Published: September 10th 2010September 1st 2010
Happy September! Over last weekend was our big five-day trip up north to Mole National Park. We left early on Thursday morning in our big blue van and headed north to Kumasi, which is the seat of the Ashanti Empire. It took about four hours to get there and when we finally arrived we went on a tour of the city and got to visit the Manhyia Palace Museum, home and office of former Asante Kings. It was really cool to see all the ancient artifacts of the kings and we also saw all of the former kings thrones and festival clothing. After that we headed over to the Cultural Center where there was a traditional Asante dance performance going on. There are several studios at the Cultural Center of drum carvers, potters, painters, and batik makers. All their work is so authentic and beautiful but we didn’t have much time to bargain for anything since we had to check into our hotel and get dinner. When we arrived at the hotel we were all delighted to hear that the showers had hot water, which is a luxury here. It was so nice to be able to shower without shivering
and having goose bumps the whole time!
The next day, we checked out of our hotel early and started off for Kintampo. This part of the journey was quite slow because the roads were no longer paved and had a ton of potholes. These didn’t slow down our driver though which made for a very bumpy yet interesting ride. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous so I spent most of the ride looking out the windows and taking pictures. When we reached Kintampo, we stopped for lunch and then it was time to go exploring for waterfalls. We had to walk through the rainforest on this little path where we saw all these small waterfalls on either side of us until we got to these stairs that would lead us down to the biggest waterfall in Kintampo. The stairs were quite steep so I was watching my footing until about halfway down when I heard everyone in my group gasping at this breath-taking view of a huge cascading waterfall surrounded by strikingly green trees and bushes. We had the waterfall completely to ourselves and in no time we climbing over the rocks to get under the pounding water. There were these caves behind the waterfall that you could get to when you went through but the rocks were very slippery so you had to be careful climbing on them. The Falls were so beautiful I never wanted to leave, but we had to get to Mole National Park that night so we had to leave the waterfalls after about two hours.
Continuing on our very bumping drive up to Mole is when our bus started having some troubles. We would stop at a gas station and then it would have a hard time starting up again. Worst of all was the air conditioning stopped working! I was in the back seat with Naima and Sean just sweating and wishing that some of the air from the windows in front would make it’s way back to us. Dust from the road would come in the windows and was giving everything it touched a slight red tinge. I was feeling a little hostile towards the whole situation but I just had to keep reminding myself that this was Africa where everyone drives around in the heat and dust and no one complains. When we reached Mole National Park that night, we were all so tired from the journey that we had dinner, took our cold showers, and immediately went to bed.
We woke up at five the next morning to a beautiful sunrise and put on our boots to go on safari. The morning is the best time to go because all the animals are out when it’s cooler. You had a walk on this road for a ways until you got to the forest where we would begin the safari. We were following our guide on the road when he suddenly put his arm out to stop us and told us all to be quiet. He pointed slowly over to the right and we all turned to see two huge African elephants eating from a nearby tree! We were allowed to move into the brush to get a bit closer and take some pictures. The elephants actually started walking towards us at one point and we all had to hurry back to the road. During the rest of the safari we saw antelopes, warthogs, baboons, waterbucks, and several types of African birds. After the safari we had free time so we all went to the hotel pool to swim. The pool overlooked a big watering hole for the animals and we could see several elephants playing in the water when we looked down. We were playing a card game called Egyptian Rat Screw by the pool when this family of baboons came up the hill and over to us looking for food and a man from the hotel had to come and scare with off. That night there was a big thunderstorm while we were having dinner and the power went out so we got to watch the night sky be lit up with these huge lightning bolts and listen to the rain’s music.
We left Mole the next morning and had to get back into the hot van and bounce our way back to Kumasi. Our van broke down in a small village outside of Mole and we all got out to stretch our legs while it was being fixed. Walking through the village was such a different experience. We got to see how Africans in rural areas live and I’m pretty sure that most of the people here had never seen a white person before because they were all pointing and staring and all the children came running up to us to hold our hands and examine our strange clothing. We we arrived back to Kumasi we visited Ahwiaa, the wood carvers village, Ntonso, the home of Adinkra, and Bonwire, the Kente weaving village. Here we got to see how African crafts are made and buy directly from the artists.
The trip up north was so fun and I definitely want to go back to visit before I leave in December. Next weekend we will be heading to Cape Coast where their annual festival is going on. I look forward to seeing another part of this beautiful country and will hopefully have more good stories to share when I return!