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Ghana: Axim

A hut at the Axim Beach Hotel with the beach in the background
The Axim Beach Hotel has huts overlooking the beach - it's paradise

I wanted to visit Axim ever since I read that not only is it home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Ghana, but the town also boasts Fort St Anthony, 'one of the most impressive forts in Ghana' according to the guidebook. After a stuttered but easy journey from Beyin, consisting of a tro-tro, two shared taxis and a private taxi, I discovered that the first part was absolutely spot on; following the guidebook's advice I took a bungalow at the Axim Beach Hotel and settled into a life of luxury to recoup on the sleep that had eluded me in the stilt village.

The beach at Axim
The wonderful beach at Axim

Fort St Anthony

Fort St Anthony, Axim
Fort St Anthony, complete with a wake of vultures perched on the roof

The second boast in the guidebook turned out to be a little overenthusiastic, though I think some of my disappointment in Fort St Anthony was down to an overdose of coastal forts. After a few tours you realise that every fort has the same collection of stories, and while the dates might change, the experience is pretty much the same. For example, Fort St Anthony has male and female dungeons, and of course the colonial officers – in this case the Portuguese and the Dutch – would pick out the prettiest female slaves and rape them; it has officers' quarters and rooms for the governor; it has lots of blackened cannons pointing out to sea; it has a large cistern, fed by rainwater; and it has a caretaker who will take you round for a small fee (or, in my case, a caretaker who will deputise his young son to do the job). It's not quite true to say that once you've seen one fort you've seen them all, but after a while you stop noticing the slave dungeons and the mouldy whitewashed battlements and you start noticing the little oddities that differentiate each fort.

Fort St Anthony, Axim
Fort St Anthony from Axim town
Cannons at Fort St Anthony, Axim
Cannon and vulture, Fort St Anthony
Palm tree trunks suffering from blight
Evidence of the blight that's killed off so many palm trees in the Axim area
Cannons at Fort St Anthony, Axim
The seaward view from Fort St Anthony reminds you that Axim had to defend itself against attack from the sea