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The Elephant Ran

Ghana’s Mole National Park is renowned for two things: being cheap, and having elephants, and it delivers on both counts. My first morning safari in Mole, on a beautiful harmattan leavened morning in late January, cost around £7.80 and delivered me a whole waterhole full of pachyderms.

It’s not so good for the other things. Despite having (somewhere) lions, hyenas, buffalo and various ungulates, the park isn’t really very good for seeing them, simply because it’s quite quiet. The animals don’t get used to seeing motorised monkeys following them about, so they get spooked easily. I got to see quite a lot of bouncing animal rumps as they fled in terror at the sight of tourists in a land-rover (the buffalo didn’t flee, as such, but still mooned us determinedly and refused to turn around). 

But elephant-wise, Mole (pronounced somewhere between Mole-A and Mow-lee) has got it covered. In fact, in retrospect I shoudl have stayed the entire two hours following the elephants as the group of males played around, murdered a few trees and and had the occasional paddle. When they moved off from the waterhole, a few of them were slow to catch on and had to run to catch up, creating the nicely dynamic shot above (I’m still trying to work out how an elephant runs with both its left feet on the ground – I’m sure a zoologist will explain it). Other elephant sightings around the park included a rather anti-social bull who took a dim view of us sneaking up on him and dummied a charge or two to keep us honest, and a sedate bather who – like the buffalo – only wanted to show her (?) bum but ended up flummoxed when the safari crowd had her surrounded so she didn’t know which way to turn (fortunately she didn’t get cross). Those aside, the elephants generally didn’t give a stuff about people peering at them, meaning the Mole meanderers got their measly money’s worth.

Clearly, if you only fly to Ghana to watch elephants, it’s not going to be that cheap. But if you have a cheap way of getting to Ghana and fancy photographing some ‘phants, head to Mole.