SOME OF AFRICA’S MOST AMAZING RURAL AREAS TO VISIT

BY – Odehebi Kojo

Africa, with its wonderful people, Amazingly Beautiful towns/cities, expansive landscapes and formidable animal life, the world’s second-biggest continent is arguably the best for photographers. Throw in that sense of being in a place that has retained its beauty for centuries, and sometimes millennia, and you get some of the most inspiring destinations on the planet. As we know that even the poorest of the poor could afford to build something small with wood and make it into a home, this is is one reason why homelessness seems to be rare in Africa, in addition, these rural locals are also able to enjoy natural living and nature’s beautiful view.

When looking to see the beautiful rural areas of Africa, Here are a few of the most amazing rural areas to see when you travel to Africa:

NZULEZU

Photo Credit: Solomon Oppong

The settlement of Nzulezo, the “Village on water”, is located 90 kilometers west of Takoradi in the Jomoro District of the Western Region of Ghana. Nzulezu is an Nzema word which refers to “surface water”. This very unique village is built on stilt in the Tandane Lake. Nzulezo is one of the Amasuri Wetland, a Ramsar site and the largest inland swamp forest in Ghana. The Wetland is a habitat for a variety of animals like monkeys, crocodiles, marine turtles and fishes. Nzulezu also represents an outstanding interplay between man and the environment.

Photo Credit: Solomon Oppong

Oral history has it that the village was constructed some five (500) hundred years ago by migrants from Walata, a city in prehistoric Ghana Empire which was the earliest of the Western Sudanese States. It is believed that the early settlers or the ancestors were led there by a snail. The snail is, therefore, a totem and revered by the people of Nzulezo. The only other people in the West African Sub-region who live on a stilt village are the Ganvie people of the Republic of Benin.

Photo Credit: Solomon Oppong

The Nzulezu stilt village has a total population of about 600 people. The main occupations there are farming, fishing and the brewing of local gin (Akpeteshi). The village is ruled by the chief and elders who set out rules and regulations to guide behavior in the village. The chief presides over criminal offenses and other unruly behaviors in the community. Nevertheless, felony crimes are referred to the formal court’s system for adjudication. The tribe at Nzulezo are very conservative and do not accept intermarriages with other tribes.

Photo Credit: Solomon Oppong

Since the year 2000, the commencements of tourism activities in the Amanzuri wetland, a number of infrastructural developments have been carried out which though have been designed for tourism growth, have turned out to be public goods. These include the construction of 1.4 kilometers of a 2-kilometer canal from Beyin to Nzulezo; a paved landing bay of granite stones, grassed banks and a 140-meter wooden walkway from the main road to the landing bay. In addition, these facilities facilitate school attendance and transport of goods from and to the market. The reconstruction of the 312-meter main walkway in the stilt village using durable timber including Borassus palm and Kussia and the creation of nature trails in the wetland are other developmental efforts undertaken. The Nzulezo Village Amansuri Conservation and Integrated Development (ACID) Project currently function under the auspices of the Ghana Wildlife Society and Ghana Tourism Authority.

THE HIPPO SANCTUARY

Photo Credit: Cobby Skillz

The Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary, a community protected area is located at the extreme north-western corner of the Upper West Region of Ghana. It consists of a 40-kilometers stretch down the length of the Black Volta River which forms the region’s western boundary with Burkina Faso.

It is home to hippos, bats, chameleons, hedgehogs and many different types of lizards and snakes. The sanctuary is an excellent place to see birds with over 200 species identified and new sights seen regularly. The sanctuary contains much more than just hippos. We are an excellent spot for bird watching, including woodland savannah, riverine and forest shorebird species.

Trek through the many hiking trails, searching for monitor lizards, bats, hedgehogs, pythons, and even chameleons. Two local styled tourist lodges are at the heart of the Lobi communities and offer many opportunities to meet local people. This relatively undisturbed Lobi area has distinct architectural designs, interesting marriage systems, and funeral rites.

Spend the night in our Hippo Hide Tree House and experience one of the best dawn choruses (birdsong) in all of Africa. Drink some Pito, the local beer, with the headmen and hear stories of days pas or listen to the xylophone music. Take a river safari on the Black Volta with a chance to see the hippopotamus, Violet Turacoes, Malachite Kingfishers and Vervet monkeys. Enjoy a cultural tour, where you will visit a Lobi compound and learn about traditional practices and ways of life.

Photo Credit: Cobby Skillz

To get the most out of your visit and experience all that the sanctuary has to offer, we recommend that your plans involve spending the night at one of our lodges. Morning and Evening River Cruises tend to give the best view of the hippos, birds and other wildlife. The afternoon can be spent trekking the trails, visiting local homes, and even relaxing in the Hippo Hide. It is high in the trees and an excellent spot for bird watching.

