Adventure tourism begins at Shai Hills Reserve (April 18)
Adventure tourists thronged the Shai Hills Resource Reserve last Friday to launch the maiden National Biking and Abseiling Festival.
The festival is aimed at using sports to attract more visitors to the reserve which is increasing its wildlife stock.
The initiative is a collaboration between the Forestry Commission and BraveHearts Expeditions, an adventure tourism company.
Established in the 1960s, the reserve is home to a congress of 30 baboons, three different species of monkeys, 500 antelopes, 175 bird species, wild cats and the recently added zebras and ostriches.
Many first-timers, including the Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, and the Director of Operations of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission, Rev. David Kpelle, joined revellers to conquer the Shai Hills in an abseil.
Also called a rappel, abseil, is a controlled descent of a vertical surface, such as a rock face, using a doubled rope tied round the body and fixed at a higher point.
While the country has concentrated its tourism development efforts on the exotic natural environment (ecotourism) and cultural tourism to the neglect of adventure tourism, Mr Allotey said the reserve abounded in natural, cultural and adventure tourism.
“This event seeks to exploit and offer Ghanaians and other nationals the opportunity to experience the adventure tourism potential of the Shai Hills Resource Reserve,” he stated.
He added, “There is no other place in this country where you can ride a bicycle for sports to the wide-eyed spectatorship of wildlife. This unique experience is expected to boost the tourism potential of the park, generate the much-needed revenues to support the park and other conservation efforts of the commission and the government.
He lauded BraveHearts Expeditions for an “innovative ground-breaking initiative which has the opportunity to create jobs and generate income.”
The Expedition Leader at BraveHearts, Mr Jayjay D. Segbefia, said the package on offer was about changing the way tourism was perceived in Ghana.
“We want to prove that conservation efforts are best engaged in if the relationship is experiential instead of the passive viewership which is usually the norm. By validating this kind of model, we are proving that it is not just a matter of driving around to see what is in the reserve but experiencing and feeling it through the whole process,” he stressed.
He said the Shai Hills had well-marked trails and roads for the activity because it was a protected area and had the rare advantage of running into wildlife, while riding bicycle.
Besides its greenery, bat-filled caves, wildlife, mountains and special land formations, the Shai Hills has a rich heritage with indelible historical footprint of the people of Shai printed all over.For his part, Rev. Kpelle assured the public that the commission had satisfied itself that the adventure tourism service was environmentally sustainable, exciting and handled by experts who were internationally certified to undertake physically enduring events.