Ghana Fam Trip: The Sanctuary, The Cruise and Other Things
"Get ready, your name is on the list and we are travelling on the 19th." This was how the organizers of the Accra Weizo informed me that I would be joining a team of travel Journalists and Bloggers for the Ghana Fam Trip which was a runner-up to the 2018 Accra Weizo. I had been to Ghana a couple of times, but had never had an opportunity to explore the former Gold Coast, so when this opportunity came, I grabbed it with both hands. And so with high expectations and curiosity waiting to be satisfied, I dusted my bag, put on my wanderluster shoes and let my imaginations run wide. To make the trip even more interesting, we were going to travel from Lagos to Ghana by road, something I had never done before. So for me, the Fam Trip experience took off long before we even left Lagos.
Day One (Tuesday)
So following an interesting road trip from Lagos, I and 12 other travel writers and bloggers from Nigeria arrived Ghana in the evening of 19 June and headed straight to Chances Hotel, Ho in the Volta Region of Ghana. We were received warmly by the hotel's management who had been briefed about our coming. Check-in was fast and smooth, and soon, we were all in our rooms relishing our new home. After freshening up, it was time for dinner which had been specially prepared with us in mind. Dinner was very tasty and sumptuous.
After dinner, the Asogli Unity and Love Dance troupe treated us to the Borborbor Dance
The Borborbor is a cultural dance in Ghana which can only be found in the Volta Region of the country. The men beat the drums melodiously while the women sing and dance around the men in circles. I personally found the Borborbor dance very entertaining and even showed them my Nigerian dance steps. If you happen to find yourself in the Volta Region of Ghana especially in Ho, the Chances Hotel is a very good place to relax. Day Two: (Wednesday)
Wednesday was a full day with full fun. It started with a visit to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and then Akosombo Dam followed by a visit to the Royal Senchi Resort as well as the River Volta.
From left to right: John Omololu Olumuyiwa, Glory Okon, Dozie Uzo and Paul Kosarachi
After breakfast at the Chances Hotels, our tour bus took off at about 8am local time and headed to the hills on our way to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary. Our Tour guide for the whole Fam Trip was Mr Yao Dzide, and he made sure there was no dull moment.
One or Two Things About the Volta Region
Ghana has 106 indigenous languages and 46 ethnic groups, one of which is Ewe which is the language spoken in the Volta Region where the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is located. Originally, Ewes lived on the hills as a way of protecting themselves from attack as it was difficult for the enemy to drive up the hills. Ho is the administrative capital of the Volta Region in the south of Ghana.
The Volta Region is largely made of the former Trans-Volta-Togoland which until 1956, was not an integral part of the Gold Coast which became Ghana. Ho is mostly hilly and is enveloped by a lush and mountainous surrounding area which gives it a southern Europe kind of feel. It is home to the Wli (pronounced Vli obviously because Germany colonized the Ewe people before the Second World War) waterfalls which, at 100ft, is the highest water fall in Africa.
Other attractions in Ho include the magnificent Queen of Peace Grotto with giant 14 Stations of the Cross in Kpando, Ada Mountains and National Museums. Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary and Cultural Village
Located on 387 acres of land, the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is a virgin forest where Mona Monkeys are conserved in their natural habitat. The Tafi Atome Community which hosts the Monkey Sanctuary is located at an altitude of about 1000 ft above sea level.
True Mona Monkeys at the Tafi Atome Sanctuary are sacred, very friendly and harmless
Scientifically known as Secupithecus, True Mona Monkeys can be differentiated from other species of monkey with two white spots on their buttocks. In Africa, this specie of monkey is found only in Tafi Atome as well as in Cameron and in Afi Mountain Sanctuary in Cross River State of Nigeria.
The Mona Monkeys at Tafi Atome are said to be sacred and may not be killed for any reason. They are very friendly and harmless but only as long as you have some food for them, banana precisely. No food, no friendship. In addition to being friendly and harmless, True Mona Monkeys are also the cutest of all monkeys, well at least in Africa.
Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary was officially declared a tourist destination in 1996. According to the in-house tour guide, Francis Acquaye who is also the caretaker of the sanctuary, the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is a community based ecotourism effort without any government input or interference.
On our way to and from the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, we passed Mount Afadja which is the highest point in Ghana at a height of 885 metres (2,904 feet) above sea level. Mount Afadja is located in the Agumatsa Range near the villages of Gbledi and Liati Wote at the border with Togo.
Depending on the speed of your vehicle, the drive to the Monkey Sanctuary from Ho township, can take up to an hour and even more. The road that leads to the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary is mostly hilly and convoluted with lots of sharp bends. However, it is well paved with adequate road signs, making the drive very scenic. In fact, the road (which was constructed by an Israelis company), the drive and the view are a tourist attraction on their own. However, at the risk of scaring you, I'm tempted to say that you have to be an expert driver to safely navigate these roads as you have to be on low gears almost throughout the drive. The Akosombo Dam
From the Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, we ascended and descended the hill and headed straight to Akosombo where our first port of call was the Akosombo Dam which is about 2 hours drive from Ho. Located in Akosombo in the Asuogyaman District in the Eastern Region of Ghana, Akosombo Dam is one of the hydroelectric dams in Ghana that generate electricity for the country. It is managed by the Volta River Authority.
