Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tracking Elephants

When my sister, Ros, nephew, Victor and I arrived at Mole National Park it was early evening, still very hot but almost dark. We were anticipating the sight of elephants the following morning and were not to be disappointed.

The walking safari starts early to avoid the greatest heat. The ranger with his gun seemed to be wandering away from the large pools where elephants tend to gather. He showed us cobs and water bucks but everyone sensed something bigger to come. There were some huge foot prints in the mud, mountains of fresh dung and evidence of branches stripped of tasty bark. We trekked in a column of silence behind the ranger as he wove a path through the undergrowth.
Finally we came into a clearing in front of the pool and there they were wading into the water. 

Nine huge elephants turning from grey to black  as the water washed their hides. They wallowed for hours as we stood and watched them enjoying the cool spray from their trunks. I have been privileged to observe them twice during the last year and could marvel at them daily given the opportunity. This is the only place where elephants can be seen in Ghana. Almost nobody in Nadowli (4 hours away) will have had that chance.

Monkeys and baboons were less evident than on my previous visit as there was food for them in the bush. Fortunately, they didn’t need to steal our breakfast as happens to some visitors. Those we saw carried inquisitive babies.

To reach Mole you travel through the village of Larabunga. It’s ancient “mud and stick mosque” is reputed to be the oldest in the country but nobody is quite sure how old it is! We walked around the village and came across a large group of Muslim women escorting a young bride to her husband’s home for marriage. I wished she had looked a little happier about the prospect. 

There are some differences between building styles of homes from one area to another and it is interesting to see how people live. As always white visitors attract lots of attention and the expectation that you will provide money.

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