Day trip to Boti Falls, Umbrella Rock, and the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm

Day trip to Boti Falls, Umbrella Rock, and the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Farm

          Before coming to Ghana, I expected to take part in a rigorous Masters program.  Sure enough, last semester’s work load proved to be a great challenge indeed.  However, this semester is already shaping up to outdo last semester.  With all the work and commitments swirling around me, it’s good to find time to break away and get back to nature.  Fortunately for me, that’s just what a new friend and I did last week when we headed to Boti falls and Aburi Gardens.  Here’s a look at our adventure.

           I met Barbara at an expat get together.  We discovered we both had a love of traveling and spending time with our families.  Before the end of the meet and greet, we had exchanged information and planned to meet up soon.  After a couple of other social gatherings, Barbara invited me to visit Aburi Gardens and Umbrella Rock.  I had heard of Aburi Gardens, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to travel there.  I had absolutletly no idea what umbrella rock was though.  

           Early Sunday morning, Barbara and her driver came by to pick me up and we set out for the Aburi mountains.  As soon as we drove out of the city, I immediately felt cool, crisp breeze in the air and the lack of dust and trash.  We stopped to take some photos and then headed on toward Aburi Gardens.  Once at the gardens, our tour guide led us around the grounds and pointed out lovely trees like cinnamon, nutmeg, lavender, palms, bamboo, and what appeared to be a dogwood.  As we walked along across the lawn,  church singing and drumming could be heard in the distance.  The peace and tranquility was a much welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the city.


               
              Entrance to Aburi Gardens, February, 22, 2015

                  
                         A carved tree in the Gardens, February 22, 2015


                   
              A closeup of the carved tree, February, 22, 2015

                    

                            Tree that has been eaten by a parasite, February 22, 2015
  
Rustic shack in the Gardens, February 22, 2015
Barbara and I cheesing on a double-headed palm tree, February 22, 2015
A photo of me under what I believe is a dogwood, February 22, 2015
After the Gardens, we made our way to Boti Falls.  While the Falls were much smaller than Wli Falls I visited in the Volta region last year, the short 15 minute ‘hike’ down the concrete steps was easy and comfortable.  I was a little disappointed to see that the water was quite muddy and shallow.  I told Barbara we’d have to come during the rainy season when the area was flooded for a good swim!  

Me posing in front of a huge tree on the path down to Boti Falls, February 22, 2015

Beautiful Boti Falls, February 22, 2015 
Too shallow to take a swim!  February 22, 2015
Cocoa pods at the entrance of the Falls, February 22, 2015

Our second tour guide took us on from Boti Falls to Umbrella Rock.  While hiking up the barren, rocky pathway, I was reminded that I was hiking in the heart of West Africa!  The treck was only slightly treacherous, with  narrow walkways and sharply sloping paths.  Umbrella Rock proved to be quite breathtaking.  Along the other side was a wonderfully cool, windy, and shaded enclave—great for a picnic lunch.  After getting some great photos and enjoy the gorgeous landscape, we headed back (through a gravesite) to the car.  

Walking to Umbrella Walk, February 22, 2015
A treacherous path!  February 22, 2015

Barbara and I posing at Umbrella Rock, February 22, 2015
Right when we thought we were headed home, Sam, the driver, took us to a cocoa farm.  Once we had come down from the Falls, I had purchased a cocoa pod from one of the local women.  Once we began talking about the process of making chocolate, Sam suggested taking us by a farm to see how it was done.  Once again, our tour guide at the Cocoa farm proved to be very friendly and knowledgeable about his trade.  He taught us how long it takes the cocoa pod to grow, when it is ripe, and what must be done to dry out the seeds for cocoa processing.  All in all, it takes a few years to get the first cocoa pods!  But clearly a worthwhile investment.  

Our guide cracking open a cocoa pod, February 22, 2015
  
The cocoa seeds on the left have to dry.  The cocoa seeds on the right will be sent out of the country to be processed, February 22, 2015


Throughout the drive, I couldn’t help but drift off to sleep.  It’s always a treat when someone else is driving around and you can just relax!  Once Sam and Barbara dropped me off, I thanked Sam for driving and Barbara for the invite.  We made plans to get together again soon.  When I walked in the house, the power was off (again), but fortunately the generator would be turned on in a couple hours.

There’s nothing like taking time to get out of the city getting back to nature.  Last week’s adventure was a welcome break from the hustle and bustle.  I can’t wait to check out Boti again when the rains come.  This afternoon, after class, I’ll be off to the Western Region to do a service project.  Next week, I’ll discuss my time with the Rotaract Club of Accra-East in the Western Region!

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