A mere drive from the hustle and bustle of Accra’s business center, on the Haatso-Atomic road, is the Legon Botanical Gardens. Established in 1950, the 50-hectare expanse of greenery recently underwent a makeover, adding a creative play centers, 110-kilometer canopy walkway and a high rope obstacle course to its repertoire of family-friendly activities.
As one of Africa’s fastest growing cities, Accra is many things. What it is not however, is park and green space friendly. There’s something about being out in the open and with nature that rejuvenates. It’s partly why I love road trips and traveling outside cities. You may come back physically tired, but mentally and emotionally, you find yourself on a high. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit the Legon Botanical Gardens following its re-opening in December 2016. I had been there a year ago for an open-air market and remember parts of the property being cordoned off to the public. As I found out, it was for good reason; the public now has the benefit of experiencing the best of the Aburi Gardens, Kakum National Park, and then some.
In addition to walking, biking and immersing oneself in the collection of palms, West African orchids, local flora, and various trees, the Legon Botanical Gardens offer a canopy walkway right here in the capital. One with an adventurous streak? Take a swing at the high rope obstacle course. Alternatively you could just pack a picnic basket for the family, lay a cloth on the grass and enjoy the picturesque views of the Vaughan. And lets not forget the kids – the playground is designed to not only keep them entertained, but also to challenge their creative thinking and problem solving skills. The property is also available for rental for private events – there was a wedding reception going on during my visit – spiritual retreats among others. You could even use it for a corporate retreat and team building. Whatever you decide, you’re bound to have a great time.
Many of my childhood memories of living in Accra include visits to the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park on holidays. In addition to the many games, food and train rides, it was exhilarating to simply run around in the grass. Even when there was nothing specific happening there, my siblings and I would ask our parents to take us to the Children’s Park; it was our park. And then, out of the blue, the park closed shop. We were disappointed, but life went on. It wasn’t until I moved to the United States for college and ended up at Mount Holyoke College – consistently named one of America’s most beautiful campuses – that I began to question why we don’t have more parks and green spaces in Ghana.
Undoubtedly, the creative use of the Legon Botanical Gardens is a step in the right direction and I look forward to seeing more parks and green spaces in Ghana. Definitely recommend checking the Legon Botanical Gardens out. Here’s a video and some photos to get you started.
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.