March 14, 2014

The traditional route to get to Mole National Park is to go to Tamale and then get the 1 bus a day from there, but you know, going back on myself didn’t really suit me so I took some local advice and found myself on a pretty epic journey.


It started off pretty normal, I got on the tro-tro heading towards Tamale but instead of going all the way there I got off at Domongo Junction, saving myself an extra 45mins of the journey. Luckily the bus onwards was already at Domongo Junction but all the seats were already taken. The bus mate tried to persuade me to wait for the next one but, knowing I might be waiting forever, I jumped on the bus for the bumpiest most squashed ride of my life. I only stayed upright because there were so many people wedged on that bus it was impossible to fall down. Makes the tube seem like a breeze. The road to Mole National Park is really, pretty terrible. They have started working on it but only at the opposite end to what I was currently travelling on. It seemed like the journey took forever but I don’t think it was actually that long –about 1-2hours until we arrived at Domongo.


From Domongo I was under the impression I could get a bus to Larabanga but it turned out it wouldn’t be there until the evening and I think it may actually have been the same bus that goes to Mole from Tamale. The taxi drivers started sniffing around trying to charge me 50C for a 15min journey, but I had heard it was possible to get a motorbike taxi instead. I asked a guy who had just arrived on his bike and he said he would take me if we put 10C of gas in the bike but he had to run an errand first.



Selfies on motorbikes are really safe…


It turned out he wasn’t a taxi driver just a really awesome, helpful guy called Mutawakilu. I’d never been on a motorbike before and I loved it. Mutawakilu was pretty careful and drove relatively slowly but it still felt pretty fast to me. We chatted as we drove and he explained to me that he wanted to be a teacher but he couldn’t afford the fees to complete his training and that the errand he was running was to pay the school fees of a kid he was trying to help. I think he was genuinely one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. His father had died when he was a teenager so he never got to finish his studies as he had to look after the rest of his family. Now in his 30s he desperately wants to go back and realise his dream but in rural Northern Ghana it is very difficult for him to raise the funds. I really hope he manages to get his happy ending but it seems a long way off. I think instead of sponsor a child schemes we need sponsor a teacher schemes –now who knows how to start a charity?


We stopped off in Larabanga to see the oldest mud mosque in Ghana (Northern Ghana is largely Muslim as compared to the heavily Christian South) and one of the widest trees I’ve ever seen.


Larabanga mud mosque locals

The doors are actually pretty tiny, even I’d have to stoop.

Giant Tree Larabanga

Giant Tree

Mutawakilu Larabanga mosque

Mutawakilu and I

The wooden spikes in the pictures are basically what’s holding this mosque together. It was pretty interesting, I’d never seen anything built in this way before and it definitely looks unique. Every few years the mosque get’s cleaned and becomes beautifully white again (obviously I missed that year).


The entrance to Mole National Park is just out of Larabanga. We were both pretty excited to get there as although Mutawakilu grew up in Larabanga and lived in Domongo he had never been to the park or seen the animals! It’s crazy how no one visits what’s on their doorstep (I actually live in the same county as Stonehenge and have never visited –fool, I know). We rolled up to the Visitors centre, somewhat shocking the gamekeepers with my arrival by bike, and found out that I was in time for the afternoon safari –Yay!! I checked into my room (I stayed in the girls shared dorm) and said goodbye to Mutawakilu as he excitedly went to the look out to see if he could spot some wildlife.


I’d made it to Mole, and it felt awesome!



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