Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment sustains the wellbeing of the local people and their culture and involves interpretation and education” (TIES, 2015).
GBELE RESOURCE RESERVE (586km2).
The Gbelle Resource Reserve was established in 1975.Geographically, the reserve was established in the short-grass savannah zone.
Gbele Resource Reserve is the only wildlife protected area in the Upper West Region of Ghana. It is also located within the jurisdiction of four district assemblies: Sisaala West, Wa East, Sisaala East and Daffiama-Busie-Issah. It is reputed for its large herds of Roan Antelopes, Warthogs, Kob and Waterbuck, which form the main attractions. The south-western portion in particular has been identified as a major concentration area for these species of animals.
As noted above, the Reserve forms part of the migratory route for the transit Elephants and other large species of mammals that move between the Nazinga Game Ranch in Burkina Faso and Mole National Park further south. The reserve which is drained by the Kulpawn River
harbours the major drinking points for the wildlife and livestock from the surrounding communities.
During the dry season the water gathers into long perennial pools in the deeper portions, which have been proposed for sporting-fishing and boat-riding.
The occurrence of these charismatic animals such as Elephants, Buffalo, Roan Antelope, Hartebeest and large herds of Kobs, Waterbuck and Warthogs in this reserve, similar to what pertains in Mole National Park, implies visitors can have game-viewing and wilderness experience through nature walk.
The natural attractions, combined with the aesthetic landscapes, rich socio-cultural and historical heritage, offer tourists a diversity of tourist products such as game-viewing, wilderness safari experience, guided tour of historical and cultural sites as well as butterflies and bird-watching.
This has made the country a nature lover’s delight.
This Reserve being the second biggest natural reserve to Mole National Park has in its package, the following but not limited to:
Warthogs, Hartebeest, Kobs, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Black and white Colobus Monkey, Stripe Jackal, Porcupines, Baboons, Buffalos, Royal Pythons, Crocodiles, Bird Viewing, Colorful Butterflies, Elephants and Lions.
Colobus Monkeys Warthog
HISTORIC AND SOCIO-CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS
GWOLLU ANTI-SALVE WALL
Gwollu Anti-Slave Wall
This wall of a rare traditional architecture located within the Chief Palace, the seat of the Paramount Chief, shows the remains of the slave defense wall that was erected by the people of Gwollu to defend themselves against the slave raiders. A tour of the remnant wall together with the interpretation provided by the local people makes this a unique historic site. Visitors include the Africa-Americans of the Diaspora interested in their roots, school groups and back-packer expatriate tourists within the northern sector and neighboring Burkina Faso.
GWOLLU CROCODILE PONDS
In the centre of the Gwollu community is the Crocodile Pond inhabited by several crocodiles which are revered as the totems of some of the clans in the community. These have become a major tourist attraction in the community where the totemic relationships between the people and the crocodiles are interpreted to visitors, largely nature-lovers, school groups and back-packer tourists of the expatriate community.
TUMU KUORO’S PALACE
The Palace of the Tumu Kuoro or the Paramount Chief of the Sissaala Traditional Area stands out as a masterpiece of traditional architecture. Together with the annual Paragbielle Festival, the colourful durbar of chiefs and cultural performances, it has the potential to attract tourists to this town. This is further enhanced by its strategic location at the cross-roads of major transboundary highways originating from neighbouring Burkina Faso and the intercity highway from Bolga to Wa.
Furthermore, the Royal Family, known as Kanton, has a unique history. Some communities in the Diaspora have traced their ancestral roots to the Kanton Royal Family in Tumu. There is a mini museum displaying the past warriors and some of the relatives in the Diaspora. This includes their leadership role in fighting battles during the infamous slave trade. The palace as well as other communities in the area do host a number of cultural performances (Bayiila,Gugoyila,Hanyen,Gyanga,Tampani and Bawa dance). The palace is the host of the very well patronized Parrigbiele Festival every year and in the month of March. This festival attracts visitors from abroad and within the country.
KASSANA SLAVE MARKET AND MUSEUMS
Remnants of the ruined Kassana Slave Market
Within the Sisaala East District, the Kassana Slave Market, associated archaeological sites and the Museum are the current major historic tourist attractions. See Plate 20 below. Visitors to this site have the opportunity to tour the ruins of the slave market with the necessary guidance and interpretation. This will enable them appreciate the historical heritage related to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. It has the potential to attract the African – Americans from the Diaspora who want to trace their roots. Student groups, historians, archaeologists, social anthropologists and other researchers have visited this site.
Remnant of Human footprints at the Kassana Slave Market
JITONG SPIRITUAL FOREST AND CROCODILE POND
A remnant typical Tree Savannah Forest believed to be affording protection to the Jitong community. It is therefore revered by the community as a forest with spiritual powers and preserved as such. Currently no tourists visit the site but it is open for guided tours. There is also a crocodile pond nearby. It is believed that crocodiles here move in from Gwollu and vice versa alongside their human counterparts when people relocate from one place to another between the two communities.
