Today was by FAR the best day of the voyage so far, even considering my sore butt from 9 hours (fortunately not in one stretch) in our cute little Korean(!) bus on bumpy, often un-paved roads. Ghana - lovely, honestly friendly people, lush vegetation, fascinating villages of mud huts that look perfectly comfortable, somehow.
We traveled about 5 hours in the morning on terrible roads through beautiful scenery to the trailhead for Afadjato Mountain, near the Togo border. We did have one stretch break when we had to all get out and push our bus out of a muddy pot hole! The hike was STRAIGHT up - no switchbacks and about 850 meters (more than 2400 feet) gain in an hour - KILLER! I came close to not making it, but persevered in the end - yippee! And coming down was actually OK for me - my knees didn't bother me, and I didn't fall (luckier than others). The view, as expected, was grand, with Ghana on one side and Togo on the other.
Once safely down, we drove another 2 hours to the Agumatsa Forest Reserve, where we hiked a blessedly flat jungle trail, crossing 9 bridges in 45 minutes to arrive at spectacular Wli Falls. The falls were unlike anything I've ever experienced - 60 meters high, steep cliffs on either side, somehow creating gale-force winds directly in front of the falls. You have to back up through the pool towards the falls, since the spray felt like driving sand on your skin and the face is too tender for that. I didn't get very close to the falls - punishing! But completely exhilirating. The cliffs on both sides of the falls were covered with fruit bats. Thousands. Some flying, most hanging, upside down, the way bats do, you know. The forest we hiked through is full of tall bamboo, rustling in the breeze, scattered coffee trees loaded with berries, bananas and their larger cousin, the plantain, philodendron, palm, and lots of trees completely unfamiliar to me. Giant millipedes and tiny fire ants in a thick stream would cross our path periodically, and brightly colored butterflies were everywhere. Two students from Honduras said it reminded them of home.
I should point out that, although we spent a LOT of time on the bus, that was also an important and enjoyable part of the day. Sam Ametewel, our guide, taught us basic phrases in the local Ewe dialect (all signage is in English, and many speak English, but not with each other). We learned: