Monday, 16 May 2011

Ghana Wildlife Tour III- Elephants of Mole

25- 27 March 2011
After hippos, it was the turn of elephants to give us a sighting, for which we were heading to Mole National Park. We took the Metro Mass bus going to Damongo and got down in the village of Larabanga. We saw the mosque, which is claimed to be the oldest in Ghana, just on the road. Last time when we had visited the village, we had paid 2 cedis each just to see the mosque. I started joking with Rahul and asked to give me 2 cedis since I showed him the mosque on the road. As we got down the bus, two guys came and greeted us and then started the haggling for taking us to Mole on their motorbikes. We tried to reduce the prices in vain. The guy who was taking me on his motorbike was riding very fast and seemed to have no proper control over his bike. I had to tell him a number of times to reduce the speed. At last we reached there safely and since we had escaped the Easter weekend rush, we got the accommodation in the dormitory.
Rahul was in touch with Osman, who works as a ranger guide in the park, and he has become friend with us during our last visit to Mole. He had told Rahul that the sightings of elephants were very common and the time for going to Mole was just right. We were very excited hearing about this from him. After reaching there, we met Bas and Jeanin, a VSO volunteer couple from the Netherlands. It was evening and the time for the animals to come to the water reservoir near Mole Motel where we were staying. There were many bush bucks, kobs (both are in the family of deer) and a variety of birds but no elephants near the reservoir. When Rahul went for the the observation deck, I could not resist the swimming pool and spent my time relaxing in the pool. These are some of the pleasures which are not easily accessible to me even in India.
Next morning, we met Osman at the information centre. Osman was very happy to see us and he kindly offered some porridge which he was drinking. We went for the morning safari with him and some other tourists. He took us on walk to the water reservoir and they were just standing there as if they were waiting for us, three giant elephants with their huge tusks. All the three were fully grown males. They wanted to get into the reservoir but stood still after they saw us. The other groups of the tourist were also brought at the same spot from different trails. They were being photographed from all the angles. From the way they kept standing there without reacting to the movements of the tourists, it seemed as if they were domesticated, but of course they were not. After a while they seemed to become eased and started moving their ears as if they were fans for the body. Each was standing by keeping its body in different direction and keeping close watch on the movements of the people around them. After some time they might have realized that there was no harm from the people who were watching them from the distance. They moved into the water and started wallowing in it. The lone crocodile on the bank of the reservoir ran away after seeing the elephants coming towards it. It would not have done so if it had seen us entering into the water. Poor humans!
We spent some more time walking around and came again to the opposite side of the reservoir when the elephants had came out of the water and their bodies were now looking black after becoming wet. They had started munching on the leaves which they were plucking from the huge branches they had cut from the trees. We returned back to the Mole Motel all satisfied with the sighting of the elephants. As against the last time, we did not see many bush bucks and deer. I was told by Osman that since it was dry season they had moved to other grazing areas where more grass was available. Seeing elephants in wild from such close distance was the most memorable part of this trip.
African Elephants in Wild
In the afternoon we went for the vehicle safari. This safari did not give us any sightings of the elephants but we could visit some far off wildlife trails and came across a violent fight between two bush buck males over the territory and sightings of some larger birds of prey. All in all, it was a good trip.
In the evening, Osman invited us for the dinner and he had cooked very tasty Jollof rice especially for us. I don't know when I shall be able to meet him again and don't know what to say about such hospitality and friendship at such unexpected places.
The day had finished and so was our trip to Mole. We started for Tamale in the next morning and it was Raj's house which gave us shelter and the hospitality for the day. It was the day for rest, laundry and make oneself prepared for the next leg of our journey.