Kiang West National Park
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.
Abuko the Bird Paradise
When you're into birds, Abuko Nature Reserve is the place to be.
Inside the reserve you'll find an excellent hideout (next to a pool), where you can observe a large variety of birds.
There're also semi-professional ornithologists, who will offer you their services, for a small fee.
Don't forget your binoculars and camera.
Abuko Nature Reserve
When you go early in the morning, you’ll have the reserve for you alone. It’s also the ideal moment to spot animals. Birds, monkeys, crocodiles, lizards, duikers, etc… I forgot the entrance fee, but it wasn’t expensive.
Abuko Reserve lies on the right side of the tarmac road from Banjul to Yundum Airport.Related to:
- National/State Park
- Budget Travel
The Guinea Savanna
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.
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.
The Kapok Tree
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.
The Bansang Quarry
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.
Ker Serigne, marketstalls
We liked to stay a few days in Ker Serigne away from all the touristic hotels and be part of the local life in the village.
In the centre of the village, a few blocks of our house, were several streetstalls. It was a small market, where the women were selling vegetables, fruits, fire wood and lots of other goods.
Ebou (Abraham) Bah, a casual plumber at the Badala Park invited us to share the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr with his family in the north of the country. They farm groundnuts in the bush not too far from Jufureh but a long way from any electricity supply. Fortunately the farmers co-operative, who collect the nuts, had helped them acquire a well making their life a little more comfortable. If you do plan to visit these small communities please take the largest sack of rice you can afford and a bag of sweets for the hoards of children.
Ker Serigne, colourful gate
It was not easy to find our way in Ker Serigne. There were hardly any landmarks and no streetnames. So we had to count the blocks and look out for minor details.
For me this beautiful gate of the neighbours was a landmark. When I saw this gate I knew I had the right block.
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Jinnack Island / Jinek island
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, .Related to:
- National/State Park
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smoked fish at Tanji
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 ChickenRelated to:
- Adventure Travel
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Ker Serigne, unpaved roads and 'roundabouts'
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.
Abraham Bah, an excellent guide
We can't recommend Ebou (Abraham) Bah strongly enough as a guide to rural Gambia. Please feel secure in accompanying him across the Barra ferry to his homeland. His family are wonderful people but please be generous as they live very simply. They can't posssibly entertain you in a western style, you'll have to take your own drinking water and a sck of rice would be welcome. Ebou has an aunt in Serrakunda who is hoping to offer a room in her home for those who would like to experience urban Gambia.
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trip to the beach
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.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
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