Tourist Sites in Ghana: Mole National Park

Located at Damongo, 146km south east of Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana, Mole National Park is a 12 hour journey by road from Accra.

One of the largest cities in the Savanna Region, Tamale has a couple of tourist attractions but the Mole National Park stands tall among the rest.

With the largest wildlife refuge, Mole National Park has been an attractive site for many in the country due to its unique species.

The current location of the Mole National Park was initially occupied by inhabitants of the Northern Region, however, they were relocated to pave way for the area to be used as a reserve.

Mole National Park
Mole National Park

The famous animals that can be found at the Mole National Park are the African bush elephants and antelopes. A study conducted on the Park indicates over 800 elephants can be found at the Park. In terms of tree species, Burkea Africana, Isoberlinia Doka, and Terminalia Macroptera are some of the species found in the forest.

While elephants and antelopes dominate the wildlife in the forest, animals such as buffalos and hippos can also be found in the forest even though very small in terms of population.

Monkeys have also made the Park their place of abode with the Olive baboons, black-and-white colobus monkeys, the green vervet, and patas monkeys all residing at the park.

Animals such as lions and hyenas used to be found in the park, however these animals have gone distinct in the park over the last decade raising concerns about the survival of the forest in the coming years.

Being one of the last remaining wildlife forests in Ghana, the mole park attracts tourists from all walks of life, both from Ghana and outside, every year with an annual visitor population running into almost a million people. For animal lovers, the Mole National Park is a must visit tourism site to experience the beauty of nature.

Top 5 Parks in Ghana

Jetsanza.com in this post highlights the top parks in Ghana, their location and other relevant information that may be of interest to tourists visiting parks in Ghana.

Below are the Top 5 Parks in Ghana ( in no particular order)

Kakum National Park

Kakum National Park is located at the Central Region of Ghana and it is one of the most popular parks in Ghana.  A lot of local and foreign tourists visit this park each year.

The park has a tropical rainforest serving as a habitat for many species of fauna, flora and animal.

The endangered Diana monkey, the yellow-backed duiker and the African elephant can be found at this beautiful park.

The most popular activity at the park is the Kakum canopy walkway; a 350m high walkway.  The park now has a Children’s Park.

Mole National Park

Located in Wa, Mole National Park is one of the most sought-after parks in Ghana. It covers an area of 4500 square kilometers and houses diverse species of animals including hippos, buffalo, leopards, lions, elephants and several plant species.

The Mole and Lovi rivers pass through the park charmingly. The area receives around 1000 millimeters of rainfall a year, and this helps to sustain all living creatures.

Bia National Park

Bia National Park is located in the Western Region of Ghana, close to Sekondi-Takoradi. This park serves as a habitat for varieties of animals and plants. The tallest tree is West Africa is located right in this park.

It has a land size of 563 square kilometer with lodges and modern guest houses surrounding it to provide accommodation needs.

Bui National Park

The Bui National Park the third largest National Park in Ghana and its located in Tain in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. The park bisects the Black Volta and houses a large population of hippopotamus. Aside the hippos, you will see animals like antelopes, monkeys and different species of birds.

Digya National Park

Digya National Park is located on the beautiful shores of the Lake Volta. It serves as a home to elephants as well as varieties of plants.

Situated in Brong Ahafo, the park covers an expansive 3500 square kilometers. You get the opportunity to see over 200 species of birds in this park. Crocodiles and other aquatic animals also make the site worth visiting.

The forests of Digya are also breathtaking.

Atewa Range Forest Reserve: The lungs of the Eastern Region

The Atewa range forest reserve is located in Ghana’s Eastern region, near the town of Kibi in the Akyem Abuakwa district, and arguably among the most important and largest natural forest reserves in Ghana, playing a significant role in the ecosystem of the country.

The forest reserve runs all the way from Kibi to the South-western part of Kwahu plateau forming the South-West border of the most prominent river body in Ghana, the Lake Volta.

The importance of the forest to the economic development of Ghana especially the people of the Eastern region cannot be oversized. The entire region currently depends on the Atewa range for water supply as the Ghana Water Company depends on the treatment of the Ayensu, Densu and Birim rivers found in the Atewa range to supply water to residents of the region. These three rivers are also the largest in the region, flowing through most part of Eastern region for remote use by various towns.

Of all the many forest reserves in Ghana, Atewa Range Forest is touted to have the highest number of trees, some of which are very rare and very important in the Agric and science research fields.

Recently the reserve has been in the news for various controversial reasons some of which have resulted in campaigns to save the forest as it keeps depleting at an alarming rate. Authorities of the Ghana forestry commission are currently in a battle with illegal wood loggers who have turned their attention to the reserve and are cutting down the trees to sell on the timber market.

Another major problem facing the reserve is the issue of mining activities taking place in the heart of the forest. While the Atewa forest is a protected area, illegal miners have found their way in, cutting down trees and clearing green vegetation for gold mining purposes and in the process also destroying the water bodies in the forest.

