Tro-tros can be considered Ghana’s most local form of transportation and come in handy when trying to save a few coins! Tro-Tros are mid-sized vans with seating for about 12-15 people at a time that are seen roaming the streets of Ghana at all times of the day.
Everyone should have at least one tro-tro experience to embrace what local life is like in Ghana! This post will help you be able to take tro-tros confidently as a visitor. You may also want to check out my full guide on visiting to Ghana!
Where to Find Them
When I say everywhere, I do mean everywhere! You can step outside of any building in Ghana that is connected to a main road and spot a tro-tro within five seconds. You’ll know you’re looking at a tro-tro when you see a mini-van packed with people. Hanging out from the side of the open door or window will be a male conductor. Referred to as “mate,” he will be shouting the name of the destination that tro-tro is heading towards at random people as they walk by.
You can also find them parked along the side of the roads and board from there. The conductor will still be yelling out the destination as well, and you can hop on if it works for you!
There are usually designated areas for tro-tros to park and run every 30 minutes or so for shoppers if you are at a market. These ones tend to have regular routes set and are the same every day. If you end up moving to Ghana, you may get lucky and find one that runs consistently daily.
You Made It On A Tro-Tro, Now What?
Either you will have to wait a while for more people to board before the tro-tro finally sets off, or you will leave right away! Eventually, the “mate” will start calling for payment. This will most likely be done in the local language (usually Twi). If you don’t understand Twi, you’ll know when it’s time to pay because the mate will stand up and actively be collecting cash or have a stack of cash in his hand to distribute change.
Tro-tros are super cheap compared to other transportation options in Ghana. A 30-minute ride can cost you 3 GHC ($0.58) but varies on the route. However, it is usually this cheap. Always carry small bills on you (1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s) to make your life easier.
Foreigners being overcharged in Ghana is common, but there is a fixed price on tro-tros, and if the mate does try to cheat you, others will most likely step in and call them out. One less thing to worry about.
You can use Google Maps to track your final destination and the route the tro-tro is going to see if it is in your favor. Tro-tros don’t really stop at specific landmarks. If you don’t know exactly where you are going, tell the mate where you are trying to go, and they will tell you where to get off. You may have to remind them to keep you in mind with all that’s going on!
If They’re So Cheap, Why Don’t More People Take Them?
Tro-tros are popular among locals as Ubers and taxis are pricey but not the most convenient method of transportation in Ghana.
For one, they get extremely packed. Shoulder to shoulder, can’t move packed. This can be a lot for some people (like me) somedays. It’s easier to opt-in for an Uber and call it a day.
There isn’t any AC actively running on tro-tros usually. So you can imagine 15 grown people on a cramped bus in the heat of Ghana. Not an experience people care to do multiple times a day.
You can be guaranteed to reach your destination later than planned unless you set off hours earlier. The traffic in Accra is no joke. Traffic paired with constant stopping is a recipe for delays.
It’s also not the best method to use if you are wearing super nice clothing to go to an event. There’s a lot of commuting involved with tro-tros.
Tips for Navigating Tro-Tro Life
- If you just want to experience taking a tro-tro and don’t necessarily have a specific destination in mind, just hop in one and get off after a few stops within the city! The worst that can happen is that you have to order an Uber or taxi to get back where you need to be. No big deal 🙂
- Keep in mind that tro-tros are constantly stopping to pick people up and drop them off at stops. The goal for the driver and mate is to pick up as many people as possible $$$. Unfortunately for you, a 10-minute ride can easily turn into a 30-40 minute ride due to all of the delays.
While I only take tro-tros when I have time to lose during my weekend adventures, the experience is one to remember every time. I’ve come to learn to love taking tro-tros because it’s a chance to integrate myself into yet another local experience here in Ghana.