The Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary is a wonderful mix of conservation, mystery and beliefs. It is home to two of the rarest monkey species in the world – Campbell’s Mona and the black-and-white Colobus.
As a gateway to Africa, Ghana boasts of a number of wonders that are visited by travellers from across the world. However, the monkey asylum continues to be one of the most unique, rare, and interesting places to visit in the country.
This sanctuary is nestled inside a forest, and has been created, protected, and looked after by the two adjacent communities – Boabeng and Fiema. If you’re visiting Ghana, this sanctuary ought to be part of your plan.
Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary: An Overview
The Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary came into existence in the 1970s. I was informed that this 4.4-kilometre square forest was home to more than 700 monkeys. Other than the two sacred species, the sanctuary also houses other monkey species including the vervet and patas monkey, several birds, reptiles and deers.
I had a real good
Before I go into the details of my trip to this splendid place, here are a few things that will help you understand the destination better:
Brong Ahafo Region, South Ghana
The currency used in Ghana is the Ghanaian Cedi. I’ll be mentioning the conversion rates in terms of the Ghanaian Cedi (GHS), and the American Dollar (USD) at the time I travelled.
1 USD = 5.43 GHS
|Best time to visit
December to April
By taxi, by tro tro (local public transport taxi service)
Moderate to high
The Mona and Colobus monkeys
Spending a day at the Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary was a completely different experience. It almost felt like I was living in a parallel universe. A universe characterized by completely different thoughts, beliefs, and way of life.
The Sacred Monkeys of Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
So, what’s the deal with this sanctuary and why’s it so popular? The 2 species of monkeys found here are definitely exotic, but there’s more to it. In addition to being rare, they’re considered to be sacred by the villagers. And no, this is not a gimmick to attract tourists. I was psyched to hear the story behind it.
What’s the Deal with the Monkeys?
As I had expected, there are different versions of the story. However, the most popular one goes somewhat like this.
Several years ago, a hunter from Boabeng went hunting in the forest. Out of nowhere, he noticed a fetish Daworo (fortune teller for the gods of the village) surrounded by a troop of monkeys.
Note: A fetish is an object that’s worshipped because of its supposed magical/spiritual powers.
He did not shoot any of the monkeys, despite really wanting to. It almost felt as if he was hypnotized by them. Intrigued by this sight, the hunter decided to bring the fetish home. The monkeys watched all of this and started following him to his hut.
The villagers were fascinated and decided to consult a shaman. The shaman told them of the special relationship between the fetish and the troop of monkeys. Apparently, the monkeys were offsprings of the fetish Daworo.
It was following this very incident, that the monkeys were declared sacred. Consequently, no harm must be done to any of them, and they must be treated supremely.
It is also said that the fortunes of the hunter grew with time. This is attributed to the magical powers of the fetish and the monkeys.
An Eerie Tale
It is said that whoever causes harm to these monkeys, will endure sufferings. Years ago, a man was said to have killed a monkey (the reason is unclear). Following this incident, the attacker and his relatives died one by one.
Similarly, if anyone chases away the monkeys from the village, they will be chased away from the village themselves too.
It all sounded creepy to me, but almost every belief was validated by an anecdote. Maybe, the monkeys really are sacred.
Protection for the Monkeys
The belief in the sacredness of the monkeys did not dwindle over the years.
In 1971, a native of Boabeng thought of having the Boabeng Fiema Monkey sanctuary protected. Meetings were set up between the elders of the 2 villages. He also wrote letters to the Department of Game and Wildlife of Ghana.
Finally, officials agreed to the villagers’ requests, and the sanctuary was started in 1974. Ever since monkeys and villagers have co-existed happily.
Locals believe that when a group of the black-and-white Colobus monkeys emits a weird sound between 11 PM and midnight, an elderly from either of the 2 villages will die.
Human-Like Treatment by Villagers
There has undoubtedly been an emotional get along between both parties – the monkeys and the inhabitants of the villages. This is an extraordinary connection and has only gotten stronger over the years.
The monkeys in this sanctuary are well-fed. As per locals, they visit the villages every morning and every evening to feed. Once they are satisfied with their meal, they make their way back to the forest.
Often, they are also found engaging in typical monkey behaviour – stealing food. However, this is something that is not only accepted but often encouraged by villagers. I guess that’s the power of belief.
As strange as it sounds, in one section of the forest, a cemetery has been set up for the monkeys. When any of the monkeys die, funeral rites are held just as they would be for human beings.
It is also believed that when the monkeys know they are going to die, they make their way back to the sanctuary, to ensure they’re buried there.
There ought to be something special about the monkeys if this is how especially they’re treated. This sanctuary has attracted the interest of various research groups, and I now understand why.
Visiting the Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
In this section, I’ll offer all the other details you’d want to know about your visit to the Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary.
For what the sanctuary has to offer, the fee is next to negligible.
|Ghanaians: 20 GHC (3.71 USD)|
|Ghanaian students (tertiary, secondary, junior): 10, 5, 3 GHC respectively (1.8, 0.93, 0.56 USD respectively)|
|Non-Ghanaians: 50 GHC (12 USD)|
|Non-Ghanaian children under 12 years: 25 GHC (6 USD)|
Note that there will be a separate fee charged for photography and videography. However, the fee is really small.
When to Visit?
The sanctuary is open through the week. However, Fridays are supposedly an interesting day to visit. This is because Fridays are observed as a special day for monkeys in Boabeng and Fiema. People from the villages do not go farming and some even hold special rites.
