Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - Wli falls - added by Steve

We made a requisite stop in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, to obtain our Ghanaian visa. Arriving on Wednesday evening, we expected to hand our passports in Thursday morning and pick them up on Friday. They say God laughs hardest when man tries to make plans, and of course Thursday was a public holiday in Burkina, and naturally the Ghanaian embassy was closed! It was looking like we'd have yet another weekend spent mooching around a capital city... however, first through the door on Friday morning with out best grins plastered all over our faces, we implored the embassy staff to let us have the visas that afternoon. No promises were made, but would you believe it, when we turned up a few hours later our passports were waiting and we were free to head south!

With little of interest to us in Burkina we decided to hightail it to Ghana. Rural northern Ghana seemed to offer the perfect opportunity to bush camp, but unfortunately the undergrowth was incredibly dense and we found it difficult to find a route off the road. Miles from anywhere offering accommodation and getting darker by the second, worries started to creep in! Just as night was about to fall we lucked out and found a fantastic little spot, deserted and far enough from the road so as not to attract any unwanted attention. Unfortunately we then discovered a bush fire nearby, and while it was still small at the time, caution being the better part of burnt alive meant we found ourselves back on the road, in the dark, searching yet again for somewhere to camp! In the end our first night in Ghana was spent in an old construction site right next to the road, not exactly ideal, but at least we weren't smothered in flames!

Luckily the accommodation that followed was something far more desireable! We stayed in the most incredible beach camp, the Green Turtle Lodge, in Dixcove on the far west coast. We camped beneath coconut palms right on the beach, the waves crashing just a few metres away on the golden sand. Think "palm tree fringed beach paradise" and you're pretty much spot-on! We ended up staying almost 3 times longer than we had originally planned... believe me it happens, we met some folks who ended up staying 5 months! We had a fantastic time surfing, chilling, taking full advantage of the cocktail menu and meeting some great people, in particular another South African couple, Jean and Hannelie, who have travelled all the way up the east coast and back down the west coast of Africa with their two sons, aged 3 and 4! Rox and I can barely take care of ourselves on this trip, imagine trying to do it with kids!

Eventually, the only reason strong enough to make us leave was the need to get our Nigerian visas. Our trip to Accra took longer than anticipated due to an emergency stop to change a blocked fuel filter and drain the sedimenter. Not normally a difficult task, but add in the fact that it was the first time I've ever done this, and it was at night on the side of a major road with huge trucks roaring past, and... well, I was pretty nervous! Luckily all went according to plan and we were soon in Accra looking for somewhere to stay. Both the camping options we were aware of proved to be closed so we were looking at an expensive night in a hotel as the only option available. Fortunately Songololo sticks out like a sore thumb, allowing a local to notice our plight and offer to lead us to a mission. Unfortunately the mission was buried down tiny side streets, and as we were driving there was suddenly a huge crash as a low electricity line snagged the jerrycans on our roof and we ripped the whole electricity pole down! Before we knew it we were in the midst of a mob of locals, the situation looking like it could quickly disintigrate with us caught in the middle! Luckily in Africa cash is king, and we managed to escape. We found a local carpenter who we paid 20 Euros to rebuild the electricity pole, and an electrician 10 Euros to reconnect the wires! Crisis averted we crept on to the mission, zigzagging whenever we noticed a wire or any other such overhead danger!

Whilst in Dixcove we met a super American couple who lived in Accra, and they invited us over for dinner at their palatial home on Christmas Eve. We feasted on an array of sumptuous meat and washed it down with some very fine wines before crashing out in a four-poster bed. Fed and rested like kings we were ready to move on for the next stage of our trip. Thank you so much for your incredible hospitality J & D! Naturally (this a recurring theme) Songololo's bulk was unable to fit through their gates, so we parked overnight on the street outside. When we got back to the truck on Christmas morning we had been broken in to and our GPS stolen! Forced to now rely on our dodgy maps we soon found ourselves in the middle of nowhere with no idea where we were. We were attempting to make a break for the border as the recent elections had failed to yield an outright victor, and a run-off was scheduled for December 28th. Not wanting to be caught up in a closely contested election and its uncertain aftermath we thought to cross the day prior. Then we heard the government was closing the Togo border the day before (but not any other borders)! They claim because they were worried opposition supporters from Togo would cross the border to vote. This of course begs the question how can they without a Ghanaian ID?! A more believable story is the oppositions version: Many opposition supporters from Ghana do cross-border trade in Togo, and the government was attempting to catch them on the wrong side of the border and prevent them from returning to vote. The fact that we arrived on the 26th of December to find the border already closed certainly lends weight to this version!

So we were stuck in Ghana in the middle of an election, unable to leave, with nowhere to go and 4 days to kill. We tried the beaches south of the border but they turned out to be miserable, so instead turned north towards Wli falls, the highest waterfall in West Africa. We inauspiciously introduced ourselves to the German owners of the nearby Waterfall Lodge by clipping a tree on Songololo's excessively beefy exterior and breaking a monstrous branch off as we drove in! They were not too happy! After attempting to endear ourselves to the disgruntled Germans we headed for the falls. The waterfalls themselves are really beautiful, but I can offer a word of advice... there are in fact 2 falls, a lower tier and an upper tier. Both look exactly the same, equally impressive. However, the upper falls are only reached by an hour-long slog straight up the side of the cliff while the lower falls are an easy 20 minute amble through riverine forest. Of course we only found this out the hard way! Unless you don't want to able to walk for the next few days, view the lower falls and don't bother with the upper falls!

Finally we were able to cross the border on the 30th and make our way into Togo. The opposition won by the way!


1 .
Guys, sorry to hear about your gps, Want me to source another one? Shongololo sounds exactly like one of its owners, breaking things in and around trees. Also can't believe you can't make friends, no actually I can believe that. Glad you guys still having fun and missing out on this freeeezing stupidly cold weather. Miss ya.
thorks - 26 Jan 2009, 4:31
2 .
hey Steve and Roxy - Glad you're still forging ahead! Keep it up, and Steve, don't forget it's Trish's birthday today! Lotsa love Doug
Doug - 27 Jan 2009, 13:43
3 .
Hi you two ... your Mum and I have just read the Ghana blog. what an adventure you are having. Such a win for the three sisters to be able to look after our precious Liesal. Nikki and Isabella arrive tonight - a salve for our souls. more soon
CHRISSIE - 28 Jan 2009, 8:19
4 .
Hello Steve and Roxy With G in Zims and Digs working 24 hours a day we're out of the info loop. Have you got info for Angola? I passed on a possible contact with our guy up the drag in Beaufort Ave who runs Backpackers Ritz. Lotsa love, Wens and Humph PS Don't faint but your cousin Angus is 40 on Thurs 5 Feb - better send him commiserations - his parents don't belive it so are still thinking about what to say!!
wens - 3 Feb 2009, 16:31
5 .
Hey you two :) Sorry for being so quiet recently and for missing your sms the other day, i replied just the other day but i think it was too late! Gutted to hear about your GPS, have you made another plan yet? Im sure you have heard by now but we have had a little snow here... never thought id say that i was snowed in as an excuse not to go to work, but i was! really, i promise. lotsa fun for the first day any way. Other than the cold things are normal for a january/february, pretty quiet. Nix and I are in the last stretch of wedding organising... bring on mauritius is all i have to say about that ;) Keep safe guys, we are missing you stacks, not quite the same here on mud island with out you! love dust and nix
Dust and Nix - 9 Feb 2009, 17:15

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