneurs are creating campsites with basic amenities, and yet many others are tailoring their events to include having to stay on a campsite. Even established hotels across the country are now providing areas for campers which is a fraction of staying in a regular room.
Camping is good, both for body and mind. The fitness benefits – including relationship-building, opportunities to learn and develop new skills, unplugging and getting away from screens, connecting with nature, stress reduction, and increasing physical fitness – are all very well documented.
In Ghana, a few tour organisations like the Bonfire Camping Experience by Hike Adventure Ghana, WangoWango and Braveheart Expeditions have been promoting itineraries with options for camping for years. New entrants here include ‘Ghana is Beautiful’, which runs excursions to the Chenku Waterfalls in Dodowa.
Social media has opened up the Adventure Excapes of Ghana with campers on Facebook and Instagram, for instance, often posting their experiences. This has indeed helped expose many of the wildernesses around and some activity options, from hiking to swimming in waterfall pools, that people can do to occupy themselves if they just wanted a recreational time out.

Then, there are the special events that are pulling people to participation, where they stay in tents at a makeshift campsite. Particularly in the Volta coast, along the pristine beaches in the Keta area, tent villages have been created to accommodate people flooding in to vacation as well as for popular festivals like Hogbetsotso,as it happened this year.
Here are some other major events with ambience that are helping to flare up the camping phenomena.
In its fourth year, the Lokato Food Festival by Wabisabi is an annual 3-day camping affair that hosts campers in a tent village on a private lawn near Koforidua. Serving a variety of Ghanaian cuisine, it creates a great fun environ where all campers chip in with the preparation of food and cleaning up of the camp.
Only recently launched, the music festival dubbed ‘the Glastonbury of Africa’, ‘Wildaland’, will this year take place at Stone Lodge at Asutuare in late December, attracting a host of revellers who stay in a tented campsite and create all manner of camaraderie when the stage is quiet.

“This is all very exciting and as I’ve often said, the potential for tourism’s ‘resourceful extensions’ are very varied.”
Dr. Ackah Nyamike Jnr. is President of the Ghana Hotels Association. He believes that regulation of the sector needs revision to take cognisance of this fresh development.
“My concern is that all entities, especially hotels that offer camping as an option, will ensure that all safety and sanitary issues are well taken care of to avoid any mishaps that could jeopardise this fresh and welcome development.”

Within a two-hour driving reach, a number of places near the capital, offer great camping experiences.
In Aburi, near the Botanical Gardens, you will find the Aburi Eco Park, which has two accommodation types: en-suite apartments and a campsite which can host up to 100 people. They even offer spacious tents, with 12 shared washrooms on-site. At Gh¢300 per person/per night, it also includes breakfast, full access to on-site facilities and some outdoor activities, with kids below age 13 visiting for free.
A similar site, Gomoa Wonderland, can be located in the Central Region. All the sites do have some amenities catering for the needs of campers. It is, however, feared that more such spots will spring up in the coming years, hence, the need for a regulatory regime to protect both campers and those providing campsite services.
Go on, start packing your backpack and camping gear and embrace the spirit of adventure as you embark on a journey to discover Ghana’s natural wonders!

Leave a Reply