A WALK IN THE PARK

Ghana 2016 | TOURISM | PHOTO ESSAY: KAKUM NATIONAL PARK

Kakum National Park is one of Ghana's most popular destinations and offers plenty to those willing to make the trek.

Kakum National Park is one of Ghana's most famous tourist attractions. Approximately 33km north of Cape Coast, the park is a couple of hours drive along the coast from Accra and has been visited by almost every Ghanaian that has been subject to a school trip over the last 20 years.

The park covers 360 sqkm of rainforest and was established as a national park in 1932. Officially, the park was opened in 1994 and is managed by the Ghana Heritage Conservation alongside USAID/Ghana. The main attraction, other than the selection of animals that call Kakum rainforest home, is the canopy walkway, a wooden “rope bridge" 30 meters long and above the trees that was built by two Canadian engineers in the 1990s

The dense foliage is home to seven primate species, including the Diana monkey, over 500 species of butterfly, 250 species of birds, as well as the African elephant. According to a survey in 2012, Kakum is home to the densest population of African forest elephants in the world.

Most visitors travel there by private car or bus, bumping over the Jukwa Road to the entrance of the park. The park is open from Monday to Saturday, but to avoid crowds it is worth getting there early. If you are Ghanaian the entry fee is GHC20,00 and, as a foreigner, it is GHC50,00 per person.

The thing that draws most of the crowds is not the rainforest itself, but the canopy walkway. On entering the park you will be assigned a guide, who will walk with you through the trees for about 20 minutes to the walkway. Visitors should be warned to take comfy shoes, as the walk to the walkway is up a windy path and the uneven trails could be difficult for some.

The walkway is made up of seven bridges that run over a length of 330 meters up to 50 meters above the ground. It is made out of a series of wire rope, aluminum ladders, wooden planks, and safety netting and offers visitors a stunning view of the endless foliage.

There are six wooden viewing platforms where visitors can really get a birds eye view of the greenery. Keen bird watchers can bring binoculars and spend time spotting the likes of the Frazer-eagle owl or the African grey parrot. A guide will be with you at all times, explaining the fauna and about the Kakum river, from which the rainforest gets it name.