Sunday, 25 November 2012

Boti Falls

Campaigning in Koforidua
Some itches just need to be scratched. The Ghana Mountaineers' first river hike was fun, but a thunderstorm prevented us making it all the way from Akaa Falls to Boti Falls. This was a wrong that needed righting; we set off once more on the road to Koforidua.

Street marches are a common sight in Ghana at present, as people pledge allegiance to one party or another ahead of December’s election. They are noisy, colourful spectacles and are a welcome sign of the country’s stable democracy: there are few countries in this part of the world where opposing supporters could march peacefully in the same town. But when you are trying to make progress, they are a pain; having been delayed, we opted to start halfway through the previous route and head straight for the River Pom-pom.
Stephen in the water

After dropping quickly to the riverside, it became clear who was here last time. Those in the know pulled sandals or trainers from backpacks; the rest stared at the water. “Do we actually walk in the river?” Did you not see the pictures from last time, people? Yes, in the river. And for quite a long way.

And so we recommenced with the fun and games: slipping on rocks; watching butterflies; juggling to prevent cameras falling into the murky water; and trying not to think about all the water-borne tropical diseases that fill the health section of the Bradt guide to Ghana.

A snake
We ploughed on past our escape point from the last walk, certain that the falls must be somewhere up ahead but unsure exactly how far. In a deeper section of the river, Elena spotted a snake curled around a branch overhead. After some careful backpack shuffling, I managed to take a picture. Waist-deep in water, with a snake less than a metre above me – surely my most adventurous photo yet in Ghana.

After 2.5 hours of wading, and with wet shorts chafing and exposed ankles bruised by the rocks, the novelty had nearly worn off. Maybe those absent mountaineers with “prior engagements” had been right all along – where’s the fun in river hiking? And then we saw it through the trees – the twin drops of Boti Falls, crashing down ahead.  

We sped along the final few metres – past the rubbish dump that is obligatory at every beauty spot in Ghana – to reach our destination. Despite being soaked already, the cold water in the falls’ plunge pool was a welcome respite from the midday heat. Over two attempts, we had coped with thunderstorms, drunk guides, local kids latching onto us, ripped toenails, myriad cuts, bangs and bruises, and even snakes;* ours was surely the most well-earned dip ever in Boti Falls.

Done it!
* O.K., maybe just one snake. But there could have been others.


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