Travel Spotlight

Catch Me in Ghana with Author and World Traveler Jessica Nabongo

Jessica Nabongo, the first Black woman to visit every country in the world, shares her insights on Ghana, including the activities not to miss, the best local spots and her favorite street foods—one of which may appear in her upcoming cookbook with National Geographic.

Jessica first traveled to Ghana on the eve of 2011. It was her 29th country. Twelve years and 166 countries later, Ghana’s grip on her is as strong as ever. “When I land there, I feel like it’s giving me a warm hug… My favorite memories are just the joy of the people and the kindness and just partying until the sun comes up—which I never, ever do… when I’m there, I don’t know who I am.”

An author, entrepreneur, photographer and world traveler, Jessica appeared on Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley’s podcast Passport to Everywhere. In the episode, Travel Trailblazers, they discuss the benefits of traveling solo, Jessica’s trips to countries the U.S. considers dangerous and off-limits and travel’s ability to bridge various cultures and communities. “I really hope that it makes people think differently about the world,” she says, when asked what she hopes readers will take away from her book, The Catch Me If You Can, which follows her journey to all 195 countries. “I hope that people take away that most people are good and that there is beauty everywhere.” The beauty of Ghana, and its capital city of Accra, feels undeniable when hearing her talk about it.

Why Accra

“Typically, when people travel to the African continent, they focus on beaches and safari. Accra is a really great way to get into traveling to the continent’s cities.”

Favorite Activities

Visiting the Nubuke Foundation and exploring the arts scene; shopping for Ghanaian souvenirs at Accra Arts Center; cultural festivals, especially Chale Wote Street Art Festival.

Street-Food Musts

Kelewele, spiced and fried plantains, and waakye, a mix of rice and beans.

Favorite Restaurant

Chez Clarisse—“It’s some of the best food in Accra. I recommend the grilled fish with a side of jollof rice and plantains.”

Local Watering Holes

Sandbox Beach Club, designed by Sir David Adjaye, the architect behind the National Museum of African American History and Culture (in Washington, D.C.) and the Republic Bar & Grill.”

Big Night Out

Polo Beach Club, especially during festive season. Ghanaians party in a way no one else in the world can.”

Don’t Miss

A day trip to Cape Coast. “It’s a necessary visit for anybody that goes to the country, because you get to understand the history of the Atlantic slave trade… No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve been affected by the slave trade.”

Top Tip

“Treat it like any other country you visit. The same way you would travel in France, travel Ghana.”

Solo Travel Tip

"Start simple, start close to home. Take a road trip two or three hours from your home and explore that place, meet some local people,” says Jessica Nabongo. “Locals know more than Google does.”

For more of Jessica’s travel wisdom, listen to her conversation with Melissa Biggs Bradley on Passport to Everywhere (“Travel Trailblazers”), wherever you get your podcasts.

This article originally appeared in Indagare Magazine’s Summer 2023 edition, available exclusively to Indagare members.

Published onJuly 11, 2023

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