The Gambia

Capital:
Banjul

Currency
Dalasi

Best time to visit:
Year-round

In a word:
I be naading (hello)

Vaccines
Recommended Antitific, Antimalarial Prophylaxis and for Hepatitis A. In any case, inquire at the provincial hygiene office or your doctor

Essential experiences:
Be surprised by the colonial elegance and tranquility of the capital Banjul; Reach the capital, by ferry, from the Barra pier between old rusty buses, huge bags of all merchandise and all Gambian humanity; Caress the sacred Nile crocodiles at the Kachikaly Crocodile Pool

In the smallest of Africa

IN VAN FROM THE EXTREME NORTH OF THE SENEGAL TO THE MOST HIDDEN CASAMANCE, THROUGH THE SMALL LEG, IN A LAND WHERE EVERY DAY YOU WILL BE WRAPPED BY A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND

This time we decided to rent a van with driver and, together with a group of faithful friends and companions from other adventures, we set off to discover the wonderful Senegal passing through the small Gambia.
They have been days lived intensely with the eyes and an open heart trying to breathe deeply and above all aimed at "giving". Well yes, before departure we collected a lot of basic necessities and not only (soaps, milk powder, diapers, medicines, various detergents, pens, notebooks, clothes and toys) that, during the journey, we distributed some everywhere from nomadic villages to isolated huts, schools to the Mbour orphanage!

In the end it will have been a humanitarian journey where we tried to make our contribution every day, it would certainly have been a drop in the ocean, but as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, even without that drop the ocean would have missed it! 

The small strip of land of the Gambia is wedged in Senegal; it is the smallest country in Africa and is a former British colony, in fact we speak English as well as Wolof. Tiny fishing villages and nature reserves are located a short distance from the noisy tourist resorts of the Atlantic.

If you look at it on a geographical map, it almost looks like a land born to protect its largest river: the Gambia river of the same name. He escorts him from his birth to his delta on the ocean!

The official name of the Gambia also includes the article "The" even if it is omitted in daily use.

The border between Senegal and Gambia is like all African borders by land: pure chaos ...
People who graze with papers and documents in their hands, unauthorized money changers, sellers of telephone cards, sachets of water, fruit or wafers ... For a few months now there has been no need for a visa for Europeans but, and I am sorry to say , the corrupt police wallow in this new bureaucratic situation and force you to pay bribes at each checkpoint and there are several along the way ...

Banjul (The Gambia)

Hours of waiting at the port of Barra to board the ferry and reach the other side of the Gambia river and the capital: Banjul.
Here too there is an incredible coming and going where all the local humanity passes before our eyes ... pitch black women with super colorful clothes and often with a little boy tied to their back, half-dressed children who approach you like honey bees with the hope of conquer a pen, a notebook or a candy; sleepy shepherds with some goats or traders with a cart pulled by a tired donkey.

The crossing of the Gambia river is a documentary: an old and rusty ferry full of everything: ramshackle buses full of people, animals, various tools, auto parts and parcels on parcels crammed into every empty space.

Finally we deck in Banjul!
Despite the feeling of abandonment that hovers in its streets blown down by winds loaded with sand, Banjul has its charm.

Its picturesque markets and its chaotic port best symbolize the frenzy of urban Africa.

Banjul was founded in 1816 by Captain Alexander Grant on a small swampy island deemed suitable for controlling the river and enforcing the slave trade law.

This city looks more like a large village than the capital of a state.

The Albert Market is located next to the small port of Banjul: a place of frantic purchases, exchanges and bargaining and the center of the city's activities. Shimmering fabrics, fake braids, fresh fruit, dried fish up to an interesting craft market.

In the surroundings we go to the Kachikaly Crocodile Pool. Located in the center of the village of Bakau, this pond is home to over 80 Nile crocodiles, some of which can even be caressed!

For the locals who come here to pray, it is a sacred place because crocodiles symbolize the power of fertility.

At the entrance to the area there is a small hiking trail and an ethnographic museum that tells a little bit about the history of this small former British colony.

What do you recommend to eat typical? Taste domodah (peanut stew with rice) or benechin (rice cooked in a thick fish and vegetable sauce), perhaps accompanied by a refreshing local beer: JulBrew.

Curiosity: did you know that the main runway of Banjul International Airport was, in part, even built by NASA?

Well yes, to have a support track in case of emergency for the space shuttles!

In the evening we return to our hotel for expat on the ocean ... and the beats of the jambè wish us a good night!

Time to move to the Senegalese casamance!

6 Responses

  1. Un viaggio pieno di emozioni anche nel donare cose piccole ma x loro è tanto sicuramente non si può dimenticare …
    Fantastico un viaggio importante che vi lascia tanta voglia di ritornare…
    Complimenti….a tutti

    1. Grazie mille cara Angioletta, è stato un meraviglioso viaggio umanitario in cui abbiamo dato ma soprattutto ricevuto!

  2. You paint a good picture, an introduction to The Gambia, of your short visit, and your photos have a distinct authenticity my own seem to miss. Bravo!

  3. Disattiva per: inglese
    I’m not a Gambian. I’m a not-untypical 80yo British leisure visitor across 15 years recently and twice in the distant past and didn’t forget. About 37 trips – ridiculous! Why? Chemistry. Lovely people by nature, interesting culture, plus nice weather. And almost none of the really distressing poverty I know about elsewhere. Allah does provide. The internet, for contacting sponsors, is one example!

    Loved your account and as I said your selection of factual photos. My own tend to be posed. Thats what I meant.

    Enjoy your lives. I hope not ruined by Covid-19 although your travel plans will be. And we are all worrying about Gambia and similar when the virus almost inevitably sweeps through.

    Kind regards

    Stephen.

    1. Thanks, yes we are facing a very hard time lately but, fingers crossed, lets hope it will pass soon

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