Aburi: The Great Hike

Yesterday Zec and I set about a great adventure. At some point last week Zec made it quite clear that he had no intention spending his entire holiday at the house. He wanted to see and experience Ghana. One of the suggestions I made was taking a trip to see Aburi. 

At an earlier point in the trip my Aunty Cecelia had told us about her weekly hikes up the mountain with her husband. So we decided that we would have a go too. Typically, hikers begin their expedition around 6am to avoid the blaring sun, but as we rolled out of bed in the late morning that was unrealistic for us. Eventually we left the house around 2pm and began our day’s adventure. 

We took an Uber to the toll booth, which marks the bottom of the mountain and asked to be let out. From there our walk began. At the beginning, we seemed to be making progress quickly, watching the nearby houses grow more and more distant. Though the day was somewhat clouded, we watched in awe as the vast expanse that is Accra stretched before us. Up the first section of the mountain we saw some of the most incredible mansions and multi-million valued houses, with balconies, fruit trees, and large windows. After sneaking some photos we continued our pursuit. 

Eventually we found ourselves in a different housing location, with temporary structures being used as homes. It was certainly a distinct from the mansions that we had seen less than a kilometre before. However, this area had its own unique vibrancy that spurred us on. The markets, with fresh fruits piled high created such a beautiful display that I was keen to taste the pineapples, mangos, oranges that looked so much more appealing than those being sold at the bottom of the mountain in Accra. 

At some point, as the sky started to darken, I became worried that we were likely to miss the attraction which had brought us so far up the mountain in the first place: the botanical garden. Knowing that the garden had a strict closing time aligned with the sunset, a crazy thought crossed my mind. Though we had already trekked 7 km up the mountain, should we run the last couple of km to ensure that we made it to the gardens before closing time. Without much hesitation Zec agreed and set and interval training timer to give us a last boost to our location. After taking a slight wrong direction on the advice of a local we found our way to the entrance of Aburi Botanical Gardens. My breath caught as I approached the drive of the park. 

Bordered by two rows of palm trees, the entrance to the gardens can only be described as a welcome imposition. The immense height of the trees in the gardens reminded me of the brevity of my time on this Earth as compared to the species we are sharing this beautiful planet with. We strolled around the grounds witnessing the hollow tree, the nutmeg field, the disused house, great Monstera among others. We took some pictures and marvelled at the beauty of nature. 

The only slight disappointment was the rundown state of the park. The plants had largely been left to their own growth patterns, some of the buildings looked unsafe to enter and the vegan restaurant and drinks bar was closed (though the park was still open). It was clear that the park had been a sight to behold in its hay day but had been somewhat forgotten of late. I felt slightly upset by this because with a little love and care, this site of natural beauty could be a true gem of Aburi. With some tour guides, tasting opportunities for the edible plants, more signage to teach visitors about the plants and a clearer story of the relationship between the plants and Ghana as a geographic space would have refined the experience significantly. This could justify an increased price for attendance which could then be reinvested in further upkeep of the park. 

After taking a loop around the park, our stomachs indicated the winding down of our adventure. We took a local taxi to Peduase Valley Resort where we got some dinner. The taxis in the Aburi area use a technique of collecting a number of passengers along the same route and maintaining a lower price for individual journeys. We ended up in a taxi with another young man and woman who appeared to be heading home from an afternoon together. Keen to hop out before the taxi became filled  beyond its intended capacity, we stepped out of the taxi and entered into the beautiful resort. From the pool lighting, to the food presentation, to the live music the hotel was absolutely beautiful and attended by Ghanaians. We had a lovely dinner – composed for me of a number of sides as I struggle to maintain a vegan diet in Ghana – and began our journey home. Unfortunately no Ubers wanted to collect us from the hotel and so we had to start our descent back down the mountain on foot. Eventually we were able to order an Uber that agreed to drop us as far as the foot of the mountain, which we were beyond grateful for. 

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