Travel Diary: Kakum, Ghana

During each of my earlier visits to Ghana, I only saw Accra due to the shortness of those trips. Even though my last visit was short too, I vowed to venture out beyond Ghana's capital. Things fell into place and with a couple of friends I was able to make a day adventure to Cape Coast, namely to Kakum National Park and the Cape Coast Castle. I'm doing two separate posts on these sites. This first post highlights Kakum, Ghana's largest surviving tract of tropical forest, named after the river that flows beneath its soil. The forest is teeming with biodiversity. Hundreds of trees, plants, animals and insects call it home but as  precious as these all are, the main attraction is perhaps the canopy walkway, a 350 meter network of  narrow suspension bridges that, at the highest point, rises to 40 meters above ground.

The walkway offers spectacular views of the forest canopy. It wasn't nerve wrecking for me but I did feel a bit of discomfort with the first step unto the wavering plank of wood. Thankfully, the guide had already warned us that the bridge tended to shift beneath a person's first steps due to the mechanisms. The kind man also assured us that maintenance teams periodically checked and repaired the walkway. This assurance proved helpful as I treaded on among the treetops. Perched so high, the intense human world seemed distant. At the level of the forest's canopy, birds whistled their praises, the air was filtered by lush trees and the trees themselves towered majestically. For me these were ample rewards for the slight hike to the walkway and for the initial unease at maneuvering the tilting , elevated path. Even if  you're afraid of heights, I think that it will be a wonderful experience, possibly all the more gratifying for your facing the phobia. 

Although for some the canopy walk is a feat in confronting fears,  it probably will not be scintillating for thrill seekers. It is does however, provide therapy unique to nature, especially if you soak up some of the other experiences to be had at Kakum.  Due to schedule constraints, I wasn't able to indulge in these but I suppose I now have other reasons for returning. Some of the other goodies are bird & butterfly watching as well as elephant, antelope and monkey spotting. Considering the nocturnal ways of some of the inhabitant species, I suggest camping out at the Park. You can arrange to do so upon arrival. Be sure to specify the Antikwaa Camp if you wish to see the elephants. I intend to do all of the above in the future should I have the opportunity. Even without seeing all it has to share, Kakum has made it to the top of my 'favourite experiences in Ghana' list. 

The drive from Accra to Kakum took us about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, including a pit stop for petrol and food. I rode with my Ghanaian photographer friend so didn't have to figure out how much taxis and buses would cost. I'll try to find out and update this post with that information. I can say for now that taxis in Ghana are usually reasonably priced. Just make sure to have a Ghanaian person negotiate the fare(s) for you in order to avoid 'the tourist tax'. 

Regardless of what activities you decide to partake in, you will have to pay an entrance fee. This is very inexpensive, 3 Ghanaian Cedis. Once you enter the premises, you will present  your receipt for the entrance fee. Then you can purchase tickets for whatever activities you wish to do. Since I only did the Canopy Walk, I only paid 50 cedis, the cost for foreign visitors. It's 20 cedis for Ghanaians. Remember to inquire about camping, bird watching, seeing the elephants etc.

What To Pack
* Binoculars for sighting birds, monkeys and other animals.

* Shea butter for non toxic, natural protection from the sun.

*Environmentally friendly insect repellant, mainly for keeping mosquitos at bay.

*Comfortable shoes, particularly sneakers or hiking boots. Unintentionally, I didn't have either but my sandals were comfy enough for the easy traverse. I'm sure though that they wouldn't have worked for camping.

*Food and snacks. Apart from children selling fruits at the entrance, the only other spots offering food is a stall with cocoa and a parlour selling overpriced snacks. Thus, it will be good idea to bring a stash of eats and, drinks but if you bring nothing else bring water. Single use plastic bottles have assaulted Ghana's environment so please bring pre filled, reusable containers.

Photography Credit: Dextdee Photography

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