Away from the Gambia River and coastal areas, the main habitat type in Gambia is the Guinea savanna. This savanna zone is characterized by various types of wooded grassland, in which there is a gradual decline in the number and height of trees as one moves northward, reflecting the decrease in rainfall. The grasses that grow under and between the trees is tall, reaching six to ten feet (two to three meters).
One of the most recognizable trees of the Guinea savanna is the baobab (seen on the left of the picture), a tree which flourishes in dry savanna zones throughout much of Africa. They can survive long periods of drought and live for many hundreds of years. The baobab is characterized by a thick, swollen trunk and short, root-like branches. Many local legends tell of the baobab angering a god who plucks the tree out of the ground and thrusts it back into the ground upside down.
Marabouts are people, who pray with and for ap erson who seeks advice. They are also the ones who prepare jujus. hose sold to tourists as "luck bringer" are no real jujus. real ones often are beased on coranic suras, then put into leather sachets. But also put in belts and ther things. Sometimes jujus are elements mixes with water to take a shower.
I have many jujus meanwhiles, e.g. for the bed, for shower, to wear or to dig into earth.
Sometimes called Coconut Island or Paradise Island it is well worth a visit if you like to get away from the crowds. The island lies just a few miles north of Banjul, it is a desert island with a huge white sandy beach where if you do go you will probably be the only people there. the variety of bird life is amazing. To get there you need to take the ferry across the River Gambia and take a four weel drive from Barra through the Niumi national park, then a short trip over the Niji river in a canoe. There are two small villages on the Island Niji and Kajata plus Mandiyana Camp and nothing else so bring all your water and food with you as there are no shops at all. A short walk takes you across the island you to one of the longest, whitest, emptyest, sandy beaches you are ever likly to see. The far end of the island is in fact in Senegal, although there is no border so you could walk into Senagal if you wish. Please remember that the return ferry from Barra to Banjul stops early, (about six pm when we went) although pirogus frequently do cross much later so don't stay too late unless you want to find lodgings on the island, .
I see this is way to late but may help someone else.
I did a trip to dakar from Gambia and it only cost me about £8, paid in the local money. I think I wrote about it in my Gambia travelogue.
You would need to get a cab to the ferry in Banjul. I went early morning about 5.30am. The ferry went about 8am I believe but there is a line so you will want to go early. Before we got on the ferry we struck up a deal with a man who had a space cruiser type vehicle with air conditioning. He agreed to take us for 350 dalasis a seat, so we paid for each person plus one extra seat to spread out and have the car to ourselves.
He took us straight from where the ferry landed in Barra through to Dakar city centre and it took about 8 hours.
If you book with a tour operator you will pay stupid prices. It all depends on how much money you have to spare. I too was in Gambia for a week so was only willing to spend a minimal amount of cash, as I only went to Sengal for two days.
This small village appears just to have a Police post and immigration post as it is at the start of the road to the Senegal border which is about 7km away,everybody stops there outside the police post the police look into the vehicle at the occupants and if they are so minded may ask for your papers (passport) look at that and let you drive on in your vehicle,unless there is some sort of alert then they may take more time.You will think that just passing through there is nothing at this place but you would be wrong for there is a health centre a birthing unit a dispensary a small soap factory and bakery,it is true to say though that supplies are sometimes short.and a small market and a few "local" shops.The people are pleasant and will welcome you but it is normally just a place to pass through on your way somewhere else,no hotels or accomodation but if pushed you could probably get a local to give up their room for a night in return for a very modest fee.
About 90km inland is the village of Bintang situated on a tributary river next to the river gambia. We stayed at bintang bilong for 3 nights,, the staff were lovely, the food not bad, but i hate to say it i didnt like the room, it had seen better days. But i will add to that the scenery and wildlife was out of this world. the new manager is currently renovating the place, which consists of huts on stilts on the water, and im sure that when that is done it will be perfect. whilst there we visited the local school and nursery, as you can imagine these places dont get the same support as the coastal schools do. the nursery school stole my heart the children were simply lovely, they sang songs and danced for us and were so keen to show us there tiny nursery. the head master was thrilled that we had given them so many items for the. we are returning this christmas and intend to take stacks of supplies back to those children again. Its so worth a visit and handing over supplies to them.
