The Bradt Ghana guide we have been using splits up accommodation into sections, Luxury, Moderate, Budget and Shoestring. We had tried the budget option before but this time we decided to go for Shoestring just to see what it was like. After leaving Bolgatanga we headed back down to Tamale for the night before heading off early to Mole Safari Park. We checked in at Central Guesthouse, £7.50 a night and handy for the bus station the next morning. The room was very basic as we expected. It was a corner room so the walls faced 2 different streets. There was blaring music coming out of a house opposite one of the windows which we were informed would turn off at around midnight. We were also told that water is switched on at 6pm so we had to wait to use the shower. By 6pm in Ghana it is dark and when we tried to switch the bathroom light on nothing happened. The guesthouse owner said that there was a light in there, just no bulb. Helpful! After a dark shower we went to bed early as we were told to be at Tamale bus station at 5.30am to be sure to get a ticket for the bus that leaves at 8am.
After an erratic night’s sleep we arrived at the bus station to be told that we couldn’t buy tickets yet because the conductor hadn’t arrived. The conductor eventually turned up at 7.30 but there was still no bus to be seen. Tamale bus station is not the most scenic of places so the time we spent there was not the most fun we’d ever had! Finally we set off at 10.30am along the renowned ‘bad’ road to Mole. It certainly was a bouncy trip and we did leave our seats several times as we drove over potholes and the like. After one particularly violent bump, a passenger in front of us stood up and shouted ‘He is not the driver! The driver has passed the bus over to the conductor. The driver must drive the bus!’ Then every other passenger started standing up and shouting insisting that the driver goes back to what he is paid to do. The two sheepishly swapped seats and waved a hand of apology. Mob rule works fairly well in Ghana!
We caught a 4x4 from Damongo to Mole with 5 German people we had met en route. That was fun as we were sat in the open air part at the back, although Richard suffered somewhat from a metal bar jabbing into his back and a yam in his side. We made it though and our room was absolutely spectacular, overlooking the park and the watering hole where the animals come to drink. There is also a swimming pool at the hotel so we had our first swim in Ghana which felt incredibly luxurious! We went on a safari drive but didn’t see much more that Waterbucks, Green Monkeys and Warthogs. We were told that it would be very unlikely that we would see elephants at this time of year as they usually retreat deep into the park as it is mating season. We watched a beautiful sunset from our balcony and had dinner by the pool. What a change from the accommodation from the night before!
The next day we were reading on the balcony when we saw some of the other guests gathering round and pointing – there’d been an elephant sighting! It was very exciting – we saw 2 in the distance but they tended to keep under the shade of the trees so it wasn’t really possible to see them completely clearly. The guide agreed to move the afternoon walk forward so that we might be able to see them up close. About 20 of us set off and the guide was great at following the elephant tracks but also keeping downwind at a safe distance. There was a huge swampy marshland that we had to cross in order to follow the tracks which was very hard going. We sank as soon as we touched it and all the muddy water flowed in over the top of our boots so the rest of the walk was very squelchy! After two and a half hours, we tracked one of the elephants down and saw him up close, from about 20 metres away. Absolutely fantastic!
After a very refreshing swim we were drying off when a baboon wandered past with her baby clutching on and hopped into next door’s balcony to peer through the window. Then another one turns up and takes pride of place on the roof. It was great to see this all up close and watching them in their natural habitat. It was a fantastic experience and a great end to our two week trip.
After that amazing last day we then had to get up at 3:30 the next day for the only bus leaving Mole each day. It took 5 hours to get back to Tamale where we changed buses and then another 16 hours to get from Tamale to Accra. By the end we were exhausted and in need of a shower. The memories of the elephants kept us smiling though.