The real natural wonders of the world

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January 18th 2007
Published: January 18th 2007
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"Who could believe an ant in theory?
A giraffe in blueprint?
Ten thousand doctors of what's possible
Could reason half the jungle out of being"
John Ciardi

Well Africa has exploded into forests of dense, lush, green vegetation over the past fortnight and suddenly I feel like I've walked straight out of the desert and into a David Attenborough documentary. Ghana is such a contrast to the past two months. Not just the jungle of banana trees and coconut palms, or the humidity. The most noticeable change is the langauge, it's so strange to hear people speaking English again after all the Francophone countries we've passed through. It makes meeting people and buying things easier, but 'Give me money' doesn't sound quite as romantic as 'donnez moi un cadeaux'!

Wild Africa has emerged from the undergrowth too. I've had such a fantastic couple of weeks spotting wildlife. Firstly we visited Mole National Park and went on dusk and dawn guided safari walks. We got to see several groups of elephants, plus crocodiles, bushbuck, warthogs, and a python. The most awesome sight though was standing on the banks of a watering hole while a bull elephant took its morning dip. I could barely drag myself away it was such a fantastic experience to be so close to such a huge, majestic creature. The motel we stayed at had a fabulous location overlooking two watering holes and we were able to see up to 12 elephants in one go, cooling off in the water or play fighting, while we all cooled off in our own swimming pool!

We also visited Boabeng-Fiema Monkey Sanctuary and got to see Black and White Colobus Monkeys leaping around in the tree tops and Mona Monkeys trying to break into our truck! The sanctuary has been set up by the local village for conservation and tourism. Even though the monkeys steal food from the villagers they are offered protection and even given a cemetary because they are considered sacred. It was really good to see and support such a community initiative. Ghana seems to have a lot of foreign investment, development projects and community initiatives are everywhere, it all seems very positive, I just hope they are actually helping.

Travelling further south we stopped at Kakum National Park, a protected area of tropical rainforest. We had a guided walk through the park and it was really interesting to find out about all the trees and plants. They have a use for everything, be it construction, medicinal, food, making drums etc. You have to wonder how they discover these things in the first place. The park also has a canopy walk, which I braved, despite having a fear of rickety bridges at the best of times. The view from the platforms, looking down on the canopy and seeing monkeys playing far below you, was spectacular; getting to them was terrifying. The platforms are connected by wildly swinging, barely-held-up-by-a-piece-of-string rope bridges, suspended 30 metres above the ground and each about 50 metres long. I was so relieved to get back on solid ground again. That night we camped out on platforms in the jungle. I can see why those CDs of jungle noices sell so well, it really does lull you to sleep. Good job too as I needed calming down after being rained on by stinging ants while walking to my bed!

Finally, this morning I was rewarded with a natural wonder I never thought I would be lucky enough to see ever. Getting out of my tent right on the beach we were called over to see a line of miniscule turtles flapping their way down the sand into the surf. I wanted to pick them up and help them, they looked like they were struggling so much, I was there cheering them on to reach the sea like a proud parent at sports day!!

As well as wild animals, we have also experienced some wild markets. We stayed a couple of nights at a mission house in Kumasi and they have the most chaotic market I have experienced yet. The train line runs through the middle of it, I don't know if it's an operational line but I dread to think what happens if a train does decide to plough through. You could buy anything there: bright patterned fabric, piles of second hand clothes from the UK, plastic buckets, dried hooves and fish, fake hair...the list is endless. It was fascinating, but very tiring to walk through and I was glad to escape to the calm and tranquility of the Kumasi Cultural Centre. My wallet was considerably lightened here by temptation at all the fabulous crafts being displayed. It was interesting to see the craftsman at work first, weaving Kente cloth or carving drums.

Another move to the wild side...I now have wild hair - a full mane of braids! Infrequent showers and a breezy truck made me decide to choose an easier style for the next few months. It took 6 1/2 hours to do and at one point there were 5 women working on my hair at the same time! Oh my god does it hurt!! I looked like I'd got a face lift once it was done and I've had a headache for two days while it relaxes, but I'm pleased with it now.

Thankfully we've had a bit of time for rest and relaxation recently. Sitting on a palm fringed beach with the surf to cool your toes makes the braiding process and recovery much more bearable! We also visited Kintampo Waterfalls and discovered the most refreshing way to wake up is to try and stand up under the pounding water at 7 in the morning!

Now we're in Accra and I'm looking forward to pizza and ice cream from 'Frankies' tonight - bring on the charm offensive for a discount! We have birthdays to celebrate and farewells to drink to before we head back to the beach again. Hope everything is good at home? I hear climate change has brought spring forward to January this year! Does this mean all the talk of sunshine and ice cream isn't making you jealous anymore?! Fxx

P.S. Aidwah, very freaky moment the other day when out of the blue Jeff started calling me Frankwah...I thought you were the only one! How's the office, up to 35degrees yet!

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


Me and EleMe and Ele
Me and Ele

I can't describe just how amazing it was to be this close to such a majestic creature!

he he they were so funny to watch!
Ele takes a bathEle takes a bath
Ele takes a bath

A very happy elephant cooling off in his pool!

18th March 2007

A very nice discription and excellent pictures

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