Sunday, 11 September 2011

Mount Krobo

Five am is an early hour to get up for a walk. I was still bleary eyed as I wandered over to the small group standing outside Accra’s El Wak stadium; with an assortment of poles and rucksacks, they could only be the Ghana Mountaineers. Introductions were made and we set off for Mount Krobo, on the road from Accra to Akasombo.

Krobo is a granite inselberg that bursts out of the surrounding plains. It is sacred to the local Krobo people, having served as a hideout from Ashanti slave raiders in the 1700s and also from the British in1892. In typically ruthless style, the British forced them down by cutting of the water supply (the mountain is almost dry) and killed them when they came down. A cheerful story to kick off my walking in Ghana, I thought.

We parked at the foot of the mountain, from where a path led steeply up the through the rocks and tall grass of the northern slopes. After 15 minutes of steady going, we arrived at an outcrop. Kevin, the organiser of the club, said there were often baboons there. Not today, but the views across to lower Lake Volta more than compensated, the morning sun turning the overnight cloud into a haze.

Shortly afterwards we passed the site where the Krobo people had hidden all those years ago. Evidence of their stay can still be seen underneath a small rock overhang, including rock paintings, and smooth stones where people had ground flour.

Another push and we reached the summit at 07.30. Felix got the breakfast barbeque going and a small group of us went to explore a nearby outcrop. More fantastic views across the green Ghanaian plains that lie north of Accra, and I was particularly appreciative as this was the first time I had seen anything outside of the city.

Two bright orange sunbirds danced around in the branches beneath us as we climbed carefully down from our precarious viewpoint, and we returned to freshly cooked sausages (or the meat eaters did at least). We also went to check on the mango tree planted a year previously by a now-departed group member; it was still there, fighting its way through the thick grass.

The route down proved a little trickier. The mountain is not grazed regularly, and as it was the end of the rainy season, the grass was over 10 feet high. Despite Kevin’s enthusiastic machete-hacking, we took one or two wrong turns. The grass also proved something of a heat trap, blocking out the morning breeze; the reason for the early start became clear – it would be far worse in the midday sun.

Eventually we dropped out of the grassy maze into a small clearing with a collection of half-completed buildings. These are the remnants of a Peace Corps-led tourism enterprise that failed to take off. A man from Krobo village walked up and tried to charge us for walking on the mountain, but gave no explanation of who he was or why we should pay. Nice try. We declined and walked off to the strains of Twi cursing and headed off back towards the vehicles and, soon after, a thirst-quenching Star beer.

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