When people think of Africa, big animals are usually what comes to mind. Think the Lion King. Being able to see those kinds of animals are typically associated with East Africa. While West Africa has significantly lower populations of those big animals, and some are extinct in the region, there is still a great place in Ghana for a wildlife experience.
Mole National Park is the largest national park in Ghana and one of your best chances to experience wildlife in Ghana.
Mole (pronounced mo-LAY) is mostly in Ghana’s Northern Region, with some of it stretching into the Upper East. The part that is accessible to visitors and tourists lies near the southern boundaries of the park.
The fastest way to get to the park from Accra is to take a flight to Tamale (pronounced TAH-mah-LAY) and arrange transport from there. The ride from the airport is about two to two and a half hours if you are going by a private car. Public transportation will take longer. If you are staying at one of the two hotels within the park, they may be able to arrange an airport transfer for you.
Where to Stay
There are three options for staying inside the park. You can camp, however keep in mind that every visitor must be accompanied by a ranger guide at all times. If you choose to camp, you will need to pay for a ranger guide to be with you the entire time.
This may be off-putting to travelers who are outdoorsy and prefer independent travel, however this is entirely for your safety. There are leopards, hyenas and elephants that all pose danger to you and the guides are trained and carry guns.
The other two options are a bit more accommodating: Mole Motel and Zaina Lodge. I had the pleasure to stay at Zaina Lodge and would whole-heartedly recommend it. The amount of thought and care that has gone into the place is incredible. The owners truly wanted to make sure that it is connected to the place and people there and that it benefits them.
What to Do
There are three activity options available at Zaina: walking safari, driving safari and community tour.
One the walking safari, a ranger guide will take you out to walk through the bush. The guides are all extremely knowledgable about the plants and animals in the park and will explain so much to you. This is your chance to get up close and personal with some of the animals in the park.
The driving safari allows you to cover much more ground than the walking safari. So, if you weren’t able to see many animals on the walking safari, you will likely have more of a chance to see some from the car. Keep in mind that all the animals in the park are wild and no sightings are guaranteed. However, the southern area of the park is where many of the male elephants live and roam. And the guides know where the water holes are, where you will have a greater chance of seeing some of the wildlife.
The community tour is also a real treat. You will get to go on a short canoe ride on the Mole River, meet some women who make shea butter and visit the Larabanga Mosque. With the wide range of ethnicities in Ghana, the culture in the north is very different from the south. Taking this tour is a great way to get a glimpse of life in northern Ghana.
If you’re looking for a great wildlife experience in Ghana, make sure you visit Mole National Park.