Sunday, 12 May 2013


The road to Krobo
The markers along the early drive to Krobo were all present and correct: stalls of bread sellers at Ashaiman; baboons lingering outside the Shai Hills; early morning joggers on the Akosombo road; the police reluctantly waving our car through their checkpoint, the diplomatic number plates meaning no ‘dash’ this time.

This was my seventh trip up Krobo and the route was equally familiar. I knew every rock along the way, despite the tall grass obscuring the path. But even well-trodden hills can throw up surprises.

Just beyond the short rock climb, Carolyn spotted a small grey snake crossing the path. This was the first snake I had seen on Krobo, and only the third in two years in Ghana – a welcome rare sighting. The bulge midway along its length suggested we were slightly less likely to see a mouse on route. After pausing while we took its picture, it slid off to digest its meal in peace.

A baby terrapin
An even bigger surprise was waiting at the top. In among the rocks at the summit is a small pool of water, which had been recently replenished by the rain. Something bobbing near the surface caught my eye; was that really a baby terrapin? I looked again and saw another further along, and another climbing the side of the pool. As we admired them, the mother, hidden in the grass, splashed into the water and disappeared into the depths of the murky pool.

It’s a mystery how they got there; there’s no other standing water for a long way, and the sides of Krobo are surely too steep for a terrapin to climb (and why would they bother?) Could a bird have dropped one while flying overhead? Could there be a cave system hidden within the hill, connecting them to rivers below? It is likely to remain a mystery for quite some time.

This wasn’t just a simple stroll up Krobo, however; our group continued to Stone Lodge through the scrubby plains of lowland Ghana. We took a bearing – none of this GPS nonsense, just binoculars and a compass – and set off due south.

Krobo in the background
Aside from the occasional thicket of trees, and ditches formed by cattle that were now filled with water, the route was fairly straightforward. But 14km is a long way in the heat of Ghana; as we reached Stone Lodge three hours later, I considered the fact that most of our fellow expats would – like the Krobo terrapins – have opted for a day swimming in the pool rather than a hike in the midday sun.

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