Published: August 12th 2010
August 11th 2010
the ferry to Yeji in the process of taking on passengers
Tamale - Makongo - Yeji - Kumasi - Koforidua - Akosombo - Accra
There is a main road from Tamale to Kumasi but I decided to try and go a slightly different way so that I would get a chance to see some of Lake Volta. The route I decided to take would necessitate a a ferry ride across one of the spurs of the lake, from Makongo on the north bank to Yeji on the south bank.
Saturday 7th April
I had checked the night before that there was an MMT bus to Makongo, but yet again it was a avery early one and apparently would leave at 4:30am. I left the hotel at 3:30 and took a taxi to the bus station - it was actually quite a short walk but because the walk would have gone through a a dark residential area I decided to take a taxi to be safe. The bus left Tamale at 5:45 and arrived at Makongo at about 9:45.
There is a larger vehicle ferry that makes the crossing twice a day but this is supplemented by a number of smaller passenger ferries that cross regularly when there
Makongo - Yeji Ferry
pushing off from Makongo beach
is enough custome. One of these was loading when I arrived so I decided to take it. It was basically a long, open, wooden boat. There was a primitive ladder in the water leaning against the side of the boat that most people were using to get in so I did the same. There were a few cross-beams for some people to sit on but these were already occupied so most other people just had to stand (or sit in cases) on the bottom of the boat.
The ferry left Makongo at 10:20 and took 45 minutes to cross to Yeji. This was my first view of Lake Volta and although this was only one spur of a number that contribute to the main lake, it was very large. The boat was powered by two large outboard motors and I estimate that it was carrying about 200 people, and a couple of motorbikes that were simply lifted onto the boat. The boat was under running repairs all the way across - one guy was bailing with a bucket whilst another was going round with a clump of cotton wool type substance and using a hammer and chisel to force
disembarking from the Makongo ferry
it into cracks. Nobody else seemed bothered by this, and the boat certainly did not look as though it was taking on water, so I didn't worry too much about it.
At Yeji it was basically the same procedure for disembarking, though this time there was a bit more water between the boat and the sand so this time I had to get my feet wet. There were a few odd tro-tros at Yeji beach but they had already filled up by the time that I got off and after that there was no other transport for the rest of the day (it was still only just after 11:00am) so I was forced to stay overnight at Yeji.
Sunday 8th April
A guy on the ferry yesterday had started chatting to me - he lives in Yeji and told me that there would be a bus very early in the morning (again!) leaving for Kumasi. He said he would find out what time it left and come and show me where from when the bus arrived later that evening. True to his word he came and sought me out at the hotel and took me to
The motor vehicle ferry
disembarking at Yeji later that same day
where the bus was parked and said it would leave at 4:30 so be there queueing for 4:00am. I therefore got up 3:30am again and walked up to the bus stop - it finally left at 5:30am! and arrived at Kumasi at 10:30. Since it was still quite early, I decided to try and head off for my next port of call - Koforidua.
The MMT driver said that there wouldn't be another MMT bus today but he directed me to the trotro station where a trotro to Koforidua had a few people on board already. Trotros generally hold between 15 and 19 people and they don't like to set off until they're full. They have no timetable so it just makes economic sense for them to wait until they're got a full compliment before leaving. Fortunately this didn't take too long and we departed Kumasi at 11:30am arriving in Koforidua at 2:00pm. I took a taxo from the trotro station to the hotel - it wasn't very far but not knowing the town and having a rucksack it made sense the first time.
After briefly unpacking a few thins (I was intending to stay here for two
Metro Mass Transit - I had to use these buses quite a few times
nights), I walked back into the town centre. Koforidua is much less frenetic than the other three regional capitals I have visited (Accra, Kumasi and Tamale), it seems more spread out and the architecture is almost a bit southern European. It was certainly more conducive to wandering around leisurely then the other three. I found a restaurant that the the guide book had recommended - the Linda Dor - and had a meal called red red which I had been looking for ever since I had been here unsecessfully. It wa gorgeous, definitely my favourite Ghanaian meal so far. It's basically some red beans and fried plantain with whatever meat is available - I had it with chicken.
I ha a TV in my room at this hotel so this evening I watched the Ghanaian version of "Who wants to be a millionaire" - "Who want s to be rich" - the top prize is 50,000 Ghana cedis (about 25,000 pounds sterling).
Monday 9th April
This was the first morning for a week when I haven't had to get up at some unearthly hour to catch a bus or a walking safari so I enjoyed being
Near Boti Falls
caves which were once inhabited
able to get up when I wanted. I walked into town again and had an egg sandwich andf cup of tea at a roadside stall, then went to the trotro station to find a one going to a village called Agogo. Just before this village there is the entrance to the Boti Falls, one of Ghana's best known waterfalls.
As well as the waterfalls themselves, there is an optional hour's hike to two more sights - the "Umbrella Rock" and a palm tree with three trunks. You can seen the photos of some of these!
After relaxing back at the hotel for a while I went back to the same restaurant as last night and had grasscutter soup with boiled yams. A grasscutter is a rodent which hunters are allowed to hunt at any time of the year, presumably because they eat up grass that's needed for more interesting animals? Anyway, that basically means it is just just a big rat, but it also supposedly a local delicacy and I must admit it did taste nice!
Tuesday 10th April
Packed up again and walked back to the Koforidua trotro station, this time to look for
The Umbrella Rock
near to Boti Falls
a bus to my next desired destination, the Akosombo Dam which creates Lake Volta and which provides most (if not all?) of Ghana's electricity. I decided to try and stay at a place called Atimpoku, a few kilometers from Akosombo but better served by transport. I sonn found the trotro going there but there were only a couple of people on board when I got there, about 7:45am. This time it took much longer to fill up and we didn't leave until 9:30. I needed to change trotro in the town of Kpong and arrived at Atimpoku at 11:15 with the trotro stopping directly opposite the hotel I was looking for which was convenient.
After checking in I set out to see the river Volta. Atimpoku is the sitwe of one of the only two road bridges across the River Volta after it emerges from the lake at Akosombo dam. After taking a few photos of the bridge I caught a trotro up to the town of Akosombo istelf to see if I could see the dam and the lake. I had imagined a very high dam in a narrow gorge but in fact the valley was much wider
Although it is currently the wet season, it should be much wetter than this
and the dam, from what I could see of it, was not as impressive a I had hoped. Because of the geography and where the road went, it was also not that easy to get decent views of Lake Volta either.
After going back to the hotel in Atimpoku for a rest and a shower, I walked back up the road a few hundred metres to a restaurant that had dining tables on stilts built out over the river and an excellent mixed grill.
Wednesday 11th April
Yet another lie in as today my target was simply to get back to Accra which was not that far. I took a local trotro to the town of Kpong which was more of a transport hub and easily found a longer-distance trotro going to Accra. It was almost full already so I only had to wait another ten minutes or so. The trotro was heading for Tema station in Accra which I already knew well so I knew my way around from there.
So ends my brief topur around part of Ghana. I now have 3 full days 4 nights in Accra before my flight home
These were quite common throughout Ghana - about 6 feet high
leaves on Sunday 15th. I have a couple of day visits that I still want to try and do in these few days - watch this space.
There are more photos below