Thursday, December 9, 2010

Afrikiko, Atimpoku, Akosombo, Dam!

In the beginning of November, as referenced in preceding posts, I rode my bicycle from my home in Accra, Ghana's capital, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north to the Akosombo region at the southern end of Lake Volta.

My route took me from Legon at the northern edge of Accra, through the jam-packed 'suburb' of Medina...

...then on to the towns of Dodowa and Somanya until I arrived on the banks of the Volta River at Kpong.

A few kilometers further I came to the town of Atimpoku.  Here there is a bridge across the Volta... access to the towns of Ho and Hohoe and the hills on the eastern shore of the lake, next to neighboring Togo.  According to my map there's only two bridges for what must be a 75 mile stretch of river between the lake and the ocean.  Maybe that's why Atimpoku had the looks of a small transport hub, with a hoppin' tro-tro (mini-bus) stop where women by the dozens flocked around any stopped vehicle trying to sell bread and bananas through the windows.

Not far above Atimpoku, then, I found the Afrikiko Water Front Resort.

Tired from a long day of riding in the sun, this place felt like paradise.  A little room with a colorful bedspread...

...and an AC unit kept me cool while I rested.  Then the waterfront deck and restaurant gave me exactly what I wanted: a cold drink and a good meal with great views over the wide Volta River and the forested hills on either side.  A little European football (soccer) on the satellite TV didn't hurt, either.

The next day, I got out to explore.  Other than the river and the lake itself, the main attraction of the area is the Akosombo Dam.  This 1960's construction formed Lake Volta, the largest human-made lake in the world.

Approaching the dam, the view from the road made it worth the trip.  What was even better: due to recent rains in the north the lake level was very high, and so the dam's spill doors were open.  Long columns of white water thundered down the spillway, sending up a roar and a plume of mist like Niagara.

Someone pointed me down a dirt path...

...which I was able to ride to the water's edge, getting even better views of the dam.  Lots of locals were out dam-watching, too, and I later learned that the spillway hadn't been opened in eighteen years.  I felt lucky to be there, by chance, at just the right time.


I rode a little further north, then, through the hills to get above the dam to the edge of the lake itself.  There I found the dock for the Dodi Princess, an excursion boat kept by the posh Volta Hotel for weekend picnic cruises on the lake.  Workers were extending the boat pier's gangplank, which had been overtaken by the rising water.

I confess, then, I didn't do too much more exploring.  In fact, I was back in my comfy room at the Afrikiko by 3 - it was just too hot.  But I was really glad I had made the trip.  Finding this little forested, lake-ed, and river-ed corner of the world was nicely satisfying.

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