The Splendor of Kakum National Park

The Splendor of Kakum National Park

Scientists have determined that the Upper Guinean rainforest in Ghana is vanishing fast, as farming and timber having claimed more than 80% of its original expanse. This can be devastating for unique species that depend on the forest, including the rare Diana monkey and the forest elephant, along with some 300 kinds of birds and 550 types of butterflies. One of the best places to see these and other species in their element is Kakum National Park in Ghana.

The park is a 375 square km national park located in the Central Region of Ghana. The dense vegetation provides cover for globally rare and endangered species such as the forest elephant and bongo – the largest forest antelope, as well as various types of monkeys, the Mona-meerkat, not to mention the forest buffalo and civet cats.

Chances of viewing this beautiful wildlife are increased by visitors allowing time to sit quietly in the forest and observing at one of the free-standing camps, or by taking advantage of some upcoming attractions such as the canopy walkways, viewing stations and blinds. You may even get a glimpse of a beautiful butterfly, new to science, which was discovered in 1993. This species has been appropriately named Diopetes kakumiú.

The park was first established in 1960. It is located 30km north of Cape Coast and Elmina near the small town of Abrafo. The entire area is covered with tropical rainforest.

In the mid-1990s the park installed a swinging skyway suspended amidst the rainforest tree tops known as the “Canopy Walkway.” At 40 m (130 ft.) height, visitors can approach the plants and animals from a vantage point that would otherwise be inaccessible to people. The Canopy Walkway passes over 7 bridges and runs over a length of 330 m (1,080 ft.). It is secured by a series of nets and wires for safety purposes. An additional viewing platform that will allow visitors to climb into the canopy without braving the Canopy Walkway is currently under construction. As guides and helpful educators, the park gamekeepers are specially trained in the medical and cultural significance of the local foliage. This education can add significantly to a visitor’s experience, as he or she will learn, see and experience sights and sounds unlike any other in the world.

Kakum National Park in Ghana is about 105 miles (a three-hour drive) from the capital of Accra and close to the beach resort town of Elmina, but if you want to stay overnight here, make sure you bring a sleeping bag and a tent. One interesting fact is Kakum’s guests are, unusually for an African reserve, over 80% Ghanaian, not foreign. As the saying goes, if it’s good for the locals, it’s good for the guests.

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