Our first day in the Promised Land, consisted of a visit to Tamale en-route to Mole National park. The opportunity to get our hands on tickets for the African cup of Nations football tournament was curtailed by the fact that they hadn’t been delivered to the post office yet!Non-plussed we pressed on. Mole NP was our first wildlife encounter, all done on foot. Elephants and warthogs abound, and the odd Baboon hanging around the campsite caused some mirth.The next day we departed early and found our previous bush camp. We used that for a slap up breakfast of ‘eggy bread’, and as a wood stock up. On to Kumasi and the home of the Asante kingdom. A night at the Presbyterian mission (yes we are all innocent cherubs) included a wild time in town! I did secure football tickets there for a double header no less, for the amazing sum of $15 each!
A fairly long drive took us to Brenu beach. Picture this: swaying palms, almost deserted beach, warm water, tame surf (but not too tame), light breeze…very pleasant. So good in fact that some spare inner tubes were inflated for some water sport action. Jaap seemed to be the master at ‘hangin ten’ on a rubber ring! The Ghana round of FANG was also held there – Gary triumphed – 3-2 to me still.
The next few days were spent at Cape Coast and the slaving forts of days gone by, Kakum NP with an exhilarating raised rope bridge walk, the oddly named ‘Hans Cottage Botel’ with a pool of crocs and then Kokrobite and ‘Big Millys Backyard’. This is 40km from Accra and ended up being our home for nine nights! As we arrived on a Friday, the weekend was large with a Rasta band on Saturday night. Kath rejoined Sunday, and on the way back from the airport the city went ballistic as Ghana had overcome Guinea in the first match of the tournament. Flags hanging from every vehicle, vans with ridiculously large speakers blaring out tunes, villagers attempting to pull us out of the taxi….great fun! To top it off, within an hour of being back, Kath had a python burying itself down her top! Welcome back!
The next Thursday we went to the football. Morocco v Guinea and Ghana v Namibia. The whole experience was amazing, some of the lads had their facial growths painted, we all wore Ghana shirts and carried flags, generally being swept up in the frenzy of excitement. Ghana winning certainly didn’t lighten the mood! A great day out had by all. We even had the ex President Jerry Rawlings ensconce himself three rows back directly behind us. The response was incredible. We were almost trampled in the race to shake his hand and take his photo. I’m convinced that we were on TV somewhere because of it.
With both Nigeria and Benin visa firmly in hand ( and a bout of malaria overcome) we finally departed Accra and headed up to Akosombo for a quiet night on the Volta river, followed by a night at Wli (vlee) falls, the highest in West Africa. We watched the football on TV there, with goats and chickens running about our legs…..it is just one surreal experience after another!
Into Togo and the capital Lome, our first real craphole. Trust me when I say it is not worth mentioning. Then onto Aneho before crossing into Benin.
In Grand Popo, the crew went on an estuary boat ride and came back half tanked on palm wine. Then onto Ouidah for the gates of no return and another amazing free camp. We camped right next to the gates and were treated to an evening of dancing and drumming courtesy of the locals.
Onward to Ganvie stilt village, then to Abhomey – the supposed home of Voodoo. Not a lot visible though.
Next day saw us cross into Nigeria, where we were warned not to pass the next village as they were having a celebration of some sort and women were not allowed out during it. The threat was that if the girls were seen, the locals would attack us and burn the truck! Initially it was waved off, but as the locals were giving slit throat gestures and a police escort was forced upon us, we firstly armed ourselves with some ‘assault weapons’ (logs) and the girls were attempting to hide under the floor! Sense prevailed and we erred on the side of caution and camped behind an abandoned petrol station. All were quite tense until the police returned and stated that they were very happy with our decision to not push on. Then a security guard appeared and promised our safety. Of course that lightened the mood significantly.
The next morning we left quite early to avoid any trouble, and drove a very long way to a bush camp just across the Niger River, shit roads all the way.The roads did not improve the following day.We are currently in Abuja, the most expensive place by far. At the Sheraton no less, but in the staff car park…of course. Even a beer is $4 and over. A far cry from the usual $2 tops. Hopefully we can secure visas for Angola tomorrow and that will ease things along further down the track.
From here we are off to Jos and Wikki Wikki warm springs at Yankari NP.