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Ghana National Game & Wildlife Parks

Mole National Park (Largest)
Locate in the heart of the Northern Region, Mole National Park has offered visitors the unique experience of  its "foot (trekking) safaris" since the early 1980s.

Thus, instead of being confined to a four-wheel drive vehicle (from which it is often prohibited to descend) as frequently occurs in other African wildlife reserves, visitors are encouraged to set off on foot along the numerous paths that traverse the park. The result is a first-hand, direct contact with nature, during which visitors will gradually learn the ancestral art of tracking and approaching animals as silently as an Apache. The time that one spends here is accompanied by the progressive realization that when if one manages to master the instinctive fear of wild animals, it is apparent that on the other hand, the latter have not gotten over their instinctive fear of man. And rightly so, if the sad experience of their wholesale slaughter during the great African hunting safaris of recent history is any lesson.

Possibly for this reason, visitors are rarely able to approach them at really close range, since the slightest movement or odour signifying a human presence will usually send them running as if their lives depended on it, which of course, was formerly the case. Nevertheless, to minimize any potential risk, every trekking safari is accompanied by an armed guide perfectly familiar with the park and the habits of its animal population. The reserve, which is administered by Ghana's Department of Game and Wild-life, covers over 519,000 Hectares (2,330 square kilometers), a portion of which are traversed by the Mole River. Current wildlife includes numerous varieties of antelope (Defassa or Buffon bucks, guibas, reeboks, bubales, etc.), warthogs, monkeys (cercopithecus, baboons, red patas, blue and black Colobus), elephants (fairly difficult to approach), a multitude of African buffalo, the occasional lion, and scads of leopards, hippos and hyenas. Over 300 bird species live permanently in the park, while over 150 additional migratory species regularly touch down, along with the intermittent visits of eagles and bee-eaters.

Visitors desiring to observe these animals generally hike to either of the two principal watering-places, or are driven in the park Land Rover vehicle to Camp Lovi, 30 kilometres distant, to spend the night. Both trekkers and camp guests must bring their own food and camping equipment, since the park's unique stone shelter is totally unfurnished.

If the Land Rover vehicle is unavailable, other than during the rainy season there is generally no problem in attaining either Camp Lovi or Konkori (situated at the base of a cliff in the northeastern section of the park) in an ordinary vehicle.

The Vestiges Of Ancient Villages
The cliff overlooking Camp Konkori dominates a great, rolling and wooded plain dotted with clearings and rocky outcroppings. Even during the rainy season, the thin topsoil generally prevents the grass and vegetation from growing high enough to conceal the wildlife. The landscape is lovely in all seasons, with red-coloured succulents and scattered clumps of brilliant yellow wildflowers contrasting with the green sea of the tropical grasses.

Along the track leading to Konkori, visitors will occasionally notice the presence of amaze-like network of cavities and underground passageways, frequently used as a natural refuge by some of the park's wildlife.
Prior to the tribal wars which swept through the region in the 1870s, the area contained a number of villages, the vestiges of which are still visible in the form of the above-mentioned declivities.

To the south of the park in the vicinity of Larabanga Mosque (over 200 years old and national monument) a safari-hotel has been constructed. The hotel complex contains accommodations for over 35 guests in private bungalows, a restaurant, and a swimming pool.

Although Mole National Park is open throughout the entire year, the rainy season frequently transforms the paths into muddy swamps, while high grasses can complicate the viewing of the reserve's wildlife. For these reasons, the best period for visiting the park is from December to May.

Don't forget to bring along appropriate gear and clothing if you are planning a trekking safari. Clothing should be either neutral or jungle-camouflaged to provide low-visibility to the skittish animals. Sturdy boots, a hat and sunglasses are also essential, as is a water canteen and a pair of binoculars. Photographers should equip themselves with a telephoto lens, while campers should not forget the indispensable butane lamp or battery-powered flashlight.

Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary
This natural habitat for many speicies of the wildlife, as well as for number of migratory birds.Located on the Akropong road, some 16km west of Kumasi, the sanctuary is closed to car traffic but accessed by footpaths, and may be visited in the company of a guide.

Boumfoum Reserve
Boumfoum is located just before Juaben. Although the tarred road continues to the entrance to the Boumfoum Reserve and practically to Banfabiri Falls, cars must be left at the reserve entrance, after which visitors proceed on foot.

Shai Hills Game Reserve
Created in 1974, the Shai Hills Game Reserve is a small wildlife sanctuary occupying over 5,180 hectares north of Tema in the Greater Accra Region.

