A Travellerspoint blog

Canopy Walk

The unique Canopy Walk at Kakum National Park (near Cape Coast)

sunny 34 °C

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Deciding to travel for 18 hours (by tro tro) the previous day in order to spend as much time as possible at Cape Coast was possibly the best decision ever. Despite the severe lack of sleep I woke up at the crack of dawn eagerly anticipating what was awaiting us. The journey itself to Kakum National Park was not easy, however, we had long got used to the potholes that caused us to constantly veer from side to side quite effectively inducing seasickness. Yet what we saw at the park completely took our breath away. From the incredible sunshine and light breeze to the intense vividness of the surrounding greenery it was hard to remember why we were tired at all....

The Canopy Walk offers visitors a unique way to see the rainforest canopy - in the form of 7 rope suspended bridges that create a walkway looping around a large reserve of the forest.

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Hands up - I was the first one out of 8 to volunteer to go first! Attempted to hold my breath (helps with the nerves) at first but the first walkway was so long that if I hadn't of taken oxygen in at some point I probably would have passed out and blocked everyone else! All I can say is that the scenic view was without a doubt, worth the 18 hour travel. I don't think I've seen so many shades of lush greens at once in my life. The rope suspended bridge was very sturdy and beautifully constructed but that didn't stop it swaying dramatically from side to side, once again inducing the seasickness. Yet, surprisingly, I wasn't actually afraid at all. Now, I can distinctly recall that horrible sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you're utterly terrified. I actually used to be one of those girls that would scream and shout if I ever even remotely felt like I was going to fall off something (ok, I was like 10). Maybe it was how safe it felt but really I think it was the amazing sense of calm I felt being surrounded by this beautiful display of nature.

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Apologies, I don't mean to turn into a tree hugger here but it was honestly hard not to. Have you ever heard one of those Amazon Rainforest tracks - well this was exactly what it was like. The air was practically humming with the sounds of the bird, monkeys and a crazy number of animals we couldn't see (if you want to animal spot you are better off going at night - you can camp nearby and get a guide to take you around). Atmospheric, serene, beauty - you name it. A few of us enjoyed it so much we didn't want to leave and attempted to run around all 7 bridges again! But unfortunately, you not meant to do that and were appropriately told off! Will attempt to upload a video I took whilst on one of the walkways. I apologise now for any annoying comments – I was in a world of my own by that point!

Ok, practicalities. We took a tro tro from Cape Coast designated for travel to Kakum and managed to get it for about 2 cedi each. Entry had gone up since my Bradt guidebook was published and so it cost us 15 cedi (we were charged ‘volunteer’ rates so it may be slightly more for other visitors). Don’t worry too much about any baggage as you can quite safely leave it at the Reception (I did put the important personal belongings in my handy pockets though but you don’t really want to risk dropping things). You get assigned a guide who will take you around in the next available time slot (so that there isn’t any overcrowding) and it should last a total of 35 – 45 minutes depending on how busy it is. Aim to get there when it opens (about 8am) and you should be able to take your time. PLEASE wear appropriate shoes (trainers/sneakers are fine) are you will have to trek up some hills first. We saw a lady after in wedges and I dread to think how she got up there! Bring some water in a bottle if you want but I managed without – it depends how hot it is and how much you need to drink in general but you do break out in a sweat. There is a lovely restaurant (reasonably priced) located on site as well as a gift shop (no haggling!). We discovered too late you could get one of those token T-shirts saying ‘I survived the Canopy Walkway’ with a personalised pictured of you printed on so if you want one make sure you ask first! Unless you have prearranged transport you have to make your way to the main road and flag down a tro tro or taxi. We did have to wait about 30 minutes or so but it was quite pleasant; there’s a small hut selling some paintings and another selling the infamous palm wine! We also managed to buy some oranges to ‘eat’ Ghanaian style (slicing the top off and squeezing the juice out) and were given this red berry to eat first that literally made the oranges taste like ‘sweet nectar’!!! We were so amazed as we first thought they were special oranges or something (oranges were a staple in my Ghanaian diet) but then realised it was due to the berry. So look out for this special lady!

Posted by Yaa Sue 20:24 Archived in Ghana Tagged trees birds rainforest africa ghana Comments (0)

Journey to Kasapin

Leaving the bustling city of Accra for the road less travelled....

sunny 28 °C

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After a 4 day introduction to the Land of Ghana we re-packed our suitcases, with tremendous difficulty I might add, and set off for the village that would accommodate us for the following 10 weeks. Despite being armed with our new found knowledge of local customs, popular Twi phrases and tips on how to haggle, we still felt completely out of our depths and knew we were in for many surprises. In total it was a breezy 9 hour coach trip from Accra to Kasapin, situated in the Brong-Ahafo region. We mainly read, slept and sung newly learnt songs during the road trip. However, I can distinctly remember the silence that fell as the scenery gradually changed from westernised buildings and congestion to sparse landscapes dotted with small huts not unlike those depicted in many charity adverts. I think what truly alerted us though were the bumpy roads that separated the villages from the cities!

