Accra is filled with unique experiences you would never know are offered. I headed up to Shai Hills this week to experience my first ever glamping experience.
When I heard that the Shai Resource Reserve offered overnight glamping experiences in addition to its day tours I had to experience this. As someone who has never been camping and has never had the desire to experience the overnight aspects that come with camping, glamping sounds like more of my thing so i was excited to spend a night at the tents!
This blog post will detail my experience in the Shai Hills “Luxury” Glamping Tents with a friend and provide you with an honest review to help you decide if this is worth experiencing for yourself.
The most current version of the website for Shai Hills is not that informative, and bookings are also not done through the website.
To book a stay at Shai Hills Resource Reserve, you reach out to the reserve on WhatsApp or via email with your desired booking date and the type of tent you would like to book. The WhatsApp contact information is +233 24 724 1073, and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once I reached out, I was sent a PDF document detailing information on the booking requirements, including the deposit policy, how to get food while at the tents, and outlining some of the rules of staying at the luxury tents.
Bookings must be secured via Momo money with a 50% non-refundable deposit. *Foreigners would have to ask about alternative deposit methods or ask a trusted individual they know to send your booking deposit*
The response times of the facility were extremely slow for booking. It took several days to settle on a date and get officially booked. Communication can definitely be improved on the part of the facility to make the booking experience more pleasant.
Cost of the Shai Hills Resource Reserve
The fee per night at one of the luxury tents is 750 GHS ($125).
For food, the bill totaled 223 GHS ($37.16).
So in total, for this experience, I paid 973 GHS ($162.16).
Getting to the Shai Hills Resource Reserve
The drive to the Shai Hills Resource Reserve where the luxury tents are is about 1 1/2 hours from Accra. I highly recommend hiring a driver to take you to Shai Hills or driving yourself if you can. I think driving yourself or going with someone who can drive themselves is the best option. You will find out why later in this blog post.
What Takes Place Upon Arrival
Upon arrival at the entrance of the facility, we were greeted and given the meals we ordered ahead of time for lunch and dinner that day. The food was made and packaged into carryout containers for us to bring to our tents.
Check-in time is at 4pm, and checkout is at 12pm the following morning.
I also paid the other half of the total stay once I arrived being that I already did the 50% deposit. The rest of the payment can be done with Momo money or cash, but I opted in for Momo money, a mobile method of exchanging cash in Ghana.
Getting to the Luxury Tents
Once the payment was handled, we were escorted by a Shai Hills Resource Guide on his motorcycle from the reception to the location where the luxury glamping tents actually were. The tents are about 40 minutes away from the reception, and we followed the guide with the vehicle that we brought.
Now this is where I was a bit shocked. I did not realize that the tents would be so far away from the actual reserve site. It was almost like we were driving to an entirely new place, as 40 minutes is a very long time under these circumstances.
The roads leading to the tents are very rough as they are mainly rocks, so if you choose to bring your own vehicle, be mindful of the type of car you bring. Jeeps and heavy-set vehicles will be best to withstand the impact and shocks of the rocks.
Our car ended up very scratched up from all of the trees and leaves as we passed by on the way to the tents.
We were told upon checking out that for visitors who come with small cars, there are pickups available to use to get to the tents. However, this was not mentioned during booking, before arrival, or during our stay. I would hope they offer a service like this, especially for solo travelers who would be coming. Now that I’ve suffered and went through this process to fill you in the details, be sure to ask about this service if you think you may need it!
The Luxury Tent Glamping Experience
We finally arrived at the small parking section downhill from where the tents are. There is a fairly short rocky pathway that we had to climb to reach the tents.
The Exterior of the Tent
The tent’s exterior was impressive with a balcony with seating for you to enjoy the view and space to walk around the perimeter. My first impression is that the construction of the space was built in a way that allows you to enjoy being in a nature-oriented setting.
There are also “window” (not actual windows but sections of the tent that allow you to look out and in as you please) coverings on the outside to ensure privacy. They are rolled up but can be unclipped and rolled down whenever ready. There is also a zipping to the main entrance of the tent.
The Interior of the Tent
The interior of the tent was spacious, well decorated, and cozy. From the outside looking in, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there is so much space inside, so I was taken aback in a very good way.
Inside the tent is:
•A private desk that was perfect for reading or writing.
•A mini living room with two medium-sized couches that can be used for sleeping.
•A large bed perfect for two.
•A wardrobe where you can store some of your clothes and items.
•An eatery/bar area with plates, a wine glass, cups, and kettles.
•A bathroom that is even more spacious than I could have imagined with a bathtub, his/her replicated mirror areas, a toilet, and a large mirror.
Keep in mind this is more of a relaxation, unplug getaway so besides the games in the tent, bring your own entertainment that does not require electricity.
The Overnight Stay in the Tent
There were loud buzzing noises that could be heard from the tents that made it hard to fall asleep, but despite this I did sleep pretty well throughout the night until I was woken up by rats!
