HomeEscapeWildlife Safari Ranch in Jirapa Opens up a New Tourism Frontier

Wildlife Safari Ranch in Jirapa Opens up a New Tourism Frontier

A new 126 room hotel with a wildlife ranch hosting lions, zebras, and hippos, as well as a man-made lake and waterfall, situated in Jirapa in the Upper West Region called the Royal Cosy Hills Resort, has opened up the northern frontier establishing a fresh destination for holidaymakers. This includes ‘Year of Return’ folk who never make it to those parts of the country beyond the Black Volta in the northern territories. Yet when you think about it, it is actually here that people were more likely to have been captured and sold on into slavery than those from the south. And there are many relics here to show for this. For instance, taking over from predecessors in the 1800s, Babatu, the jihadi warlord of the Zabarima emirate, and his band of mercenaries roamed this region raiding communities, and in 1887 attacked Wa causing much of the population to flee. It was Babatu’s gruesome antics that led to the building of the defense wall in Gwollu, and the rise of Salaga, Paga, and Pikworo, as slave centers, or markets from where the captured were exchanged or sold before being taken down south to other market centers, like the one at Assign Manso. PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson just returned from experiencing the resort and its fascinating wildlife safari, and says this “completes the circle”.

Just as the thought crosses my mind, I freeze. There’s a blur and I shut my eyes. Transfixed, I am surrounded by bush, sparse shrubs, and dry wild Sahel grass. There, in the far distance, along a beaten path leading up the hill, beyond the few scattered naked savanna trees, dust rises from the gallops of approaching horses. Closer and closer, emerging from the stirring cloud fast advancing towards me, I see men in white flowing gowns, made dirty from all that dust and dirt, striding their stallions, their flapping garments made from cotton and linen, covering their whole bodies, as well as wrapped around their faces.

The man in the lead is most animated. We lock eyes, and he roars with each stretch. His face, lean, with tribal marks, is dark and sweaty with bloodshot red eyes fixated on me as he lashes his horse after each gallop! Then, from about 10 feet away, he points his whip at me as he closes in, giving a final hauling roar, pulling his horse to a stop right in front of me, the accompanying dust engulfing us!

Just then, I open my eyes. I’m still standing where I froze. It occurs to me that this scenario could very well have played out back circa 1887, when Babatu was active in this territory, capturing the young who he sold into slavery. I could well have been on that trajectory of history and laid in that path to be picked up as one of their cargo and sold off at the slave market at Salaga, near Tamale.

Today, I am standing here a free man, about to dive into the shimmering blue waters of the swimming pool at the expansive Royal Cosy Hills Resort, which now stands here.

It may have been some 135 years since Babatu roamed these neighborhoods, his sordid reputation causing trepidation far and near. Today, however, this place, from where residents dispersed, has a reputation of a different kind. A kind that is attracting the descendants of the dispersed, and those captured and bounded into a sordid life of slavery overseas, to return and walk on the soil of their ancestors, spirited free men, and women.
This is where the narrative of slavery actually begins in Ghana and it is a fabulous idea to have such a luxe facility situated here, particularly for those in the African diaspora looking for a connection to, in effect, begin their healing journey. Not only them, there’s so much more to do, with the opening of the wildlife safari.

The animals imported for the circus are now all secured on the grounds of the ranch, where they can roam within wired parameters. With Passion Air now flying directly to Wa, which is 45 minutes drive from Jirapa, it’s time to experience real Sahel lifestyles and experience the new frontier.

Ironically, the Royal Cosy Hills Resort came to be by accident. It started off as a farm and the site for the dream country villa for an engineering and construction honcho, a Jirapa indigene, but the project just kept expanding until it morphed into the 4-star hotel we have today with 60 of the 126 rooms appointed as standard, 52 as deluxe and 14, executive suites.

Sunken boreholes drilled to source water for the construction found a generous enough water table for the setting up of a bottling factory. The plan, thus, was to build a motel to accommodate the many workers including suppliers and truck drivers who frequented the sites. But management was urged to put up function rooms for walk-in conferences as many NGOs operated in the district. Once that was established, there arose the need to upgrade the motel, and adding amenities that ticked all the boxes for a 4-star facility, the management moved full steam to put Jirapa on the map!

Warming up to the idea of attracting more visitors to the Jirapa township, and guests for the hotel as the Wulling Hills with the ‘Mushroom Rock’ nearby was not enough to do the honors. The lightbulb for the wildlife safari, now manifest, was an absolutely fantastic idea, going beyond the frontiers to open up the country and bring curious delights to us all.


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