Termite mounds are a common feature of the grassy savanna zone in Gambia, and elsewhere in Africa for that matter. Reaching heights of ten feet (three meters) or more, they are made of sun-baked mud brought up from below by termites during the construction of their underground nest chambers. Inside, numerous tunnels exit through chimneys on top of the mounds. These chimneys capture breezes to ventilate the termites' nest. The termites do not actually live in the mounds, but rather in a system of tunnels and chambers three to six feet (one to two meters) below the surface. Up to 1,000,000 termites can live in a colony, and they depend upon the air drawn into the nest by the structure of the mound. The termites therefore continually mold the mound to maintain the proper atmosphere in their nest below.
Originally native to Central and South America, the kapok tree has been introduced to tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. It is now the tallest species of tree in Africa, reaching heights of 150 feet (46 meters) or more. Kapoks produce large pod-like fruit and white, pink, or yellow night-blooming flowers which are pollinated by fruit bats.
In Gambia and Senegal, villages are often found around and under kapok trees since the trees are believed to possess spirits which protect the inhabitants from bad luck. The village elders also meet under the kapok tree because it produces shade and its roots make comfortable benches.
The large kapok tree pictured here is the largest tree in Gambia. It is in the middle of the village of Pirang, which is protected by the tree's spirits. Pirang is also protected by large beehives which hang under the tree's massive branches. It is believed that the bees will attack anyone who comes into the village with bad intentions.
Located just outside the tiny village of Bansang which is upriver from Janjangbureh, the Bansang Quarry is a place that not many visitors to Gambia would ever consider seeing. It is just a small quarry with no cultural, historical, or even scenic attributes. However, it is one of the top sites along the birdwatching circuit due to its large colony of nesting red-throated bee-eaters. The birds dig tunnels into the sand banks where they lay their eggs and raise their young. The quarry is therefore one of the best places in Gambia to observe these gorgeous birds at close hand.
Go the the village of Kartong where the Halahin river flows into the Atlantic Ocean you find local fishermen. They are busy with catching fish, the women are burning oyster shells. They use them for all kinds of purposes among one to paint their houses.
They will tell you all about it!
Get your guide to take you out wether it be by bush taxi or a local taxi. Take pens, pencils and note books for the local children, and take them to the local schools they will be so grateful for it. The children also sang some songs for us, it was very touching. We ventured into the local village of Gunjur with Sarani and gave out pens etc and lolly pops the children were thrilled. We also on our own got a taxi and went to the fishing port of gunjur, what fun,, do it be brave, and any hangers on be polite and ask them to leave you alone. We had one of the locals at the port show us around Alladin was his name and he was thrilled that we wanted to know all about his village.
All the roads in Ker Serigne are unpaved. At some cross roads you can find some natural 'roundabouts' of grass, but also garbage.
Also this point became a landmark for me to find my way back to the Villa Transsahara.
At some place the village looks very green by its gardens.
We hired a 4 wheel drive for a trip along the Beautiful atlantic coast and stopped at Tanji on the way back here we visited the Smoking sheds where they smoke the Bongo fish the smell is lovely and the fish beleive it or not tastes like Chicken
The area of Kiang West National Park is approximately 110 km2 and one of the most important wildlife areas in The Gambia. It was established as a national park in 1987. In the mangrove creeks, the manatee and the Nile crocodile occur. In the mangrove forests and tidal flats you can see clawless otter, marsh mongoose and Sitatunga and sometimes you can spot Roan antelopes. The park is situated in Lower River Division in the Kiang West District.
If you really want to know the Gambia, you should go up-river. Gambia River Excursions organises boat trips all the way to Basse, an experience not to be missed. In a few days time you will see all of the Gambia, it's people and most of all its astonishing wildlife. You will find more information on their website: http://www.gambiariver.com.
The Kombo Beach is the only hotel we have been to in The Gambia, we stayed here the first time and...more
well such an extraordinarily well run venue in Gambia. German influence, very efficient. What...more
AU Hwy, Brufut Heights, PO Box 3311, Serekunda, Gambia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples