It’s been a tough week. The tranquil pool area of Green Views is inviting but you’re ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in search of some nature therapy and to discover some more of what Ghana has to offer; and it has a lot to offer, there is still so much to discover in this country you now call home. So why not take a couple of days to explore the Volta region.
The Volta region is a large geographical area in the east of Ghana bordering Togo. Lush and green with rolling hills and mountains, lakes, rivers, lagoons, and waterfalls; it is an area of captivating beauty. But since it covers a large area let’s focus on Wli (pronounced Vlee) Falls and some of the things you can see and do on your drive there and back.
Wli Water Falls
Wli Falls is not far past the town of Hohoe in the northern part of the region. It is the tallest waterfalls in not just Ghana but all West Africa and is made up of an upper and lower falls. The lower falls can be reached in an easy 45-minute walk through a mostly shady forest. Foot bridges have been built which cross a river several times before arriving at the falls which you will hear long before you see. The falls make an impressive sight with the cascading water plummeting into the pool below. The adventurous will want to take a dip in the cool water and perhaps make their way to stand under the falls. This can feel a little like walking into a storm as the energy of the falls creates a wind and mist that can’t be escaped. Hang on to your hat if you’re wearing one! The lower falls is also home to a colony of fruit bats! Yes, bats! Thousands of them which make an astonishing sight to see as they cling to the rock faces around the pool.
As marvelous as the lower falls are, the upper falls are equally high and appear even more dramatic in their isolated setting far up on the mountain. The hike can be a strenuous and requires one to be in decent shape as the hike can take 3 hours or more depending on one’s fitness level and the route chosen to take. The shorter route has some steep sections that could prove challenging for some so sometimes its preferable to hike a little further on less challenging terrain. A guide is necessary for this hike and when you go to the tourism office at the start of the trail, you’ll be assigned one and charged a fee. This is mandatory.
You’ll also want to bring plenty of drinking water. This is not something to underestimate unless you plan to be drinking the water from the falls. Sturdy hiking shoes are also recommended for the upper falls though you might have a guide doing the hike in flip flops! Hiking poles may also be helpful for some. There are some breathtaking views during the hike; distant mountain villages and sweeping panoramas of the mountains and valleys. This is the only way to appreciate the full height of the upper and lower falls together as the upper falls are not visible from the lower falls. A dip in the pool at the upper falls will feel very rewarding and refreshing after the hike there but many wait to arrive to the lower falls to claim their reward of a refreshing dip in the cool water. This is a great place to take a break for a snack and to enjoy the inner peace that places with this kind of natural beauty can bring to you before continuing the hike. The hard work is not over yet as there is still a hike up before you start the descent to the lower falls.
There are other things to see and do while you are in the area if you have the time. Why not stop at Amadzofe, Ghana’s highest hilltop settlement on your way to Wli. The area is known for its rich cultural heritage as the Avatime people who live there belong to the oldest tribe in Ghana, the Guan. A quick 30-minute walk will take you to the top of Mount Gemi, Ghana’s second highest mountain, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surroundings. Also close by is Liote Wote which is a great place to experience rural community life. From there you can take the 45-minute hike to Tagbo Falls or climb to the top of Ghana’s highest mountain, Mount Afadjato. The latter is about a 90-minute hike.
You can expect the return journey to take about 5 hours so if you leave early enough will have plenty of time to a make some stops on the way. A stop at Tafi Atome to visit the monkey sanctuary can prove to be entertaining. The friendly Mona monkeys with their masked faces don’t mind climbing on your shoulder to eat a banana. The monkeys are not fenced but live wild in the protected forest and are revered by the local villagers. Another interesting stop is the Tafi Abuife Kente Village. You can take a guided tour where the village weavers have their looms set up and with adept hands and feet, practice their craft and create colorful and intricate designs on cloth. There is a shop you may visit to purchase some kente at quite reasonable prices after the tour. You may even have the opportunity to try your own hand at weaving on the complicated loom. A great spot to stop for a bite to eat on your way home is Akosombo.
There are many hotels and restaurants with good locations along the Volta River that serve a good meal. Or maybe you will decide to drive just a little out of the way to see the Akosombo dam before continuing your drive home. With your journey almost over you might also consider stopping to buy fruit from the roadside vendors as you will find prices lower than most in Accra.
Hopefully this trip will provide good memories to carry you through the coming weeks until you are able to have another getaway to explore more of Ghana’s magnificent natural areas.
By Lilian Heidel – GREENVIEWS resident