The Elephant Pond At Mole National Park

The Elephant Pond At Mole National Park

Editor takes time from his assignment to see wildlife at the nation's national park in savanna region of northern Ghana.

The one thing I really hoped to do while I was in Ghana, Africa, was see an elephant in the wild. For me nothing says Africa like an elephant. To see one in its home territory seemed like the key to a successful visit. So when I saw an article about the elephants at Mole (Mo-lay) National Park in the brochure for my guest house hotel, I asked around about how I could go.

Yes, I was told, there were elephants in Mole and sometimes visitors even saw them. This wasn't the best time because the rainy season was just coming to a close and with rich vegetation all over the huge national park; the elephants didn't necessarily come to their accustomed watering holes. But who knows sometimes you get lucky.

And, by the way, the road to Mole is notoriously bad. Make that terrible. It has huge gullies and is very hard to pass. If I really had to go, I could take the metro bus. It would leave at 1:30 p.m. arrive at about 4 pm. I could spend a night or two at the Mole Motel and return on the bus the following morning at 5 am.

Well, I asked around the ACDI/VOCA office and found some interest in traveling to Mile from other members of the staff. We arranged to get a driver to take us to the park. Turns out that Ben the young man who had brought me from the airport to the ACD/VOCA office was pretty experienced in traveling to Mole having made a living as a tour guide carrying passengers to the park.

So early on Saturday morning Ben picked us up and off we went to the park.

Below is a journal entry from that visit:

I went to Mole (Mo lay) National Park over the weekend. And I was told "no problem you will see a warthog from you breakfast table, but you will be very lucky to see elephants this time of year." Since the rainy season is just ending there is plenty of vegetation around the woods and no need for them to come to the watering holes where people come to see them.

So I sign up for the early morning bird watching tour because I can get into that. Only two others sign up and our guide Zak is the best of all time. Zak is really into birds and knows everything by its call and has 630 birds on his life list which is damn impressive for a guy who has never left Africa. He carries a huge rifle and a fancy bird scope.

We gather at 5 a.m. and about 6 the sun comes up and we are hiking through creeks and swamps and he is pointing out the gray hornbill and the red-throated bee eater and there are four kinds of herons and lots of ground birds and by about 10 it is getting damn hot and I have not even brought any water with me on what I thought might be a 3 hour jaunt at the most.

Finally after wading a pretty swift little current we come to a very cool tree house that overlooks a half acre pond about the size of ours. We climb up and sit on a bench and I notice that this tree house is built out of beautiful mahogany wood and Zak points to the tree next to us which is about 5 feet in diameter and says, yep that's mahogany too.

So we are sitting watching a pair of green tree hoppers feed their young in the cavity of a tree and relaxing and this goes on for another hour and then Zak jumps and runs down the stairs of the tree house and off into the woods. I'm sitting up at attention looking at the pond but my companions are dozing off and sure enough across the pond out of the woods emerges an elephant and another and another and another -- four of them waltz right smack into the water spraying each other as they go and they swim straight across the pond to us.

We get out of the tree house and stand on the bank and they climb out not 20 yards from us and start throwing mud around like college kids at a food fight. We stand and take photos for about 30 minutes and then they meander off into the woods. We follow them and catch up in the woods where they are just eating about everything in sight and unafraid of us walking around them taking photos.

Pretty cool to see a wild elephant -- as much as I do love the warthogs. The staff had to chase the baboons away because they would jump up on the table and snatch your dinner. Mole National Park – five stars.

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