To get here from Accra, take the Tema Expressway straight to the end, followed by the highway to Ho. On the right, just beyond the Shai Training Centre, the main entrance of the reserve leads to the building where visitors' passes are issued and the mandatory guides assigned.

Guides are not only obligatory, but also indispensable. As in Ghana's other wildlife parks and reserves, visits on foot are both recommended and encouraged. But only a trained guide, perfectly familiar with the habits of the animal population and the nature of the territory can ensure that visitors will profit from their excursion to the maximum.

During the rainy season, even experienced guides can hesitate over which path to take amid the tall tropical grasses of the reserve. As visitors will soon discover, these grasses are anything but gentle to the touch, and after a single thorny encounter, one is only too happy to let an experienced companion reconnoiter the area in search of wildlife or simply the right direction to the next stopping-off place.

The guides also know how to find the elusive vestiges of a series of villages inhabited from the thirteenth to the 19th centuries by huntsmen and their families. Occasional fragments of ruined walls indicate the former presence of dwellings, while elsewhere, innumerable pottery shards or intact earthenware receptacles offer much testimony of the lives that were led here.

In more remote historical periods, the Shai dwelt in the careens of the surrounding hills. Ulteriorly, these same caves were used as temporary refuges and strategic strongholds during the episodic wars between the Shai and the Ga.

As wildlife rarified during the early years of the 20th century, the Shai huntsmen progressively abandoned the hillsides for the surrounding villages which their descendants inhabit today.

At present, there reserve's animal population includes monkeys (baboons and cercopithecus), water bucks, royal antelope, cephalophes, oribus and wildcats, while the lovely surrounding hills offer the possibility of hiking, camping and excursions on horseback.

Digya National Park
The Digya National Park was created in 1971 and it occupies over 312,600 hectares of land. Bordered on the north, east and south by Lake Volta, the park can only be accessed by boat. Wildlife is somewhat scarce, but spectacular. Elephants, buffalo, various species of antelope, panthers etc. can be seen.

Kogyae District Nature Reserve
Created in 1971 the Reserve comprises 32,400 hectares essentially destined for agricultural and botanical research. It is located in the Volta Region.

Bui National Park
Located near Wenchi, between the Northern provinces and the Brong-Ahafo Region, the 207,360 hectares park run parallel to the Cote d' Ivoire. Bui offers visitors the opportunity of viewing the largest hippo population in Ghana.

Bia National Park
The Park is accessible from Kumasi. It was enlarged to 7,780 hectares in 1977. Largely comprised of secondary-growth forest after intensive farming destroyed much of the original vegetation. Bia is a haven for elephants, monkeys, leopards and birds. The only way of exploring the park is by foot.

Gbele Game Reserve
Located near Tumu in the savanna of northwestern Ghana, the park occupies 54,690 hectares and contains a limited wildlife population.

Ankasa Game Reserve & Nini Suhien National Park
With a comparable range of wildlife as Bia, Ankasa Game Reserve (30,740 hectares) and Nini-Suhien National Park (10,630 hectares) were created in 1976. Located in the tropical forests of western Ghana,both reserves can be accessed by Mpabata.

Kalakpa Game Reserve
Occupying 32,440 hectares, located in the Volta Region and a few kilometres from the Accra-Ho highway, the Reserve offers a dense forest population as Mole Park, with the exception of elephants and lions.

Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary
Covering 5,180 hectares the Sanctuary is located in Ashanti territory, in a transitional, lightly wooded region lying between the savannas and the tropical forest. The sanctuary offer a wide variety of bird life, monkeys and small antelope.

Boaben-Fiemi Sanctuary
Situated to the east of the Kintampo-Nkoranza axis in the Brong-Ahafo Region, the Sanctuary is celebrated for its black and white-furred Colobus monkeys, considered by the local inhabitants as being protective spirits and allowed free run of their homes during the day.

Kakum And Assin-Attandanso Reserves
Located between Cape Coast and Elmina in central Ghana, these Reserves offer 420 square kilometres of semi-deforested tropical heartland.

Along the site of logging operations, a recent study revealed the presence of innumerable animal species, certain of which were on the verge of extinction. These include the forest elephant and buffalo, the bongo (a rare variety of antelope), panters, Colobus monkeys, a wide variety of birds and reptiles, including Nile crocodiles and a wide range of tropical flora. Both reserves have been given a highly-protected status with hunting and logging completely prohibited.

Note: Hiking is both authorized and even recommended in all of the above-mentioned parks and reserves, despite the presence of potentially dangerous wildlife. The only prerequisite is the presence of an armed guide to ensure visitors' safety, and to prevent them from inadvertently provoking attacks.

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