In Cape Coast, the Central Region of Ghana, in a nature reserve is a hidden gem called Hans Cottage Botel. A tourism destination that depicts the country’s rich natural environment, where there is a symbiotic relationship existing between man, flora and fauna.
Located in the Cape Coast North Constituency, Hans Cottage, home to friendly but scary crocodiles, and different bird species lies between the Cape Coast Castle (about 15.5 km) and the Kakum National Park (about 21 km).
Hans Cottage is a developed protected area for ecotourism in Ghana. This green environment has guest amenities such as accommodation units, a restaurant and bar, wellness spa, and swimming pools.
About 154 km from the capital Accra, Hans Cottage is a perfect substitute for nature lovers who cannot travel the 818 km drive to visit the Paga Crocodile Pond in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
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In 1979, a Ghanaian visionary Kwesi Hanson, in a forested area carved out a backyard pond to rear tilapia and cat fish. This was not a mere pond created by this visionary but one that was expanded to a crocodile pond as such, the birth and little beginning of Hans Cottage Botel.
In a chat with Mr Hanson, who celebrated his 81st birthday, recently, he said “it was through hard work and dedication, coupled with love for nature that brought me this far.”
He said he purchased that parcel of water-logged land for GHC15.00 in the 70s with the main purpose of opening it up for people to come and appreciate nature and also create jobs for the youth.
“My intention of moving from Accra (Hansonic) to Hans Cottage is my love for nature and also to create jobs for hundreds of youths in the country. In these, I must say, I have largely succeeded” the Octogenarian who was still actively planting some flowers when I visited him told me.
Although he was very busy, working on some flowers for planting, when I called on him, in his orchard at midday, Mr Hanson, spent a considerable time to engage me on the importance of trees to mankind.
“I’m sure my encounter with the trees and flowers in this cottage has extended my life for more than 10 years, he said jokingly, adding that “Now I’m retired but not tired.”
He bemoaned the indiscriminate destruction of the vegetation and encourage planting of more trees saying “ planting of trees reduces climate change, since the tree absorbs harmful carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while releasing oxygen needed for human survival.
Home to crocodiles, Hans Cottage offers an up-close crocodile encounter either by feeding crocodiles at the banks of the man-made lake, by Hanson or by patting the crocodile on the back at the Hans crocodile garden where these reptiles bask. That, Mr Hanson said, requires patience and calmness as visitors are encouraged not to disturb the activities and way of life of these crocs and also, not to make noise or fidget if they come close to these friendly but shy crocs.
One can experience a gentle boat ride on Lake Hanson where there is a possibility of seeing crocs slithering through the lake. This is a soothing and calm experience.
From dawn till dusk, one can hear all manner of chirping from hundreds of birds, which is music to the ears for nature lovers.
This green environment which houses huge trees which could be up to a hundred years old, as well as animals, birds and theses friendly reptiles, is genuinely a “gem in the south”, of which many do not know about. The beauty of it is that, it is on the highway to the world heritage site Kakum Walkway. One simply cannot trek the Kakum walkway without stopping at Hans Cottage Botel, to simply get engulfed in nature, or for some refreshments after a hike up on the walkway.
The beauty of Hans Cottage is that one can book hotel accommodation, host a wedding or other event, or simply be pampered at the Wellness Spa. The outdoor restaurant is set in a handmade 2 story hardwood building which naturally melts into the setting. One gets an open elevated view of the lake and all the surroundings.
Indigenous and continental cuisine is served to nourish the famished traveler.
Hans Cottage Botel is among the richest corners of the country in terms of experiencing an up close with nature.
The early bird has got its worm, do not wait any longer to have a feel or glimpse of this unique experience of crocs. The good things, they say, are best left a secret, lest they get flooded with people.