Sometimes, the means is much more gratifying than the end. Our attempt (and eventual success) in getting to the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary proved that process trumped product.
A 3:30AM wake up to be at the public bus by 4 was only the beginning. Jostled and shaken by the piste to first get to the town of Wa, we disembarked the bus groggy after a 6 hour bus ride ready for a few Advils and a good nap. We were able to get some relief that evening, knowing we would need our energy for the trek to this remote sanctuary on the Black Volta river and we didn’t want to spend close to $100 in a private taxi for an 60 km trip to see some hippos. Our only other option was shared local transport.
After a good breakfast, we arrived at the tro-tro station at 8:15AM. Waiting for the tro-tro to fill up can take as quickly as 5 minutes or in our case, about 1 ½ hours. And in Africa, that’s not too bad. I thought that in order to expedite this departure, I would buy Alex a spot so I sprung for another 2 cedi (or $1.20) seat.
And in usual fashion, more people than seats piled into the vehicle, leaving the driver’s assistant with a seat on top of the ballooning van.
We arrive at the vistor’s center only to wait again (2 hours) for a driver for the tro-tro to the river, for the paddles for the canoe, for the life jackets, and finally for the canoe rower to finish 2pm prayer.
And did we finally see some hippos? Yes, a few hundred meters away were some mamas and babies, cooling off.
Again, Alex was a magnet for the children in the village who could not get enough of her.
And the quick and dusty trip back- an 1 ½ hour wait for a Ghanaian convertible, aka a flatbed cement delivery truck.