Shai Hills signboard

HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE GOLD COAST

?A LOOK AT GHANA?S UNTAPPED RESOURCES

?It is always sad to leave a place to which one knows one will never return. Such are the melancholies du voyage: perhaps they are one of the most rewarding things about traveling.?
?
Gustave Flaubert

This week, Hidden Treasures takes a trip to the Shai Hills Resource Reserve, a unique reserve with the driest evergreen savannah forest in Ghana.

Hidden Treasures also brings you a ?visitor account? section that gives you a vivid feel of the attraction even before you make the trip. Come along and enjoy the serene atmosphere that nature presents.

Shai Hills Resource Reserve

Located just about 50km from Accra and about 65 km to Akosombo is the Shai Hills Resource Reserve. It is a unique reserve in Ghana because it is the driest evergreen savannah forest in Ghana. The area used to be the home of the people of the Shai Traditional area until the British colonial masters forcibly expelled them in 1892 on the allegation that the natives were committing ritual murders. The area did not come under protection until 1962 when the government of the day decided to turn it into a resource reserve to protect flora and fauna.

The animal life of this Resource Reserve offers a lot to behold. The wildlife is made up of savannah antelopes, bushbucks and duikers. Green monkeys, lesser spot-nosed monkey and olive baboon can also be found. What is interesting about these animals is that they are easy to find. You may even meet some of them especially the green monkeys ?welcoming? you into the reserve before you even visit them. Experiences recounted by returning visitors pay growing tribute to these green monkeys. They will not only come to you but also grab whatever food you have to offer them. The other animals of the reserve, for instance the antelopes, can be seen but are very shy and will not approach visitors.

Reptiles also abound at the reserve. Crocodiles, snakes and tortoises can also be spotted. The bird life in the park is also something to behold. Indigenous and migratory birds can be seen.

Birds such as the Senegal parrot, grey plantain eater, hornbill, red northern bishop and violet turaco can all be seen. Other birds to be found in Shai Hills Resource reserve include Senegal cuckoo, stone partridge and francolin. This makes the reserve a bird lover?s paradise.

Three caves can be found in the reserve and these are Adwuku, Sayu and Hieweyu. These caves provide an excellent home for bats which will spend the entire day sleeping only to wake up in the night. Visitors can climb unto the summit of the caves and the inselbergs in the reserve to view the plains of Accra. Viewing is best done in the evenings or during sunset. The golden skyline is a sight to behold.

What is also important about standing on these granite inselbergs or on the caves is taking a brief journey into history. It offers an individual the opportunity to look into the military thinking of the people during those warring years. In the early years of settlement before the Europeans arrived, tribes fought against each other. Mountainous places and river banks provided the perfect grounds for tribes to settle. They believed that those areas offered protection from the enemy. So standing on the hills you will have the opportunity to see what would have been seen by the watchmen of the Shai army of the time.

The reserve has some archaeological sites which can attract visitors as well. This is an important site in the reserve because until the British expelled the Shai people, it is believed that the reserve was occupied for over 1000 years, therefore it would not be difficult to find things of archaeological interest such as grinding stones, pots and other farming implements.

VISITOR ACCOUNT

We took the day off of work to go to Shai Hills Resource Reserve. It is a park similar to National Parks in Canada. It is a fenced off area with natural plant life and animals. The Shai people lived in the area a long time ago and you are able to see some of the remnants of their way of life.

We took a guided tour through the beautiful park. It was a lot of fun and we saw some cool sights! I really enjoyed the hike itself as well as the caves and the lookout that the Shai people used during times of war. The hike was a little difficult at times but definitely worth it. The guide was knowledgeable which made it very interesting. I enjoyed sitting at the top of the lookout and viewing the surrounding landscape.

We were also able to see antelope and baboons. To be honest, the antelopes weren?t all that exciting; they are very much like deer at home. The baboons were pretty cool though! They do not fear people at all and they seem to recognize that fact that we are foreigners. They came right up to us expecting food. If food was offered they were brave enough to snatch it right out of our hands. I was surprised how gutsy they were!! They are clearly very intelligent animals and I found them really interesting to watch. Ghana is not known for having a great deal of large animals (elephant, giraffes) so baboons are about as exciting as it gets!

The whole crew posing ? Sasha, Allison, Kierra, myself, Julie

Beautiful view from the Shai lookout!

Mom and baby baboon

Baboons chilling on a bench ? so human like!

There are several accommodation facilities in and around the reserve so visitors shouldn?t have problems finding somewhere to stay. It is however advisable to sort out your accommodation before your trip.

There are no restrictions to when the park can be visited. Ideally, visitors should call early in the morning around 8:00 am and before 5:00 pm unless you intend staying overnight.

An advice to visitors is that you should plan you trip to coincide with the celebration of the?Mgmayen festival. This festival brings the community to the reserve which is their ancestral home.

This is celebrated in September and October. It is also a perfect time because it?s not the rainy season and the grasses are short so all primates and other wildlife can easily be spotted. After observing wildlife for a bit, you might want to head up north to Akosombo and enjoy a cruise to the Dodi Island.

The reserve can be accessed easily from Accra and Tema. It is on the main Tema-Akosombo Highway.

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