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Ghana 2 036

It was quite surreal passing through large, colourful dense cities and then seeing hut like shacks made out of wood that obviously accommodated large families. Being in a large coach, we drew attention immediately and roused many children to point and stare. However, the biggest crowd we drew was when we arrived at our destination. Nothing could prepare us for the number of children that greeted us upon arrival and helped us with our luggage. We were extremely privileged in staying at a guesthouse owned by a member of the community. Initially we were thrown off as we stayed in a lovely hostel in Accra with actual beds. Here we slept on bunk beds comprised of wood knocked together and an inch thick foam mattress with cardboard as padding. Surrounding the beds were the necessary mosquito nets. How ashamed I felt though when I realised that the vast majority of the community slept on a sheet laid simply on the floor. To not have something in the first place is to not bemoan its loss. To the Ghanaians this was entirely normal and made me question what I regarded as ‘poverty’. In comparison I had a luxury upbringing, despite not having many materialistic possessions; I never worried about not having food or clothing.

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We were placed in pairs or threes in host families after a week of staying in the village. We did not live with our families but we did spend one day a week with them, getting to know them, learning Twi and sampling the local dishes. It was daunting to say the least knowing we would be spending at least 8 hours a day with a family that knew limited English. Yet they could not possibly have been more welcoming, friendly and enthusiastic about us being there. I did my best to assist with the cooking but I had 2 host sisters and a host mother that were so efficient I felt incredibly inadequate and clumsy. Spending extended time with Ghanaians you’ll come to realise that they take an incredibly relaxed approach to accomplishing any task yet they do it with such skill and ease at the same time. It’s almost like they know they have to work hard but see no reason to stress and fret over such things. Everything about their demeanour is the epitome of ‘chilled’. It took a while but gradually I adopted this relaxed attitude and it really was like a weight off my shoulders. No longer was I rushing around trying to achieve as much as possible and getting annoyed at others in the process nor was I itching to do something every moment of the day. Finally I was able to really absorb everything that was going on around me and to actually appreciate the experience I was being given.

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Ghana 103

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Ghana 054 (2)

Posted by Yaa Sue 18:11 Archived in Ghana Tagged africa ghana volunteer gold_coast Comments (0)

Jet set, GO!

Setting off for the beginning of 10 weeks in Ghana on a voluntary programme with Platform2 (associated with Christian Aid and funded by DfID).

sunny 28 °C

To be completely honest with you, I was so busy with work and preparations in the weeks before departure that I wasn't as excited as I should have been. Going on this trip was one of those 'once in a lifetime opportunities'. Literally. Platform2 had only been allocated enough funding for 3 years and I had applied for the penultimate trip. The basis of the programme was to offer an opportunity for 18-25 year olds, from a 'disadvantaged' background, the chance to volunteer overseas who otherwise would not be able to do so. Both my older and younger sister had gone to Peru and South Africa, respectively, but there was no guarantee I would get a place. Especially as the programme was coming to an end and competition was intense.

It wasn't until 5 weeks after the initial interview that they finally rung me to say I had got through, but I would not find out where I was actually going for another 3 weeks. When they eventually emailed with my placement I can honestly say I was a little disappointed. My original choices were Kenya first, Ghana second and Nepal third. As much as I was obviously ecstatic I had a place, I was a little apprehensive as I knew little about Ghana and had heard so much about Kenya as it is a popular choice among tourists. Even friends who were happy for me reacted indifferently to hearing I was going to Ghana. Since coming back it is almost as if I should say 'Africa' as opposed to the specific country. Maybe to some, Africa sounds adventurous and exotic and Ghana is too unfamiliar and less publicised.

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Ghana 2010 002


Accra, the Capital

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Ghana 2010 015

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Ghana 2010 011

I have always prided myself for having a very open mind and refraining from stereotyping or having misinformed preconceptions. So I didn't really know what to expect when I landed in Accra, Ghana's capital, on a sunny and balmy afternoon. Instantly I was shocked at how westernised everything looked. I knew that Ghana was once under the British Colony but I wasn't sure how much of an influence they had been. All of the road signs were in English and styled in the same way as the UK - there were even Pelican crossings! Large billboards advertised everything from soft drinks to telecom services. The most prominent being Vodafone, whose logo was plastered all over the little stores selling mobile credit. The roads were concreted and heaved with various types of vehicles, many with recognisable manufactures. One thing everyone instantly commented on was the number of road side sellers offering everything from sugarcane to batteries. I can tell you now, I developed an intense and almost insatiable addiction to ‘FanChoco’ (part of the FanIce range). Ghana’s very own brand of ice cream. FanChocos are like an icier version of Walls’ Mini Milks (chocolate of course) and come in entirely sealed rectangular plastic sachets. Interestingly, they do not have any type of opening and thus you can either bite off an end or ask nicely for the seller to cut it open for you. The sweetest thing I’ve seen is the children sharing one (after it has been cut in half) or slurping the cream in turn. I will most likely post a separate entry on this delightful topic, complete with a picture!

Posted by Yaa Sue 18:09 Archived in Ghana Tagged planes africa ghana volunteer gold_coast Comments (0)

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