Ghana # 9

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 in MAPA expeditions by Administrator

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

MAPA Blog 09
All this time we had thought we were heading for Ria Tawny Game Production Reserve but once again it seems that what is shown on the map bears little resemblance to what you find on the ground – guess this is a primary reasons why this job so badly needs to be done. Miss Ophelia, the head ranger here, affirms that this has always been Bia National Park.
It had been a long day’s drive out west from Kumasi. Made longer by the fact that we stopped to map Owabi Sanctuary on the way. There was not much to see there apart from a very pretty campsite next to Owabi Dam. The water-level was high after several heavy thunderstorms over the last few evenings and whitewater was crashing over the dam wall, giving the local cast-fisherman some golden opportunities.
We had hoped to make it all the way to Krokosua National Park from Kumasi but it looked doubtful, given the bad roads we have had to drive even in relatively developed parts of the country. However, it turned out that the road was tarmac-ed most of the way and right up to the last section it was carefully graded. Apparently the road is maintained by The Cocoa Board and it does seem that the majority of Krokosua NP (at least most of what we were able to see) has long ago been logged and then converted to cacao and banana plantations.
We made good timing and on the same day we left Kumasi were even able to map all up the eastern border of Krokosua. Light began to fade however and we could see stormclouds gathering. Also the area was relatively populated and it didn’t seem like a good night for bush camping so we stopped in Ayumadiem village with the hope of getting permission to sleep in the schoolhouse (decommissioned for the holidays). The important thing of course was to maintain a low-profile and not stir up too much excitement among the hundreds of local kids so that we would get at least a modicum of peace and privacy to do our cooking and homework etc.
We failed completely in this and by the time we pulled up in front of the village chairman’s shack to ask permission we looked more like a travelling circus with scores of kids chasing us.
Mr George was more than a little befuddled with palm wine when he came out of his hut. Luckily his sister made an appearance too – introducing herself as the ‘Queen Mother’ of the village. The Queen Mother was as shrewd and switched-on a lady as you would ever meet, just as King George (as we came to know him) was perpetually dazed and confused. The Queen Mother agreed to accept our payment for a night’s accommodation in the schoolhouse and detailed one of her ‘vassals’ as a night-watchman to stand guard over the Landcruiser. I strung my hammock between the breezeblock walls and had one of the best night’s sleep I have had here.
The last morning of 2010 saw us driving out of Krokosua (scrumping a cacao pod on the way to breakfast on the refreshingly tangy fruit inside – can never understand why it isn’t eaten more often as a fruit).
New Years Evening was spent dining on barbecued chicken, Spanish ‘surrendered green peppers’ and Mexican-style ‘pregnant onions’ (stuffed with a hot chilly). We watched the bush telly and finished the last of our bottle of port. A fine end to a good year.
With the help of a ranger called Frederick we had spent the afternoon trying to get in towards the centre of Bia to map the route to a place called Bongo Camp. The trail, through dense jungle, was all but non-existent although it had once been a good track. Finally it ground to a complete halt at a fallen tree. For the time being (and apparently for about the last 2 months) what are said to be very impressive park facilities at Bongo Camp are completely out of reach.
Over our glasses of port we came up with a plan. We would try to raise a team of rangers with a couple of chainsaws to get the road open again and see if we can once again make Bongo Camp accessible. Ophelia tried to make some phonecalls to get permission to detail some rangers to come with us. But it is now dawn on a new year and already we can see that things just don’t tend to happen that smoothly here. We are ready to roll if a team of rangers is detailed to come along but it seems unlikely that Bongo Camp looks destined to be off-limits for some time to come.
WAWA – West Africa Wins Again.

MAPA Blog 09

All this time we had thought we were heading for Ria Tawny Game Production Reserve but once again it seems that what is shown on the map bears little resemblance to what you find on the ground – guess this is a primary reasons why this job so badly needs to be done. Miss Ophelia, the head ranger here, affirms that this has always been Bia National Park.

It had been a long day’s drive out west from Kumasi. Made longer by the fact that we stopped to map Owabi Sanctuary on the way. There was not much to see there apart from a very pretty campsite next to Owabi Dam. The water-level was high after several heavy thunderstorms over the last few evenings and whitewater was crashing over the dam wall, giving the local cast-fisherman some golden opportunities.

We had hoped to make it all the way to Krokosua National Park from Kumasi but it looked doubtful, given the bad roads we have had to drive even in relatively developed parts of the country. However, it turned out that the road was tarmac-ed most of the way and right up to the last section it was carefully graded. Apparently the road is maintained by The Cocoa Board and it does seem that the majority of Krokosua NP (at least most of what we were able to see) has long ago been logged and then converted to cacao and banana plantations.

We made good timing and on the same day we left Kumasi were even able to map all up the eastern border of Krokosua. Light began to fade however and we could see stormclouds gathering. Also the area was relatively populated and it didn’t seem like a good night for bush camping so we stopped in Ayumadiem village with the hope of getting permission to sleep in the schoolhouse (decommissioned for the holidays). The important thing of course was to maintain a low-profile and not stir up too much excitement among the hundreds of local kids so that we would get at least a modicum of peace and privacy to do our cooking and homework etc.

We failed completely in this and by the time we pulled up in front of the village chairman’s shack to ask permission we looked more like a travelling circus with scores of kids chasing us.

Mr George was more than a little befuddled with palm wine when he came out of his hut. Luckily his sister made an appearance too – introducing herself as the ‘Queen Mother’ of the village. The Queen Mother was as shrewd and switched-on a lady as you would ever meet, just as King George (as we came to know him) was perpetually dazed and confused. The Queen Mother agreed to accept our payment for a night’s accommodation in the schoolhouse and detailed one of her ‘vassals’ as a night-watchman to stand guard over the Landcruiser. I strung my hammock between the breezeblock walls and had one of the best night’s sleep I have had here.

The last morning of 2010 saw us driving out of Krokosua (scrumping a cacao pod on the way to breakfast on the refreshingly tangy fruit inside – can never understand why it isn’t eaten more often as a fruit).

New Years Evening was spent dining on barbecued chicken, Spanish ‘surrendered green peppers’ and Mexican-style ‘pregnant onions’ (stuffed with a hot chilly). We watched the bush telly and finished the last of our bottle of port. A fine end to a good year.

With the help of a ranger called Frederick we had spent the afternoon trying to get in towards the centre of Bia to map the route to a place called Bongo Camp. The trail, through dense jungle, was all but non-existent although it had once been a good track. Finally it ground to a complete halt at a fallen tree. For the time being (and apparently for about the last 2 months) what are said to be very impressive park facilities at Bongo Camp are completely out of reach.

Over our glasses of port we came up with a plan. We would try to raise a team of rangers with a couple of chainsaws to get the road open again and see if we can once again make Bongo Camp accessible. Ophelia tried to make some phonecalls to get permission to detail some rangers to come with us. But it is now dawn on a new year and already we can see that things just don’t tend to happen that smoothly here. We are ready to roll if a team of rangers is detailed to come along but it seems unlikely that Bongo Camp looks destined to be off-limits for some time to come.

WAWA – West Africa Wins Again.

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