I have just come back from a great weekend at the Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary about an hour and a half from Wa. Exhausting but well worth the trip. A few highlights from the weekend:
#1 Going to eat at Uplands Restaurant in Wa. I had a hamburger, only the second time I have eaten beef since getting here, and it was delicious! The company (all VSO’s from Nandom or Wa) was great too and definitely lifted my mood.
#2 The hippos. We set out for Wechiau about 11am yesterday after already having our first setback. Ruth, a volunteer from Nandom, had her bike breakdown on the way to Wa and had ridden the last hour in the back of a pickup truck along with her bike. It was not able to be fixed so we had to borrow a bike from another volunteer for the weekend. The first hour of the drive to the town of Wechiau was not too bad. There we arranged for our guide and headed out the last 18 km to the sanctuary. Setback #2 was a flat on Mel’s bike (the one I was on) with 4 km to go. The road was brutal though, extremely sandy and hard to control a bike on, so I was more than happy to walk for a bit. We did manage to make it to the “lodge” in decent time though and thouroughly enjoyed a quick bucket shower. Then there was the 30 minute walk to the river, all just before a stunning sunset. Another wait for the canoe and then a ride in the dark to where we would sleep…..a treehouse.
I suppose I should actually just call it a tree platform, but it was pretty cool. Mosquito nets were set up and we enjoyed a gourmet meal of bread and tuna, the easiest things to bring for our “picnic.” Being miles from any artificial light source the sky was really amazing and I have to admit I love sleeping outside, even when there are some creepy crawlers around. The only downside was the it was freezing! I don’t know how cold but I had a sweatshirt on in addition to a tank top and pyjama pants and a sheet and that clearly was not enough. I ended up getting up in the middle of the night to put every other piece of clothing I had on to try to give me a tad more comfort. I guess a blanket might have been a good idea:)
It was off just after dawn to head down the river (Black Volta) to see the hippos. So cool. As you can see from the pics we didn’t get to see much more than their eyes, but it was so much fun just to do that. Last season when they did their count there were 18 hippos in the area. We saw 8 including a baby. Pretty good I’d say. Then it was the start of the long ride back (canoe ride, walk, sit and wait for someone to take the tire and get it fixed, ride back to Wa and then get the bus back to Jirapa). I’m wiped, but very happy:)