A trip to see and experience the wealth of wonders and activities this place have to offer is certainly a great idea. The best time to see hippos is in the dry seasons, usually November through June. June through August is a good time to see birds in all their colorful breeding plumage. Getting to Wechiau is only the beginning of your adventure! Your first stop is the local Welcome Office, where you will find a local guide who will assist you with all your needs as well as provide information about their history, local culture and native plant and wildlife.

PAGA CROCODILE SANCTUARY

Photo Credit: Armani Tuesday

Located in the north-eastern border of Ghana, Paga is a sacred crocodile sanctuary. Although crocodiles are considered as wild creatures, the Paga crocodiles are friendly and coexist with humans.

Photo Credit: Armani Tuesday

The friendly relationship between the crocodiles and humans continue to baffle the minds of many. This is in contrast to the perception that crocodiles as dangerous.

Photo Credit: Armani Tuesday

It is a customary offense to harm, kill or show any sign of disrespect to the crocodile of Paga. It is not uncommon to find children or visitors sitting at the back of or holding the tale of a crocodile without any harm, after a sacrifice of fowl.

Photo Credit: Armani Tuesday

This is normal for the people of Paga but a mystery to visitors. Other tourist attractions in the area include the Paga-Nania slave camp, the mystery dam of Kayoro called Kukula and the Nasaga Game Reserve, eight kilometers away from Burkina-Faso and Paga.

LAKE VOLTA, GHANA

Photo Credit: Senses Ram

Lake Volta lies along the Greenwich Meridian, and just six degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The lake’s northernmost point is close to the town of Yapei, and its southernmost extreme is at the Akosombo Dam, 520 kilometers (320 mi) downstream from Yapei.

Photo Credit: Senses Ram

Akosombo Dam holds back both the White Volta River and the Black Volta River, which formerly converged, where the middle of the reservoir now lies, to form the single Volta River. The present Volta River flows from the outlets of the dam’s powerhouse and spillways to the Atlantic Ocean in south most Ghana.

Photo Credit: Senses Ram

The main islands within the lake are Dodi, Dwarf, and Kporve. Digya National Park lies on part of the lake’s west shore.

Photo Credit: Senses Ram

The lake is formed by the Akosombo Dam, which was originally conceived by the geologist Albert Ernest Kitson in 1915, but whose construction only began in 1961 with completion in 1965. Because of the formation of Lake Volta, about 78,000 people were relocated to new towns and villages, along with 200,000 animals belonging to them. About 120 buildings were destroyed, not including small residences, as over 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) of the territory was flooded.

Photo Credit: Kweku Tension

Kakum Conservation Area is made up of mostly rain-forest comprising the Kakum National Park and Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve in the Central Region of Ghana. Kakum National Park is situated 33km north of Cape Coast, the Central Regional Capital, and 170km west of Accra.

Kakum covers an area of 350 square kilometers, including the Assin Attandanso Resource Reserve. The vegetation includes tall hardwood trees that virtually dissolve into the sky at 65m in height. The Kakum National Park has several trails linking the most interesting features of the forest where guides will tell you a lot about the interesting trees and plants, their cultural and ethnic uses, economic values and local stories and proverbs about them. The nature trails are a must for you. The wildlife endemic in Kakum includes porcupines, squirrels, olive colobus monkey, black and white colobus, the red river hog and tree hyrax. Butterflies and birds abound in Kakum, while night tours may bring the visitor into encounters with the shy forest elephant.

Canopy Walkway: The key attraction of Kakum, is the tree canopy walkway, that enables you to walk over the high tropical forest on a swinging bridge measuring almost 500m long among the tallest trees. The canopy walkway receives over 120,000 visitors a year and is one of the only six

in the world. The drainage of Kakum is very rich and several rivers and cascades, including the Kakum River that supplies water to Cape Coast municipality and surrounding areas.

You can visit Kakum all year round, but especially from March to August. Kakum may be reached by public transport from Pedu junction in Cape Coast. Wear light summer clothes and strong running shoes or boots. Kakum has an interesting visitor interpretation center, a T-shirt printing facility that puts your pictures on your T-shirt, and a gift shop managed by the Aid-To-Artisans Ghana, an NGO that supports rural craft producers.

Kakum is conveniently close to Cape Coast and Elmina, where oldest European buildings south of the Sahara may be found: the over five hundred years’ oldest castles and forts that dot Ghana’s coast. A few kilometers before reaching Kakum is the Hans Cottage Botel where a visitor may observe and feed crocodiles in a large pound over which the restaurant and bar are built on stilts. The Cape Coast and Elmina municipalities also have some of Ghana’s most colorful festivals, the Fetu celebrated in May Cape Coast and the Bakatue of Elmina of Ghana.