Kukum National Park – Cape Coast

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Written by:Zoe on: June 29, 2013

The 170km journey from Accra to Cape Coast is a 3 hour drive – some of this time is taken up with some crazy traffic jams… another 33km north of Cape is the 350km2 Kukum National Park.

Described as ‘virgin rainforest’ the park offers a number of attractions including nature trails, hiking tours, camping and there are some interesting wildlife and mammals to be seen if you have the time to explore it fully which include according to the Kukum National park website: forest elephants, buffalo, leopard, bongo, yellow backed duiker, red river hog and primates.

We came with one thing in mind: the hanging bridge in the forest canopy.

I was in two minds about whether to make such a long journey to Cape Coast with only three weeks stay in Ghana but as soon as I learnt that Elmina was the birthplace of our great-grandmother and the root of our Fanti ancestry I was intrigued. When I also found out there was a chance to walk 40m above a rainforest using a chain of potentially life threatening canopy bridges – I was there.

As you leave the Accra suburbs, naturally the landscape changes – it’s increasingly vertiginous and dewy, the air is cleaner and in the humidity the fragrance is sweeter and occasionally fuddled with smoky wood burning and the smell of roasting maize.

It was an interesting micro anthropological survey to observe the different foods and goods people were selling as we moved further west. There was a lot more variety in the fresh vegetables sold roadside. For example for the first time I saw people selling potatoes – they were giant potatoes at that. As big as large aubergines I didn’t recognize the strange objects and had to ask what they were. Naturally as we got closer to closer to Cape Coast, the Central Region (the Fanti motherland), Fanti Kenkey was ubiquitous. For long stretches between villages’ people exclusively sold watermelon, pineapple and.

When we eventually arrived we had to do some bartering with the staff on the price – although I had checked the website that morning for entry prices, the list price on arrival was 15GHC higher. Nana worked his friendly magic to snag a group discount.

The Canopy Walkway passes over 7 bridges and runs over a length of 330 meters and is obviously very scary. I tried to take pictures and video of the walk which meant walking one-handed – this was a bad idea for nerves. If you look straight ahead – it’s fine – if you try to take in the view or look down, you wobble. Wobbling on this precarious structure with only loose and low-sided mesh either side of you, especially if you are tall is problematic. If someone gets jittery, the whole bridge wobbles and everyone has to stop. My advice: if you go to Kukum, do the walk – it’s a great and unusual aspect of the forest but save the looking about you for the pit-stops at connecting bridge plinths and keep both hands on the ropes.

This was huge fun and when it was over I was almost sorry. Almost.

Crossing the Canopy Walkway (Video)

Young cousins Ku Koo and Nana

Young cousins Ku Koo and Nana

Kukum National Park

Hiking up to canopy Walk

Me geeking out in a poncho

Me geeking out in a poncho

Kukum National Park

Kukum National Park

3 brave souls about to walk out onto the 40m high canopy

3 brave souls about to walk out onto the 40m high canopy

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

Canopy Walk

 

Fanti Kenkey

Fanti Kenkey on head

Fresh Vegetables roadside

Fresh Vegetables roadside

Man carries goat on head

Man carries goat on head