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West African safari is picture-perfect

CAPTIVATING: A journey down the Mole River

BETWEEN THE vast expanse of the Sahara and the great waves of the Atlantic, the safari of west Africa sports wildlife and scenery that interplays with the intriguing everyday life of various tribes and ethnic groups.

Beasts of land and sea are an appealing feature in this region of Africa and those who venture to seek them out are rewarded with a near solitary closeness to nature that isn’t common to other parts of the continent.

Game reserves, national parks and all kinds of ecological sanctuaries as well as places of wildlife refuge litter countries across west Africa, which is home to a diversity of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, fish and vegetation. Some of these species are the only ones of their kind in the world and they can only be found in this region, like the Cross River gorillas; Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire pygmy hippos and zebra Duiker; Niger stingray; Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana white-breasted guinea fowl as well as the west African dwarf crocodiles.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Elephants can be seen roaming around the Mole National Park

In the north western area of Ghana is the town of Larabanga from where tourists can gain access to the country’s largest wildlife refuge. Found within the grassland savanna and riparian ecosystems, the Mole National Park is watered by the Lovi and Mole rivers that flow through it only for a short period in the year and leave behind only drinking holes during the long dry season.

Since the best time to see wildlife in west Africa is during the dry season from December to April when grasses are burnt and animals have to assemble at water holes, the large population of elephants, warthogs, baboons, waterbucks, buffalos, hyenas, kobs, hippos, bushbucks, antelopes and birds that are native to Ghana are seen during this period of year at the Mole National Park.

A hospitality establishment situated within the Park called Zaina Lodge provides luxury accommodation and different styles of safari to tourists who come in search of wildlife wonders of west Africa. The walking safari is a couple of kilometres trek for two hours tops where the hotel’s guests can approach elephants or other wildlife under the watchful direction of a professional guide. The guide also educates guests about the numerous species of flora and fauna within the park.

LUXURY: Zaina Lodge

Safari vehicles properly fitted for animal viewing and photography take guests to the south eastern parts of the park where the guests can alight and observe animals from outside the vehicles with the help of a guide.

Navigating the Mole River by canoe adds a fascinating touch to the safari experience at the park during seasons when the river flows freely. The waterway cuts through dense forests where antelopes, wild dogs and many kinds of birds like the water fowls, herons, egrets, ibis, great kingfisher and malachite kingfisher are perched on branches or descend to the park floor, peering curiously at tourists as they meander across the river.

There’s also the chance to intermingle with folks of Mognori who have a lot of tour guides and rangers among their residents.

STUNNING: Views of the stunning Mole National Park can be enjoyed from Zaina Lodge's pool

Mole was initially a reserve after the Ghanaian independence in 1958, but by a gazette in 1971, it became a National Park. It is one out of over 50 reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in west Africa where a very affordable safari can be enjoyed without a crowd who would take away from the enchanting calm of the habitat.

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