From an entirely selfish point of view, Ghana is a gem for the traveller. It’s friendly, relatively safe, and underdeveloped to the extent that its natural wonder and beauty are left largely untouched, while having a surprisingly decent infrastructure, making it an ease to get about. Amadzofe, a small, sleepy village located in the heart of Ghana’s Volta region has certainly realised its own saleability to curious wandering folk. While of course ad hoc, and better for it, the village has established a small-scale tourist industry, from where Mount Gemi is easily accessible, as well as the not to be missed falls. Natural beauty abounds both in and around this settlement, containing no more than a few hundred people. For anyone a little sun kissed from days of lying on a sun drenched beach, the lush, fresh surrounds of this small, friendly affair is only ever a few tro-tro rides away…
Naturally, Ghana’s sporadically sprawling capital is the best place to start journeying up the country’s eastern slither, situated to the east of Lake Volta and nudged up against the Togo border. A good place to aim for initially is Ho, fifteen miles south of Amadzofe. On your way there you’ll cross the bridge at Atimpoku, certainly one of Ghana’s few impressive man-made sights. Ho in itself is certainly a pleasant place to rest, eat and while away a few hours, nested within the surrounds of lush, green hills. There’s a decent array of places to eat and drink, while information on the entire region can be found in the SIC building. Though useful however, don’t expect to go there and become overwhelmed by information.
South of Amadzofe then, Ho is certainly the logical launch pad from where a tro-tro can be found going direct to the village. Though a matter of only a dozen miles lies between these two settlements, don’t expect the easiest ride to Amadzofe from Ho, a large part of which is up a narrow mud track spiralling up the hills towards the village. It was raining heavily the evening I took a tro-tro up from Ho. By the time we started climbing up the hill to Amadzofe the mud track resembled more a dirty stream than a road, with a rather fearless driver seemingly blissfully ignorant of the dangerous angles the tro-tro was often leaning at over the hillside edge! Still, a few nerve-breaking moments and an eleventh-hour pact with The Almighty later, the sight of tarmac laid on the final stretch up to Amadzofe, filled me with a warm reassurance that life might still continue beyond this tro-tro ride!
Reaching the village the locals will almost certainly notice straight away you’re a stranger, henceforth follows a textbook case of Ghanaian hospitality, which is repeated in villages and towns, large or small, throughout this country. Within hours of arriving we had managed to arrange a day’s itinerary for the following day and were enjoying food cooked for us at the abode we had been offered for the night. Those looking for comfort may well be disappointed staying in Amadzofe. Though the beneficiary of a small-scale tourism project begun by a participant of the US’ Peace Corps, and now run by locals, visitors are likely to be placed in residential dwellings within the village, where bucket showers and rooms with no electricity are often the norm. The boundless enthusiasm and hospitality of the villagers though, can often make up for the lack of any degree of luxury.
Exploring the beautiful surrounds of Amadzofe is certainly what most visitors arriving at this village come for, and though sometimes exhausting, the views taken in make it a venture worthwhile. Guides are available (and virtually compulsory) for taking the trek up the nearby Mount Gemi and the climb down to the falls. At around 2600ft, more a hill than a mountain, the climb up Mount Gemi even for the only vaguely fit, is relatively easy as of course, Amadzofe itself is situated high up in the hills. Perhaps only distinct from other nearby peaks due to a metal cross erected on top of Gemi, the views from here are nonetheless impressive and well worth the relative lack of effort needed to reach its summit. A piece of trivia here and returning to its distinctive feature, being the cross erected at Gemi’s peak; the popular hearsay in the village is apparently that this was used by Britain and her allies in World War One; to intercept any signals being transmitted from inside bordering (what was then) German Togoland.
Mount Gemi may offer views of rolling countryside stretching miles into the distant haze but the more impressive sight by far are the falls located nearby. After a steep climb down to the falls is endured, reaching the upper and lower parts of the falls (in that sequence) is a joy. The upper falls especially, are a pleasure to savour. Where seemingly endless lush undergrowth gives way to an opening at the foot of the upper falls, random spray soothes and refreshes bodies exhausted and overheated by the trek down. The clearing offers a view over thousands of acres of untouched forest, stretching endlessly into the distance.
While the cost of a guide for Gemi and the falls is inexpensive, it is perhaps your muscles and not your wallet, that may pay the heavier price after the trek down and then back up to the falls has been completed! Though the climb down through the bush is more than worth any amount of pain caused by any muscles being reawakened for the first time in years, do be careful especially when exploring the falls.
Amadzofe is certainly worth adding to the checklist of places to explore when in Ghana. With its relative ease of access and the natural beauty that abounds around it, the village is also friendly where such pleasures as relaxing in local spots can still be indulged in. Leaving Amadzofe requires taking one of two courses of action. Of course a tro-tro can be caught going back to Ho, so long as you’re confident with the vehicle’s capacity to break (!), where it is easy to change for other destinations. Alternatively, a guide can be made available to walk you out of the village to the nearest village down the hillside with a tro-tro park that can be used by those travelling north. Indeed, if this is the intention, to travel north further through the region, then walking out of the village is a quicker way to start this journey, than travelling south to Ho and changing there. Bear in mind though, for the novelty of not using petrol for leaving Amadzofe, the cost of getting out by foot is triple that of securing a seat in a tro-tro! This said though, the cost of leaving the village by either means will still make a paltry dent in the western wallet.