With its celebrated Sudano-Sahelian mosque, rich culture, vernacular architecture, and friendly people, one can proudly say Larabanga is on Ghana’s tourist trajectory.
The small town situated in the West Gonja District in the newly created Savannah Region (formerly part of the Northern Region) draws holidaymakers from all four corners of the earth; and its popularity keeps increasing with each passing day.
Even though Larabanga offers limited kaleidoscope of attractions, the town is more than worth it to explore the sights; and it offers inimitable travel experience for tourists.
With this weekend Larabanga itinerary and guide, we hope you’ll be able to have fun to the fullest as much as we did when exploring the place.
How to Get to Larabanga
Travelling to Larabanga from Ghana’s capital city – Accra – can be accomplished in two main ways; by air or by road.
- By Flight
The stress-free and fastest means of getting to Larabanga is by flight. There are two domestic airlines – Africa World Airlines and Passion Air – that currently operate daily flights from Kotoka International Airport to the northern part of Ghana. Since there’s no airport in Larabanga, you will need to fly for an hour from Kotoka to Tamale Airport and continue by road to Larabanga. It’s a 2 to 3-hour journey by road; making it a total of three to four hours.
There are taxis you can hire from Tamale Airport to Larabanga which cost approximately GHS 350 ($68). To forgo comfort whilst saving some cash, you may want to use a public transport. Head over to the Wa station in Tamale, board a Wa-bound bus, and ask the driver to drop you off at Larabanga. It costs just about GHS 30 ($6) to travel from Tamale to Larabanga using a public transport. You can likewise arrange for airport pickup with your host hotel.
- By Road
For those without their own cars or not willing to drive several hours to Larabanga, the place is served by quite a number of coaches from Accra and Kumasi. Most of these coaches like STC operate daily from Accra/Kumasi to Tamale or every other day from Accra/Kumasi to Wa. With an amount of roughly GHS 110 ($21), you can join any of these coaches from Accra to Wa, and alight at Larabanga.
Interesting Places to Explore in Larabanga
Larabanga is a small town but rich in culture and places of interest. The first attraction that comes to mind when the town is mentioned is the age-old Larabanga mosque. However, the town offers more sightseeing spots to tourists than just the mosque.
- Day 1: Larabanga Mosque
The first day of this weekend itinerary sees you exploring the mosque which happens to be the oldest mosque in Ghana and one of the oldest in West Africa. It is believed to be constructed in the 14th century by a Saudi spiritual consultant who migrated from Mecca to Larabanga.
The Larabanga mosque has a striking structural design. Amazingly, the mosque is always cool inside, even when temperatures stay high outside. Right next to the mosque is a baobab tree believed to be 500 years old. According to history, the tree sprung up on the grave of the spiritual consultant and founder of Larabanga after his burial.
- Mystic Stone
Next is a trip to the mystic stone. And as the name suggests, the stone has a very mysterious history. At first sight, it looks like any ordinary stone. But it isn’t just any stone; it is a mystic one that it’s believed to possess paranormal powers.
In the olden days as history teaches us, a road was to be constructed in Larabanga. There was a stone that needed to be removed in order to make way for the road construction. The contractors did so, but they found out the following day that the stone had mysteriously vanished from where it was placed to its original place where it was removed. This continued for quite a number of times. Whenever they relocated the stone, it strangely found its way back to its original place the following day.
Having no other option than to leave the stone there, the contractors diverted the road. The stone then became a mystic one.
You can see the road diversion when you visit the site.
- Day 2: Mole National Park
After enjoying the traditional sites of Larabanga, it is now time to head to an area where you can spend quality time enjoying nature. And there’s no other place to do so than the Mole National Park – a wildlife refuge in Larabanga. The park is an interesting place to tour if you appreciate nature and enjoy safari.
Mole National Park covers an area of approximately 4,840 km² and has a lot of great stuffs to offer tourists. The Park is home to over 90 species of mammals, more than 360 types of birds, and several other animals.
It is possible to take a walking tour. But you must do so with a park ranger, and always follow the ranger’s instructions. For your own safety, never tour the park on your own/alone or do anything contrary to what the park ranger tells you.
There are mostly two types of safari tours: Driving safari and walking safari. We however recommend the driving safari as that allows you to cover more areas as compared to the walking safari.
The time of the day will also determine the kind of animals you’ll see in the park. Some animals like Badger, Firefly, Bat, Owl, Beaver, Bush rat, etc. are all nocturnal animals and can only be spotted at night.
One of the highlights of touring Mole National Park is when you’re greeted in the morning by giant elephants.
- Canoe Safari and Shea Butter Production at Mognori Ecovillage
A great way to round up your wonderful weekend Larabanga trip is to go for a canoe safari in the Mognori ecovillage.
The village has successfully become an ecotourism destination over the years, drawing people far and near to experience its exquisiteness. You’ll be treated to a nice and exciting canoe safari on the Mole River, albeit short.
Eager to learn how shea butter is manufactured locally from start to finish? Worry not. The village folks will take you through the manufacturing process. You’ll acquire a great deal of first-hand knowledge should you be fortunate enough to find yourself there when they are preparing it.
Where to Sleep or Stay in Larabanga
Unlike Tamale, Larabanga has a smattering of hotels to choose from. As a tourist, you’ll find a few guest houses in the town. But if you’re looking for impeccable service and easy access to the various tourist sites, we highly recommend Zaina Lodge – West Africa’s first luxury safari resort.
Zaina Lodge is an exceptional retreat and the perfect choice for tourists and visitors who are in search of serenity, charm, luxury, comfort, and a convenient position from which to explore Larabanga. It’s located within Mole National Park; allowing you to have a profound experience with nature.
The Lodge offers great value-for-money and provides guided tours to all the tourist sites in Larabanga. As a matter of fact, you can’t go wrong with this lively lodge. As the best-rated hotel in Larabanga, Zaina Lodge has clean and comfy rooms available; with workers who are attentive to details, friendly, and always willing to assist guests.
Where to Find the Best Food
There aren’t much food joints in Larabanga. The only restaurant we came across is still under construction, and it’s expected to be completed soon.
Nevertheless, you can get local foods from some of the local sellers or joints. However, for your own safety, we advise and recommend you eat from Zaina Lodge’s restaurant even if you do not lodge there. The Lodge offers both local and continental dishes at affordable prices.