Heeeeey Mona - Tafi Atome Eco TourismWritten by:Zoe on: June 25, 2013
Who doesn’t enjoy a little monkey business? The Volta Region is rich with lush deciduous rain forests and has varying climates stretching across from Lake Volta to Togo on the east and up to the arid north plains – this makes good habitat for a number of small mammals, especially monkeys – the chances are though you wont get to see them close up. I’ve spotted a few monkeys swinging around in the distance in Adulka and Wli Falls but if you want to get close it’s worth a visit to Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary, one of a number of such sanctuary’s across the different regions in Accra, and close to Mount Afadjato, Tagbo Falls at Liati-Wote and Wli Falls.
If you make an early start from Ho you can probably squeeze in a visit to all three but probably better to stay in Ho Hoi – a little sleepier and less to do but with typical Ghanaian village charm and friendliness it’s a far more convenient base. The drive from Ho took us only 45 minutes along a winding mountain road.
We set out a little late at 8.30am and our drive from Ho took us only 45 minutes along a steep winding mountain road – a benefit of the roads being under development and newly gravelled. I noted a number of diggers on the way up but was confused to keep seeing signs pointing at a diversion when the road didn’t fork or have any turns off for the duration – the only diversion would have been to crash down the mountain side. With the ascent came mountain mist and an Out of Africa feeling.
Tafi Atome is home to about 300 Mona Monkeys (Mona Mona) and both the sanctuary and ‘Cultural Village’ has won awards for its eco-tourism. According to it’s poorly photocopied colour brochure the endangered True Mona Monkeys, watched over for 200 years by the chiefs and people of Tafi are believed to be sacred “an adornment to the gods and their nature.” The brochure goes on to say that with the spread of Christianity in the 80s, traditional beliefs fell by the wayside and the foresting for firewood and farmland put the monkey’s habitat at risk.
As well as monkeys the village offers village tours, trail walks, drum and dance lessons and the opportunity to live-in with a village family to see how local dishes are prepared and shared meal-times. Had we not had to head to Wli Falls I would have stuck around for the shared-meal experience nabbed some recipes.
Within two minutes of walking into the forest our guide withdrew a banana from his bag and started to make high pitched, lip-pursed sucking sounds that when I tried to imitate only made my lips unbearably ticklish. A few seconds later monkeys were swinging towards us in droves and we were surrounded at close quarters. With a little more lip-tickling encouragement the monkeys soon came out of the trees to feast and each of us banana in firm grip had a monkey eyeballing us – or rather eyeballing the banana, peeling it, scoffing it fairly quickly and darting away. At one point I had couple on shoulder (see video link below). My smugness was cut short when an unimpressed Mono started peeing on me from above but I left Atome feeling fairly satisfied with my monkey exchange and smelling only slightly of Mona Mona wee.
As with most tourist attractions non-Ghanaians pay a good deal extra but you can usually get a non-Ghanaian student discount at most places so bring your student id with you if you have one. It only cost 10GHC to visit Tafi Atome and the extra 1GHC for the bananas was well worth it.