Atewa is also known to contain one of the world’s largest deposit of Bauxite, but previous governments since independence have taken lot of steps to protect the bauxite reserves from being mined until recently when news broke of the current’s government’s intent to mine the bauxite as part of a financial agreement signed with the government of China in exchange for some infrastructural aid.

While the forest is classified as a protected area, it is opened for tours and citizens or tourists can visit the amazingly large forest and engage in some tourist activities like Bird watching and hiking.

 

Gbele Game Reserve: Wildlife in the Savannah

Gbele Game Reserve is one of the many wildlife reserves in Ghana, located in the Upper West region of Ghana.

The facility is located close to the Burkina Faso border and lies approximately 90 km from the regional capital, Wa and 61 km from Tumu.

Unlike most wildlife reserves in Ghana which have the vegetative nature of their forest to be tropical rainforest, the vegetative nature of Gbele forest is open savannah woodland, meaning rain here is limited and does not come frequently.

The reserve is home to some of West Africa’s most popular wildlife animals such as the antelope, hartebeest, bushbuck, waterbuck, savannah duikers and warthogs, baboon, patas, green monkey and more, making it one of the most populous wildlife reserves in Ghana in terms of animal species and population.

Birdwatching is another popular activity at the Gbele Game Reserve with the forest serving as home to more than 190 species of birds. Tourists who visit the centre usually make time to go for birdwatching to see these beautiful and amazing flying creatures that hang on in trees.

For the lovers of adventure, the reserve also gives a tourist the chance to go for nature hikes and walks through the forest, visiting different sections of the reserve such as the rock outcrops.

The reserve also has tents for groups who wish to relax and spend the entire day at the park, as well as tour guides who are always on standby and ready to take visitors on a tour of the reserve.

Beyond the forest, one can also take a trip to the nearest township, Gwollu which is 30 km from the reserve. The town is home to some of the most historical monuments in the northern part of Ghana, such as the Gwollu slave defence wall which was built during the early 1900s and the tomb of former president, Dr. Hilla Limann.

KNUST Botanical Garden

The KNUST Botanical Garden is located within the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi.

The garden was created by the university authorities to serve two purposes; firstly to serve as a learning and research centre for the university’s agriculture students, and secondly, to serve as a park where students and visitors can go relax and have some quiet time or even have some small get-together.

While the park was largely built to serve the student and staff community of the university, it has over the years become very popular within the Kumasi metropolis, receiving thousands of visitors from the city, most of who visit there with the intent of touring the beautiful garden.

While the garden is opened 24/7, the best time to visit is usually between the hours of 6am and 5pm as you are more likely to encounter some of the rare insects and small reptiles like wild lizards living in the park. It also gives you a much clearer view of the garden for you to appreciate the beautiful and incredible tall tree species in the park.

For residents of Kumasi, the KNUST botanical garden is a must-visit especially for the lovers of flowers and gardens.

 

Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary

Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a predominantly bird dominated sanctuary located in Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital. The facility was established in 1988 under the presidency of Acheampong to serve as a major animal reserve in the Kumasi metropolis where wildlife can be well protected from human activities that possess danger to their survival as well as serving as a major eco-tourist site for tourists who visit the city and those living in the city.

Currently, the 13 square kilometre reserve boasts of more than 140 species of birds, some of which are among the rarest in the world.

Different species of monkeys are also found in the park together with other animals like bush pigs and antelopes.

Owabi also serves as a popular picnic and events park within the Kumasi metropolis as families, friends and organizations usually organize mini-events such as family get-together at the park, making it all round sanctuary capable of generating huge revenues for the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly.

For tourists looking to visit and tour the Ashanti regional capital, the Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary is a good place to consider starting your tour from.

Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary: Things to do, Best time to visit

The Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary is one of the many animal reserves in Ghana located in the Upper West region, precisely in the small town of Wechiau which forms part of the Lobi communities. The reserve is about 40 kilometre square in terms of land size and lies along the stretch of the Black Volta River, very close to Ghana’s boundary with Burkina Faso.

Aside Hippopotamus which are the dominant animal population at the reserve, the park is also home to other wildlife animals including bats, chameleons, different species of snakes, lizards, and over hundred species of birds and butterflies.

Tourists who visit Wechiau Hippopotamus Sanctuary also get the opportunity to ride in boats on the Black Volta which lays a few metres from the reserve and meet some friendly hippos in the river. This safari on the river is led by tour guards and boat drivers who are usually on standby waiting for visiting tourists to jump in and take the ride.

The sanctuary also has a special lodge built in the town, where tourists who intend to spend more than a day at the site can spend the night at a small cost. During the night the tourists enjoy some local drinks like Pito with the town folks who usually gather around small fires to tell stories and enjoy the humming of the forest birds together. This is one of the best experiences for tourists who have lived their whole life in cities like Accra and Kumasi where such gatherings are not common or in existence at all.

