If all this walking, bid spotting and safari-ing is making you tired, how about lazing around the pool for a couple of hours with a good book. Most game walks are early morning and late afternoon (that is when the animals are most active), so you usually have the rest of the day for relaxation. Only one word of warning: there are no sun loungers, you need to either spread your towel on the hard concrete, or sit in any of the upright chairs.
A very rewarding pastime at Mole National Park, is to spend some time just watching the comings and goings at the waterhole. We spent a couple of hours with binoculars, keeping an eye on the crocodiles that were keeping an eye on the antelopes. Two elephants appeared and went in for a swim and a drink. In the distance we saw another bull elephant get nearer and nearer, and by the time he approached the waterhole, the original two elephants got very twitchy. A standoff ensued but eventually they let him come and play in the water too. They did, however keep their distance all the time he was there, and I could see they were keeping a close eye on him. This is nature unfolding before your very eyes – much better than watching it on TV!
One of the most popular activities in Mole National Park, is a walking safari. These take place early morning (usually leaving the lodge around 06:00, just as the sun is rising; and around 15:30 or so in the evening, ensuring you return by sunset). You are accompanied by an armed ranger, who will act as your guide, bird spotter and naturalist too. You will cover approximately two-three miles during your walk, over uneven ground, so good, sturdy shoes or walking boots are a must. I would also recommend long trousers for the walks.
We saw a lone bull elephant within yards of the motel on our early evening walk. We also saw many antelopes, crocodiles and a few birds. The evening walk was more fruitful in terms of spottings: as well as a few different elephants, we also saw several monkeys along with antelopes and crocodiles. I was quite surprised at just how close you could get to the elephants – it is the closest I have been to one on any walking safari we have ever done.
There is a fabulous raised viewing platform across the waterhole from the hotel. As far as I know, it is only accessible by foot. It is wonderful peaceful to spend some time just sitting there (bench seats are provided), gazing out over the water. We spotted elephants in the background, crocodiles swimming across the water, many birds as well as kob and bushbuck.
Not far from the pool, in the hotel grounds, there is another viewing platform with fantastic vies across the watering hole. We saw several elephants, monkeys and various antelope, not to mention a myriad of birds. There are a few chairs there and you can bring drinks down from the bar. A great place to watch the sunset.
We had the opportunity to take a 4x4 safari into the park over lunchtime. Six of us took up the offer which in most other places would have posed a problem as there were only four seats in the car – but this is Ghana! Simple! Two people sit on the roof! Noah got a couple of camping mattresses to make the roof rack a little more comfortable, and off we went.
Having a vehicle means you can access other parts of the park which you are unable to see on foot. We took the Samole Loop which was about eight miles long. The standard of the track varies, and it is not recommended to do this trip if you suffer from back problems (just don’t tell my chiropractor!)
We saw the same type of animals as we’d seen on the walking safari in the morning, but it was nice to do something different. We spotted elephant, kobs and monkeys.
There are said to be over 300 different species of birds in the park, but I was quite disappointed that we didn’t see more than we did. We saw a few different species, but nowhere near as many as I expected. Amongst the ones we saw were:
Grey headed kingfisher
And last but not least, you can also relax perfectly in Mole N.P. When you've done you safari's in the morning, you can spend the rest of the (always hot) day in the swimming pool doing absolutely nothing! The water is very refreshing, though not so clean, but who cares when you're enjoying the sun and the great surrounding, while your drinks will be brought to you in the pool!
When you are in Mole N.P., you should really use the opportunity to visit Larabanga, a small but famous small village that is very nearby. You can charter a jeep to take you there and show you around the village and its famous mosque, the eldest in Ghana!
Expect to pay about 40.000 cedis (4 dollars) for transportation per person.
More information about Larabanga will soon appear on my (to be built) Larabanga-page.
The Mole Motel is situated on top of a green hill. Down the hill there are two water ponds where animals come to wash and drink. Close to the Motel there are two viewing platforms from which you have a great view over the ponds and the very beautiful, green environment. One is located at 20 metres from the swimming pool, and one right behind the "L" building with bedrooms and dormitories.
Another way to see animals at Mole is the Jeep Safari. To be honest the foot safari is a better way to get close to the animals and to take pictures of them, but the jeep safari is special in its own way and it's absolutely abventurous! When I did the tour, I drove through rivers, got stuck in the mud and nearly got attacked by an elephant!
An hour with the Jeep costs 400.000 cedis (about 40 US dollars). This will be devided by the number of passengers that get into it. 8 people is the maximum: very packed, but 7 people inside and one on the rooftop is possible and is a cheap option of course!
You can start a Jeep Safari any time you want by arranging it at the Motel's reception, but it's advisable to do it in the morning, when it's not too hot outside yet.
One of the two safari option in Mole N.P. is the foot safari. Guided by a ranger you will cross the area around the Mole settlement, with a big chance of seeing lots of animals. Most of the baboons and the warthogs live close to the village and are used to humans, so they are very easy to spot. For Green Monkeys, antilopes and of course the elephants you have to have a bit more luck, but in 2 hours time I saw all of them!
The foot safari takes 2 hours at 20.000 ($2 US) per hour. One walk leaves at 7 AM and one around 2 PM.
It's pretty easy to shoot a full 500mb SD still camera card per day just on the elephants alone. These are interesting and very intelligent animals, and it's a relief to see them in the wild, rather than in a zoo. The elephants at Mole are not particularly afraid of humans as they are in some other parks in Ghana. And, relative to life in the zoo, these animals did not look depressed or bored.
I recommend that if traveling with a companion, one person shoots the video while the other shoots still images. We generally prefer watching video, but a few good still images in full color are very nice to hang on the wall or put in your VT pages.
Mole has the largest herds of Elephants in Ghana. They are not as large as other parts of West Africa, such as in Mali for example, but they are considerable animals in size nevertheless, and certainly larger than Indian Elephants by my reckoning. The Elephants browse around the park employee houses, which is somewhat unfortunate, but they will meander through eating their way to the watering hole by mid afternoon. Lone males and females with young in groups are easy to find within walking distance of the hotel.
The ecosystem is quite rich in terms of the variety of deer. I am not an expert in this area, but any wildlife guide can tell you the species. We saw some spotted species that were quite fast and could jump high over fallen trees. There were also fairly large horned species that we saw mating.
When the wind shifts, the herd runs downwind. Noses in the air, the leader of the herd decides where to run, and everyone stampedes in his direction. These are large animals whose only predators could be big cats or humans. I found it difficult to shot pictures because of their tendency to run behind bushes. Then, they would run out into the open again.