Saturday afternoon after dinner I talked to Bob Coffie’s uncle, who was the hotel’s tour arranger, and who was extremely helpful. He assured me that seeing Wli Falls and the Tafe Atome Monkey Sanctuary was doable in one day, although the implication was, just barely, and he was right. It’s hard to tell how long it takes to get places in Ghana because so much of it depends on the condition of the road, but also in congested areas you can’t get anywhere quickly. So, I arranged for a driver to meet us the next morning, maybe a little earlier than Addison might have preferred, but we had places to go and things to see!
|You can see Lake Volta in the distance|
It turns out breakfast is included with the room: an egg omlette, dry white toast, 2 small rounds of sausage, canned pork and beans, and either coffee (Nescafe, of course) or tea. Vincent, our driver, arrived at exactly the appointed time, right after breakfast. And off we go! Wli Falls first, since the monkeys are most active in the early morning and late afternoon, but they’re an hour away and it’s not really early morning now, it certainly won’t be in an hour. Wli Falls is about 2 ½ hours away, and in the taxi we’re able to really appreciate the scenery. The Volta Region is quite hilly, and although we don’t go too near it, Vincent does stop in order for me to snap a photo of what we can see of Lake Volta; the dam at its base generates a significant portion of Ghana’s electricity.
|Along the walk to Wli Falls|
We arrive and check in at what we would call the Ranger’s Station, where we greet all who are present, say where we’re from, sign the registry, pay the entrance fee and camera fee, and are assigned a guide. I’m pretty sure the people after us get hassled a bit, my take is they’re being a little too all-business-in-a-hurry, forgoing the necessary and expected hospitable exchanges, and from what little I saw, it once again confirms that is it actually far MORE efficient to just take everything at a slower pace, greet people, ask how they are, etc., then trying to bulldoze through and hurry up. Maybe they also got that confirmation.
|One of the bridges along our walk|
We head out to the falls with our guide, it’s a 50min walk that feels more like 20. He gives us a quiz along the way, asking if we know what such and such a plant or tree is, telling us about his schooling (he’s in a post-secondary school that isn’t exactly a University, studying agriculture and IT), and about the path, the bridges – 9 of them on the way, 8 of which cross over the water coming down from Wli Falls, 1 of which is a river that comes from Togo – although surely the Wli Falls water comes from Togo also, it’s right on the border, but it is quite cold so maybe it’s spring-fed on the Ghana side.
Wli Falls is the tallest waterfall in Ghana and when we get close you can really feel it. Even pretty far away you get pretty wet from the spray. I change into a bathing suit to get closer, and am glad I did or I would have gotten my jean skirt soaked, but the force of the water is so strong we really couldn’t get too close under the waterfall – it felt like Niagara Falls, although as you can see from the picture, the volume of water is miniscule comparatively, it’s the force that is substantial. We get soaked through with spray and enjoy fighting the force of physics, and then begin heading back – Vincent warned me we couldn’t stay TOO long at the falls if we want to see monkeys. We have an equally pleasant walk heading back, run into several villagers, including some young lady cousins of our guide, who are heading to the falls just to hang out and really want Addison, the young male American, to join them. In the village we stop in the nice stalls and buy a few things, and then we’re back in the taxi with Vincent, off to the monkey sanctuary. We decide not to try and stop and eat on the way, it would take too long and it’s not real clear where we’d eat anyway, so we eat bars we brought and plantain chips.
|A village we pass on the way to Wli|
Mostly the roads from Ho to Wli Falls are very good – far better than the road to Berekuso, which surprised me since we’re in pretty rural Ghana. But it is true that the last few kilometers to and from Wli is almost as bad as the Berekuso road. Tafi Atome is about ½ between Wli and Ho, just off the main road. A very nice road project leading from the main road to Tafi Atome is nearing completion – very wide and nicely graded road, not paved but it is pressed with small stones firmly enough that Vincent says it won’t erode with the rains.
|Mom with baby eating banana, another climbing up!|
We arrive at the monkey sanctuary around 3pm. Again we check in and pay our fee, this time to a young lady who isn’t so caught up in the traditional pleasantries. She tells us that she’ll be our guide, but that we’ll need bananas to feed the monkeys so we give her some cedis and she sends someone off to buy bananas, and we sit outside in the shade while we wait. Although cooler than the non-rainy season it’s a hot day. We see a monkey in a nearby tree and think it’s cool, we have no idea what’s coming!
|Addison with monkeys, including the big daddy|
|We had fun!|
It turns out it’s a good thing we came when we did, because toward the end of the feeding frenzy the monkeys are beginning to lose interest and wander away. Our guide leads us on a 5 minute walk through part of the jungle, then we loop around back to where we checked in and Vincent. There’s a station for us to wash our hands and I look down and see how filthy I am from all the monkeys crawling all over me!