Akosombo Dam was constructed between 1961 and 1965 at a total cost of $196,000,000 with funding provided by Ghanaian government, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, ExIm Bank, USAID and the United Kingdom.
The construction of the dam led to the creation of Lake Volta which is the largest man-made lake in the world by surface area. It covers 8,502 square kilometres, occupying 3.6% of Ghana's total land area. Lake Volta is also the world's third largest man-made lake by volume, the largest being Lake Kariba, located between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The construction of Akosombo Dam necessitated the relocation of about 80,000 people from 700 villages, who represented 1% of the entire Ghana population at that time. In addition to generating power for commercial and industrial uses, Akosombo Dam also promotes lake transportation, fishing, farming as well as tourism. From the Dam, Tourists can enjoy a panoramic and picturesque view of the Volta Lake. The Akosombo Dam currently generates over 1,000 megawatts of power for Ghana as well as the neighbouring countries of Togo and Benin. It’s probably appropriate to say at this point that Nigeria does not supply electricity to Ghana contrary to a popular opinion in Nigeria.
The Royal Senchi and the Boat Cruise
From the Akosombo Dam, we headed to the Royal Senchi Resort still in Akosombo, where we had sumptuous lunch and joined another group of Famtrippers. Shortly after lunch, we were treated to a royal boat cruise on the Volta River.
Majestically stepping onto the royal boat for the cruise on the River Volta
From the Royal Senchi boat yard, we sailed in a convoy of three boats on the Volta River, cruising past and under the beautiful Adomi Bridge up to the foot of the Akosombo Dam before cruising back to Royal Senchi.
The boat cruise provided us with maximum fun; in fact, it was the peak of the day's fun and turned out to be one of the best moments in the entire Fam Trip.
As if the boat cruise wasn't enough fun, about 30 minutes after the boat cruise, it was dinner time at the Royal Senchi Resort, needless to say there was enough to eat and drink. There was even palm wine in-between for those who cared.
There's everything royal about the Royal Senchi, it's a Ghanaian paradise on the Volta and it's yours to discover. Sadly, our stay at the Royal Senchi came to an end with the dinner, but on an exciting note, our new home for the night was the Afrikiko River Front Hotel and Resort in Akosombo, where we really felt the river. Day 3-5 (Thursday to Saturday)
After breakfast at the Afrikiko River Front Hotel and Resort Thursday morning, we had some free time before setting off for Accra the capital city of Ghana. On arrival at Accra, we checked in at the stylish Accra City Hotel from where we explored the city while attending the 2018 Accra Weizo. Located in the heart of Accra, just off the popular Liberation Road, Accra City Hotel is where the deal begins. The hotel offers high-quality 4-star services wrapped in affordability which is driven by modern day technology.
With daily bustling and yet cool rhythm, Accra is probably the most beautiful city in West Africa and one of the most beautiful national capitals in Africa. Located along the south eastern coast of Ghana, Accra is the largest city in Ghana with a population of 2.2 million people. It doubles as the capital city of Ghana and the regional capital of the Greater Accra Region. In Accra, we enjoyed the superlative and enchanting beauty of the city as well as its night life including a beautiful music rendition by a cross cultural band group at the Golden Tulip Hotels Accra.
When a few days ago, I made my first post about my experience in Ghana, someone commented and said "ordinary Ghana". Apparently, he didn't understand why I and other commenters were excited about Ghana. But in truth, there is nothing ‘ordinary’ about Ghana.
With a population of about 30 million people, Ghana may be small compared to other African countries, but it's endowed with a wide range of natural, historical and cultural attractions which conspire to make it an inspirational tourist destination. Interestingly, Ghana is currently advancing ecotourism with the country having more ecotourist attractions than most other West African countries. Little wonder tourism is the fourth highest economic earner in Ghana.
If you're looking for a destination to spend your next vacation, especially if you want to africanize it, Ghana should be top on your list. Whether you are a business traveller or travelling on budget, Ghana has everything you need, from 5-star hotels and resorts to budget accommodation. With rich cultural heritage, all year round festivals, plenty sunshine and beautiful beaches, Ghana is the place to be.
There is a popular saying that the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. This Fam Trip wasn’t my first time in Ghana, but it gave me the rare opportunity to explore, discover and experience Ghana in a way that I hadn't. It was nothing short of thrilling as it took us to various tourist attractions in various regions of Ghana and exposed us to the enormous tourism potentials in the former Gold Coast.
I never really knew how beautiful and rich Ghana was until this Fam Trip. In fact, I used to look down on Ghana but now all of that impression has changed, thanks to the organizers of the Accra Weizo. Ghana is fascinating, captivating and enchanting. And I will totally do Ghana again.
Note: The Fam Trip was sponsored by the organizers of the Accra Weizo in collaboration with the Ghana Tourism Authority.