A trip into the Volta Region

Ghana has the biggest man-made lake in the world, the Lake Volta which was created for the construction of a big dam. The Volta Region is famous for its green hills, waterfalls and hiking opportunities so we took a trip up there.
From Kokrobite we went to Akosombo where the dam is. Unfortunately, there was no way to visit it properly (with a tour or something) so we just had a look at it from a distance. It is huge and generates most of the power in Ghana.
We drove through some nice little villages and beautiful landscape with rolling green hills, big trees and super tall grass along the side of the road (people walking or cycling looked tiny compared to the grass!). We are still in the rainy season so everything is green and thick and beautifully alive. A few times we found ourselves looking down into a valley, thinking “the only thing that is missing here is some elephants or giraffes walking through, and then this would be the typical African landscape everyone imagines”.

One day we took a bumpy road to a small village from where you can visit some waterfalls and climb Ghana’s highest mountain (800m). Due to the rain we had to sit in the camp (which is at the same time the major tourist office) and wait for better weather. So we chatted with the guides and the dogs ran around a bit. When we finally wanted to go visit the waterfalls, an older man came and said we couldn’t stay with our dogs, there was a dog taboo in the village. He couldn’t guarantee for their safety and he would be sad if something happened to them. We were a bit upset that no one had said anything before – we had been sitting there for hours and the guides (young guys) had even played with Luke and Lara. This and the fact that we had had the usual discussions about the price we were supposed to pay for visiting the sites had given us an uncomfortable feeling about the place already. And then this guy shows up and just tells us there were no dogs allowed in the village and we can’t stay. He first didn’t give us any explanations or anything so it really gave an unpleasant impression about the whole village. He finally came up with the history of that taboo (some 40 years ago a dog drank from a river and went mad and apparently killed a kid and from then on they didn’t allow any dogs there) which at least made it easier to understand the circumstances. But if we had been told earlier we wouldn’t have wasted so many hours just sitting there; we could have gone somewhere else and gone on another walk. So we left pretty upset and disappointed because we were looking really forward to some hiking out in nature.

We did find another nice and dog-friendly place though that day, in another village which also had famous waterfalls (apparently the highest falls in West Africa). We were able to camp there (=park and sleep in the car in the huge garden and use the shower/toilets in the guesthouse) and had a beautiful view onto the falls.

The next morning we went over to the tourist office to get one of the mandatory guides and go on a hike up the falls. We swallowed the ridiculous price for foreigners and stopped ourselves from the usual discussion about how unfair it is to charge foreigners more than double and how high the prices are in general (Ghana is really exploiting their sites and it becomes difficult to just enjoy nature and visit some of the sites when you have to pay every single time – a lot of money and so much more than the locals.).
It was beautiful, really, and I am glad we did that. We first walked to the bottom of the falls which was an easy and pleasant walk through the forest, passing palm trees, cocoa trees, pineapple plants, rivers and different huge trees. The falls were impressive! There was a pool too but it was way too cold and windy to even get near it and that day was not very warm anyways but rather chilly and cloudy so we skipped the swim but continued further up to the top of the falls.
That’s when the tough part of the hike started.
The narrow steep path went right through the forest and grass; sometimes we climbed up on all 4, over or under trees and roots. First I was thinking about ticks (after a walk through a forest in Guinea I found a tick on me that night!) but after having seen 2 big black spiders right in front of me in the plants I was more worried about walking into one of those than the ticks. For a little while I tried to avoid touching any plants – which was of course impossible so I tried to think about something else.
That was easy because it started to rain - and we are talking about proper rain! It just poured down on us and changed the path into a slimy and slippery mud-river. We reached the upper falls but couldn’t enjoy them as much because there was not too much of a view and of course we were soaked and getting cold so we started descending soon after getting there. And that was hard work! The dogs didn’t enjoy that either and Lara stopped a few times, sat down on some leaves and made some very weird and scary noises.

Ja, it would have much nicer and more enjoyable on a sunny day, without litres of waters in each shoe but what can you do. We did have a beautiful walk up the falls and when we got back to the guesthouse, after a shower and in warm and dry clothes, the beer tasted even better.