Sacred Crocodile Ponds of Paga – Paga, Ghana - Atlas Obscura

Sacred Crocodile Ponds of Paga

Paga, Ghana

The souls of the dead have made these Ghanese crocodiles shockingly docile. 


Along Ghana’s northern border, many villagers are inside of crocodiles. Luckily, they have not been eaten; the reptiles simply hold their souls.

In the town of Paga, nestled right up against Burkina Faso, is a sacred crocodile pond where locals believe that crocodiles hold the souls of the village’s deceased. High profile deaths in the community have even coincided with the deaths of some of the sacred crocodiles.

Ancestors’ souls or not, the crocodiles of the sacred pond in Paga are protected and allegedly as safe as any domesticated pet. The residents of Paga certainly treat them as such, regularly interacting with the 110 crocodiles in the main crocodile sanctuary, Chief’s Pond.

What’s even more stunning, no one has ever been harmed by one of the crocodiles. Young children swim in the pond and Ghanaians along with tourists are invited to touch and practically play with the reptiles. The people of the town wash clothes next to the bumpy ridges of the crocodiles’ jaws without a hint of fear.

Even more remarkable than the docile nature of this crocodile population, is how these massive crocodiles made the pond their home. The pond is completely landlocked and apparently the oldest beasts in the water are over 80 years old. Yet here they are, ready and waiting for tourists to feed them live chickens, sit on them, or lift their spiny tails.

Crocodiles have been on earth for over 200 million years, even outliving the dinosaurs. And more importantly, their behavior in Paga is without comparison. For the legions of tourists seeking a wild Africa full of the world’s most impressive and dangerous beasts, Paga’s a good start to their journey.

A small fee to a local tour guide is required for interpretation and the purchase of the crocodile’s live chicken dinner.

Know Before You Go

Paga is North of Bolgatonga near the border of Ghana and Burkina Faso.

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May 11, 2011

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