I’ve been told that if you only do one thing in Ghana, you need to visit Mole (pronounced “m?l-ay”). Although I haven’t gone to any of the other tourist attractions (like Cape Coast), I agree.
Last weekend, a group of us finally went to Mole National Park. It’s best to go in the dry season because then the elephants have to come out from the forest to visit the water sources.
From Tamale, it’s worth hiring a taxi driver. We hired two cars and drivers for ?380 each. One car took 4 people and one took 5 people (luckily it was a hatchback so one person sat in the trunk instead of 4 people squishing in the back). ?380 includes the drivers’ food and accommodation fees as well. Public transit, however, costs ?30 each way and only leaves at inconvenient times, like 4am.
Once we arrived at Mole, we had to pay to get into the park. It’s ?30 for a normal expat, ?15 for students (unfortunately I didn’t have my student card so had to pay full price), ?15 for Ghanaians (like our 2 taxi drivers), and ?5 cedi at car.
This means that our private taxis actually cost ?400 each, plus a ?5 bribe we paid to the police on the way to Mole.
The restaurant in Mole has Ghanaian food and some western food. Most meals are under ?20 each. There’s also a gift store and snack store. We should have brought our own crackers and cookies because they were overpriced, but that’s to be expected.
Behind the Information building, there’s another small restaurant with cheap Ghanaian food. It’s open 6am-2pm. When I checked it out, though, they only had wakye (rice and beans).
All rooms include breakfast of a small tomato omelet and toast, which comes with Blue Band spread (sort of like margarine, except gross) and jam. The jam was super exciting.
One of my friends can’t eat gluten so the restaurant gave her beans instead of toast. I asked if I could have the beans replacement as well and the server told me no, so make sure you’re the first to ask!
Every day, my friend asked for fruit but the restaurant was out. If you bring your own, though, they’ll cut it up for you. Considering that watermelon are in season and only ?2 cedi, we should have brought a couple.
The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool. We spent hours paddling around and lounging on the beach chairs. Warning: African sun is stronger than Canadian sun. Always wear sunscreen! I saw many lobsters walking around. There were lots of lobsters walking around.
It was weird to see tourists walking around in bathing suits. In Tamale, I feel self-conscious if I show too much knee! My bikini felt almost a little scandalous.
A Ghanaian high school class visited the park on Saturday and seemed more interested in us tourists than the elephants. When they first arrived at the hotel, they gathered around my chair and asked if they could take my picture.
“Because of the way you’re sitting with your book.”
I guess I did look like the typical tourist: reclining beach chair, bright orange bikini, book in my hand, one leg up. If only I had sunglasses. It felt weird, though, to be such a fascination. I told them that I didn’t want to pose for photos.
“Because, you know, I’m not part of the park. I’m not a tourist attraction.”
But I think they still took photos from a distance anyways.
We stayed in the dorm rooms, which were clean but nothing special. You have to make sure to shut the door tightly, otherwise baboons get in and destroy everything in their search for food. The beds didn’t have mozzie nets, which disappointed me. I don’t think many places in Ghana include bed nets, though.
The best part, of course, was the elephants! We went on a walking safari Saturday morning for 2 hours, which cost ?20 each. We saw elephants, but they were in the water most of the time.
We did a driving safari on Saturday evening for ?40 cedi each for 2 hours. It was fun to drive around gossip, but we didn’t seen much.
On Sunday morning, we talked to one of the guides and asked if he would bring us directly to the elephants for a “donation.” For ?5 each, we got up close and personal with some elephants hanging out in the forest! It was super cool.
Key points from our adventure:
- Hire a car and driver
- Bring your student card
- Bring your own snacks and fruit and pure water sachets
- Ask a guide to take you around outside of the official tour times