mardi 23 février 2016

Senegal and Gambia part 2

We left Mandina at the crack of dawn and after 40 minutes arrived at the ferry which crosses the river Gambia. We just missed one so had to wait for an hour for the next one. When it arrived it was packed with brightly dressed people, animals and vehicles ranging from bicycles to articulated lorries. 

The crossing took 40 minutes and after another short drive we arrived at the Senegal border. The Gambian president had imposed a tax on Senegalese lorries entering the country, so in retaliation our Gambian vehicle was refused entry. We had to wait for a Senegalese car to come from our next destination 'Fathala' to collect us. Fortunately this only took 10 minutes. Fathala is a nature reserve and we'd booked some more excursions. Our accommodation was in an amazing "tent" complete with bath, four poster bed and air conditioning!

Our first trip was walking with lions - a rare opportunity to be with a couple of hand reared lions (their mother had had an litter of 5!). The lions were nearly 4 years old and in another year they will be too unpredictable to carry on this type of proximity to humans.

Next came a trip by boat to a nearby village school and hospital, then onward to an island where we had a fish BBQ, did some swimming and sunbathing, before a return by boat during which we spotted a small crocodile.

We were up at dawn for the next trip, a walk through the bush spotting warthogs, zebra, monkies and many, many, more birds.

The final trip was an evening game drive. From the open topped vehicle we saw at close quarters, a lot of bigger game including a white rhino, giraffes, derby elan, waterbuck, roan, warthogs, zebra, green vervet monkies, red colobus monkies, ground squirrels, baboons and many birds.

white rhino

young roan

the very rare derby elan

giraffes (we saw 6)

black-headed lapwing

cattle egret

red billed hornbill

That evening we heard heavy footprints outside the tent and were amazed to see the rhino going for a stroll in the moonlight!

Next morning it was back into Gambia, across the River Gambia once more to our final destination on the beach at Bijoli.  This part of Gambia has a lot of tourists arriving for winter sun and empty beaches. We were 30 mins walk from the main area of hotels in a hotel with lovely gardens, once again full of birds and other exotic animals.

lizard lounging around

deserted beach near the hotel


market at Serekunda

long tailed glossy starling

harrier hawk eagle

lappet faced vulture

pelicans (note the huge fish in bill pouch of bird on right)

siberian terns

One night a local african drum and dance group played at the hotel. They picked some women from the audience to try and dance with them. Of course when Susie stepped up and started to dance the dancers were gobsmacked! The Gambians kept coming up to me and asking how she knew their dances? Each time there was a dance the dancers kept grabbing Susie from the audience and pulling her onto the stage to dance with them - it was lovely and probably the best birthday present!

On her actual birthday we went to walk along the coast to Tanji to visit the birds reserve and the fishing village with market and huge number of fishing boats. Before returning to the hotel for some relaxation and dinner with champagne which I managed to buy from another guest staying at the hotel.

fishermen at Tanji

only scraps for the vultures

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