PRESIDENT LIMAN‟S TOMB IN GWOLLU
Located next to the Gwollu Slave Defense Wall, the Tomb of the Late President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency and Majesty Dr. Hilla Limman remains a major tourist destination particularly for politicians who come to pay homage. It is also patronized by school groups. Notable statesmen such as former President J.A. Kuffour, late Vice President Aliu Mahama and the current President, His Excellency John Mahama have all visited the Tomb at different times, particularly during their campaign. Others include Messrs Paa Kwesi Nduom, Alan Kyeremanteng and late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. It has received a huge number of visitors from all walks of life.
LILIXIA SLAVE ESCAPE/DEFENSE CAVE
Slave Escape Caves at Lilixie
The Lilixie Slave Escape Cave was used by the ancestors of the area to hide and escape from the marauding slave raiders. It could take in about 1000 people. It represents a site of historic importance as far as the infamous slave trade is concerned. Visitors enroute to the Gwollu Slave Defense Wall and Late President Liman‟s Tomb could stop over for a guided tour and interpretation of the Cave and other historical remnants. The site has the potential to attract about 2,000 visitors in transit annually.
This is an underground cave with capacity for more than thousand people. Used to serve as an escape den from slave raiders.
NYIMATIE RIVER SHRINE AT NYIMATIE
A stream nearby the Nyimatie community and a rock with the engraved figure prints of an ancient warrior are preserved here. People go to seek spiritual assistance to accomplish their desires
THE BIGGEST BAOBAB TREE
In front of the Gwollu Kuoro’s Palace is a Baobab Tree, reputed to be the largest tree in the Upper West Region. It is about 23m to go round it. It has been preserved by the people to show how big the tree could grow.
THE TRADITIONAL BONE-SETTING CENTRE
Located within the Gwollu town is a renowned traditional bone-setting facility known as the Titobala Traditional Bone-setting Centre. It is recognized by the Ministry of Health for its treatment of fractured bones and has a typical mystical origin of tourist interest.
DOLIBIZON -HUMAN FOOTPRINTS ON ROCK
This foot prints is said to be that of a great hunter who once upon a time walked on the rock.
CROCODILE PONDS IN BUJAN, TAFFIASI AND NABUGUBELLE
These two communities have totemic relations with crocodiles and hence see crocodiles as revered and sacred animals that should not be killed but rather protected as a death of a single crocodile signifies the death of a human being. Against this backdrop, the wet valleys have being breeding grounds for crocodiles and thus see in groups when on a visit.
STROKE TREATMENT CENTER IN SAKAI
Here people suffering from stroke are treated with herbs especially those with mild stroke are easily healed completely.
OTHER ATTRACTIONS IN THIS PACKAGE INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
Tumu is the capital of the Sissaala East Municipal, a major marketing centre(Tumu Market) and transit point for national and non-national expatriate business travellers and those from neighbouring Burkina Faso and other West African countries.
The joy and adventure of experiencing the typical African family lifestyle in the homestays (surrounding communities) with rich hospitality attitude such as Bandei,Dolibizon, etc
A visitor stands the chance of enjoying thought provoking story telling from the few living great story tellers in the Sissala Communities both in Sissala East Municipal and Sissala West District
It is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent. The area has Very beautiful and adventurous landscapes to keep one from bustling and hustling of human activities but rather brings you closer of nature and let you appreciate God’s doing.
Nature trails and Sport Hunting
One can also tour and have first-hand information on the following:
Pottery at Dangi community
Art and craft (drum making and drumming, xylophone making) at Kandia, Bandei, Nabulo etc
Baobab fruit, Ebony fruit, Shea Fruit, yellow berry, black berry, dawadawa fruit, tamarind fruit etc
FESTIVALS CELEBRATED IN THE AREA
Gandawii Nabahilima Festival
Buwala Keliwie Festival and many more
There are however, modest accommodation facilities in Gwollu(Tangia Guest House) and in Tumu: Sildep Guset House, Dubie Hill Top Hotel, Saliti Guest House, Nimon Lodge, Assembly Guest House and a first class hotel called Getway Hotel.
There also are many eateries, Pubs and places to hang out in town.
There is of very enlightened and well- taught tour guards in Town; who are always willing to give you a good treat.
Credit goes to the following persons for helping me with information:
1) Resource Conservation Initiative Ecotourism Team 2016 led by Rev.David Guba Kpelle
2) Mr. Nana Owusu Ansah and Mr. Polycap (Park Manager and his Deputy-Gbelle Resource Reserve)
BY: AYAMGA BAWA FATAWU