Tamale Cycling Society’s Ramadan Recovery Ride and Camping

By Bilal Taimako Shamsudeen
Cycling Tamale Cycling Societys Ramadan Recovery Ride and Camping
MAY 2, 2023 LISTEN

After taking a break from our regular cycling routine for about a month, the Tamale Cycling Society, yet again, embarked on a post-Ramadan cycling and camping trip to Botanga.

At around 6am, the team left their respective homes to converge at the main junction of Tamale Technical University. After making sure all necessary equipment was in order for a two-night camping trip, the team set out for Botanga by 7am.

In about an hour and forty-five minutes, 31 kilometers was covered, and the team was at the Botanga Irrigation Dam.

The team had done Tamale - Gumo - Dulzugu - Kumbungu - Botanga. This was not a new terrain to the team as they had done this a couple of times in the past, but there was something special about this—we were going camping.

The Botanga Irrigation Dam, constructed in the 1980s to provide water for irrigation and fish farming, has a great potential for tourism, especially for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The dam's serene and picturesque surroundings provide a perfect spot for camping and bird watching. Again, its tranquil environment is perfect for relaxation, and visitors can enjoy the calmness and serenity of the area while appreciating the beauty of nature.

The team’s first stop was the Botanga Eco Resort at the Dam, where we met a group of researchers from the University for Development Studies, Nyankpala campus’ Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management led by Dr. Seth Mensa Abobi. They were looking into a catch by a group of fishermen, checking the variety of fish specie in the catch, their weight, length, and other relevant data. We had quite an insightful conversation with the group. And oh, of course, we also bought some good fish for our consumption.

The team cycled to the other end of the dam from the Eco Resort, which is still under construction by one of our colleagues, Peter Awini. He is setting up the N’dama Camping Ranch — a stunning and eco-friendly ranch complete with various amenities. Peter was delighted to host the team and allow us pitch camp on the shore of the dam. He offered us one of his workers—the ever reliable Sadat—to support us if need be. All the team needed was a room with a lock to secure our bicycles and bags and also have some electricity to charge our phones.

After settling into the area and offloading our backpacks, we had to fix breakfast. Some hot tea, bread and eggs. Then we had to work on the fish we had bought at the dam. There were fruits to enjoy; water melons, apples and some fresh tasty dates.

Lunch was some kenkey and fish. We were enjoying our stay already.

As the sun began to set, we made our way towards the waterfront to pitch our tents. After our challenging experience setting up tents in Mole, we had become experts at it. We erected seven colorful tents and also created a cooking area with a grill for our supper. Additionally, we lit a bonfire to deter any animals that might approach our campsite.

The beauty of the sunset was truly breathtaking. The sun's golden hues blended seamlessly with the colors of the sky and the water, creating a calming and therapeutic atmosphere. For dinner, we grilled meat and fish, served with rice and fruits, and plenty of tea for those who desired it.

As night fell, we found ourselves engaged in wonderful conversations with conscious music playing in the background, all while basking in the warmth of the bonfire. Despite our fatigue, the combination of these elements made for a perfect evening. Eventually, we retired to our tents in search of a good night's sleep.

The night was not only cold from the chilly breeze, we also had to contend with occasional showers of rain throughout the night.

We woke up to to a chilly morning and immediately set about making tea by placing the kettle on the still-burning bonfire, which miraculously survived the showers of rain from the night before.

We sipped on our hot tea and finished the leftover rice from the previous night's supper. Feeling refreshed and energized, we decided to take a swim in the dam. As we frolicked in the water, we all regretted not having done so the day before. It was an enjoyable and invigorating experience.

Now there were a group of fishermen readying to set their net for a catch. We asked to join them. This was a thrilling experience. Moving the net through the water and pulling to catch the fish was something else. I don’t know if it’s bad luck from one of us or what happened but the catch was just a few fishes.

The fishermen went on to another area of the water without us to fish.

We came back to our tents to relax a bit.
A group of four families came around to tour and experience the water area. It was interesting interacting with them and they were so happy to see us and our tents.

The rest of the day was us soaking the peace of the environment, engaged in profound conversations and enjoyed some good music.

The night was even more peaceful. A clear half moon night saw us play some games. Scrabble, Oware, Checkers (Draft) among others.

The night was more peaceful, more quiet and very relaxing.

The morning was even more beautiful. With the sunrise just awesome. We immediately had breakfast, went for a swim and started parking our bags and tents to leave for Tamale.

The team cleaned the camp area and ensured there was no litter around. We bought some more bush birds from a hunter to take home with us. We left Botanga at about midday.

This was a relaxing experience for us. The water front area was nothing less than therapeutic for us. The conversations we had, the interactions with the fisherfolk and other curious community members who came by to visit was great. For us as a team, this was not only exploratory but for us to get some good rest and bond properly after a month of not riding.

We are definitely visiting Botanga again. Special thanks to Peter Awini for his support and generosity. To those who couldn’t join us in Botanga, get ready for our second quarter ride and camping. It’s going to be bigger, better and much more fun.

Fingers crossed.
TCS - We go go!
TCS - Together we cycle; as one we ride.