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December 20, 2012 / samwilson60

Day two in Ghana – night 100 on the road

We awoke with the campsite still deserted and not a big cat in sight but didn’t want to push our luck, so worked our way back to the main drag and slowly started the new country adjustment process. This one was funny – suddenly we were in a cloudy, English-speaking country, the first since England – but in every other way it was clear what continent we were on.

Sadly, with the confusion over our Nigerian visas we knew we wouldn’t be able to amble around exploring like we normally do and instead had to keep heading fairly purposefully south. That said, we couldn’t cross Ghana without seeing any of the sights either, and one we’d both had our hearts set on was the nearby Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. Although we’d both spotted a hippo in Senegal, it was a rather far-off, rock-like hippo and we’d been relatively starved of exciting mammals since (no offence to the donkeys and beautiful geckos). We were still in the low season for national parks generally, but apparently for the hippos are timing was perfect, so a canoe trip along the Black Volta and riverside camp sounded like a fairly appropriate way to celebrate the latest landmark – night 100 on the road.

All the roadside police were won over by our destination, giving us the impression that any tourists that do pass through this way normally say they’re heading straight for Accra. A real shame if true – we really liked what we saw of northern Ghana and the hippo sanctuary in particular more than lived up to the hype. It consists of a lovingly decorated, very informative visitor’s centre, where we were briefed on the activities of the sanctuary (by no means limited to hippos). We were a bit overwhelmed by the reception we got – the mention of briefing was unexpected, for a start – but it was very professional, in a ramshackle kind of way, and the young ‘guide’ who took us in hand was really nice and well informed. He squeezed into the Tinker Beast and took us to the camp spot. Sadly this was not quite riverside, as the riverside spots had yet to be resurrected after the rains and high water, but after introducing our companion to English tea and new but already slightly stale HobNobs (a rare treat, even for us), we picked up the boatman and all walked down to the river. Once they’d prised the only semi-water-tight canoe back off a random local who seemed to have borrowed it, we hit the waters and within minutes hit jackpot…

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After watching the trio of hippos snort, fart(?) and bob their way slowly down stream for the best part of an hour, and with the canoe having already filled with water twice, we decided to head back to shore and cook up a storm for our guide – pasta, tuna and sweetcorn à la Sam&Cat! He genuinely seemed to enjoy it much more than us, and much more than the warm beer we served on the side, and after dinner we had a great time looking through the day’s photos, which we put on the sanctuary’s computer the next morning before saying our goodbyes and continuing south.

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