For the tourists whose main motive is to go and see the amazing hippos, the best time to visit the sanctuary is in the dry season, usually from August through November to January. This, however, does not mean there is no chance of meeting hippos if you go at any other time aside from the specified periods. Tourists can also visit any time of the year and meet monkeys, bats, some colourful and rare bird species and even snakes.

 

Aburi Botanical Gardens: The Pride Of The East

The Eastern region of Ghana does not boast of much in terms of tourism and side attractions as compared to the other areas like the Central region of Ghana. And in fact, the region is one of the less-visited regions for tourists who want to experience nature and some amazing monuments.

One place in the Eastern region which has however held the fort for the region in terms of tourism is the Aburi Botanical Gardens located on the Akuapem Ridge.

The Aburi Botanical Gardens which occupies an area of 64.8 hectares was first opened in March 1890 by Governor William Brandford-Griffith and one John Farrel, a Sierra Leonean Medical doctor.

In the 1900s, the garden played a significant role in the production of Cocoa as the garden specialised in the growing of cocoa seedlings and also served as a centre where research on Cocoa seedlings took place.

Over the last hundred years, the garden has undergone changes and modulation to become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the Eastern Region. The Garden which boasts of several plant and tree species such as the Kigelia and spine palm receives a lot of visitors during festive periods, while a lot of videos in the arts and entertainment industries are shot there due to the beauty and natural scenery of the garden.

So if you are in the Eastern region and looking for a tourist site to begin your travel adventure, then the best place to start this journey is the Aburi Botanical Garden located in Aburi on the Akuapem  Ridge. For lovers of trees and natural sceneries, Aburi Garden provides the best experience to have a closer look and feel of such an environment.

Attractions in Kumasi: Kumasi Rattray Park

Kumasi Rattray Park is one of the few modern recreational parks in Ghana. The facility, found in the Ashanti regional capital of Kumasi, was built and commissioned in 2015 under the presidency of John Dramani Mahama to serve as a place where families and friends could spend time together.

The facility is one of the busiest parks in Ghana, and receives hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. With beautiful tall trees and well-mowed lawns, Kumasi Rattray is the preferred destinations for families and friends who plan on a time out together, especially during festive periods like Christmas and Easter.

An artificial lake with aquatic animals, a gym, children’s playground, a spacious car park and free internet facility, are but a few of the attraction and facilities found at the centre.

The facility also features a few restaurants that offer both local and continental dishes for the park’s diverse visitors who come from different countries. The park also offers live Jazz music to visitors at night.

In recent years, however, the survival and sustenance of the park has been under threat with several media report concerning the state of the park. In 2018, there were wide media reports and news publication about the poor state of the park’s facilities, a situation which according to the reports had led to a sharp decrease in the number of visitors the park receives daily.

This compelled the government of Ghana to announce an upgrade of the park in early 2019 as part of measures to renovate the park and ensure damaged facilities are replaced or repaired.

With a land size of 42,000 square-metre and facilities to keep one entertained, the Kumasi Rattray Park is the ultimate destination for families that intend to go on a picnic or simply spend the day at a recreational park rather than home.

 

Attractions in Ghana: Ankasa Conservation Area

The Ankasa Conservation Area is one of the largest forest reserves in West Africa, located in Ghana in the Western region. The forest has been tightly protected by Ghana since the 1950s when the decision was made to make the area a forest reserve and protect it from human activities like logging.

In terms of land size, the forest covers a land size of 500km2 and is one of the few reserves in Ghana that consist of tropical evergreen rainfall and sees huge amount of  rainfall throughout the year, making it an ideal forest for wildlife.

The wildlife population of the forest is also quite impressive with over 180 species of birds and 630 species of butterflies, while animals like elephant, monkeys, chimpanzees and leopards can also be found in the park in their numbers.

Ankasa Conservation Area
Ankasa Conservation Area

Within the forest are other attractions aside the animals. These include the famous Suhien river which flows through the forest and forms a wonderful waterfall and the Nini Suhien National Park which is mostly used as a picnic and camping grounds for families and groups. The park occupies over 180km2 out of the 500km2 of the entire forest reserve.

Like most forest reserves, the area is opened to tourists and visitors who wish to tour the forest and experience the beauty of nature, but activities like animal hunting and wood logging in the forest are considered criminal and prohibited. Basic facilities like toilets, tent shelters for tired tourists and good water are readily available in the forest.

Information for visiting tourists

Ankasa Conservation Area is located in the Western region, close to the town of Axim and near Ghana’s border with Cote d’Ivoire. It is 365 kilometres from the national capital, Accra, meaning tourists from the national capital who intend to visit the forest must set off in the morning as it is about a six hour road trip.