In the Hohoe Municipality in the Volta region of the Republic of Ghana, one of nature's wonders stands tall and impressive inside a semi-deciduous forest. I am referring to WLI WATERFALL, the tallest waterfall in West Africa, measuring about 143 metres from the upper fall to the plunge pool below it. Its sheer grandeur, height, beauty and cool environment beat every imagination. It is a natural attraction every tourist will desire to visit.
The path leading to this splendid waterfall through green and lush semi-deciduous forest starts from the Visitor Information Centre(VIC) . It is a narrow path that could allow passage for only two people walking side by side. The path is shaded by the tall trees of the forest making it almost impossible for the sun's rays to reach the ground. Before one will reach the fall site he or she has to cross nine wooden foot bridges that have been built over the nine meanders of the AGUMATSA RIVER on which the fall is located. As one moves through the forest, he or she could see some tree species labeled with their scientific as well as their local or common names. This was probably done by the Wildlife Division authorities, since the entire area has been earmarked as the AGUMATSA WILDLIFE SANTUARY. The forest also abounds in animal and bird species such as snakes, colourful butterflies, bats and other insects that are seen on the way as one strolls through the forest on the way to the fall site.
The tropical forest is made up of trees arranged in three distinct layers. The tall trees reaching about 15 to 20 metres form the upper layers with tree species such 'wawa', palm trees and other fruit-bearing trees. The middle layer is made up of average height trees and the lower layer made up of tree species like the lianas, climbers, epiphytes and saprophytes all intertwined to form a continuous tree canopy. There is also an undergrowth made up of tall grasses, ferns and other shade-loving grass species which cover the entire ground.
The fall proper is made up of two main parts, an upper section which can only be seen from a far away distance as one approaches the WLI township. At the foot of the mountain where the main fall is, the upper fall could not be seen. One can only reach the upper course through a tiring mountain-climbing exercise which lasts for one and half to two hours. On the other hand, the lower part of the fall which is the fall proper could be reached after about 40 to 45 minutes trekking though the forest.
As one approaches the lower fall site, he or she can hear from a distance the water of the fall thunder as it plunges down directly before collecting into a large pool below, exactly at the foot of the mountain. At this point, the fall starts from a height of about sixty metres from the top of a steep cliff face. Due to the force with which the water cascades out of the narrow valley, it sprays into a beautiful white and foamy wave before splashing into the plunge pool below, the favourite desire of holiday makers and swimmers from Ghana and across the world. No tourist ever visits this waterfall without swimming in the pool below or standing directly under the falling water. The pool is just about 1.20 metres deep. But there is a portion of it that is very deep and has become a restricted area for swimming. The water in the pool is very cool and refreshing and flow ceaselessly into the AGUMATSA RIVER which forms the river system within the forest with its nine meanders. The entire environment around the fall is filled with water droplets, thereby rendering the entire atmosphere cool and fresh.
The mountain over which the fall cascades belongs the massive fold mountains of the AKWAPIM-TOGO RANGES. This range which serves a border between Ghana and Togo on the eastern side, also contains the highest mountain peak in Ghana, the AFADJA mountain.
In fact, a visit to the waterfall is soul-touching. It is an experience every nature- loving person should endeavour to taste.
By Joel Degue
Tourism Development Consultant