Undoubtedly, this may come across as an improbable adventure. However, it is a thrilling experience that Amizade volunteers get to frequently enjoy when taking canopy walks through Kakum National Park during volunteer programs in Ghana.
The canopy walk at Kakum National Park is made up of 7 bridges that extend a length of over 330 meters and rest over 30 meters above the forest floor. It was first constructed by a Canadian non-governmental organization in an effort to trap parrots in the forest canopy as a source of income. The first person to step on the canopy walk, was Nana, the local Ghanaian Chief, and close friend of Amizade who was asked to christen the walk. A humorous story lies in this event. Nana (which means Chief), who was wearing traditional Ghanaian attire that requires one arm to hold up the clothing, found it rather difficult to make his way on the canopy walk which requires you to hold on to the railings with both arms!
Today, the canopy walk is a major tourist attraction in the area and has become one of the most significant drivers for economic development in the region. The appeal of the canopy walk is the fascinating viewpoint that it provides. Instead of a typical ground tour of the forest, one gets to trek along the narrow rope bridges several stories above the forest floor and gaze at the breathtaking scenery from a bird’s point-of-view. This unique experience has sparked a significant amount of tourism in the area, which has subsequently enhanced economic development in the region. A rain forest hotel, constructed to house tourists, is now a major employer for locals in the area. Furthermore, tourists traveling to Kakum National Park often stop by surrounding villages, including that of Jukwa, the home of Amizade’s partnership in Ghana, which helps to bring about additional economic growth.
The canopy walk in Kakum National Park is an exciting time of exploration for Amizade volunteers. It is also a time of learning and observation. Amizade volunteers not only get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of weaving through the canopy of a rainforest, but they also get to observe how the development of a fascinating attraction like the canopy walk can influence a myriad of subsequent economic enhancements in the future. It is yet another example of the superb balance of meaningful service, learning, and exciting adventure that is characteristic of a program with Amizade.