Hohoe and the Wli waterfalls

Leaving Amedzofe in the morning I walked down to Vane and from there I found a motorbike to Fume junction. The driver was a French-speaking Togolese who had no English, basically because this part of Ghana already speaks his same native Ewe language. The bike ride through the roadwork and in the wake of a few heavy weight vehicles gave me a pretty powder bath.

As I waited for a trotro to come along, a young peddler leaned his bicycle hung with countless pairs of plastic sandals on both sides, complained about his harsh life and wished he could reach Europe one day.

From Hohoe I moved on to Wli, right next to the Togolese border. It is a tranquil village, formed by two communities run by different chiefs. In what was left of the day I enjoyed African village life heedless of tourist attractions. The pace of life and the relationship with the locals gave me a great feeling of empathy. Some women were drawing water at the pump, and the children were playing football on the school playground. A match was then played between teachers and pupils, but the age difference between the two groups was hardly noticeable. The sun went down, the sky tinged in orange and seemed to reflect the colour of the earth. I spent the evening chatting in the street where no cars pass, but loud music comes blaring from the baffles and drags everything and everyone to follow its rhythm.

The reason why I went to Wli are its famous waterfalls. Therefore, the following morning I had an early rise and set out for my jungle walk. When I said I didn’t want a guide, the ranger made me sign a declaration to undertake full responsibility for leaving alone. It must have been a technique to induce the last recalcitrant independent spirits to accept a scout, but I was not intimidated.

Soon after the quaint bridge across the stream, the forest environment was a reward in itself. The vegetation was incredibly beautiful with various trees and shrubs, their green or dead leaves scattered on the ground added colours and shapes to that amazing picture, but also the smells wafting in the air, some as mellow as fresh honey, accomplished the extraordinary sensory experience; add to that the murmur of the water in the stream, and the sounds of thousands of invisible creatures all around me. An endless column of ants that crossed my path looked like grains of black sand moved about by a mysterious current of water.

I couldn’t predict the waterfall could be so inspiring. A white ribbon of water dropped from the cliff, so high that the eyes could follow the surges drawing patterns and overlapping layers of watery veils before they splashed into the pool. Infinite droplets fell from the height, dispersed in aerial vapours and reunited in a white curtain. The intermittent splashing sound reflected the discontinuous flow of water, and little waves rippled the surface of the pool in spite of its shallowness.

Hundreds of bats could be heard screeching above, where in fact the rock face was literally dark with their bodies. I scanned the cliff in search for the path to the upper waterfall, but there was clearly no other way than a mountaineering climb. The cliff seeemed insurmountable, so I resigned myself to leaving the jungle without reaching the upper waterfall. However, a hundred metres on my return path I saw the start of a steep trail and I took it. It climbed a steep slope, and cut a clear way into the thick undergrowth, although the tangle of roots still clung firmly to the ground.

I was aware that the jungle enveloping me was teeming with life, and I was on my guard to face any unforeseen event, especially after nearly sticking my nose into a big cobweb, with a black spider sitting in its very middle. My reaction was so strong that I felt repulsed backward as if I’d been electrocuted by high-tension electric shock. I would have had only myself to blame for the consequences. From that point onward I agitated a stick before me to scare snakes away and open myself a path from obstacles.

On the last stretch I felt like in a sort of wonderland with decorative plants grown to unimaginable dimensions, their slender stems taller than me. At last the waterfall noise came within earshot, and finally into view. The secluded basin looked like a carefully designed garden, but it was probably just the work of nature. The only trace of human presence was a bottle of soft drink that nearly reassured me after the lonesome jungle experience, and reminded me I had not gone far enough from the uncivilised world.