Mole National Park is the largest and most frequently visited national park in Ghana. It is reasonably well set up to cater for tourists and although it is more expensive than many other parts of Ghana it is well worth a visit.
There is an entrance fee for the park. The fee is reduced for students, but foreign university IDs are not always honored, so it may be worthwhile to apply for an ISIC (international student ID) card.
Mole is described as 'easy to get to'. This isn't entirely accurate but it is certainly easier than many other places in Ghana! Your options are:
Bus - Daily services run from Tamale, regional capital, to Mole, these take approximately 6 hours and leave Tamale mid-afternoon and Mole early morning (~5AM). This is the most reliable way of getting to Mole on public transport. Other buses also run from Bole to Tamale, stopping at Larabanga (approx 3 km from Mole). A Daily Metro Mass leaves Wa around 6AM and stops in Larabanga as well. From Larabange you can catch a tro-tro or hitch a ride into Mole NP.
Tro-tro - Run from Tamale and Bole, stopping at Larabanga, but be warned the road is bad and it won't be a comfortable journey.
Chartered Taxi - It is possible to charter a taxi in Tamale to take you to Mole, this will probably take about 3 hours and will be a very bumpy and quite expensive journey but perhaps worth it if time is short.
Private Car - Now you do not need a 4x4 vehicle to make a trip to Mole National Park: the roads are paved and a simple sedan car is good enough. The trip should take you about 2 hours from Tamale, and it is by far the most comfortable and most expensive way to travel to Mole. Foreigners are for the most part excluded from driving in Ghana, so rentals come with drivers, and should you stay overnight, the driver's lodging expense will be included in the rental fee.
Within the park your only realistic option is to walk (walking outside the motel grounds is strictly forbidden unless you have an armed ranger with you). A few taxis are available in nearby Larabanga (3 km away), but the road between Mole and Larabanga is hot with very little shade so if you are planning on walking between the two, take lots of water.
Mole has the widest range of wildlife in Ghana. You'll see elephants, antelope, bushbucks, monkeys, warthogs, baboons and other smaller wildlife.
It is rumored that lions exist in the park but even the wardens haven't seen any traces for a few years. The last lion sighting in August 2004 was immediately followed by a serious poaching incident resulting in the capture and killing of a male lion the following day.
Within the park:
- Go on a walking safari with an armed ranger. These usually take place in the late afternoon (~4PM) and the early morning (~6AM), depending on the number of people staying you should be able to have a ranger for each group. This is a wonderful experience and a real opportunity to get close to the wildlife.
- If you have your own 4x4 you can go on a driving safari (again with an armed ranger), this gives you the opportunity to cover a much wider area of the park
- Or you can just relax at the motel's viewing platform which overlooks a watering hole, you will generally see herds of elephants grazing and bathing in the early morning or evening few hours before the sun sets.
- The motel has a swimming pool for those who are bored with nature.
- Larabanga has the oldest and best preserved example of a mud and stick mosque in Ghana. Although it is worth a visit if you are going to Mole the experience does tend to be a bit mercenary and you are not allowed inside. If you are interested in mud and stick mosques, it is a better bet to visit the ones in the Upper West region.
There is a souvenir shop, but the prices tend to be higher than in other parts of Ghana.
If you prefer a particular brand of cigarettes, bring them, but Ballantine's (found all over Ghana) and also the humorously-named Tuskers are available at the staff canteen (near the museum).
The motel has a restaurant attached which serves reasonable western style and local food, although the prices are slightly higher than in other parts of the north, this is your only option in Mole.
Traditional Ghanaian food in large helpings is also available in the staff canteen beside the safari office at lower prices than the restaurant. For example, Spiced Jollof rice and a piece of chicken was 2.5 cedis.
The motel restaurant serves the usual range of 'minerals', bottled water, beer, liquor, and wine.
Water and other beverages were also less expensive at the staff canteen, 1 vs. 1.3 cedis for a 1.5 liter bottle. However, food orders did need to be placed several hours in advance.
A wide range of accommodation is available at the motel from budget hostel style accommodation to en-suite chalets with A/C overlooking the watering hole. The prices are higher than in other parts of the north, but again the motel is the only option for accommodation within the park itself. Prices (as of August 2009) are 12 cedis for dormitory bunkbed; 51 cedis for a double room with A/C and private bath; 49 cedis for a family room with three single beds and private bath; and 59 cedis for an en-suite chalet with A/C. The power and water supply are occasionally erratic, but generally pretty reliable and the location - set on a cliff overlooking a watering hole - can't be beat.
It is also possible to camp near the motel, or at a number of other campsites throughout the park. The campsite near the motel has running water, but be aware that warthogs and baboons sometimes sneak into the campsite and raid the trash bins.
If you can't afford the prices at the Mole Motel, you can take a short-ish walk to the nearest village by taking a right turn out of the park and travelling for about 5-6 km down the road to Larabanga. Although there is no public transport along this route you can often hitch a lift in a car with some locals. In Larabanga there are two guesthouses - the Savannah and Salia Brothers guesthouse, run by both of the Salia brothers. These offer rooms at around 5 cedis. The guesthouses are more likely to accommodate large groups.