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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, Flaubert in Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour

This week, Hidden Treasures visits the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana and brings you to the Bui National Park.

The Bui National Park is found in Ghana. It was established in 1971. This site is 1820 km. The reserve is notable for its Hippopotamus population in the Black Volta. The endangered black and white colobus monkey and a variety of antelopes and birds are also present. Part of the park is inundated by the reservoir of the Bui Dam

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.

Bui National Park is located near the Cote D?ivoire border to the west and covers some parts of the Brong Ahafo (middle belt) and the Northern regions of Ghana protecting an area of about 1,821km? on either side of the Black Volta River, including the large Bui Gorge, the site of the Bui hydro-electric dam.

The park at Bui Camp lies 8km from the village of Banda and 2km from the village of Bui on the Black Volta. The vegetation is made up of mostly the wooded savannah (the northern parts of Ghana are predominantly wooded savannah).

Key features of Bui National Park

The forest is dispersed and pristine in nature. Bui National Park is best well-known for its rich population of roughly 200 hippopotamus, the largest in Ghana. That is not all; the reserve also provides home to small numbers of several terrestrial mammals, including roan antelope, hartebeest, waterbuck, kob, bushbuck, war-hog and green and patas monkeys, most of which are unlikely to be seen by casual visitors. Crocodiles occur in the river, and several hundred bird species have been recorded.

Apart from the rich animal endowment the park has to offer, Bui National Park can also boast of its interesting features like caves, lush vegetation and water cascades. The caves serve as the home to bats. The best time to see these bat are in the evening when the sun sets at the bosom over the mountains of Bui. You may want to undertake in the Bui highlands activities such as bird watching, photography, hiking, camping, mountain climbing and other mountain topography activities that are refreshing and therapeutic in every sense.

Tourist facilities at Bui are basic, but is perfectly good for backpackers. Expensive overnight camping and hiking trips can easily be organized through the flexible rangers at Bui Camp.

You can assimilate into the culture of the people of Bui and surrounding villages, however, planning your trip into September-October will offer you the best opportunity to experience how the locals celebrate their yearly ancestral yam festival. The festival is to thank their gods for good harvest and for longer life amidst attention-grabbing cultural dances and appellations being shown to chiefs and other traditional kinsmen.

There is also a yam fair competition hosted during this festival to showcase the good food produce of the community. In gracing the occasion, there is a home coming of all indigenes resident elsewhere to join in the celebration of the festival with visitors enjoying boat rides in traditional dugout canoes.

As is done in every edition, let us view the Bui national Park through the eyes of a visitor who is more than pleased to share his story.

VISITOR ACCOUNT

Being out in the bush it was not too hard to wake up early, especially since I went to bed early as well. At 6 am I woke myself up by throwing some cold water over my head. At the first daylight we drove to the village. After Peter, the guide made some arrangements (which took more than half an hour) I was ready to go on a boat trip (Emmanuel didn?t want to come, he said he was afraid of water).

Around 7.30 am we left, after the canoe was emptied of all the water inside. We went upstream and I enjoyed the beautiful nature. There are a lot of birds like Fish eagle, Kingfisher, Heron and Stork. The river is not always deep, actually it was mostly shallow, so sometimes the boats man went into the water to push the boat. After 1 hour we reached a place where we could see Hippo?s, but again we only could see their heads. After resting for about 15 minutes we went back. There are many nice trees and flowers, but even the sightseeing is nice. On the way back we found a dead snake (luckily for the boats man because he was just inside the water to push the canoe). Normal they do swim around here. We also found a dead catfish, fresh enough to take home. We came back around 11 am. I paid the boats man (70.000 cedi for the canoe and 10.000 tip money) and went back to the village. On the way back another group entered to go on a river tour. Peter went with them and another guide, Uzman, took us back to the campsite.

Around 1 pm Uzman and Emmanuel went to the other village to buy some food. I just relaxed at the camp. In the meantime the 5 people, who I met at the river when they went on the canoe tour, came back to the camp. They all were Chzechian. Two of them were living in Accra; the other three were just visiting Ghana. They did a fast tour (Ghana in five days). We ate some pineapple together and then they left in their 4wd. It was already too warm so I went to my cabin and laid down (still warm). Around 3 pm Uzman knocked on my door to tell me that the food was ready. I didn?t expect this at this time, but I went out and ate slowly the rice with sardines.

After I finished my lunch/ dinner some local kids came to me. As a white man you are a stranger to them, but they perfectly understood that the colour of my skin did not make me different from them. It was Sunday so the children didn?t have to go to school. There is only one school for the whole area, which is situated at the campsite. About 100 children get their education at this school. They were also very much interested in the garbage that the Chzechians left. This bag contained some bottles and they really wanted to have them (it?s easier for them to carry around water, there is only one tank of water for the whole camp). The children tried to enjoy me while I tried to enjoy them. After an hour they left and I started to read a book. After listening to some music, I went to bed.

How to get there

The best route to the camp is from Wenchi. One large tro-tro plies the 85km daily. It runs from Wenchi to Bui village via Bui camp. Visitors can also find direct transport to or from Bui, there are at least three tro-tros daily in either direction between Wenchi and Banda, or a Metro Mass Transit leaves Banda Nkwanta for the riverbank opposite Bui in the early morning and start the return trip in mid-morning and this is best done only on Mondays for those who want to opt for the public transport. Passengers can cross the river in a local canoe which on its own is an experience you would want to have.

The only alternate to the Wenchi route is the signposted side-road that leaves the main road to Bole and Wa from near Banda Nkwanta, the site of a well-known mosque. Car users are warned, that the signpost at the junction fails to mention that the unabridged and unaffordable Volta River lies about 2km before the camp. In terms of accommodation, a wooden chalet among others at Bui camp is reserved for visitors.

The facilities amount to a one bed with a foam mattress and no bedding, and a bath where you can take a bucket shower. There is no charge for using the chalet, but a donation will be expected for maintenance. Camping is also permitted. You would be able to organize local food with the care taker, and may even be able to buy a few sodas or beers, but it would be cautious to bring some provisions with you especially if you have plans of having an overnight adventure deep into the park.

Fees

The cost involved in accessing the park is affordable and value for money is promised; as low as US$ 1.00 for Ghanaians (domestic) and a little more for foreigners (international) enabling everyone to have access.

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