Article by WTA member Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe (Business Journalist at Goldstreet Business, Ghana)
Ghana is not a country most Australians think of visiting for ecotourism and adventure tourism.
There are however, several reasons why such visits and tours would yield maximum satisfaction for patrons who wish to visit Ghana as an alternative to other big-name countries in Africa for wildlife and ecotourism.
This article is a precursor to an upcoming tour to Ghana in late July orAugust 2020 for interested ecotourists, wildlife tourists and adventure tourists. The tour, which will be organized in collaboration with Araucaria Ecotours, will be conducted shortly after the Wildlife Tourism Australia conference in Brisbane (late June) and will provide a great wildlife experience as well as a worthwhile getaway from the winter cold of the southern hemisphere.
Brief Country Profile
Ghana,formerly called the Gold Coast, is a success story of African development, democracy and stability:a nation made up of people who are said to be as warm as its climate. Rich in history and culture, Ghana is a haven that combines the charms of a tropical beach idyll with a fascinating historical heritage, social variety and amazing wildlife.
Although this writeup focuses on why wildlife tourists should consider Ghana as a top destination, there are other important reasons why Ghana deserves consideration from any visitor.
Safety is key factor that any visitor to a new destination considers. For almost three decades since 1992, Ghana has enjoyed increasingly stable democratic governance. Ghana no doubt, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),is the most politically stable country in the West Africa subregion. Seven successful political elections have strengthened the effectiveness of key national institutions, enhanced investor confidence and anchored the economy in an environment for growth. This is consolidated by security at all the various tourism attractions with professional tour guides on duty.
Less crowded safari routes and destinations
Ghana’s safari routes and destinations remain unexplored to some extent, with more to see in a less crowded environment,unlike the more well-known destinations in other countries. From thesavannah of the coastal plains to the dense tropical forests of the north, Ghana is home to a spectacular range of wildlife in a land of mountains, forests and magnificent waterfalls. The country’s 16 national parks, reserves and wildlife sanctuaries are treasures, providing habitat for a rich diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, marine species and plants. Hundreds of fish species live along the coast with the Atlantic Ocean and in Lakes Volta and Bosumtwi.
With a diversity of natural attractions and vibrant cultural identity, Ghana is able to offer the visitor a macrocosmic taste of Africa. It is a destination for experienced travellers, an alternative for those who have exhausted the safari circuit and crave a different Africa experience, and a perfect introduction to the continent for first time visitors.
Wildlife you can see in Ghana
Major wildlife parks are Mole and Kakum National Parks. Foot safaris arepermitted in Mole National Park to view elephants and crocodiles who are accustomed to humans and allow a rare close encounter. Other animals to see at the Mole National Park include roan, kob, waterbuck and bushbuck antelopes.
A walk in the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary (forest) exposes visitors to mona monkeys and patas monkeys.
At the Shai Hills Game Reserve, animals to see include baboons,chimpanzees, zebras, porcupines, ostriches andmany other birds, reptiles, and many other species.
A visit to the python village in the Volta Region providesan opportunity to view African rock pythons, ball pythons and boas.
A guided canoe trip in the Black Volta River is a good option for viewing hippopotamus.
Some special opportunities
A walk through the forest at Shai Hills Game Reserve, Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary to easily view baboons and chimpanzees, Mona Monkeys and Patas monkeys and other species including ostriches as mentioned above. These animals usually walk freely in their habitats and are accustomedto human presence.
There are many unusual animal species to see, including aardvarks at termite nests. An aardvark is a nocturnal medium-sized mammal found in Africa with quite a huge population native to Ghana. The insectivorous animal sniffstermites and ants with its pig-like snout before burrowing with its sharp claws. The solitary mammals only pair during mating,leading to the birth of a single offspring after a gestation period of 7 months.
Bat watching can be enjoyed even in the capital, at the Accra City Centre where over one million straw-coloured fruitbats have lived for several centuries. Bat watching is also a primeattraction at the Wli Waterfalls (220km drive from Accra).
In brief, Ghana’s diverse wildlife thrive invarioushabitats, mostly in natural forests and protected areas, and provide an excellent opportunity for experienced travelers or newcomers to Africa to experience the continent’s amazing wildlife in a country respected for its safety and hospitality.