Palaces in Ghana: Wa Naa’s Palace

The Wa Naa’s palace is one of the oldest traditional palaces in Ghana, built in the early 19th century to serve as the traditional resident of the king of the Wala people. The palace which is located in the heart of Wa, the regional capital of the Upper West region, was built in ancient Sudanese mud-brick architectural style, giving credence to historical accounts that suggest that the Wala people, who today dominate the Upper West region, originally migrated from the northern part of Africa, precisely Sudan.

Unlike most buildings, the walls of the palace have large visible y-shaped structures striking out of the walls. According to historical accounts of the Wala people, the nature of the walls was purposely to protect the people, especially the royal family from the incessant attacks of the slave traders.

More remarkably, the magnificent structure built with mud-brick, still stands tall and strong without showing any signs of collapsing and continues to serve as political, religious and traditional symbol for the Wala people.

The palace as was centuries ago, still serves as the royal home of the Wala paramount chief with royals from all the numerous clans that have once ruled the Wala chiefdom occupying the huge palace. More uniquely, the graves of former kings are found right in front of the palace.

In 2009, the World Monuments Fund recognized the Y-shaped palace as one of the finest and last remaining ancient architecturally wonderful buildings that need preservation. To this, the organisation partnered with the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board to device means of preserving the structure using traditional materials and processes in order not to destroy its ancient appearance. The project was successfully completed in 2012.

Today, the palace is one of the most visited tourism attractions in the northern part of Ghana, receiving a great number of tourists every year.

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.

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.