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Africa’s Cheapest Safari

No, I didn’t just see some zebras from the bus window… We did get chased by two elephants and pulled a crocodile by its tail, though.

sunny 30 °C
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Pool-side elephant spotting

Pool-side elephant spotting

Having just barely made it off the Volta Ferry, Bo and I headed for Mole National Park. Its main attraction is its heads of elephants, which congregate at certain drinking holes here in the dry season. Little did we know, as we approached the park, that those same elephants would eventually chase us away from their drinking spots.

Getting from Yeji where the ferry left us, Bo and I used all day getting the 300 km to the park. Starting at 7:30 by crossing a river, onward with first a coach then a minibus, before making the final few kilometres in a taxi. We arrived twelve hours after we had taken off, just as the sun was setting over the bush.

Standing tall on the top of a cliff, Mole Motel have been the primary place of accommodation in the park since the 1960’s. I haven’t had too much luxury during my previous national park visits in West Africa, but lounging by the pool with a view of elephants on the plains below is pretty much a highlight. And the expense? 13 US$ a night for a dorm bed. Before this turns into a commercial for the Motel, I should probably note that it’s pretty rundown in that built-in-the-60’s kind of sense.

Getting close

Getting close

And while sitting by the pool and watching elephants from afar is all well and good, going out searching for the elephants on the plains is a lot more fun – and excitement. So, for 2.5 dollars per hour per person, we headed out on a safari walk to get a closer look at the elephants. The animals have mostly gotten used to visitors, and they are somewhat relaxed about us hanging around. To be honest, the group of elephants we found seem much more concerned about throwing the right amount of dirt on themselves and wash in the big waterhole were the congregate. It was easy getting within 20 meters them. Awesome!

Just before it charged

Just before it charged

Though not every elephant loved our hanging about. At the end of the walk, we came across two young male elephants, who did not like our presence one bit. I’d just managed to get a frontal photo of one of the two elephants when they made a small charge at us. It was more of a threat than a real charge, but it quickly sends us head over heels – running for dear life. The armed ranger who was with us, got so far shouldering his rifle, preparing a warning shot while we retreated before the elephants stood down. Not happy with the speed of our retreat, the did follow us for a while to make sure that we were leaving.

With that level of excitement, we wasted another afternoon at the pool…

Just walking a croc

Just walking a croc

The next day we left Mole, not so much because of the elephant chase, rather because Bo is running out of time before he needs to get back home. But our animals adventures in Ghana wasn’t over just yet. In the far, far north, on the border with Burkina Faso and another day’s journey from Mole is a small border town named Paga. The town is home to a couple of sacred crocodile pools. Somehow, the crocodiles have an unspoken agreement with the ponds’ caretakers that they get a chicken if they don’t eat the dumb tourists who come by, posing for photos with them.

Petting croc

Petting croc

Having paid the entrance fee (not getting eaten isn’t free) the caretaker zipped around the corner to a nearby market to buy the unlucky chicken that had to give up its life because Bo and I wanted some photos with a crocodile. The chicken was then waved in from of the croc, which then crawled onto dry land. Here, Bo and I was instructed in how to pet and hold the tale of the crocodile, while we were both nervous about the animals large teeth and felt pretty horrible because walking around, pulling the tails of poor crocodile falls well into the category of something bad tourists would do. The pictures turned out pretty bad-ass, though.

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Posted by askgudmundsen 14:58 Archived in Ghana Tagged animals travel elephants adventure africa safari pool crocodile ghana travelling west_africa

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Stayed in Mole Hotel 18 months ago, so know what you mean about 60/70s "style". We visited just after the wet season, so waterholes all over & elephants not easy to find.

by iain taylor

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