Accra, Africa, Breakdown, Culture, Delay, Diversity, Empowerment, Ghana, ISEP, Locals, Monkeys, Mountain, Mt. Afadjato, Road Trip, Sanctuary, Study Abroad, Study Away, University of Ghana, Village, Volta Region, Waterfall, Wli Waterfalls
Bus departure: 7:45 am… Bus actually arrives at departure location: 8:15. This should have been a sign for the trip I was just about to embark on to the Volta Region. Did this hinder my excitement for Monkeys, Mountains and Waterfalls? Not a chance.
Driving was interesting. Ghana takes potholes to a completely new level, swerving is common just to avoid them. However, as I have been a passenger for many miles(ok, 2 trips) here in Ghana, I’m not sure the swerving or the bumps are worse. After approximately four and a half hours of driving or as I like to say, riding a roller coaster, we arrived at the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. The monkey sanctuary was very neat, definitely different than if it was in the States. The sanctuary includes 100 hectares surrounding a village of 1,500 people. As we arrived at 1 pm, the monkey number was few as they are generally relaxing during the heat of the day.
Speeding through rural areas of pavement and dirt roads finally caught up to us in a little village, of which I am yet to find out the name of, that is about 15 minutes away from the Monkey Sanctuary and an hour away from our next destination. Upon pulling over at a “repair shop”, our tour guide, Nii Marma, told us to take a 5-minute stroll while they check the bus. Well, after doodling with a little boy of an unknown name and a girl named Courage, drinking a Fanta and eating some sweet bread, ‘hearing’ the Ghana Blackstars beat South Africa, enjoying some play time with the local kids, gaining the trust of nine year old girl named Abagah-Esta by giving her my newly purchased University of Ghana pen and being asked to stay in Ghana with a man for 2 years before returning to the States and being asked to board a bus with another man because he ‘liked’ me, we finally boarded the bus 6 hours later.
You see, upon examining what was believed to be an overheated tire, it was determined that a part was needed. Easy right? Wrong. The part that was required just happened to be located in a town an hour away, one way. But I was perfectly ok with spending the afternoon in a strange village where few people spoke English. 🙂
With this delay in our travel, we would not make it to our next destination, the Wli Waterfalls. However, this meant that we would arrive at out guest house in the dark, in an unfamiliar location. Upon arriving, we were served dinner of white rice, vegetable sauce, fish and chicken. Which was a very good meal, if it was priced reasonably at no more than 4 Cedi. Nevertheless, that can’t happen at a tourist location, 8 Cedi please. Following dinner we entered our guest house which reminded me of a really bad camp lodge. But as tired as I was, I had one of the best nights of sleep ever!
The next morning began at 7 am with a hike up Mt. Afadjato. This mountain is the highest point in Ghana as it reaches heights of 2,904 ft. I can honestly say this was one of the most difficult physical challenges of my entire life. The hike was steep, rocky and completely beautiful. Upon reaching the top, I had an overwhelming feeling of empowerment, as if I could do anything I set my mind to. Climbing down the mountain was just as scary as climbing up, if not more. Total time to climb the mountain at my speed was just over an hour and a half, climbing down took just over an hour.
Out next destination, and final of the trip, was the Wli Waterfalls of which was scheduled for the day before. This waterfall is the highest in Ghana and was most definitely worth the wait for the spectacular view. The location of the waterfall was a 45-minute walk through the perfectly undisturbed tropical rainforest of Ghana. Arriving at the base of the waterfall was gorgeous, but I was terrified once I entered the water to swim at the base of the fall. I was not expecting such a strong wind coming from the gush of water falling 60 m… silly me.
After leaving the Wli Waterfalls we began our 6 hour bus ride back to Accra. Which was met with pizza from a Turkish restaurant as appoligies for all of our misfortune. I asked, what misfortune? How can a person complain about spending 6 hours with local kids, climbing a mountain and swimming in a waterfall in under 24 hours?