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Safaris in Ghana on a Budget

Mole National Park Offers an Adventure Alternative to More Expensive Tourist-Driven Safaris

Herd of elephants, after bathing, in Mole National Park, Ghana
Herd of elephants, after bathing, in Mole National Park, Ghana.

For the adventure-seeker, a safari is a dream vacation bringing you as close as you can get to nature. For a traveler, it’s a creative opportunity to immerse yourself into African culture and see some of the world’s most magnificent natural sites. Unfortunately, safaris can cost an arm and a leg and you’ve probably already spent that on airfare. Mole (pronounced Moe-lay) National Park in Ghana’s northern region is the solution to high-priced, tourist-driven safaris offering a more off-the-beaten-path experience.

This park is not only cheap, but you’re guaranteed to see savannah animals. It’s famously known for its elephants, with a herd of more than 800. Rare species of monkeys, baboons, antelope, and warthogs are prevalent. You may even come across a pack of lions. With the combined costs of entrance fees, accommodation, tips, and your personal armed ranger (which is required upon entering the park), you are looking at a safari adventure that’s roughly $20 per person.

Regardless of its remote location (up to seven hours from Accra), Mole National Park is easily accessible from any major city in Ghana. To get there, travelers can choose between car rentals in Accra or boarding an STC bus found in all regional capitals.

For accommodation there’s a nice upscale hotel located inside the park known as Mole Hotel. The hotel has a swimming pool, a restaurant that serves Western and Ghanaian dishes, and bike rentals. Prices vary, depending on whether you choose a single, double, or suite. All rooms have electricity, bathrooms, a fan or air conditioner, and balconies that overlook the lower savannah valley.

Most people flock to eastern or southern Africa and don’t even give West Africa a second thought. The next time you visit Ghana I highly recommend Mole National Park.

For More Info

Mole National Park is on the tentative list for World Heritage designation. It is the largest and most prestigious protected area in Ghana under the auspices of the Wildlife Department. The park represents a fairly undisturbed guinea Savannah ecosystem dominated by open savannah woodland. Over 93 species of mammals, about 400 species of birds, 9 amphibian, 33 reptilian and several insectivorous species and 5 endemic butterfly species have been recorded, according to UNESCO. Mole has an important history linked to the national slave trade route project. The ancient caravan route from Salaga to Wa and beyond to Mali, passed through the heart of the park. There is a cave in the Konkori escarpment that local indigenous people used as a refuge from slave raiders. Other important park sites include wetland areas, waterfalls on the Koukori escarpments, and remains of old villages destroyed by slave raiders.

STC Buses: These luxury buses are the equivalent of Greyhound buses in the U.S. Take one from Accra to Tamale, then either transfer onto a tro-tro or rent a car and driver going to the town of Larabanga, the entrance to Mole National Park.

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