Ghana # 7

Posted on January 1st, 2011 in General,MAPA expeditions by Administrator

Travel journalist March Eveleigh is volunteering for MAPA in Ghana and this is his latest post…..

MAPA Blog 07
We left Mole National Park on Boxing Day morning and the plan was for both cars to rendezvous that night at Bui NP, having checked out different inroads to the park on the way to the one and only camp that park has to offer.
However, we had one last thing to check out before abandoning Mole forever. Mognori eco-village is a community project on the park boundary but as they also run canoe trips into the park it seemed reasonable that we ought to check it out. This, however, led us to a new dilemma: contrary to what was shown on any of our maps it seemed that there was a boundary road running the length of the south eastern edge of the park. It would be about 60km of very hard slow bush driving but this would be just the sort of data we ought to be concentrating on. So, after a quick re-provisioning trip to Damongo (where we finally managed to find tonic that would do justice to our dwindling gin supplies) we hit the trail north along the side of the park. It did indeed seem to be very clearly a boundary road: to the east there were occasional cassava and banana plantations but to the west nothing but bush (mostly burnt or burning).
There were a chain of villages along the way where the locals came rushing out of their mud-walled, thatch-roofed rondavels to wave at us. By the time we reached the last of these, by the name of Jinfrono, it seemed clear that our road had now moved entirely into community territory so we turned east to make a beeline for the main highway and our best way out.
This was not to be however. It seemed that a bridge had been washed out farther along that road and now there was nothing for us to do but to turn south again and follow another – equally rough – dirt-track all the way back from to the point we had set out from that morning. Moreover within an hour or so it would be nightfall and to drive on after that would be foolhardy.
So within a short while of leaving Jinfrono – and with just half hour of light left – we turned into a copse of trees and pitched camp for the night. We didn’t want to attract too much attention to ourselves here with the light from a campfire so settled for corned beef omelet (on the gas cooker) along with our G&Ts.
It turned out to be a very pleasant camp and at first light we were already full of coffee and rusks and ready to hit the road.
There came one last incident of uncertainty when I thought it was another case of AWA (Africa Wins Again). Far down the trail there was a flooded section of road that looked to be thoroughly impassable for us. A sort of dam/ford had been built of loose boulders and, while motorbikes were able to go pretty easily over the rocks, I was far from convinced about trusting the weight of our Landcruiser to them. I walked the deeper water upriver from the dam but it was so jumbled with boulders that I was doubtful we could keep our revs high enough to cross either. A sand bottom would have been so easy but to rockcrawl in that depth of water seemed insanely reckless.
We were on the verge of turning back and retracing our steps again over the last two days when another Ghanaian on a motorbike came through and convinced us that the dam was more than strong enough and we should follow him. I tried not to think of the 10 feet of churning coffee-coloured water that swirled just below our left wheels.
But we made it across and by tonight we will be back in Kumasi, the place that had been my first home.

MAPA Blog 07

We left Mole National Park on Boxing Day morning and the plan was for both cars to rendezvous that night at Bui NP, having checked out different inroads to the park on the way to the one and only camp that park has to offer.

However, we had one last thing to check out before abandoning Mole forever. Mognori eco-village is a community project on the park boundary but as they also run canoe trips into the park it seemed reasonable that we ought to check it out. This, however, led us to a new dilemma: contrary to what was shown on any of our maps it seemed that there was a boundary road running the length of the south eastern edge of the park. It would be about 60km of very hard slow bush driving but this would be just the sort of data we ought to be concentrating on. So, after a quick re-provisioning trip to Damongo (where we finally managed to find tonic that would do justice to our dwindling gin supplies) we hit the trail north along the side of the park. It did indeed seem to be very clearly a boundary road: to the east there were occasional cassava and banana plantations but to the west nothing but bush (mostly burnt or burning).

There were a chain of villages along the way where the locals came rushing out of their mud-walled, thatch-roofed rondavels to wave at us. By the time we reached the last of these, by the name of Jinfrono, it seemed clear that our road had now moved entirely into community territory so we turned east to make a beeline for the main highway and our best way out.

This was not to be however. It seemed that a bridge had been washed out farther along that road and now there was nothing for us to do but to turn south again and follow another – equally rough – dirt-track all the way back from to the point we had set out from that morning. Moreover within an hour or so it would be nightfall and to drive on after that would be foolhardy.

So within a short while of leaving Jinfrono – and with just half hour of light left – we turned into a copse of trees and pitched camp for the night. We didn’t want to attract too much attention to ourselves here with the light from a campfire so settled for corned beef omelet (on the gas cooker) along with our G&Ts.

It turned out to be a very pleasant camp and at first light we were already full of coffee and rusks and ready to hit the road.

There came one last incident of uncertainty when I thought it was another case of AWA (Africa Wins Again). Far down the trail there was a flooded section of road that looked to be thoroughly impassable for us. A sort of dam/ford had been built of loose boulders and, while motorbikes were able to go pretty easily over the rocks, I was far from convinced about trusting the weight of our Landcruiser to them. I walked the deeper water upriver from the dam but it was so jumbled with boulders that I was doubtful we could keep our revs high enough to cross either. A sand bottom would have been so easy but to rockcrawl in that depth of water seemed insanely reckless.

We were on the verge of turning back and retracing our steps again over the last two days when another Ghanaian on a motorbike came through and convinced us that the dam was more than strong enough and we should follow him. I tried not to think of the 10 feet of churning coffee-coloured water that swirled just below our left wheels.

But we made it across and by tonight we will be back in Kumasi, the place that had been my first home.

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