If you had told me when I started my 30 hour Journey from Wales to Ghana (yay cheap flights), that within 2 weeks I would have a baby monkey named Yellow hugging my legs and climbing around my neck, I’d have told you you were dreaming.
When I first decided to travel to Ghana it was always going to be Akwaaba, having heard of their projects through friends I was excited by the variety of projects they’re involved in. I went with the intention of working with primates but got involved in almost everything Akwaaba offered, from football coaching, to teaching at a school, to working with Horses.
When I arrived at the zoo for the first time I knew it wasn’t your every day zoo. Wild monitor lizards walked the dirt paths, giant tortoises shared lettuce with rabbits, crocodiles just chilling in an enclosure you could literally step into, and of the constant calls of monkeys and birds in the trees around. Foster gave me a guided tour of the zoo and told me about the work the West African Primate Conservation Action gets up to. WAPCA’s aim is to conserve the White-naped Mangabeys that are kept there, by introducing lifestyle enrichment to their enclosures and breeding them to introduce them back into the wild. These endangered primates are inquisitive, intelligent and possess long memories, so they took some time to get used to me. The more they did get used to me, the more rewarding my experience was.
Every morning I would assist Foster and Bosco, head keeper of primates, with cleaning the enclosures of food debris and faeces. Feeding time was always interesting, the Alpha males would snatch papaya and bananas from your hands before you knew it and the younger ones would tentatively snatch food and run away. Yellow was an orphaned baby who was yet to be introduced to the families as it was possible they may not accept him, so he quickly became my favourite. When I cleaned his enclosure he would jump from his branches to sit on my shoulders, chew my watch and pick at my hair and he was just so cute. We even installed a bamboo see-saw into an enclosure where, after a nervous first encounter, one clever guy called Kwame got everyone playing along.

Some hard work in the week meant we tried to enjoy ourselves at the weekends as much of possible and I strongly recommend using the time to travel around to other parts of this stunning country. One weekend was spent at Maranatha Beach Camp on the coast near the mouth of the longest river in Ghana. We took a 6 hour journey from Accra on a trotro (mental local mini buses) and a bumpy 10 minute motorbike baccy on to the beach to get there, and it was so worth it. We arrived during the night but when we woke up and saw it in the day it was like stepping into paradise. Beach huts, palm trees, hermit crabs, puppies, hammocks, late night bonfires, helping local fisherman, swimming, and fresh coconuts being sold on the beach. The journey was made up of so many hilarious and surreal moments it’s one I’ll never forget.
Working in conservation has been a life long dream for me, so to get the chance to work in a breathtaking country, alongside my fellow volunteers and the incredible Ghanaian people was an experience of a lifetime. I can’t thank Jordan and King, of Akwaaba Volunteers, enough. Their organisation and support of the projects they’re involved in gives people a chance to do some real good, in one of the friendliest places on Earth.