Lastly, whatever day you’re visiting on, try making it to the sanctuary in the morning. This is the monkeys’ mealtime, and you will get to feed them and see them in big numbers. So, try reaching the forest around 8 AM.
Feeding the Monkeys
The monkeys of Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary are extremely sociable with visitors and inhabitants.
When it comes to food, the monkeys of Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary have nutritional preferences. The Mona monkeys and the Western black-and-white Colobus have dissimilar tastes.
|Mona monkeys – They feed predominately on fruit, leaves, left-over foods, rubbish heaps, and are frequently spotted on the ground. They are also popularly known as ‘stubborn’ thieves who sneak out to the nearest villages to steal food.|
|Colobus monkeys – These monkeys generally feed on foliage, and sometimes fruits and flowers. For this reason, you’ll find them on trees more than on the ground.|
You’ll find vendors selling food for the monkeys at the entrance, but from what I found out, feeding the monkeys here is a conflicted matter. Apparently, it was discovered that some tourists were being careless in terms of what they were feeding the monkeys.
There are also a few signs across the sanctuary that request you to not feed the monkeys and to simply observe them. So, when you visit the sanctuary, make sure you clarify this with locals and your guide.
Note: You can find a well-experienced and well-trained guide right at the entrance.
There is no strict dress code that you must follow when you visit the Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary. However, keeping in mind existing cultural taboos in the region, it would be better not to dress modestly.
As a piece of advice, both men and women must wear bottoms that are knee-length or longer. Additionally, women must try to have their shoulders covered.
Accommodation: Boabeng Fiema Rest House
Spending a night in and around the sanctuary would be a great idea. This is especially relevant for those who reach the destination late. Fortunately, there’s a well-furnished rest house provided by the sanctuary itself.
Charges are somewhat as follows.
|Camping: 30 GHC per person per night (5.57 USD)|
|Room: 50 GHC per night (12 USD)|
In case the guesthouse is booked out, there are other alternatives available on Airbnb. Either way, finding a reasonable place to stay the night won’t be difficult.
Apart from the wonderful memories and tales told by your guide, you can take back bottles of local honey from the sanctuary. These are cheap, and on sale right at the entrance. In case you’re interested, you can also check out the crafts shop.
How to Reach Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary?
Commuting in Ghana is not as easy in a lot of other countries. That being said, it’s definitely interesting, challenging, and adventure-filled.
Now, let me be honest. The Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary is not the easiest place to get to. Most blogs and websites will advise you to rent a taxi, get to the sanctuary, explore, and take the same taxi back to where you came from, or your next destination.
However, this might turn out to be an expensive choice if you’re travelling solo, on a budget, or both. So, let me offer you the best and the cheapest way to get to Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary, irrespective of your starting point.
Getting to Techiman
Techiman is a big town in the central region from Ghana and lies about 35 kilometres from the sanctuary. Now, you might be in Accra, or Cape Coast, or Kumasi. These are some of the major cities spread across different parts of Ghana.
Irrespective of where you are, you need to board an STC (State Transport Company) bus that will take you to Techiman. Note that there’s no bus with Techiman as its destination. Instead, board a bus that goes to Tamale – Techiman falls on the way. These buses are priced somewhat like this:
|Accra to Tamale: 100 GHC (18.5 USD); departs at 7:30AM and 3:30PM|
|Kumasi to Tamale: 55 GHC (10.2 USD); departs at 7:30AM|
|Cape Coast to Tamale: 90 GHC (16.7 USD); departs at 8AM|
Remember to tell the driver you want to get off at Techiman. Chances are that there will be other travellers getting off here too.
Tips for Bus Travel in Ghana:
- Try to make bookings in advance – visit stcticketing.gov.gh. You can find details on routes, fares, timings, and other policies on this website.
- Sometimes, buses run less frequently on Sundays.
- Avoid taking buses that run in the night. Roads in Ghana are not in the best condition. Stick to early morning buses, that will drop you at your destination before it gets dark.
- Be ready to pay a small fee for your luggage for having it loaded on to the bus.
- Although STC is said to be the most reliable bus service in Ghana, you could possibly rely on VIP, VVIP, and Metro Mass.
From Techiman to Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary
What time you reach Techiman at, depends on the time you board the bus and where you’re coming from. In case you reach late (after sunset), it would be a good idea to stay here for a night. There’s a number of cheap hotels, lodges, and guesthouses you can choose from.
The last leg of your journey would involve taking a tro tro from Techiman to the sanctuary.
A tro tro is sort of a shared minivan and a popular means of transport for both locals and travellers in Ghana. It is also popularly known as the cheapest commute option in the country.
Ask any local and head to a tro tro stop in Techiman. Here, you’ll find a tro tro to take you to the Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary for about 5-6 GHC (roughly 1 USD). The journey should take an hour if all goes well.
Tip: Do not expect luxury and comfort in your tro tro ride. Most of them are crammed and built in a way to maximize the number of passengers it can carry.
However, it’s going to be a short journey. So, embrace it. It will certainly make for one hell of a story to tell your friends and family.
Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary – It’s One of a Kind
Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary was one of those places that lived up to my expectations. At every point of my trip, I was awestruck and filled with amazement. That’s the power of this place – it makes you want to believe in things you never thought you would.
When you visit Ghana, you simply cannot miss out on the Boabeng Fiema monkey sanctuary – after all, it’s one of a kind.
Happy wayfaring 🙂