This is an article that I wrote back in 2012, but it still applies today because nothing has changed. It is very funny to look at in retrospect.
It was originally published at thetravelworld.com, but it now seems to be a defunct website, the article has made some rounds around the internet it seems, and I still own the rights to my article.
All words and photos are my original works.
Images shot with a Canon Digital Eos Rebel.
Kyabobo, Ghana 2011
Article Starts Here
For most travelers Ghana is already pretty far off of their radar, but even in Ghana it is possible to stray even farther from the beaten path. Kyabobo National park is one of these places; located in the Northern part of the Volta region right on the border of Togo. Kyabobo (pronounced Chayabobo) may not easy to reach, with the rough dusty roads that need be traversed from either the North or the South. The persistent traveler will be rewarded, with an abundance of activities in and around the National Park and most of the time can be enjoyed without the sight of another tourist.
Kyabobo is Ghana’s newest national park, stretching out over 360 square kilometers linking up to Fazao National Park which is just across the border in Togo. Seen from a distance the Breast Mountains, named for their distinctive shape of two hills, right next to each other are at the front door of Kyabobo. The park is surrounded by dry planes which rise into hilly terrain covered in semi-deciduous forest.
Nkwanta is the nearest town and the gateway to Kyabobo about 4km from the park headquarters, it is on the main road running North and South that goes from the Volta region to the Northern region of Ghana, in the area between the Volta lake and Togo. This area of Ghana is rarely traveled or visited and there are a couple of good reasons for this. The main being the how rough the road is and the time that it takes to get their either from Accra or Tamale. Taking public transport it could take two days to get to Nkwanta from Tamale because of needing to transfer at least once. There is direct transportation from Accra to Nkwanta but it is going to take around 8 hours. Since Kyabobo is really the only draw in this area, being well off of Ghana's tourist circuits, not many travelers put in the dusty road time to get there.
Given the challenges of getting to Kyabobo, it is well worth staying a few days and fortunately there are some good options for accommodations in the area.
The Gateway, and Kilimanjaro are good hotels in Nkwanta. At the park headquarters there are two nicely equipped guest houses, each with kitchens and bathrooms. The park headquarters also has camping sites; there are a number of camps within the park including a platform on top of a mountain ridge overlooking the shrine of the village of Kue.
For those people that enjoy the outdoors there is a little something for everyone at kyabobo. For the culture buffs there are a number of small communities surrounding the park, some have shrines and hikes around the village that guests can experience after visiting with the Chief. For those with active lifestyles there are plenty of trails for hiking , waterfalls to visit, biking, camping, canoeing, wildlife viewing, and inner tubing on the Kue river.
There are many animals within the park such as elephants, leopards, buffalo, waterbuck and several primate species, but not everyone will be lucky enough to see much wildlife with the density of the forest, and the nature of the steep hilly terrain. There is a better chance of seeing some of the smaller wildlife, like butterflies, bushbuck, birds, and duikers. You can count on seeing butterflies and birds. Recent surveys have indicated that there are at least 500 different species of butterflies and 235 bird species in the park.
The symbol for the park is the rock hyrax, which is a large and very common rodent in Ghana, sometimes called a Grass Cutter. They are often sold beside the road side in the form of kabobs. In the wild, they are often seen on rocky outcroppings within the park.
Hiking is the best way to see the park, there are some great hikes that can take as little time as a couple of hours, day hikes to waterfalls, and even trails that go across the entire park that can take a couple of days and involve some solitary camping. The best day hike, that will allow you to get a good feel for the park, would be the 4 hour round trip hike to Laboum falls. If that is not enough with another hour or two of hiking the upper falls are also a treat.
Surrounding the park there are a number of villages called the Hanging Villages that resemble those in the Himalayas hugging the sides of the mountains. These can easily be accessed by hiking or biking, travelers enjoy drinking local gin with the chiefs, visiting the village shrines and settling into village life with a home-stay.
In short Kyabobo is the park to visit in Ghana for a good mixture of adventure and culture. The park headquarters is very relaxed and not extremely organized so it may take some persistence to get the information regarding what activities are available at a given time, but they have some very informative brochures that will help in decision making.
The park represents a very interesting attempt to balance the goals of environmental protection, eco-tourism and the preservation of endangered communities. This is an ongoing experiment with important stakes for the natural and human environment and the interactions of visitors area provide an essential part of this learning experience and the proceeds help the surrounding communities through “improved livelihood activities.”
Eco-tourism is providing jobs for guides, cooks, and craft makers from the surrounding communities. The income generated from the park is used for local development projects, like bringing electricity to some of the communities and providing materials for the construction of schools and toilets. So, if you are looking for an active vacation to a naturally beautiful and undiscovered part of Ghana and if you are interested in contributing to a vital and ongoing real-world learning experience, Kyabobo Park has a lot to offer.
My father taking one of the hills on the waterfall hike.
An ageless sentient being.