My Walk on the Wildside by Nicole Schmidt

Mondy began at 5am as we left to head to Kakum National Park, a rainforest preserve, 3 hours from Accra. I was so excited to actually be going to the rainforest!

Our tour guide was Fred. He led our group, Debi, Beth, Lisa, Tana, Moses, Ali, myself and 2 other Americans up the pathway to the canopy. The path was very rocky and sandy with many tree roots throughout. Halfway up there was a little stand where you could buy a coconut and drink the milk while you took a little rest. We toughed it out and kept walking. The walk was so quiet and peaceful. The only sounds were those of the birds chirping as we climbed the 550 meters to the top. It doesn’t sound hard but when it is a steep, rocky slope it is!

We finally made it to the top where we climbed a wooden ladder to a tree house large enough to hold about 10 people. This is where the excitement began! Stretched between 2 trees and about 40 meters above the rainforest floor was a swinging rope bridge. It was made of metal ladders covered with wooden planks no wider than 12 inches and woven rope sides. Not for the weak at heart! I was so excited to walk across this bridge! It was amazing and breathtaking to be standing that high above the rainforest! The only sounds were the birds in the trees. On the second bridge I stopped in the middle to photograph the most beautiful, orange butterfly. There were white butterflies everywhere but none stayed still long enough to photograph. On the platforms around the trees, between the bridges, you could see for what seemed like forever. By the time I reached the last bridge I was a pro and took the team’s challenge to walk across without holding on. I’m proud to say that we all were able to do it!!!
We then hiked back down, stopping and taking a picture of a lovely, blue butterfly. A much easier hike than the one going up! We stopped for water at the real “Rainforest Cafe”. This was an amazing adventure!!!

After leaving Kakum we went to the monkey reserve owned by a lovely Dutch couple,
Annette and Dennis, from the Netherlands. Their mission is to rescue monkeys, as well as other wild animals.

The first monkeys we saw looked like they were from Star Trek. Their names were Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. We then came upon a White Spot Nosed monkey who became my best friend. I reached through the bars of his cage and began to scratch his head and neck. He then turned and lifted his arm for me to scratch his belly. So cute! Loved him!

We then continued on our way through their little park seeing several other monkeys and making our way up the steps to the next level. All of the steps and pillars are made from rock they broke themselves with hammers. Amazing! We then saw a Civet. It looked like a Badger Raccoon mix. Very mean, apparently, as he ate his own brother and sister. We also saw Genet Cat, a spotted, Egyptian looking cat. After the cats we headed up the steps to see a cousin to the elephant. They were small animals that looked like a skunk without a tail and had elephant like feet. Quite cute!

The Elephant's cousin

Our last stop was at the top where we saw the tortoises. Our guide, Ebenezer, showed us a land tortoise, a water tortoise, and a land/water tortoise. He set them on the wall on their backs so they wouldn’t run away. Poor things! They looked so funny! Debi picked one up and it tried to run out of her hands.

Conficius Say No Like Nicole!

At the end of our tour we sat and had a lovely conversation with Annette and Dennis. Belted with a chain to a tree was Confucius. Another rescued monkey who has caused a lot of chaos and confusion. I went to sit with him as Dennis held him but he did not like me! He jumped at me and grabbed at me. He even yelled at me! Needless to say I was not his friend but I already had my Spot Nose friend :). This was a wonderful and fun experience!
I think everyone should come here, Nicole


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