Sprinting West Africa to Find Bases Bolgatanga, Ghana West Africa Friday, August 31, 2007
Normally in the Americas, Asia and Europe there are backpacker Base Cities. In these cities, the backpackers sit around and can tell you where the next small base city is located. More or less the conversation goes something like this, - We went to Cape Coast, stayed in the Sammo Hotel and end up staying a week. -
In Ghana, I would say presently Cape Coast, Mampong and Bolga are base cities. I go rough it for a couple of days going to a bad place to get a shower, hang out, and then know I am ending at a base. The problem here is the guidebooks are for NGOs, and do not think like backpacker. Being I do not have a 4-wheel drive, I need to find my bases.
I am thinking I may sprint travel Burkina Faso to find the base cities. Then returning later to enjoy the country. It is probably possible to be in Senegal in less than 10 days, according to how long it took to get Visas.
I am going to write my friend Stellan the bike rider and see if he can tell me some of the base cities. The Slovenia man I met could tell me a lot about Burkina, as he was a true backpacker. I need to map out all the smaller base cities or stocking up cities where I can recharge my batteries or the pleasant city and hotel to hang my hat.
What makes me think this were my last few trips. I Accra and was very lucky to find Nkawkaw, then I was going on a short trip to Kumasi and found Kumasi to be annoying to a level that I just got on the bus and went to Mampang. Again, I instinctively was lucky.
However, I have stopped now at every larger type city between Bolga and Mampong.
North to South
Bolga -Do not say Bolgabanga Walewale Savelugu Tamale Yeji - Lake Volta Hotel Prang Atebubu Eljura Mampong - Video City Hotel Kumasi Nkawkaw - Hotel de Ship
I would like to go back to Yeji on Lake Volta and say for three days, I now know I should have prepared in Mampong, and went and stayed in Yeji at a Hotel, and demand they carry clean water to my room.
On hindsight, I sprinted most of Ghana by accident and had no choice, any way I do it I sprint travel these countries by default.
I am sad, how can I return to Yeji easily? I left one of the best cities on my Ghana trip because I did not know I needed to stay. I sprinted through and on hindsight, I am sad. I am lucky compared to the boat trip people; they came in at night, left in the morning and saw nothing.
There is maybe High, Middle and Low development of cities. Then within any given city, you have the same Rich, Middle and Poor. The people living long the banks of Lake Volta are for the most part self-sustaining farmers and traders. The people in Tamale are doing something different for employment.
To go visit rather typical village in Ghana is difficult, there is no place to sleep. People drive in with 4 wheel drives, however not the way to understand people. In Yeji, the outskirts settlements are primitive, however just a walk away from a moderately ok camping hotel, you camp in a room. To walk around and not be the tourist attraction is what is needed. If I take a bus to one of the smallest village here, I will become the tourist attraction, as the village will come out to walk around me and look at me. While in Yeji, there was enough White people that stay for 2 hours of walk time. Therefore, Yeji is a great way to stop and see one of them small speck type villages on he maps and still stay in a Hotel.
Moreover, because Yeji is normal, the NGO are not there because it is not comfortable, while Bolga is full of NGOs. There are no Western style hotels for the NGOs in Yeji, only the backpacker level.
Ghana gave me a 30-day visa, what I can do; I do not have the legal Visa time to explore properly. Togo gave me one year, and Burkina Faso gave me five years. I guess I should just go and speak French in Burkina Faso and forget Ghana until next trip and stage a good trip to Yeji, Ghana on Lake Volta.
This 30 day Ghana Visa forces me to leave, and the world has many countries, there is not a need to visit or return to any.
I have by default sprinted up the middle of Ghana, I do not have time to sprint down the side and then back up to Burkina Faso. I did not know I should have stayed 2-5 days in Yeji, and I could have taken day trips from Mampong into Kumasi. Nkawkaw was great, and I should have stayed another three days. I should have stayed 1 days in Accra. Ghana is a lot more primitive in many ways than Togo, the swamp, water, Lake Volta creates a too rich in food to develop situation, I guess the “Resource Curse,” in action. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse