An obvious day trip to do if you’re staying in Cape Coast is Kakum National Park, well known for its canopy walkway. To get there from Cape Coast, you could hail a taxi and ask them to take you all the way there (don’t pay more than 50 cedis total for this), or you can hail a taxi to go to Pedu (10 cedis) and tell them you want to get off where the trotros go to Kakum. It’s about 20 minutes to Pedu and then an hour from there to Kakum.
The drive is interesting because you pass some very basic villages with little houses made from what looks like clay, and some made of wood. Basically everything is beige. The funniest part about these villages is that they appear to have absolutely nothing modern, but never fail to have a brightly painted sign advertising the next European football match that’s going to be shown on TV in one of the clay-ish buildings.
Some of the roads are very bad (aka the tarmac has worn away so they’re basically just made from dust and they’re really uneven)… and at one point the taxi driver kept complaining about the road condition, and then to my surprise, he asked me if I want to drive. I’m not really sure why he thought this would make the situation any better, but of course I said yes (when you’re travelling it’s generally good to say yes to most things)…
Thankfully there weren’t many other cars around and I basically just went in a straight line for a few minutes before we swapped back. When I was done, I asked what would happen if the police saw us, and he said they would just ask for a fee of about 10 cedis (£1.60) and that would be all.
The transport will drop you at the gates of Kakum National Park, and there are people outside selling snacks and drinks from baskets on top of their heads. I would recommend buying from them (at least some water) because 1) I’m 99% sure they need the money more than the restaurant inside does… 2) You’ll want water for the hike to the canopies… and 3) It’s cheaper than the Kakum restaurant’s prices.
As soon as you walk in the gates, you’ll pass a little security hut where you have to pay about 2 cedis per person just to enter the National Park full stop. You’ll then walk up a hill for about 5 minutes until you come to a toilet block (take advantage of this, because the toilets actually flush and are clean and have toilet paper, which may be more than you can say for your accommodation!).
Next to the toilet block is another building where you pay the fees for whichever hike you want to do. The main option is the basic canopy walkway hike, although there are other longer ones (a few hours) including talks about medicinal plants or opportunities for bird watching. For the canopy walkways, it costs 60 cedis for a non-Ghanaian adult and 40 cedis for a non-Ghanaian student. If you want the student price, you have to bring student ID. There is also a very adventurous option of camping in a tree house deep in the forest which I think costs 60 cedis for a non Ghanaian adult, and includes some hiking too.
After paying, you’re given a receipt and a pass to hang around your neck. It’s best to then go through to the area with the souvenir shops and restaurants and wait on a bench there until an announcement is made on the speaker system saying that the next tour is about to depart. This system basically means that you get lucky if not many people enter the park at the same time as you, because then your group will be small for the hike.
You have to go with the group and guide, but it’s quite chilled and they ask if you want rest breaks from time to time. The hike up to the canopies takes less than an hour and it’s not very challenging. I did it in flip-flops no problem.
Once you reach the canopy bridges, the guide gives a little talk about how they’re very safe because the ropes are replaced every few months. I’m inclined not to believe this, because they looked quite mouldy, but who knows.
There are nine bridges in total and you can go across them at your own pace and stop for as long as you want at the platforms in-between to take pictures etc. I’m not really scared of heights, but it was actually a bit scary! The bridges actually go down about 30cm when you first step on them, and they’re really wobbly. The little platforms are also a bit uneven, so in general I felt like I had to be quite careful! It was really cool though. All you can see around you is thousands of trees, and you can just hear the sounds of the forest.
After the bridges, it’s about 40 minutes to hike back down to the restaurant area. There are lots of benches in the shade there, and the restaurant seemed quite popular with the many Ghanaian people who had done the canopy walk. It had typical Ghanaian food but also some more ‘international’ things like pizza. The prices were obviously more expensive than street food, but still cheap by European standards… I think approximately 30 cedis (£4.80) for a big meal.
So overall, I’d say Kakum National Park is a fun day out, suitable for adults and children. Remember to have water for the hike, and don’t look down if you’re scared of heights!!