Els Slots (The Netherlands):
Kakum National Park is conveniently located about half an hour from Cape Coast, the major centre for tourists along the Ghanaian coast. I arrived at 8.30 a.m. and found about 10 other western tourists plus a school group of ca. 100 pupils waiting. They were all going to take the same tour as I was - tours start on the hour from 8 a.m. onwards and cost 9 cedi (4.5 EUR) for foreign adults.
The park has been entered on the Tentative List because of its rainforest, with a variety in plant species and mammals. It covers no less than 360 square km. All the visitors however had come for something else: the Canopy Walkway. The Ghanaians are very proud of it, it was the first on the African continent and even features heavily in the description submitted by the State Party. It consists of a 350m long bridge that links 7 viewing platforms.
Nowadays there are quite a number of these Canopy Walkways around the world (we even have a Connection for it), but this one was my first experience. The tour starts with a 15 minute uphill walk through the forest. There are rare animals in the park, but they are mostly nocturnal or wisely stay away from the well trodden path to the Canopy Walkway. With 100 kids aged about 8-14 on the path, one can imagine that even the last bird or butterfly will fly away to a more quiet spot.
The guide fortunately let the kids wait, and sent us adults out on the bridge first. Because we had walked up, at first it didn't appear that we were high above the ground. The only scary aspect was the moving of the ropes of the bridge. People with a serious fear of heights really shouldn�t try this.
After the second viewing platform or so, I really became aware that we were almost on top of the trees (30 meters above ground level). I rested a while at one of the platforms, and it was then that I spotted a couple of monkeys. At first I only saw some trees moving, but after some time the monkeys showed their faces. I guess they were Black-and-white colobus monkeys. They were too far away to photograph (it does take some practice to take photos from the swaying walkway anyway). I pointed them out to an American couple who had been at the same Cape Coast Castle tour yesterday as me: Ghanaian tourism is a small world. Most of the other people were too focused on the walking to enjoy the scenery.
It took about half an hour to reach the end of the walkway, an experience that I certainly would like to repeat somewhere else in the world. I finished this visit with a walk back to the entrance through the thick forest.
Will this site ever become a WHS? I don't think so, I haven't been able to find anything special enough about it that distinguishes this park from other rainforest sites. But when you're in Ghana, I certainly can recommend a visit.
Date posted: February 2010
Have you been to Kakum National Park? Share your experiences!