March 30-3, Mole National Park
After four hours travelling 15 km/hr on a washboard road in a van ( that may have had some holes in the floor), we arrived in mole looking five shades darker due to the thick layers of dirt that coated us from the ride. Especially Rose, who looked a little like a spray-tanned Malibu Barbie.
We then hopped on the roof of a safari jeep for a personal tour through the large national reserve park. Many of our childhood dreams came true as we spotted warthogs, baboons, and a handful of other exotic animals that we had only seen in our favourite Disney movies. We were just thinking it couldn't get any more exciting when we walked out of the forest just in time to see five large elephants coming towards us for a mud bath! We stood in awe watching these animals so enjoying covering themselves in mud. Made us wonder why we were stressing about how dirty we were- maybe these elephants have the right idea! Many of us were also surprised to know that the elephants are actually deep black in colour before getting their mud-baths. Another fun fact we learnt about the savanna elephant is that they are the second fastest land mammal only after the cheetah!
We then went to enjoy an afternoon frolicking in the pool - much needed after our week of hospital work! We spent the night in a quaint little guest house down the street and despite the lack of air conditioning and the swarms of bugs, we were soothed to sleep listening to Stuart McLean's stories (courtesy of Crystal's podcast downloads!) and awoke the next morning for day two of our safari adventure. This time, we took a nature hike through the woods, enjoying the peace and serenity of the forest and glimpsing more exotic animals. We would probably have seen more if not for the high pitch sqeals that we let out in spite of ourselves each time we saw something new. We lost count of all the Lion King references that were made over the weekend! Led by our handy tour guide (who carried an alarmingly long rifle), we tracked elephants to their water hole where we were again surprised to find seven more elephants having their baths! We could have watched them all day and would have joined them in a heartbeat if not for the abundance of crocodiles and an assurance that we would be in "bad business" if we did.
Another few hours frolicking in the pool and then we braced ourselves for the trek back to Tamale. Still just as bumpy but we are learning to enjoy these unconventional rides, playing 20 questions over the noise of the rattling trotro includes a lot of shouting, repeating and bonus questions! Some of us have even longer rides ahead of us to get to our smaller towns so we will consider this a warm up!
We all had such fun and many our African dreams were fulfilled. The beauty of the endless view of forest and nature are such a stark contrast to the busy bustle of the city that it is hard to believe we were in the same country. When we close our eyes and think of Africa, I think many of us will see Mole park and the magical things we saw this weekend. We are all heading into the next week looking a bit dirty and sunburned but ready to face any new adventures that the week may hold.