Ghana - Volta region
Day 77 (21 December) – To Aylo’s bay in Akosombo
Last night we met the South African TIA (Tracks In Africa) guys again at Big Milly’s. They recommended a nice campsite near the Volta river called Aylo’s Bay. This was our destination for today. It was only a 150 km or so but Accra with the roads… It took us almost 3 hours to reach the Accra Mall where we could change some money for a rate of C1.88/Euro, later I also found a ATM with Maestro and Cirrus stickers on it (these are the cards we use) but I didn’t try it yet.
Once out of the traffic jams in and around Accra it was only a short drive (comparable with the days I already had behind me) to Aylo’s Bay, and yes it was heaven! Annemieke’s words were ‘Wow, so lovely!’ Perfect place to enjoy the holidays and forget any snow and ice.
Day 78 (22 December) – Aylo’s Bay to Wli
Early in the morning it starts to get hot, not Accra hot but enough to take a swing into the water! It would be a 150 km to the waterfall lodge at Wli (pronounced as ‘flee’) and so we could take it easy. Roughly three hours after leaving the swing we arrived at the German run campsite with a magnificent view of the upper falls! It was already too late to start the hike to the falls and the cold beers were begging to be drunk by us!
Intermezzo – Ghanaian staples
So far Marijn and I had the courage to try out 4 local dishes. The first one was on the road from Aylo’s Bay to Wli and was called Kenkey. Kenkey is made from fermented maize after which it is wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled before being served with a spicy tomato sauce or similar. We had the spicy similar sauce and the fish was already finished… Banku was our second dish, which was similar to Kenkey but made of fermented maize and cassava (without any leaves). Both are like a firm pasty like substance and both taste a bit sour and dubious. Although Banku was tastier, I can’t say it is what I would like to eat at a Christmas dinner…
Our Third dish was our Christmas dinner and was called fufu. It falls in the same category as Banku and Kenkey but then almost delicious! Fufu is made of plantain, cassava or yam, mashed until the starch breaks down and it becomes a gooey ball, then cooked without water to an even gooier substance. This almost slimy, gel-like material was served in an oily sauce/soup with some chicken and delicious enough to finish your plate completely. Strange stuff though.
The fourth dish was in the hotel restaurant in Nkwanta where I wanted to order from the menu the beef fillet, but they didn’t have beef. After asking what the difference would be between the African chicken, curry chicken and chicken provincial, we decided to make things easy and order 3 african chickens (it sounded like this is the dish on the menu they were able to serve) with yam chips, since they also didn’t have the potato from the menu. The funny part was that the bill explained us we eat curry chicken! I still wonder what they would have served if we ordered one of each, but probably they would not have it at the moment. Back to the typical Ghanaian food, the yam chips are just like dry and boring potato chips.
Day 79 (23 December) – Waterfall shower and rough dusty roads
It was a 40 minutes walk to the lower waterfalls of Wli. We were a bit short in time to hike up to the upper falls. The Wli falls were impressive enough to visit and the short walk is through a beautiful rainforest with many butterflies and damselflies. The waterfall itself is said to be the highest of West Africa but surely it is the highest in Ghana, making a drop of 60 meters (unconfirmed numbers). After the sweating hike we cooled off in the water and took a nice bath under the 60 meter shower!
We still had the idea we would be in Mole National Park for Christmas to meet up with the guys from the red landy and therefore around noon we had to hit the road again. But the nice Ghanaian roads were finished, instead the road turned into a dusty dirt road with every pothole getting bigger and deeper than the one before… It took forever and the car got a beating, but is still working fine, except for some ‘clung-clong’ noises when going through the potholes…
We finally reached Nkwanta (pronounced as ‘un-kwan-ta, meaning ‘where the roads come together’) and stayed in the cheap but very expensive looking Gateway Hotel. The rooms even had a fridge and amazing showers (but the towels are now a bit less white… oeps).
Day 80 (24 December) – More dust and heavy bumps
Today we wanted to drive to Tamale. My second time I go to Tamale. But this time the road is not so smooth. It continues from yesterday with every hole in the road being deeper and bigger than the day before… It is a touch road, one of the worst I have seen (not as bad as the one in Northern Kenya, which is the worst in the world).
It is a long drive but finally we reach Yendi and make a right turn onto tarmac! It all becomes quiet; you could even hear the music on the radio again!
Just before sunset we drive into Tamale and we go again to TICCS where there is the Jungle Bar with the cheapest Club beer, which we think is nicer than the Star (although it’s probably just the same 625 ml of beer). This time I take the cheeseburger with the cheeseburger on the side, it is just too good to be true!