We were woken up around 11pm by a lot of rustling on the outside and entrance of the tent. I’m not a light sleeper, so I initially thought someone was breaking in. When we got up we saw that the trash can filled with food we ate the night before had been tipped over with the food spilled out.
I was surprised because we zipped up the entrance to the tent, yet the rats still got in, so that was an experience to say the least. A bit disturbing, but I lived to tell the tale!
We fall back asleep, only to wake up and find that the rats returned later in the night and got into our bathroom soap.
Overall, the bed was very comfortable and besides the noises and the rats, I felt very well rested.
When it comes to food when staying overnight at one of the Shai Hills Luxury Tents, you can either order food from the facility or bring your own food.
Ordering Food from the Facility
When booking you are given the option to order from the reception meals from two nearby restaurants: Stella’s Kitchen and Basilissa Premium. I was not familiar with either one of these, so focused more on what they had to offer.
Stella’s Kitchen had:
• Joloff Rice
• Fried Rice (Grilled chicken, fried chicken, fish)
• Assorted Fried Rice
• Yam/Potato Chips
• Banku & Tilapia
Here is the menu for Basilissa:
We ended up ordering the cheeseburger with fries, fried rice with beef braised, jolloff rice, and grilled fish (two meals/each). We were told that it would all be ready at once and we could just microwave it later, which was not ideal for me as I thought the point of ordering from the facility was to have fresh food.
However, due to distance to the tents from the reception, the food would’ve been cold by the time it was delivered to us in the tents anyways so it truly didn’t matter. It’s one less thing to worry about when you order food before coming, but the quality of what I received was not that great.
Bringing Your Own Food
When it comes to bringing your own food, after seeing how long it takes to get to the tents from reception, I feel like it’s the best option.
If you can I would place it in a cooler of some sort then bring it to the tents. You will save money by cooking and bringing your own meals as there is a microwave. Even if you don’t cook and want to order something before coming that you know you will enjoy that would be a better option. I just wasn’t pleased with what I received from the facility enough to recommend getting food from them.
Electricity at the Luxury Tent
We were told in advance that the electricity in the tents only runs from 6pm – 8am, so when we arrived at 5pm, we did not expect any electricity but thought we would have electricity within that next hour, as it would be 6pm.
Unfortunately, due to an issue with the generator, we ended up getting lights around 8pm .
When the electricity was on and running, it worked well. The glamping experience for me was a one-night stay so the lack of electricity the next morning did not impact me at all.
I would recommend having portable chargers available and non-microwavable food and snacks that ideally don’t need to be refrigerated.
The natural light from outside is enough to light up the tent from inside once the shades are up so lighting isn’t an issue.
Breakfast the Next Morning
The cost of the luxury tent experience at Shai Hills comes with breakfast and a 2-hour tour of the facility the next morning.
Breakfast was served at 9:00am, even though we were told that it would be served at 7:30am. The breakfast consisted of eggs, bread, milo hot chocolate, and Lipton iced tea. Our tour guide brought our breakfast directly to our tent.
The Included Tour of the Shai Hills Resource Reserve
After breakfast, it was time for the tour of Shai Hills which includes visiting two historic caves once used by the Shai people and seeing some of the animals at the facility.
The Tour of the Cave
The tour of the first cave was about 30-40 minutes. First, we climbed up a very rocky route, then up a large ladder, and had to navigate more rocks at the top. Honestly, I questioned how safe this was the entire time because the rocks were very slippy, and one wrong step could end badly as there is no safety gear.
Thankfully, my guide helped me the entire time and made sure I stepped in all the right places!
The Tour Showing A View of the Reserve
The second tour was about 10-15 minutes and much easier. There is a bit of rope climbing involved, but nothing too harsh, and the views were amazing.
The animal sights were very underwhelming, to say the least. We saw one ostrich and were told that there was the only one left because the others kept dying. The ostrich left looked like it was in poor condition, and its feathers were falling off and appeared to be very brittle. There were zebras, antelopes, and baboons.
Don’t go to Shai Hills Resource Reserve expecting to see many animals. I did run into some members from the Forestry Commission, where I was able to voice my concerns about the state of some of the animals and was told that it is something being improved.
Final Thoughts on Luxury Tent Glamping at Shai Hills
This is an experience that I think is worth having if you are in Ghana, but not one I would be eager to experience again personally.
Looking back on the noises and rat situation, I’m glad I did not have to do this experience solo! I can’t say that I would’ve made it through the night without someone with me.
I do not feel that the value for the price being charged is fair based on the upkeep of the facility and experience. I would say 300 – 400 GHS would be a good price range when analyzing the quality of the experience and what was included.
Was the tent actual luxury? No, but in Ghana I’ve learned to adjust my standards.
Communication of the site/reception staff needs to be improved as well to provide guests with a better experience when trying to book a luxury tent at Shai Hills.
Overall, I’m happy that I crossed this off of my Ghana bucket list!