We found that the Lobi Villages on the Ghana side of the Upper Black Volta were friendlier than on the Burkina Faso side of the River. However, they were also somewhat more affluent in terms of access to civilized life. Nevertheless, this part of Ghana is quite traditional in lifestyle. The guide who took us to the Hippo Santuary also took us to the homes and villages in the area. We had a chance to visit with an old woman who clung to the fashion of wearing a plug in her lip. Her daughter however did not.
A very special place to visit in Wa is the old Chief's Palace, in the centre of the city. With a little bit of patience you will be able to get a great tour around the building, as well as the complete history of the chiefancy and the palace. The very interesting story about the chief of Wa is written in my General Tip about the Chief.
The first thing you'll notice when you get closer to the Chief's Palace, is that it is a complete ruin (at least in 2006 it was). This is obviously not the place where you need to be to arrange a tour. The building to the right of the palace, is where the family of the chief lives nowadays. When you ask someone (anyone actually) around the palace where you can arrange a tour through the building, they will all direct you here. Just enter and ask for it. Within 10 minutes they will find someone to be the guide.
The guide will take you, without discussing about a price, into the Palace. He explains about why there are different entrances in the building. Why the palace looks like a ruin like it does today, and what all the rooms are/were used for. The building is not big, and some part are too dangerous to enter because the roofs are all close to collapsing. But still, the tour took at least half an hour.
The last part of the tour was done at the small cemetary right in front of the palace. This is where all the old chiefs are buried. Here, the long, but interesting and surprising story about the history of this place, is told by the guide.
At the end, the guide asks you to pay a small fee for the tour, that you can decide yourself. I gave him 20.000 cedis ($ 2,-) for it, and he seemed OK with that.
On the way back to Wa from the Hippo Sanctuary we stopped at a marketplace. Actually, this may not be Lobi alone, but rather serves for a variety of tribal groups that live in the area. We observed sales of home-made beer, bicycle repairs, and foods of all sorts. This isn't a tourist market, so we caused quite a stir for having visited. The villagers were very friendly, and the children led us around to all parts of the market. Nearby, vaccinations were being given by a government medical technician.
Upon arrival, we were able to walk directly to the Wa Chief former palace. The visitor has to pay both sides of the family, which still feuds over the structure. After that, we walked down a narrow street of mud homes to a small mud mosque. Later, our taxi driver took us across town to visit another larger mud mosque. These structures are obviously quite old and still in use by local Muslims.
This Hippo Santuary on the Upper Black Volta is not a National Park. Rather, the local community has found tourism value in keeping the hippos protected, so poaching in rare. The Black Volta as this point serves as the border between Burkina Faso and Ghana as well, but since the Lobi also live on the other side of the river, cooperation is relatively good. See web links belowe for more information and images. A taxi will be needed for this trip, which takes nearly an hour from Wa. Our driver charged us $25- for the day. His taxi had a huge spider on the windshield, and at one point he stopped to check the mechanical condition of his aging vehicle. At the Santuary, we found a guide with a good command of English, who climbed into our vehicle. We drove as close to the river as boggy soil would permit vehicular traction, and then walked about 1/2 mile to where the canoe was hidden among some trees at the riverbank. The guide and boatman accompanied us, as we paddled up and down both sides of the river, hoping to spot a hippo. The rainy season had already begun, so the water was high and the river relatively swift. As it turns out the water was too swift for the hippos, and we failed to find any that day. Nevertheless, a canoe ride along the Volta River remains a memorable adventure.