MOUNTAIN BIKING IN SHAI HILLS

Last weekend we decided to escape the hustle and bustle of Accra and headed to Shai Hills Reserve for some adventure mountain biking. As much as eating my way through Accra’s restaurants is delicious, I am also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys thrill-seeking experiences too.

The half day mountain biking, was booked through TasteMakersAfrica though the “curator” was BraveHeart Expeditions.

We met Jay Jay (founder and expedition leader of BraveHeart Expeditions) and his colleague Dennis at 7am last Sunday morning at Accra Mall. The bright and early start was totally worth it though! As I mentioned in my “Akwaaba Accra” post, it’s very hot and humid in Accra and thus it is necessary to start early so that you not biking when day time temperatures peak.

The Shai Hills Reserve is an evergreen forest area along the Accra plains and is  situated in a suburb near Dodowa. The drive to the reserve was just under an hour and comfortable air-conditioned transportation is provided.

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Baboon welcoming us to Shai Hills Reserve

On entering the reserve, we were greeted by a troop of baboons. Although visitors to the reserve are warned that the baboons do sometimes like to snatch unattended personal belongs we found that they kept their distance. Shai Hills Reserve was established in the 1960s and is home to a congress of baboons, three different species of monkeys, antelopes, bird species and wild cats. Zebras and ostriches have been added recently in a bid to increase the wildlife in the Reserve.

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Zebra spotting

Within a few minutes of our arrival at Shai hills, our safety helmets were securely strapped on and we had mounted the 29 inch rugged mountain bikes. We biked half of the 21km trail until we reached Mogo Hill – spotting the zebras and some antelope along the way.

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Dennis demonstrating the abseiling

At the half way point, while we had a snack and refuelled, Jay Jay and Dennis set up the rappel (abseil). We then abseiled down the overhanging cliff at Mogo Hill. It’s a short abseil down 20 meters but the view of the Reserve is truly breath-taking.

I was in awe at the lushness of the terrain, which I later found out is what makes the Reserve special. Shai Hills is the only coastal savannah national park and the driest evergreen savannah forest in Ghana.  Measuring 51 square kilometres, it is not like Mole or Kakum National Parks but it does provide some nature-filled respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The second half of the trail had some tough terrains and the approaching midday heat together with sore quad muscles made for a challenging ride. But this was all forgotten in the final downhill decent – the freedom and adrenaline rush experienced while freewheeling down the vast open plains of Shai Hills was thrilling!

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View of the reserve from a top Mogo Rock

Water and drinks were included as part of the experience, and lunch was provided after the ride. We ate delicious home-made Jollof rice (courtesy of Jay Jay’s wife) – the best I have eaten in Accra thus far!

Exhausted but having had a truly memorable day, we made our way back home.

Shai Hills is a quick “escape-to-nature” from Accra, and although it’s possible to visit the Reserve by yourself, I recommend the mountain biking adventure for a more fulfilling experience.

Note:

  • The biking can be booked directly through BraveHeart Expeditions and they offer other outdoor expeditions too.
  • TasteMakersAfrica is an Africa travel company that curates and arranges local experiences in cities across the continent ranging from food to adventure and arts and culture too.