Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sapo National Park

[Laura (MSF), Andrew (ORR), me (ORR), John (TRC) and Debbie (ORR), about halfway into our 8 hour hike]
Last weekend, a group of us headed 11 hours outside of Monrovia to spend the weekend camping in Sapo National Park. We had heard alot about Sapo...untouched and protected rainforest, elephants and pygmy hippos...we wanted to see if for ourselves. You really can't find much online (or at the FDA office in Monrovia, for that matter) about Sapo. We spent about an hour in the FDA office, asking questions and finding out about all of the requirements in order to make a visit to the park. The man helping us made sure to tell us that we were responsible for our own transportation and we had to bring our own food and water, haha. And, it was $20 per person for the park enterance fee, which we opted to pay once we arrive at the park headquarters.
[The road to Jolly Town and a Upaka tree...run here if you're being chased by elephants]
We left on Friday around 4:30pm and drove 3 hours to Buchanan. We found a spot on the beach where we could drive the car right up on the sand and proceeded to gather firewood and enjoy the the night. We slept on the beach under palm trees and a million stars! We woke up around 5am, spotted a few dolphins playing in the waves and hit the road to Jolly Town, where the park headquarters is located. We arrived around 3pm, met with the warden and then went to meet the village chief and other town elders. It was pretty cool--meeting in the palava hut, explaining why we had come to their park, and asking for permission to be in the park. After the chief told us that their village was our home and that we were welcome anytime, we went back to HQ to pack up our gear and gobble down some hardboiled eggs that had cracked on the bumpy drive. And then the rains came. We let the rain pass over and then started the 45 minute hike toward the Sinoe River, which serves as the park boundary. After we were canoed across the river, we hiked another 30+ minutes to where we set up camp--a clearing called Michael's Camp.
[Our humble abode for the weekend--Michael's Camp]
On Sunday, we woke up at 6am and decided to leave everything at camp and just hike light for the day. We ended up hiking a total of 8 hours! About 5 hours into it, we reached the Sinoe River...we enjoyed taking a swim to cool off! We hiked another 3 hours back to camp, and by that time we were exausted! We made dinner, bathed in the creek and hung out under the tarp because it started to rain. We were so pooped that we were all in bed by 8:30!

[The Sinoe River was perfect for cooling off. My theory was: what you can't see (hippos, crocs, etc.) in the muddy water can't hurt you, right? And check out how HUGE that tree was compared to Junior!]
We woke up at 6am on Monday morning, packed up camp and hiked the hour and a half back to the park HQ. We were met by the warden, some rangers and some fried plantains. We cleaned up alittle, packed the car, and said goodbye to our Sapo friends. By about 9:30am, we were back on the road! We made it to Buchanan in time for dinner and then continued on home after that. After 22 hours of driving and over 12 miles of hiking, it was good to come home, eat some collard greens, get a cold shower and climb into bed! It was an awesome weekend, full of all kinds of adventure, and it was a great time with friends! We didn't see any elephants or hippos...only their tracks...but that's ok...there's always next time!

[The track of a bongo...a large animal that's "as big as your tent and taller than you"]
[We survived Sapo! Junior (our awesome guide who wore an Atlanta Braves/Delta shirt), Andrew, Solo (our canoe carrier), Laura, Alfonso (our awesome guide who can call duikers like nobody's business), John, me and Debbie]

1 comment:

theothervowel said...

That sounds pretty amazing. The park is gorgeous!
Much love. Peace.
-Hanna Mae